Yesterday (1 December 2022) Novum Law specialist asbestos solicitors Rebecca Ryan and Alison Sayers attended the 2022 Mesothelioma Essential Update. This was the first such event, held jointly by the...Read more
Losing a child is heartbreaking and is one of the most devastating experiences parents ever have to face. If your baby is stillborn or dies during or just after birth, it causes significant upset and distress for families.
It is estimated that in the UK, 15 babies are stillborn or die in the early neonatal period every single day. When a sudden loss happens, families understandably want to understand why their child died and whether the death was preventable.
It is the responsibility of the doctors, midwives and nurses caring for you and your unborn child to recognise and manage any risks to your baby before their birth, during labour and after they are born. Any negligent mistakes that result in your child being stillborn or dying soon after their birth are unacceptable. If this happens, you may be able to make a medical negligence compensation claim.
Our specialist team of stillbirth and neonatal death solicitors have many years of experience helping families who have experienced a poor standard of care during pregnancy or childbirth resulting in the loss of a child.
We have the expertise to help you find out what happened, get the answers you need and provide you with specialist legal advice to make a successful medical negligence claim.
Our Expertise with Stillbirth Claims and Neonatal Death Claims
We understand how hard it is to deal with the loss of a baby. It is a traumatic and deeply personal experience. That is why our specialist stillbirth and neonatal death lawyers will help you make a medical negligence claim with sensitivity, professionalism, and empathy.
We support families seeking stillbirth compensation and neonatal death compensation involving:
- Failure to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia (a condition causing high blood pressure in mothers)
- Failure to diagnose and manage maternal or gestational diabetes
- Placental abruption – failure to act quickly and effectively when the placenta becomes detached from the wall of the womb before birth
- Failure to properly monitor the baby’s heartbeat and other vital signs during labour
- Failure to properly monitor a newborn and miss complications such as jaundice, meningitis or sepsis
- Negligent medical care of neonates (babies aged 28 days or less) resulting in fatal neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
- Delayed or missed diagnosis of neonatal infections (such as Group B strep)
- Failure to treat problems with the umbilical cord (such as the umbilical cord being too long or short)
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of maternal infections
- Failure to provide oxygen or to resuscitate a baby with birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen) to the brain)
- Failure to provide necessary emergency surgery (such as a C-section) to protect the baby’s health
- Negligent medical care and treatment during pregnancy resulting in a premature baby
Our birth injury lawyers can also help with severe injuries to mothers during childbirth.
Some examples of maternity injuries we can help with include:
- Broken bones
- Uterine inversion
- Nerve injury
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Vaginal trauma (perineal lacerations or tears)
- Bladder and bowel injuries during C-section
If you want to make a compensation claim for a serious injury you’ve sustained during labour and childbirth, please visit our birth injuries to mothers page.
How stillbirth and neonatal death compensation can help
While no amount of compensation can make up for losing a child, making a stillbirth and neonatal death claim can often provide much-needed answers for families to help them recover from the grief and trauma they are experiencing.
Our specialist medical negligence lawyers understand the emotional turmoil the loss of a child during pregnancy or birth causes. We also know that it can be daunting deciding to make a stillbirth or neonatal death compensation claim.
We will do everything possible to provide the dedicated care and support you need throughout your claim. Our team will work hard on your behalf to secure maximum compensation for your pain and suffering and ensure lessons are learned so that others do not have to face the same heartache you and your family have experienced.
How making a stillbirth or neonatal death claim works
Book a free initial consultation with our expert stillbirth and neonatal death solicitors
If you would like to claim compensation after a stillbirth or the loss of your baby during or shortly after birth, get in touch with our expert medical negligence team for a FREE initial consultation.
Our specialist team will ask you what happened during your pregnancy, labour, and the birth of your child, talk through all the details with you and work out if you will be able to make a successful claim.
No Win No Fee stillbirth and neonatal death compensation claims
We offer No Win No Fee funding, which means there is no financial risk to you or any hidden, unexpected costs. In the event, your compensation claim is unsuccessful; you will not have to pay a penny. Find out more information about No Win No Fee.
Investigating your stillbirth or neonatal death claim
Our expert stillbirth and neonatal death solicitors will investigate your claim thoroughly. We will gather the evidence needed to build a strong case for you and your family.
Every stillbirth and neonatal death claim is different. Our team will obtain and review your medical records to establish exactly what happened. We will also gather all the witness evidence needed, including detailed statements from you (and your partner if applicable).
Once we have all your medical notes and detailed witness statements, we will then work with leading independent medical experts (which may include specialists such as an obstetrician, neonatologist, paediatrician, or a midwife) to give their view on the standard of treatment you and your baby received.
Working out how much stillbirth or neonatal death compensation you are owed
The compensation you receive will depend on your circumstances and how your child died. It may cover:
- General damages – for your pain, suffering, distress, and loss of amenity (the impact on the quality of your life)
- Special damages – covers any loss of earnings for the time you have had to spend away from work now or in the future, the cost of therapy and counselling costs, including travel costs to therapy or counselling sessions, and funeral expenses.
Find out more about how we calculate compensation.
Time limits for stillbirth and neonatal death claims
You must make a compensation claim within three years of the date your baby died due to stillbirth or neonatal death.
In some cases, if you only became aware that medical negligence may have been the cause of your child being stillborn or dying as a newborn, the three-year time limit will be counted from the date you realised this.
