Neonatal Injuries: How Making a Compensation Claim Can Help You

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Neonatal Injuries: How Making a Compensation Claim Can Help You

When a newborn suffers a neonatal injury, it can have a profound impact, not only on the child's life, but also the lives of their family members. Birth injuries can take a long time to recover from, and in some cases, the impact of a neonatal injury can last for the rest of the child’s life.

It can be particularly devastating if your newborn child has been injured due to a mistake made by a medical professional, but in these cases you may have the right to claim for compensation. By doing so, you will be taking an important step towards securing vital care and support for your child, while ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.

In this guide, we will explore how compensation can help families navigate the challenging circumstances surrounding neonatal injuries - including insights from clients whom we have previously helped to make a claim successfully.

Mothers hand holding feet of newborn baby

How can neonatal injuries affect your family life?

The impact of neonatal injuries on a family can be profound and far-reaching, affecting every aspect of daily life. The effects can be physical, emotional and financial and have longlasting consequences. 

On a purely medical level, neonatal injuries can lead to a range of physical and developmental challenges for the child. These might include motor impairments, cognitive delays, speech and language difficulties, and sensory issues. Your child may require ongoing medical treatment, physical therapy, occupational therapy and special education services, or need assistance with daily activities.

Inevitably, this will lead to significant financial expenses, as the costs associated with medical bills, specialist care and therapy can be considerable, as can the cost of any assistive equipment or home modifications that might be needed. One or both parents may need to reduce their work hours or leave their jobs entirely to care for the child, leading to a loss of income on top of this.

Just as importantly, the emotional toll of a neonatal injury can be significant, as parents may experience feelings of guilt, anger, sadness and anxiety as a result. The entire family may need to provide support for the injured child on a day-to-day basis, which can place strain on relationships as siblings and members of the extended family are asked to take on additional responsibilities.

In short, a neonatal injury can transform a family's life in countless ways. This is illustrated by the testimony shared with us by one of our former clients, whom JMW helped to claim compensation after medical errors resulted in their child developing kernicterus, a form of brain damage. They told us that “life has changed beyond imagination”, and offered these insights:

“Having had an uneventful pregnancy and delivery, we imagined that everything was okay when we took our new baby home. This quickly changed, and his health deteriorated rapidly as jaundice rose and started to affect the brain.

“We had to wait for the diagnosis of kernicterus, which was confirmed at around nine months of age as he failed to meet age-appropriate milestones. I had to leave my career to care for him full-time, and we have had to rely on support from family, as well as employing carers to manage his condition. We struggled financially and emotionally as we battled against the authorities to secure the correct level of intervention and support for looking after him.”

How can medical negligence cause neonatal injuries?

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide the standard of care that would be expected in their profession, resulting in harm to the patient. In the context of neonatal care, this could involve errors during pregnancy, labour, delivery or the postnatal period.

Examples of medical negligence that can lead to neonatal injuries include:

  • Failure to diagnose and treat neonatal infections or conditions promptly
  • Not treating jaundice appropriately 
  • Failing to recognise and treat a baby’s low blood sugar (neonatal hypoglycaemia)
  • Not screening or treating a baby for neonatal sepsis
  • Not recognising the signs of neonatal meningitis, delaying treatment 

When this happens, you have a right to claim for compensation. Whether it was a doctor, nurse or midwife who was at fault for the error, it is vital to remember that all medical professionals have a duty of care, meaning they are legally required to provide you and your child with a reasonable standard of medical care and protect their safety. If this standard is not met, this is defined as medical negligence, and the carer or service responsible can be held liable for any long-term consequences that your child has experienced as a result.

What can compensation help you pay for?

Making a compensation claim for a neonatal injury can be a hugely important step in securing a better future for your family. Compensation for medical negligence cases is designed to cover the financial costs associated with the injury, and to ensure that you can afford any ongoing care requirements.

The team at JMW will calculate and demand a fair compensation amount, taking the following factors into account:

  • Medical expenses - this covers the cost of treatment, medication, surgeries and any ongoing medical care your child may need.
  • Therapy costs - if your child requires physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy or other forms of rehabilitation, these costs can be included in the compensation.
  • Care costs - if your child requires assistance with daily activities, the cost of professional care (or of care provided by family members) can be claimed.
  • Special equipment - if your child needs special equipment or aids, such as wheelchairs or home modifications, these costs can be included.
  • Loss of earnings - if parents have to reduce their work hours or stop working altogether to care for a child injured through medical negligence, they can claim for loss of earnings.
  • Pain and suffering - the final compensation sum will also include an amount for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced by the child and their family.

Our client said: “The compensation secured by JMW has helped our family, as we can now purchase a home which will be adapted for the needs of our child. We can purchase equipment that is much needed, and also access services like a private physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and speech and language therapy. These have been wonderful, and helped our child reach milestones we did not expect.”

Families will sometimes be reluctant to make a claim against the NHS, for fear of being seen to be taking money away from the health service. Cases involving claims against the NHS are handled by NHS Resolution, a separate organisation that covers the costs of these claims, similarly to how an insurance company would act for an individual.

Indeed, by bringing a medical negligence case, you will help to bring to light instances of substandard care within the NHS. This will enable the health service to learn from the mistake and take steps to ensure that no other families must go through the same experience.

How compensation can help your family move forward

While no amount of money can undo the harm caused by a neonatal injury, compensation can provide the financial resources you need to ensure your child receives the best possible care and support. It can help families manage the financial burden associated with the injury and provide a sense of justice and closure.

Compensation can also help families to plan for the future. For example, it can provide for the child’s future care needs, educational support, and any necessary adaptations to their home or lifestyle. This can give families peace of mind knowing that their child’s needs will be met, even as they grow and their requirements change.

Our former client attested to the positive impact that a successful compensation claim can have, and advised that families in a similar situation should be prepared to persevere in order to make sure the future health, education and social care needs of their child are met.

“Seek out help as quickly as possible, whether it be family or through social services, and ensure you seek out legal advice so that, if mistakes were made, they can be investigated and the correct level of compensation can be secured. Disability aids, equipment and modifications to property are costly, but compensation can help with those costs.”

They also advised: “Take things one day at a time: this is a life-changing event that affects the whole family’s health and wellbeing. You have to look after yourself to be able to look after your child.

How to make a neonatal medical negligence claim

If your child has suffered a neonatal injury due to medical negligence and you are keen to explore the possibility of making a claim for compensation, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. This will give you the best chance of making a successful claim.

At JMW Solicitors, we have a team of experienced clinical negligence solicitors who can guide you through the process of making a compensation claim. We understand the devastating impact a neonatal injury can have on your family, and we are committed to helping you to secure the compensation you deserve.

Our team will work closely with you to understand your case, gather evidence and build the strongest possible legal claim. We will negotiate on your behalf and represent your interests in any legal proceedings, and will work with you on a no win, no fee basis, which means you will not have to pay any legal fees unless your claim is successful.

Speaking about our services, our client said: “I cannot thank Angharad and the team of legal professionals at JMW enough. They have been so compassionate and meticulous in their preparation of our case. Legal action can take time, but we have always been able to rely on JMW, who have had the whole family’s best interests at heart.

“All the lawyers during and after the litigation process have been friendly and very professional. Their hard work resulted in an excellent compensation package for our child, which will help with accommodation, equipment and care.”

By working with medical experts to understand the full extent of your child's injuries and their future needs, we can ensure that you are able to secure a compensation settlement that reflects what your child requires.

If you would like to find out more about making a neonatal injury claim, please visit our neonatal medical negligence claims page, or call us on 0345 872 6666 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. We are here to help you and your family move forward.

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