A stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after the sixth month (24th week) of pregnancy. In very rare cases, a caesarean section may be performed. A stillbirth is a terrible personal tragedy and a traumatic personal loss. If the stillbirth was the result of medical negligence, you could consider the option of stillbirth medical negligence claims.
Medical negligence claims could be made in circumstances where the negligence of treatment led to the baby’s death. Failure to give a mother and baby proper care, monitoring and treatment could lead to the loss of a baby. The death of a baby can be an intensely traumatic experience. Stillbirth medical negligence claims can be used to hold doctors and hospitals to account for the grief and pain the loss of a baby caused you and your family.
This guide is about medical negligence stillbirth claims. We will cover things like how and why stillbirths occur and how in some cases they could be linked to medical negligence.
We aim to help you understand whether or not you could be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. To help you understand how the process works, we also have a breakdown of how compensation is calculated, what time limits could affect your claim, and how a medical negligence solicitor fees could be conditional on your case being successful.
At Medical Negligence Assist, we can provide you with advice and consultation through our advice team. Our panel of medical negligence solicitors could help you to make a claim. If you want to get in touch about making a claim, regardless of whether or not your mind is made up yet, you can reach us through the following.
- The live chat at the bottom of the page
- You can ring us on 0800 652 3087
- Or you could use our ‘claim online‘ page to make a booking for a phone call from one of our advisors
Select A Section
- What Are Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims?
- Causes Of Neonatal Deaths And Stillbirths
- Reducing The Risk Of Stillbirths
- How Clinical Practitioners Reduce The Risk Of Stillbirths
- What Happens After A Neonatal Death?
- Coroners’ Duty To Investigate Stillbirths And Neonatal Deaths
- How Does The Inquest Process Work?
- Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims Time Limits
- Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims Calculator
- No Win No Fee Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims
- How Medical Negligence Assist Could Help
- How Common Is Stillbirth In The UK?
- Information And Support After A Stillbirth
- FAQs: Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims
Medical negligence is the actions or omissions of a medical professional when they deviate from the standard and proven procedures that result in the patient being harmed or injured in a way that should not have happened. Medical negligence can come in a number of different forms such as:
- Misdiagnosis despite clear symptoms.
- Incorrect treatment – deviating from proven procedures.
- Substandard quality of care.
Please note that to have a valid claim for medical negligence it must be proven that you suffered avoidable harm that would not and should not have happened. It may not always be possible for a patient to be diagnosed and treated successfully and this isn’t always medical negligence. But it is not acceptable for a doctor to fail to help a patient when they could have reasonably done more.
Medical negligence can cause a baby to be stillborn in a number of different ways. Medical negligence could result in signs of illness or threats to the babies health being missed or misdiagnosed. A doctor might negligently dispense incorrect advice to the mother. A baby could be showing signs of distress which was ignored by medical staff but intervention could have saved the baby’s life.
The object of making a claim would be to seek compensation for the avoidable suffering you and your baby experienced. This includes financial loss and physical and mental harm. If you are unsure whether your case meets the criteria for making a medical negligence claim call our team today. The initial consultation is free. You can see if the merits of your case qualify for compensation.
A stillbirth can have a variety of causes. A non-exhaustive list of causes of stillbirths includes:
- Issues with the umbilical cord, such as a prolapse of the cord or the cord becoming wrapped around the baby
- Damage to the placenta
- intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP)
- Diabetes in the mother
- Infections transferred from the mother to the baby
- The baby suffering from genetic defects
Consult the NHS website for more information on the causes of stillbirth.
It is not clear why all stillbirths happen. Some are linked to problems with the placenta, the mother’s overall health or defects and genetic conditions of the unborn baby. The NHS always advise that if there is a reduction in the movements the baby makes then it is vital you have this checked out. On some occasions, there is no evidence as to why the stillbirth took place. According to the NHS, there are things that expecting parents can do to reduce the risk of stillbirths and complications include:
- Attending every antenatal appointment
- Eating healthily
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Sleeping on your side
- Informing midwives of any drug use
You can consult the NHS for further information and advice about reducing the risk of stillbirth.
During pregnancy, a doctor and a midwife will have regular appointments with you. This is both to help you prepare for the birth as well as to ensure the safety and good health of your baby. Some of the things that they could do to look after you and your baby include:
- Conducting regular appointments
- Carrying out thorough scans and examinations
- Asking clear and direct questions
- Referring you to a specialist when symptoms emerge
- Applying appropriate treatment when signs of potential danger emerge.
Following the advice of your doctor or midwife is very often key to having a good healthy pregnancy and birth. If those looking after you fail to take any signs or symptoms of problems with your pregnancy seriously this could lead to issues. If you feel important signals were missed and this led to you suffering a stillbirth contact our team today. Any pressing questions can be answered then.
Neonatal death is different to a stillborn. The baby is born alive but passes away within the first 28 days.
The medical professional may put you in touch with a specialist to talk to. This specialist can help you to make arrangements for things like having a photo taken with your baby, being able to hold your baby, and getting mementoes such as a lock of your baby’s hair or a print of their feet.
Such things may be stored at the hospital in case you are unsure about whether or not you want them so that you can come back later to collect or view them. You can be given the choice of naming your baby if you wish.
A coroner does not have the authority to investigate a death that occurred before birth, as a baby and their mother are counted as a single legal entity. They currently have the authority to investigate whether or not a death occurred before birth or afterwards.
