At Ashtons Legal, we can represent you in a claim for damages to ensure that you are compensated for having to go through such a traumatic experience – as well as making sure you are provided for in the future.
Ashtons’ experienced Medical Negligence team has lawyers – led by Sharon Allison and Ben Ward – who specialise in claims for cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy and birth injuries affecting the mother as well as the child.
Ashtons has a track record of successful birth injury claims going back many years and the firm has consistently achieved top rankings from independent client guides The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for over 20 years for Clinical Negligence. The team also includes specialists accredited by Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA).
If you are worried about the cost of making a birth injury claim, please don’t be. In some birth injury cases, we are still able to apply for public funding for your claim. If you are not eligible for this, we offer ‘no win, no fee’ type arrangements for all of our medical negligence claims. This can mean there is no up-front cost to begin your claim and no financial risk to you if your claim is not successful*.
*Subject to entering into a conditional fee agreement in conjunction with a suitable insurance policy to cover any unrecovered disbursements and complying with your responsibilities under the terms of both.
Book a free no-obligation conversation with our birth injury solicitors in Ipswich
You will probably have many questions you would like to ask before starting your birth injury claim. These may include:
- Whether you have sufficient grounds to bring a claim?
- How much compensation might you expect to achieve, either to secure your child’s future or to help with your own recovery?
- How long might your birth injury claim take from the time you instruct us to the time you receive a settlement?
- Does it matter how old your child is when you begin the claim?
- Do we have to wait until the claim concludes to get any money or is it possible to get an interim payment to help fund private treatment or, in the case of a cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy claim, make adaptations to a property to make family life easier?
- Could we get an apology from the hospital in relation to the birth injury as well as financial compensation?
- If we bring a birth injury claim, might it help to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen to another family because the hospital will have to re-examine the way they do things?
In order to answer these questions and any others you may have, we offer a free initial consultation with one of our specialist lawyers. Although our offices are in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, we regularly act for families in other locations and have clients throughout the UK.
We can have our initial consultation virtually on Microsoft Teams or another digital platform of your choice. Alternatively, we can offer a face-to-face appointment in either our Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Norwich or Cambridge office.
To arrange a free initial consultation with one of our birth injury specialists, please contact our Ipswich office or use our online enquiry form to request a callback.
Our birth injury claims expertise
We have a strong track record of successful birth injury claims started on behalf of recent mothers and children of all ages.
Harm to the baby
Cerebral palsy claims
Many people will think first of cerebral palsy if asked to name a type of birth injury. This is the name given to a group of disorders that affect a person’s brain (cerebral) and also the way in which they use their muscles (palsy).
Cerebral palsy is a life-changing condition and one which can result from some form of medical negligence but can also arise totally independently of anything that has been done by a medical professional.
We have a full page here giving more information about cerebral palsy and potentially bringing a medical negligence claim.
Erb’s palsy claims
Erb’s palsy is another type of injury that may result from a mistake being made by doctors, nurses or midwives during the birthing process, or may be something that occurs but is not anyone’s fault.
Unlike cerebral palsy, it does not affect the brain but is a nerve injury affecting movement in the hand, arm and shoulder. The full medical name for it is Neonatal Brachial Plexus Paralysis (NBPP) and it is the result of damage to a baby’s upper arm. Erb’s point is an area in the vicinity of a baby’s neck where two of the cranial nerves merge and damage in this area can result in an inability to feel and move the shoulder, arm and hand.
Erb’s palsy usually results from trauma during the birth. In particular, if a baby becomes stuck during the birth and a doctor or midwife has to assist by using a vacuum or forceps, or they pull on the baby’s head, then Erb’s palsy may possibly occur.
It is more likely to occur if the mother is giving birth to a large baby and sometimes results from the medical team not realising soon enough that a caesarean section is required in order to deliver the baby safely. If your baby has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy and you believe that this could be what happened to you, then an early conversation with our specialist medical negligence solicitors is advised.
Harm to the mother
The term birth injury also applies to harm caused to the mother rather than the child.
Examples of birth injuries to the mother might include:
- Injuries caused by the use of forceps or after a vacuum delivery
- Issues with perineal tears, stitching, internal damage or post-natal infection
- Injuries caused to either the bowel or the bladder as a result of errors made during a caesarean section, or some other trauma arising during a caesarean section
- Errors in administering anaesthetic
- A failure to diagnose, or misdiagnosis of, pre-eclampsia.