It is vital you get in touch with our specialist stillbirth and neonatal death lawyers as soon as possible so that we can investigate your case for you.
Settling a stillbirth or neonatal death claim out of court
We settle most stillbirth, and neonatal death compensation claims out of court. If your medical negligence case must go to court, our expert solicitors will support you throughout the process.
Taking your stillbirth or neonatal death claim to court
If we do have to issue court proceedings (for example, because no settlement agreement is reached informally), we will guide you through the process and ensure you understand what is happening each step of the way.
In many stillbirths and neonatal death cases, the claims settle before the official court hearing date. For the small minority that do not, there is nothing to worry about. We will instruct a specialist barrister to represent you at the final hearing, and our expert solicitor will be with you to support you on the day.
Frequently Asked Questions about stillbirth and neonatal death claims
What is a stillbirth?
A stillbirth is the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy before or during birth. Before 24 weeks, the death of a baby is medically classified as a miscarriage.
What does stillborn mean?
A baby is stillborn if they die after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The death might happen before or during their birth. Sadly, according to the baby loss charity Tommy’s, one in every 250 births ends in a baby being stillborn.
What causes stillbirth?
Sadly, many stillbirths happen in apparently healthy babies, with no obvious reason for the loss. There are several main reasons why a baby might be stillborn, such as:
- Problems with the placenta
- Pre-eclampsia (a condition causing high blood pressure in mothers)
- Maternal infections
- Heavy bleeding during pregnancy or labour
- Genetic disorders
- Problems with the umbilical cord
Medical negligence is a factor when avoidable mistakes are made or when the standard of medical care falls below the required standard, causing a baby to be stillborn. There are many examples of negligent treatment that may result in stillbirth, including:
- Inadequate antenatal monitoring of a baby’s development during pregnancy
- Failure to act on reduced foetal movements during pregnancy
- Failure to refer a mother for assessment if she is at a higher risk due to conditions like diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure
- Missed or delayed diagnosis of maternal infections
- Failure to adequately monitor the baby during labour
- Failures to treat placental abruption
- Failure to give antibiotics during labour when group B streptococcus (GBS) infection is present
- Misinterpretation of test or scan results
Can you claim compensation for stillbirth?
Regular testing and examinations throughout pregnancy can help detect the symptoms of problems that can cause stillbirth. If healthcare staff fail to follow proper procedural guidelines throughout your pregnancy and during your delivery and the standard of care you receive is negligent, you may be able to claim stillbirth compensation.
What is neonatal death?
A neonatal death refers to a baby who has died within 28 days following their birth. While many neonatal deaths are linked to premature labour and the higher risks associated with this, there are other reasons why a baby might not survive when they are born at full term. These include genetic disorders, infections, complications during or after birth, and medical negligence.
What is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and death?
Neonatal sepsis is a severe infection in a baby younger than 28 days old. It is caused by bacteria or viruses and is transmitted during birth through the amniotic fluid or during a vaginal delivery as the baby is born. Some risk factors associated with neonatal sepsis and death are:
- Lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain before or during delivery (neonatal asphyxia or birth asphyxia)
- Premature baby
- Maternal infection
- Group b streptococcus (GBS)
- Bacteria, such as E Coli
- Herpes simplex virus
What are the three main causes of neonatal mortality?
The three leading causes of neonatal mortality worldwide are infections, premature birth, and suffocation (birth asphyxia).
Who is responsible for a stillbirth or neonatal death?
Your midwife, nurse or doctor has a legal duty of care to protect your baby from harm before, during and after their birth and to ensure they receive prompt and effective treatment if anything goes wrong. If your baby is stillborn or tragically dies soon after birth, it may be because the healthcare provider looking after them was not of a competent enough standard. It’s vital to speak to a specialist solicitor who can listen to what happened to you and advise you appropriately.
How do I make a stillbirth or neonatal death claim?
It’s essential to speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor who has experience and expertise in stillbirth and neonatal deaths to advise you on making a potential claim. Our expert team are on hand to give you all the legal advice you need. You can call us at any time on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or email email@example.com.
How much compensation will I receive?
Every stillbirth and neonatal death claim is different. The exact compensation you can claim will depend on your personal circumstances. Your compensation may include: any pain and suffering experienced, financial losses incurred, including expenditure (e.g., unused items for the baby, travel costs, funeral expenses, care, and counselling services) and loss of earnings and pension.
Will there be an inquest into my baby’s death?
A coroner’s inquest is a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding a death. The main purpose is to establish who died, how they died, where and when. If it is thought your baby died due to medical negligence, an inquest may take place. The coroner has the power to ask questions of key witnesses, such as hospital staff, and may allow interested parties, such as relatives or their lawyers, to also ask questions.
An inquest is not intended to be an inquiry into who was to blame for the death, but during the coroner’s investigation, important information is likely to come to light that will assist in proving whether a failure of care contributed to your baby’s death.
Our specialist solicitors and lawyers can represent you throughout the inquest process. We will liaise with the coroner on your behalf, keeping you updated, ask questions of the witnesses, advise you on the procedures involved and address any concerns you may have. We can also arrange for a specialist inquest barrister to represent you if required.
I’m not happy with my law firm. Can you take over from my current solicitor?
Yes. If your current law firm is not giving you the service and support you need during your stillbirth or neonatal death compensation claim, you are entitled to change solicitors.