If the death was neonatal, the coroner can investigate it. The coroner has the authority to conduct interviews, look into medical records, and carry out an inquest.
If there was a stillbirth, they can’t make an inquest.
Proposed changes in the law that would grant extended powers to conduct investigations into pre-natal deaths are currently under review.
An inquest is a process by which the coroner can determine the cause and circumstances of a death. By carrying out a successful inquest, the coroner can identify the cause to be formally identified.
An inquest may not be intended to draw conclusions about who was responsible for a death, but the information it could bring to light could enable responsibility to be identified.
The coroner can gather statements from doctors, midwives, hospital staff, and the baby’s family. The family and their lawyers could also be allowed to ask questions of their own to these parties. The results of an inquest could form the basis of medical negligence compensation claims.
Unfortunately, there is a time limit to making a personal injury or medical negligence compensation claim. A claim needs to be made within three years. This can stem from different dates though. Also, it depends on whom the claim is for. The time limit can begin from the date of the negligence or it can begin from the date you are knowledgeable of the suffering caused by the negligence. Once this three-year time limit has expired, you will sadly no longer be entitled to make a claim.
An exception could be made if you lacked the mental capacity to claim on your own behalf. The three-year time limit would begin from when you regained capacity.
However, when someone doesn’t have the mental capacity to claim, a litigation friend could handle making a compensation claim on their behalf. We have a guide to understanding the medical negligence time limit if you need more information.
When making a claim for medical negligence if successful your compensation will be split into two parts. They are general damages and special damages. General damages look to compensate for the pain and suffering caused by the negligent practices. And special damages will compensate for the financial losses and expenses due to medical negligence.
You can see the recommended amounts of compensation for psychological trauma are in the table below. We took these figures from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a publication that legal professionals use to help them when valuing injuries.
|Severe PTSD||Trauma which prevents the victim from functioning normally in life, work and relationships||£56,180 to £94,470|
|Moderately severe PTSD||Same as above, but with good chances of recovering previous ability to function||£21,730 to £56,180|
|Moderate PTSD||A recovery from trauma without disabling lasting symptoms||£7,680 to £21,730|
|Less severe PTSD||Cases where the victim makes a full recovery from trauma within two years||£3,710 to £7,680|
|Severe psychiatric damage||Severe negative effects on relationships and ability to cope with life, education and work||£51,460 to £108,620|
|Moderately severe Pyschiatric damage||The same problems as above, but with good chances of recovery||£17,900 to £51,460|
|Moderate Psychiatric damage||Psychiatric damage but the claimant has a good prognosis||£5,500 to £17,900|
|Less severe Psychiatric damage||Cases in which the victim has made a full recovery apart from minor symptoms||£1,440 to £5,500|
The special damages part of a claim can take into account the money that is spent on dealing with medical negligence. This may include counselling fees and prescription charges. You will need to present the paperwork to support this claim though. Without providing receipts, invoices, and so on claims cannot be made for financial costs.
Many are put off from making a medical negligence or personal injury claim because they are worried about the expensive fees of solicitors. You may not know but you are well within your rights to represent your own case. However medical negligence cases can be very complex and it is likely that the defendant will have a legal team on their side.
If you were to opt for a solicitor that offers No Win No Fee terms you would not have to worry about paying them an upfront fee or any fees while the case continues. If the case was to lose then you would not have to pay any of their fees. In successful claims, a percentage of the compensation is taken by the solicitor to cover any fees outstanding.
In a No Win No Fee claim, your solicitor takes on a financial risk because if the claim loses, they don’t receive any solicitor fees. If the claim wins, they do.
They’ll receive a success fee. This is an amount taken from the claimant’s compensation, worth only a small percentage.
Other benefits include:
- No upfront solicitor fees.
- No ongoing solicitor fees.
- Legal support throughout your claim.
Medical Negligence Assist can help in a number of ways. Our advisors can provide you with a free consultation. They can answer questions you might have that haven’t been addressed so far in this article. They could also provide you with a consultation about whether or not your circumstances could allow you to make a compensation claim.
We can also put you in touch with our panel of medical negligence solicitors. A lawyer from our panel can help you gather evidence and represent you if the case goes to court. To find out more about how a medical negligence solicitor could help you make a claim, contact us.
Here is our contact information again:
- Use the live chat at the bottom of the page to message an advisor
- You can ring us on 0800 652 3087
- Or you could use our ‘claim online‘ page to make a booking for a phone call from one of our advisors
Approximately one in 200 pregnancies result in a stillbirth in England. Figures for infant mortality in 2018 show that the infant mortality rate was 3.8 in 1000 in England and Wales.
Will I need to attend the inquest?
An inquest is an open court session, meaning that those who were close to the deceased have the right to attend. In many cases, at least one relative of the deceased may be required to attend. This does not have to be the next of kin of the deceased.
Can you sue a hospital for stillbirth?
You could have the right to make a medical negligence compensation claim for a stillbirth if you are able to make a case that the loss of your baby was caused by medical negligence.
What is the average payout for medical negligence UK?
There is no one compensation figure to refer to. Compensation claims are all different. Compensation is awarded on the basis of circumstances such as financial loss. Compensation is awarded where there is proof of suffering, harm, and loss due to medical negligence.
Thank you for reading our guide to stillbirth medical negligence claims.
Guide by Jack
Edited by Ruth