Understanding the common types of birth injuries

The birth of a child should be an occasion for great joy and celebration. Mothers and babies in Ireland enjoy excellent antenatal and postnatal care, and in the vast majority of cases birth is a natural physiological event that doesn’t pose any problems. However, while modern medicine has made the process generally very safe, there is still potential risk of injury to either baby or mother during this critical period. Medical negligence, though rare, can be a contributing factor to birth related problems. At S T O’Sullivan & Co. Solicitors, we are here for you during the emotional process of coming to terms with a birth that did not go as smoothly as hoped. This is our guide to understanding the most common types of birth injuries.

What are the most common types of birth injury?

Most injuries that take place during birth are relatively minor. The baby may fracture their collarbone; the mother may experience bruising with the use of forceps. They may present some discomfort at the time, but are soon forgotten about amongst the joy of a new life.

However, on rare occasions a birth experience leaves injuries that will be life long. These can include cerebral palsy, which can be caused by a lack of oxygen during the delivery process, or an infection such as meningitis. Brachial plexus injuries are another very serious type of birth injury. These affect the nerves that run from the spinal cord into the arm and hand; when damaged during birth it can result in a lack of function in the arm for life.

Birth injuries can occur to either mother or child, and in the most serious cases can lead to haemorrhage and fatality for the mother, and stillbirth for the child. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible problems; and if you feel that you have suffered in any way through less than professional medical care, you should consult with a solicitor regarding the compensation process.

Can I bring a claim for compensation?

Claims for compensation can be brought both on behalf of the baby, and by the mother. The mother may have been injured physically, or may have sustained psychological damage through witnessing harm to her baby. Even if the baby is unharmed, the mother may well have a claim if she has been injured either physically or psychologically. The baby may also have a cause of action against the hospital in its own right. In this instance, it would have to be shown that there was a duty of care to the baby, that this duty had been breached, and that harm had stemmed from that breach. It can be hard to show the evidence linking the breach of duty to the harm caused, and medical experts may have differing opinions. Navigating these complications is where an experienced medical negligence solicitor will be of particular help. 

Likewise, with psychological trauma and PTSD caused by a bad birth, it is nonetheless necessary to demonstrate that the harm is the direct result of substandard care. It is possible for psychological damage to be sustained through a traumatic birth, even though the care has been exemplary and there is no-one to blame.

Damage caused to mothers and babies by infections is another contentious area. Unless there is evidence of manifest negligence on the part of medical staff, most cases will be strongly defended by hospitals as unfortunate but accidental incidences, where no-one was at fault.

What is the time limit for a birth injury compensation claim?

A case of this nature must be brought within two years of the date you suffered the injury. However, if you only found out that the injury was a result of negligence later on, then you have two years from the date you discovered this. 

How can I proceed with my case?

If you or your baby have suffered a birth injury, and feel you may have been the victim of medical negligence, it is important that you consult an experienced medical negligence solicitor. You will need to prove that the injury was sustained as a direct result of substandard care, and that it would not have happened had the care been of the expected high quality. You will need to have all your medical records and related documentation, to allow medical experts to demonstrate that you have been treated in a negligent manner.

Further advice on birth injuries and compensation claims

Our team here at S. T. O’Sullivan & Co. Solicitors Ennis have 35 years of experience in personal injury and medical negligence claims. We are known for our friendly and sensitive approach, and are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve. Get in touch today.