I understand that children can make difficult birth medical negligence claims when they have sustained an avoidable injury during the delivery process, but what about the mother?
If a mother has sustained an avoidable injury during the delivery process, they have exactly the same rights as their child – with the only difference being that a mother´s claim for difficult birth medical negligence must be made within two years of the injury being identified. The difficulty with claiming compensation for medical negligence at birth as far as a mother is concerned is that there is an element of pain in giving birth and, through the joy of bringing a new life into the world, injuries received at the time are rarely reported or even acknowledged.
If however an injury has been sustained and noticed after the event, it still has to be established that the cause of the injury was medical negligence during a difficult birth. This can be ascertained by an expert physician reviewing your medical records and the reports made by the delivery team to see if the difficult birth could have been prevented in advance, if a procedure was carried out which “in the circumstances and at the time” was inappropriate, or whether the procedure was appropriate but poorly performed.
Once it has been determined that “on the balance of probabilities” you sustained an avoidable injury during the delivery process, you will be entitled to make difficult birth medical negligence compensation claims; but, as the Injuries Board Ireland declines to assess applications which concern medical negligence, you will have to engage the services of a solicitor to pursue a claim for difficult birth medical negligence on your behalf.
The solicitor – who could also arrange for the expert physician to review your medical records – will write a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner considered responsible for your injuries and inform them that you are claiming compensation for medical negligence at birth. If your solicitor has prepared a sufficiently strong claim for difficult birth medical negligence, the medical practitioner will be invited to make an offer of settlement of your claim.
One important note at this point is that it will not be the medical practitioner who physically pays you compensation for medical negligence at birth – it will be medical practitioner´s insurance company. Therefore, if it transpires that a medical practitioner with whom you developed a personal relationship is found to be responsible for your injury, they will not be financially penalised for their mistake. However, it may mean that you are approached directly by the medical practitioner´s insurance company with an offer of compensation for your difficult birth medical negligence claim.
Direct approaches such as these should be treated with caution, as the full consequences of your birth injury may not have yet manifested and you may be accepting a settlement of compensation for difficult birth medical negligence which does not fully compensate you. Frequently, mothers suffering an injury due to a difficult birth have problems forming a natural relationship with their child and it may be the case that extensive – and expensive – counselling is required in order for you to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with your child.
As this might already be the case, it is in your best interests to discuss difficult birth medical negligence claims with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.