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What is considered a birth injury?

There are many reasons why injuries may take place during pregnancy or birth. Minor birth injuries such as swelling and bruising to the mother or child are very common and will generally heal naturally within a few weeks. But sometimes, more severe injuries or complications can be caused by mistakes or negligence by medical staff.

Have you or your baby suffered an injury during childbirth?

If you or your baby have received careless treatment or have been injured due to medical negligence during pregnancy or birth, we know how devastating it can be. The consequences can be life-changing or, in some cases, even fatal.

We know that seeking birth injury compensation will be the last thing on your mind at such a stressful and traumatic time. However, you can be sure that when you get in touch with us, we're here to talk things through and give you the advice you need. Our Legal Support Advisors are fully trained to guide you through the process of making a birth injury claim.

Over the last year, we have spoken to more than 1,000 people who have suffered from pregnancy and gynaecology medical negligence. To speak to us, you can reach us for free on . Calls with us are completely confidential, and we'll do everything we can to put you at ease.

What are the main causes of birth injuries?

We all want the birth of a child to go as smoothly as possible, and although giving birth always carries risk, midwives and hospital staff should always take all necessary actions to minimise the chances of you or your baby being harmed.

If they fail to do so, this could result in a birth injury to your or your baby. Some examples of clinical errors that could lead to birth injuries include:

  • Failure to recognise dangerous conditions in the mother or child.
  • Poor care during the delivery that causes birth injuries.
  • Incorrect medication or mishandling.
  • Failure to identify, prevent or treat infections - such as meningitis.

No matter what the cause, all birth injuries are extremely difficult to cope with. If you're feeling unsure whether you've experienced medical negligence, we recommend that you speak to us for free advice on whether you could make a birth injury claim. We have the experience to help you and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Birth injuries can be devastating for mothers. It's perfectly normal to expect some recovery time after giving birth, but complications due to medical negligence can make the process much longer. In some cases, birth injuries can even be permanent.

Examples of birth injuries to mothers may include:

  • Bladder and bowel injuries caused by Caesarean (C-section) errors.
  • Birth injuries after the use of forceps or vacuum delivery.
  • Issues with suturing (stitching) and post-natal infections.
  • Placental abruption where the placenta separates early from the uterus.
  • Delay, misdiagnosis or pre-eclampsia.
  • C-section trauma.
  • Perineal tears or internal damage - if a third or fourth-degree tear was missed or wrongly treated, you may be able to make a birth injury compensation claim.
  • Nervous shock following a traumatic birth.
  • Anaesthetic errors.

If your experience isn't listed here, then please don't worry. Instead, contact us and our Legal Support Advisors will talk through your circumstances to see if we can help you.

Unfortunately, birth can be extremely dangerous for the baby too, especially if you've received negligent treatment or suffered a medical mistake.

Mishandling, incorrect treatment, medication mistakes and other forms of negligence can cause harm to a baby. The birth injuries may include:

  • Cerebral palsy - a condition that may take time to show itself.
  • Brain injuries.
  • Fractures or cuts.
  • Muscular injuries such as Erb's palsy or brachial plexus.

Sadly, in some cases birth injuries can lead to stillbirth, or even death following birth. When you're ready, we can offer advice and guide you through the first steps to receiving the birth injury compensation you need.

Why make a birth injury claim?

Starting a birth injury compensation claim at such a traumatic time can be a tough choice, but we're here to help take the strain and make the situation right for you.

With more than 25 years' experience, we've helped many people in a range of medical negligence and birth injury claims cases. We understand the importance of making sure the process is as simple and stress-free as possible.

When you speak to us, we'll ask some questions about the treatment you received so that we can understand the best way to help you. All calls with us are free and confidential and there's never any obligation to start a claim.

Our friendly advisors will be able to put you in touch with the right birth injury solicitor for your claim. All of our birth injury solicitors work to the highest of standards - they'll negotiate on your behalf and keep you updated about what's happening with your claim, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.

How common are birth injury claims?

NHS Resolution is the official body that handles medical negligence claims made by NHS patients across the UK. In it's 2017/18 Annual Report, official figures on pages 24-25 show that obstetrics (medicine and surgery relating to childbirth and midwifery) accounted for:

  • 10% (1,067) of all clinical claims received.
  • 48% (£2.25 billion) of the total value of all clinical claims received.

Latest figures released in 2018 by the Royal College for Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) show that:

  • Of the 700,000 babies born in 2016, 1,123 suffered catastrophic birth injury or worse. At 0.16% of all births, it may be a tiny proportion of the total - but that in no way no way lessens the dreadful impact upon the families concerned.
  • Of the 955 infants where the case provided enough information to review the quality of medical care given, RCOG judged that 674 cases - that's 71% - may have had a different outcome with different care.

You can read more about the College's findings about severe birth injuries here.

Has your mental health been impacted by a birth injury?

Medical negligence can not only impact you physically, but it can influence your mental health, too. After carrying out a study of 1,000 people for our Make It Right Campaign, we found out that 72% of individuals suffered from a mental health issue as a direct result of their injury. Over half of the people that responded stated that their worries stemmed from the financial implications of their injury.

Our research looked into the unseen impacts of accidental injury, including the impact on mental health.

Exposing the real impact of injuries on #mentalhealth

Our research looked into the unseen impacts of accidental injury, including the impact on mental health.

