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Fiona Campbell

- 1 Dec 2022
  • Birth Injury

  • Personal Injury

When to seek legal advice if you’ve suffered a birth injury

Women often suffer injuries during childbirth.  

These injuries can include:

  • vaginal tears
  • bladder injuries resulting in symptoms such as urinary incontinence
  • bowel injuries resulting in issues such as faecal incontinence
  • anaesthetic complications resulting in injuries, such as nerve and spinal cord injuries; and
  • psychiatric injuries.

Sometimes birthing injuries happen naturally and are unavoidable. 

Other times, they happen because a doctor, midwife or nurse acts in a manner which would not be widely accepted as competent professional practice (in other words, negligently. 

Some common examples of negligence during childbirth include: 

  • failing to properly identify the position of the foetus
  • failing to recognise and/or act on signs of foetal distress
  • failing to identify that there has been and/or act on a failure of the foetus to progress
  • failing to request and/or arrange obstetric review
  • encouraging the woman to actively ‘push’ when the foetus is crowning
  • delay in the diagnosis and/or treatment of injuries suffered during labour
  • anaesthetic complications, such as multiple attempts to perform an epidural injection or error in the technique used to insert a needle; or
  • failing to ensure the full removal of products of conception (e.g. the placenta).

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other ways a doctor, nurse or midwife can act negligently, as  every pregnancy, labour and birth is different. 

It is worthwhile seeking advice from a solicitor about whether you have a claim if:

  • you suffered an injury during the birth of your child
  • you think there was something unusual or not quite right about the birth
  • you are suffering ongoing symptoms as a result of the injury; and
  • the injury is having an ongoing impact on your life.

It is not always easy to distinguish between injuries which occur naturally, and those which occur as a result of negligence. 

A solicitor with experience in medical negligence and birthing injury claims will be able to assist you with this process.

We encourage you to seek advice as soon as possible — while the facts are fresh in your mind, the medical records are readily available, and the practitioner(s) who treated you are still working in the medical field.    

As with almost all personal injury claims, you have three years from the date of the injury to issue proceedings in court. 

Failure to issue proceedings in court on or before the time limitation date will result in your claim being barred by legislation and unable to be pursued unless the court grants you an extension of time, which only occurs in limited circumstances. 

The Birth Injuries team at DBH Lawyers have a deep knowledge of medical issues and conditions that can arise in birth trauma claims.

If you’d like to make a claim, contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote.