Childbirth can be a traumatic experience for the patient, even if things go smoothly and without incident. Where something goes wrong and the baby is injured, it can have a profound effect on the lives of the family. Claims for negligence, for the most part, can be raised either by the parents on behalf of the child, or by the child themselves when they reach the age of 18.
Broken bones can occur during childbirth. This can take a long time to heal, and is one of the most common birth injuries. In some cases, the damage done can have lifelong consequences. The most commonly broken bone is the clavicle, which can leave the baby immobile and in a considerable amount of pain. Claims for negligence, should this have been as a result of actions during the birth, can be raised until the child turns 21 (exactly 3 years after their 18th birthday).
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Erbs palsy is another birth injury that causes paralysis of the arm, due to the severing of specific nerves near the neck. This can be treatable, but can take a long time and a considerable amount of physical therapy and treatment to correct. It is common for children who have suffered from Erbs Palsy to have stunted growth in the arm and hands. Although use of the arm may come back, there could be lifelong weakness and inability to use the full range of motion in the affected arm. The timescales for making a claim are the same as with broken bones. Compensation claims would take in to consideration the cost of treating and any adjustments that may need to be made for mobility.
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Cerebral Palsy can occur during birth, most commonly where oxygen deprivation has been sustained. This can be as a result of a number of non-negligence related causes, but where it is negligence a claim can be made. This type of claim would take in to account the financial resources required for the duration of the childs life as Cerebral Palsy can affect mobility, speech, sleep, eating and various other functions depending on severity. The timeframes are again the same, until the childs’ 21st birthday. Claims of this nature can be expensive and a lengthy process. It may be advisable to try and secure legal aid for a portion of the costs, or perhaps find a no win, no fee lawyer prepared to take the case.
The most severe cases of birth injury can result in the child being stillborn. This can happen for a number of reasons that are not negligent, for example infection or drug use. Where there is a claim for negligence, the practitioner or establishment can be held liable. Where a child is stillborn, it is born dead after the 20 week point of the pregnancy. Unlike other birth injury claims, the family of the deceased have only 3 years from the date of death to make a claim. Claims in such cases would not only take in to account the physical trauma sustained, but the mental impact such an event would have on the woman who gave birth and the other parent where relevant.
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