If you feel that your birth injury has had an effect on your mental health, contact us today on and we can provide you with the support you need.

How do I know if I can make a birth injury compensation claim?

Sometimes birth injuries to either a mother or a child are immediate and obvious. Whether that harm is caused by medical negligence or not is something that investigation by the hospital concerned and/or through a birth injury compensation claim will decide.

However, some birth injuries aren't always immediately obvious. For instance, cerebral palsy caused by deformation or injury to the brain during development or birth may not become apparent until the child has grown sufficiently for the condition - and cause - to be properly diagnosed.

Whatever the circumstances of your birth injury experience, come and talk to us when you're ready. We'll give you the independent and clear advice that will help you to decide what next steps - if any - you'd like to take.

Can I claim against the NHS for medical negligence leading to a birth injury?

Yes - if you have suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence in the last three years, we can help you make it right. Our legally trained advisors will ask you about your situation and ensure that your birth injury claim proceeds as smoothly as possible.

If you're worried that a successful claim against the NHS will take money out of the NHS budget, please don't. NHS complaints claims are handled by their own specialist insurer, NHS Resolution.

Can I make a birth injury claim against a private healthcare provider?

If you have experienced a birth injury due to medical negligence from a private healthcare provider, you can of course make a claim. Your claim must be made within three years of the incident occurring.

As stated by The General Medical Council (GMC), private medical professionals have their own liability insurance to cover any disputes where medical negligence may have taken place. This means that birth injury compensation claims against private healthcare providers work differently to those against the NHS.

Can I make a birth injury compensation claim on behalf of my child?

If your child was injured during birth, you can make a birth injury claim on their behalf any time up until their 18th birthday. After this time, they can make a claim on their own up until three years later - when they turn 21. For example, brain conditions like cerebral palsy that affect movement and coordination will not be immediately obvious and can take time to be properly diagnosed.

In cases where the child's mental capacity has been affected, they may have longer to claim.

What does a birth injury compensation claim cover?

Birth injuries can cause lasting complications for you and your child.

  • In the first instance, birth injury compensation will cover the pain and suffering cause by the incident itself. This is called General Damages.
  • You may also need financial support to help to pay for medical equipment, treatment, medication or rehabilitation, as well as any necessary alterations to your home. These are called Special Damages.
  • You may have had to take time off work, or maybe even to find a new job altogether. Your compensation could help to cover the costs of lost earnings so that you can focus on your recovery or care for your child.
  • Your solicitor will take all these expenses into consideration when negotiating your compensation claim.

Aside from putting pressure on your finances, birth injuries have a serious psychological and emotional impact: they can affect all aspects of your daily life, from work and social to your hobbies. For this reason, your solicitor will make sure you're covered for any impact the birth injury incident has had on you and your child's life.

For more information about birth injury compensation - or to find out how we can help you - get in touch with us for free on .

How long do I have to make a birth injury compensation claim?

Limitation periods do apply to birth injury claims. In the case of an injury to your baby, you can bring a claim anytime up until their 18th birthday. If no claim is made in that period, they can make the claim themselves as a young adult anytime in the three years between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

If your baby has suffered a birth injury that has damaged their mental capacity to an extent that it will not improve as they get older, there are no time limits for lodging a medical negligence claim.

Can I make a birth injury claim using no win no fee?

In the vast majority of cases, our experienced medical negligence and birth injury solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis.

What is

What is "No win no fee"? | National Accident Helpline

What is "No win no fee"? | National Accident Helpline

If your claim succeeds, your solicitor will make a set deduction from the overall settlement awarded to you by the other side. They'll explain this to you clearly and in detail before starting work on your claim.

However, if your claim fails and your medical negligence solicitor doesn't recover compensation for you, they won't charge you for the work they have done.

Your birth injury solicitor will also explain if a no win no fee arrangement is not applicable to your claim. This is a very rare circumstance and they'll always explain everything to you before incurring any costs on your behalf.

To find out more about no win no fee claims, get in contact with our friendly team on .

Can me or my child have access to long term medical treatment and rehabilitation?

The additional medical treatment, rehabilitation or long-term care that is - or may - be needed for mother or baby in a birth injury compensation claim is called Special Damages. Should you wish to pursue a claim, then the firm of approved birth injury solicitors we connect you with will assess those needs. These will form an important part of your medical negligence claim. If your claim is successful, they'll be able to make sure you receive all the assistance you need as part of your settlement.

Why should you talk to us?

At National Accident Helpline, we will give you free, impartial advice about your birth injury claim. We'll help judge if you have grounds for a claim so that you can decide what course of action is right for you.

Here's what some of our customers have said about us:

David in bike leather jacket

David spoke to us when his accident left him worried about paying the bills

They took me seriously. They were very sympathetic, and it was easy talking to them.


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Sue sitting on her sofa in lounge

Sue called us after an accident left her struggling and we helped her to get the compensation she deserved

National Accident Helpline helped tremendously - they literally put my life back together again.


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Speak to us in confidence. With more than 25 years' experience of helping people who have suffered medical negligence, you can trust us to help you receive the birth injury compensation that you deserve.

Read our customer stories to see how we've helped people make it right after suffering an accident or injury that wasn't their fault.

Find out how we can help you claim compensation, let us call you back

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