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Legal 500

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Compensation Claims

Stillbirths and neonatal deaths are tragic and have a significant impact on parents and their wider family. When these devastating events happen families understandably want to know whether the death was preventable.  The focus of this is often in relation to the standard of antenatal care and monitoring during the pregnancy (could a problem have been identified and treated earlier?) and the labour and neonatal period.

Pursuing a stillbirth or neonatal death NHS compensation claim can help parents and their families address these types of questions to better understand what happened with their child and why such a tragic outcome occurred.  Compensation also enables the parents to assess additional support, counselling for example, to try and help cope with the traumatic situation and devastating loss of their child. 

Minton Morrill has a team of specialist Clinical Negligence solicitors who understand stillbirth claims and neonatal negligence and can offer advice and support during the legal investigation. Minton Morrill’s expert lawyers are compassionate, empathetic and patient because we recognise how sensitive these life changing events are for clients. Each family’s experience is personal to them and we tailor our work and offer a bespoke approach to make sure our service meets a family’s specific individual needs.

Do you have a claim for stillbirth or fatal neonatal negligence?

A stillbirth occurs when a baby is “stillborn” after 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

If a baby dies before 24 weeks of pregnancy it is called a “miscarriage”. 

A neonatal death is when a baby is born alive but sadly dies within 28 days of delivery.

If there is negligent medical care, the mother of a deceased baby may be eligible to bring a claim on behalf of her child and in her own right.  Psychiatric injury claims are often made by Mothers but it is increasingly difficult for Father’s to pursue these). 

Is there a time limit to claim?

The standard time limit for pursuing a stillbirth or neonatal death clinical negligence compensation claim is 3 years from either:

  • The date of death; or

  • In exceptional cases, from the date you became aware of the negligence (or ought reasonably to have become aware)

How our solicitors can help with stillbirth and neonatal death claims

Our team of leading medical negligence lawyers can help you investigate your case and provide you with as much support as you require to get the answers you need.

We understand that losing a child is simply devastating and can have a significant impact on both parents’ mental health, their relationship, their children and their wider family.

We guide our clients through the legal process and help you claim compensation for what you have endured; for example, for your emotional pain and distress, loss of earnings and therapy and/or counselling costs. 

Our team’s accreditations

Our medical negligence team is top ranked by the leading independent legal directories: Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.

Our senior lawyers are all panel members of the gold standard Action Against Medical Accidents accreditation scheme and Simon Minton, Julia Morrill, and Sahida Patel are all accredited specialists of the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel.

We are an accredited practice of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), with several of our talented team holding memberships, including Sahida Patel who holds ‘senior litigator’ status.

How stillbirth and neonatal claims work

Free initial consultation:

We provide a free, no obligation, initial consultation to discuss any concerns you may have about your medical treatment during your pregnancy and/or labour and the events which led to you suffering a stillbirth or neonatal death.

Our team of experienced lawyers will advise you on the different legal aspects of your case and the next steps required to progress a legal investigation.  This may, for example, involve obtaining your medical records for review or looking at formal NHS complaints that have been carried out.

For further information from a specialist medical negligence lawyer about a free initial consultation give us a call on 0113 345 2384 so that we can discuss your case.

No Win, No Fee stillbirth and neonatal death claims:

We understand that the prospect of pursuing a legal claim can be daunting and it is common to be concerned about the costs of pursuing your case. We will discuss and explain a range of flexible and accessible funding options with you allowing you to investigate a case regardless of your financial circumstances. 

These different funding options might include a No Win, No Fee agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement “CFA”), legal expenses insurance, trade union membership, or private funding arrangements.

We investigate many of our clients’ cases under a No Win, No Fee agreement.  If we assess your potential case as having prospects of success of over 50% we may be able to offer you a CFA to fund your investigation.  Under a No Win, No Fee agreement your legal fees only become payable if you win your case and we seek to recover these costs from the Defendant.  If your case does not succeed you pay us nothing.

Investigating your case:

Every medical negligence case is different but the first step is usually to obtain and review relevant medical records so that we can see exactly what has happened. 

The second step is then to take detailed witness statements from both parents setting out what they can remember happened.  These statements can be crucial for the success of a case because they provide more information than just medical records.

Once we had obtained a full set of medical records and detailed witness statements we instruct independent medical expert to report on the standard of treatment provided (whether it was below a reasonable standard) and, if so, if it caused the injury.  We might look at instructing a midwife, obstetrician, paediatrician or a neonatologist. 

Our preliminary legal investigations are as thorough and detailed as possible because this will be the foundation for the legal claim going forwards.

Valuing your claim:

The amount of compensation payable will depend on the individual circumstances of each case and the exact type of injury that has occurred.  Parents often suffer psychiatric injuries in devastating stillbirth or neonatal death cases which can include

Post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), adjustment disorders or depression, for example.  If you have suffered an injury as a result of negligent care you may claim:

  • General damages: for your pain, suffering, distress and loss of amenity; and/or
  • Special damages: such as: loss of earnings for any time away from work now or in the future, therapy and/or counselling costs, travel costs to therapy and/or counselling sessions and funeral expenses.

“Out of Court settlements” for stillbirth and neonatal death claims:

Most successful clinical negligence cases settle “out of Court” particularly when the Defendant can see that you have built a strong and robust case that is hard to dispute.

We focus all our efforts on building you a solid case based on your personal experience and the input of independent medical experts. We have an in-depth knowledge of the complex law in this area and guide you through the investigation.

Stillbirth and neonatal death compensation claims FAQ

What causes stillbirths?

Stillbirths can be caused by a number of conditions and/or complications associated with pregnancy and birth. Every case is different but some general examples are:

  • Pre-eclampsia: this van cause high blood pressure in an expectant mother.
  • Genetic conditions which can cause physical defects to the unborn baby.  Downs Syndrome is an example. 
  • Placental abruption where the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before birth.
  • Umbilical cord problems such as the cord being too long or too short.
  • Bleeding (or haemorrhage) before or during labour.
  • An infection in the mother that adversely affects the unborn baby.

Failing to diagnose, monitor and treat a serious condition or complication such as these during pregnancy or labour can result in grounds for a negligence case.

What causes neonatal deaths?

There can again be a number of different causes for neonatal deaths.  Examples include: failure to diagnose and treat serious infections in a baby (leading to sepsis and/or meningitis) or properly monitor and treat serious jaundice or other similar conditions that require immediate treatment to prevent serious injury and death.  

What help is available for parents of stillborn children or those affected by neonatal death?

The Hospital where you received your antenatal care or where you gave birth to your child may be able to recommend or provide a bereavement or counselling service.

GPs may also be able to refer you to a support service.

There are also stillbirth and neonatal death charities nationwide.  Speak to our team about this and we will be able to give you further contact information.

How long do stillbirth and neonatal negligence claims take?

The length of time it takes to fully investigate a stillbirth medical negligence claim or a neonatal death claim is dependent on the individual circumstances of each case.

If the Hospital make an early admission of liability (or wrongdoing) it may be possible to resolve a medical negligence claim within 18 months but it typically takes at least 12 months to fully investigate liability including obtaining expert medical input.   

Will compensation affect my benefits?

It is possible to protect your entitlement to means tested benefits following a medical negligence compensation using a Personal Injury Trust.  Speak to our team about this.

Our insights into stillbirth and neonatal deaths:

Click here to read our Case Studies about Birth Injuries

How to contact our team?

For further information from a specialist medical negligence solicitor about investigating a stillbirth or neonatal death compensation claim give us a call on 0113 245 8549 or Ask Us a Question by filling in our online enquiry form.