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Despite medical advances to make birthing safer for both mothers and babies, sometimes injuries happen. And sometimes, they can have a permanent impact.

A medical professional or hospital may be responsible for the injuries due to negligence: that is, failing to take reasonable care when there was a duty to do so.

For any family facing the financial and emotional burden of lifelong care and assistance, claiming birthing injury compensation can be a crucial aspect of achieving long-term security.

That’s where we can help.

What counts as a birth injury?

Birth injuries can be temporary or permanent, and symptoms often vary from one baby to another.

One baby may have mild symptoms, but the same injury in another baby may cause severe symptoms. For other children, it’s only after commencing school that a birth injury becomes obvious.

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What types of situations amount to negligence in child birth?

Every situation is different, but when it comes to birth trauma, there may have been medical negligence if the doctor or hospital:

  • Failed to monitor the baby or mother properly during labour.
  • Failed to recognise an emergency.
  • Failed to respond to an emergency properly.
  • Used excessive force to deliver the baby.
  • Failed to use proper skill, care or attention to perform any procedure during labour or delivery, including epidural anaesthetic.

Compensation claims can include:

  • Pain and suffering (including loss of enjoyment of life)
  • Loss of earnings
  • Past and future care requirements
  • Past and future medical expenses, including special equipment and treatment
  • Housing needs

We carefully consider what’s needed to take care of the long-term needs of you and your child.

When should I seek legal advice?

The sooner we can assess your situation, the easier it will be to access your medical records. South Australian laws also have a time limit for making claims.

You should seek legal advice as soon as you’re aware of an injury, or as soon as you suspect that there may be something wrong.

In many situations, it will be obvious as soon as the baby’s born that you may have a legal claim. But at other times, you may not become aware of the injury for some time. For example, if the injury was due to an undiagnosed condition such as meningitis, meningococcal disease or a brain injury.

For mothers, birthing injuries may not be immediately apparent. For example, most women need a reasonable period to physically recover from pregnancy and birth, during which it can be difficult to work out what’s normal and what isn’t. These types of injuries may include internal injuries caused by the baby being too big for a natural birth and psychological injuries caused by inadequate pain medication during birth.

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How long will it take to finalise my claim?

Many birth injury claims can go on for years because settlement can’t happen until the injuries have stabilised. In other words, until it’s clear that the injuries won’t get any worse.

If you’re in need of immediate financial assistance, it’s also possible to get interim damages from the doctor’s insurer. The insurer may pay some money to you while your claim is going through the legal process. This can ease financial stress and can also make a huge difference in committing to legal action.

Once the injuries have stabilised, we will:

  • Carefully review all medical notes.
  • Work out which medical experts would be best suited to provide opinions.
  • Get reports from those medical experts.
  • Pinpoint the exact cause of injury.
  • Work out how the injury is affecting the child or mother.
  • Get reports from other health professionals, for example, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and neurologists.

All these steps take time to complete. We’ll review your claim at each stage to make sure that it’s on track.

Frequently asked questions

South Australian laws allow up to three years from the date of the injury for people to make an injury claim. This time limit includes mothers who have suffered birth trauma.

However, babies who suffer injuries have until their 21st birthday to claim. This is usually enough time for the injuries to stabilise.

There are some situations in which it’s not possible for you to claim within these time limits (known as limitation periods). That’s why we recommend that you come in and see us for an obligation free first interview, even if you’re out of time.

Although birth trauma claims form part of medical negligence claims, there are some good reasons why a specialised birth injury lawyer can represent you more effectively.

A good birth injury lawyer will have a deep understanding of birth injury issues such as brain injury. They also need to be able to work out the point at which something went wrong to cause the injury. For example, there was a complication with the baby’s heart rate, or something was overlooked during the monitoring of labour.

Whatever it was, the ability of the lawyer to pinpoint the issue often makes a big difference to the cost, speed and success of birth injury claims.

The first step is to book an obligation free first appointment with one of our lawyers. We need to listen to your story and work out if you have a claim.

First appointments can often last for two to three hours. During this time, we will consider medical reports, listen to your story and work out if you have a claim, how to claim and what to claim. No matter how long your first appointment, there will be no charge if you decide not to go ahead. If you do go ahead, there will be a charge but it will not be payable until the end of the case and only if you are successful in receiving compensation.

We will offer you a no win no fee arrangement. This means that if you don’t receive compensation, we don’t bill you.

Because we spend plenty of time with you at the first interview, we can work out whether it’s likely that you’ll receive compensation from the insurer, usually as a settlement payment.

If you are successful, the insurer usually pays most of our legal costs. This arrangement doesn’t include disbursements, which are out-of-pocket expenses for things such as medical expert fees.

Because we know that disbursements alone can add up, we can help you secure funding from a litigation assistance fund. During our obligation free first interview, we can help you make an application, and we’ll tell you whether we think your funding application will be successful.

Why should I choose DBH to represent me?

Birth injuries form a part of medical negligence law. While it’s true that there are many medical negligence lawyers in South Australia who practise in birth injury claims, there are some aspects of our practice that are unique, providing big advantages for our clients. They include:

  • Lawyers with a deep knowledge of medical issues and conditions that can arise in birth trauma claims.
  • Our lead birth injury lawyer has practical medical experience, holding a certification in Basic Health Care, being a St John Ambulance volunteer and having a significant understanding of the psychological issues that are often caused by birth injuries.
  • A legal team that continually updates its specific knowledge in medico-legal obstetric issues.
  • Specific birth trauma knowledge means that our lawyers know where to seek specialist advice, which often makes the process faster and less expensive.
  • Birthing injury claims form an essential part of our medical negligence practice. We have extensive experience in commencing and managing these claims.

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Birth Injuries team

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