Ideally, we would first see you soon after you realise there was a problem with your own care which has resulted in injury, or after your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy.
If it becomes clear early on that you are likely to have grounds for a birth injury claim, then we would seek to obtain some funding in advance of the claim being settled (known as an interim payment) to help cover costs you may already be incurring to support your child’s particular needs or to access additional treatment for yourself or your child.
However, cerebral palsy – or any other injury which results in the person who is injured lacking mental capacity – is different from most injury claims. While others are generally time-sensitive, a cerebral palsy claim can often still be brought at a much later date.
For example, Ashtons Legal has successfully concluded a cerebral palsy claim in the past for a lady in her 40s whose parents had looked after her themselves, without additional support, while she was a child but then realised as they got older that they needed to secure her future because they would not be there to care for her in the long term.
How we can help you to claim compensation for your, or your child’s, birth injury
Working out if you can make a claim and who is responsible
Our first step will be to ask for, assemble and analyse all the evidence in relation to what happened during labour and the birth. In addition to talking to you, we will need to access your medical records and hospital notes.
Generally, we then go on to obtain reports from experienced and trusted independent experts – generally some combination of paediatric neurologists, obstetricians, midwives, neonatologists and neuro-radiologists.
Our birth injury lawyers in Ipswich will look at:
- Duty of Care – what should your medical team have done to protect you and your child?
- Statutory Duty – what did the law say you were entitled to expect from your medical team at the time your birth injury occurred?
- Were your medical team in breach of either their Duty of Care or Statutory Duty?
- If the answer is yes, was that the cause of the medical injury which has now been diagnosed?
Some of the most frequent mistakes which result in a birth injury are:
- Using the wrong instruments during a baby’s delivery or using the correct instruments without due care – this can result in injury to the mother or the child
- Failing to monitor a baby’s heartbeat at appropriate times and/or misinterpreting the results given by the device used to monitor the baby’s heartbeat – this is most likely to result in an injured baby but a later urgent attempt to deliver the baby may also result in injury to the mother
- Not identifying soon enough or at all that a baby is in distress
- Delivering a baby too late and/or failing to carry out a successful caesarean section
- Allowing umbilical cord compression to result in interruption to a baby’s supply of oxygen; this is often a cause of cerebral palsy.
Why some birth injury claims are very different to other medical negligence claims
Birth injury claims where a baby has been injured are a specialist category of medical negligence claims. If a baby or toddler is diagnosed with cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy, it is often unclear early on how successful therapies and treatments will be and how the child will develop as they grow older.
This will affect how much care and support they are likely to need later on in life. So, a cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy claim may be ongoing for a number of years before a final settlement is reached.
This does not necessarily mean that you will have to wait for several years to get financial support. Where they can, our medical negligence solicitors will push for interim payments to help you with shorter-term financial needs while also working to ensure that your child’s future is financially secure in the long term.
When bringing a birth injury claim, the first thing we will aim to do is to get an admission from the NHS that the care provided by the medical team was inadequate and that the injury which has now been diagnosed was the result.
Everyone’s circumstances are different but here’s an example of an admission obtained recently in a cerebral palsy case:
During the process of bringing your birth injury claim, we will ensure our team is alongside you to support you in any way we can. To hear from one client about how we helped her family with a cerebral palsy claim, click here.
Valuing your birth injury claim
We will work out how much compensation your or your child might be entitled to. This will include assessing the severity of the birth injury and a wide range of factors about the impact on your or your child’s future life.
The process of a birth injury claim
Many birth injury claims are settled out of court. This is done through negotiating a settlement with NHS Resolution, who will be acting on behalf of the hospital responsible for the errors which led to your, or your child’s, injury.
Through effective negotiation, we can often obtain a good result without the need to go to court. This offers the chance to receive a settlement more quickly without the potential stress of attending a court trial.
If court proceedings are needed to ensure you receive the financial settlement you deserve, we will make sure that we make the best possible case that we can for you and will also provide you with the ongoing support you need at what can be a difficult time.
Book your free initial consultation with our specialist birth injury lawyers in Ipswich
If you have any questions about bringing forward a birth injury claim in Ipswich and you would like an initial consultation, please get in touch.
You can contact our Ipswich office or use our online enquiry form to request a callback and we will be happy to arrange a meeting for you with one of our expert birth injury claims lawyers.