Finding out that your child has contracted a life-threatening illness during their first few weeks is an incredibly distressing experience. One of the happiest days of your life can quickly become one of the most stressful.
All healthcare providers have guidelines to follow to protect you and your baby from potential infections. If your baby has suffered a serious neonatal infection, there may have been a failure to follow these guidelines, and you may be able to claim compensation.
Neonatal infections are any infections that a baby acquires before being born or within the first four weeks of life. This can include serious infectious bacteria such as septicaemia and MRSA, which can spread easily in hospitals and healthcare settings.
How are neonatal infections contracted?
Neonatal infections may be passed by mother to child through blood transmission, in the birth canal during childbirth or contracted after birth. Infectious diseases, such as MRSA and Strep B, are a risk in healthcare settings because of the proximity to other potentially infected people, particularly as many bacteria have grown more resistant to antibiotics. Healthcare providers should manage this risk by ensuring their premises are hygienic and that strict hygiene guidelines are followed.
Who is responsible for my baby’s neonatal infection?
Our specialist team for neonatal infection claims will investigate the details of your baby’s infection to determine who, if anyone was responsible for what happened. Healthcare settings have a duty of care to those who visit their premises and if there is a chance that your baby’s infection was preventable, you may be able to make a birth injury compensation claim.
I discovered, as an adult, that my injury or condition was caused by a neonatal infection. Can I still make a claim?
Yes. You can still make a claim if you discover, years later as an adult, that an injury or condition you live with was caused by a neonatal infection. Sepsis is often triggered by infections and can cause serious injuries such as amputation and limb loss. You’ll normally have three years to make a claim from the date you discover that your injuries might have been caused by medical negligence. If you have any concerns about the time limits for claiming compensation, our team will be able to discuss the process of claiming compensation in a free one-to-one consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know the thought of talking to a medical negligence solicitor about making a neonatal infection compensation claim can be daunting. But it could be the first step you take to supporting your baby’s recovery and to a financially stable future.
If your baby has suffered a neonatal infection, as the parent or legal guardian, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.
Here is what you need to know:
- The first step is to get in touch with us. Call our specialist medical negligence team on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or contact us online for a free, no obligation chat.
- We will ask for the details of your child’s injuries and how they were sustained. Based on this information, we will assess their case and advise if we believe there to be a reasonable prospect of success. We can often help even if you’ve been turned down by other law firms.
- We will gather evidence on the circumstances of your child’s injury to identify who the claim should be brought against. We will also investigate the extent of your child’s injuries, the impact on their life and their immediate needs. This will include liaising with healthcare providers and teachers to access their medical records and school reports.
- After we have investigated your claim and obtained appropriate expert evidence we will contact the insurers of those responsible for your child’s injury and put the claim to them. If negligence is admitted, then it is likely we’ll be able to settle the claim.
- We will arrange for an independent medical professional to assess your child’s injuries and advise what treatment, rehabilitation or care and support they need. This will help us to accurately calculate the level of compensation required. Sometimes this means waiting until your child has grown a bit more, to accurately assess the full extent of their injuries and the level of compensation they require. It is also likely that the defendant’s solicitor will request your child sees independent experts they’ve instructed to make their own assessments. We will be there to guide and support you and your child at every stage of the process.
- To support your child during their claim, we will work to secure interim payments so they have access to vital rehabilitation including medical treatment, care and support while their claim is ongoing. We work with leading rehabilitation specialists, case managers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and care providers to aid your child’s recovery and make daily life easier.
- If liability is not accepted, we may have to go to court and a judge will decide the outcome. Even if your case does go to court, many claims settle before the trial begins. If court proceedings start, our expert child injury team will be with you every step of the way and will work hard secure maximum compensation. We will keep you updated throughout the compensation process and explain every stage as it happens.
The amount of compensation your child will receive depends on the severity of their injuries and the impact on their life both now and in the future. It is likely that significant, life-changing injuries will result in increased awards to provide funding for medical treatment, rehabilitation, care and support, adaptations to the home and other financial losses such as loss of earnings and pension. Click here to read more about compensation.
If your child’s claim is successful, before they reach the age of 18 their compensation will be paid into the court to be held on trust where it will be invested on their behalf until they turn 18. As the child’s parent or legal guardian, it is possible to apply directly to the court to release money to pay for things such as medical treatment or education support which will only be authorised if the court is satisfied that it is necessary. Any amount awarded to your child has to be approved at an infant approval hearing, before any amount can be paid out. Your child may need to attend this hearing or you may be able to attend on their behalf, depending upon their age and the severity of their injuries. Click here to read more about infant approval hearings.
If your child has the capacity to make their own decisions, once they reach the age of 18 they and their money has been invested in the court they will be paid their compensation in full together with any interest that has accrued over time as they are deemed to have maintained majority.
If they lack capacity to manage their finances, their funds will be managed by the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection is a legal body dedicated to helping those who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. The Court of Protection will appoint a ‘Deputy’ who will manage the compensation that has been awarded to your child, to make sure their finances are properly taken care of and the award lasts for their life time. Parents and family members can be Deputies for their children but often professional Deputies are appointed to provide expert and dedicated support to the individual. The cost of a Professional Deputy can be recovered through the claim.
When dealing with such claims we frequently partner with our sister firm Hyphen Law, which specialises in helping to manage the property and financial affairs of those whose lives have been affected by a brain injury or similar impairment and lack the capacity to make their own decisions. They can offer Professional Deputyship services as well as advice on other ways to protect your child’s compensation, such as personal injury trusts. Click here to visit Hyphen Law’s website and learn more or, alternatively, contact us on FREEPHONE 0800 884 0777. One of our team will be able to provide you with more information.
Yes. The general rule is that you have three years from the date of the infection or – if you an adult retrospectively claiming for a neonatal infection – the date when you realised the infection you contracted as a child may have been caused by someone else’s mistake or negligence.
If you are claiming on behalf of a child, you can claim at any time until the child turns 18. When the child turns 18, they can bring a claim in their own right but the three year time limit will then apply and they will have until they are 21 to do so.
If you’re claiming on behalf of a child who died due to a neonatal infection, you’ll either have three years from the date of their death or the date you realised their infection was caused by negligence to make a claim.
There are some time limit exceptions. For example, there is no time limit for people who don’t have the mental capacity to make legal decisions and different time limits apply for some injuries or illnesses sustained abroad.
Time can be a critical factor in compensation claims, so it’s important to get in touch with our specialist personal injury team as soon as possible for expert advice.
Neonatal infection cases can be settled without court proceedings being issued. It is often necessary to issue court proceedings, but you are unlikely to be required to appear at court unless the case goes to trial. However, if your child is under 18 or does not have mental capacity, a court approval will be needed. In the event that you are required to go to court on your child’s behalf, your specialist personal injury solicitor will support you every step of the way and guide you through the process.
If you have a question that is not listed above, please visit our FAQs page. Alternatively, please call our specialist team on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation chat.