Neonatal Death Compensation Claims

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Neonatal Death Compensation Claims

Losing a child in the first days or weeks  of their life - the neonatal period - is every parent’s worst fear, and deaths caused by medical negligence can be even more difficult to deal with. At JMW, our specialist solicitors can help you claim compensation if the negligence of a medical professional was responsible for a neonatal death. 

Knowing where to turn after such a traumatic event may seem impossible, but our legal experts will do their utmost to help you seek justice in the aftermath of this life-changing experience. We have years of experience working on neonatal death cases and medical negligence claims, and have helped many families who have had similar experiences to yours.

To speak to the neonatal death claims experts at JMW about your situation and find out how we can help you and your family, call us on 0345 872 6666, or complete an online enquiry form and we will contact you at a time that is suitable for you.

What Our Clients Say

How JMW Can Help

At JMW, our solicitors believe that families that have lost a child due to medical negligence deserve a financial award to help them seek support. We regularly help parents across the UK to make claims that can help them to rebuild their lives following such a loss. 

If you believe that your child’s death was caused by medical negligence, we can help. We will support you every step of the way by advising you and working with you to gather evidence to support your claim, such as medical records and doctors’ assessments. We provide a compassionate and sensitive service while working efficiently to get you the result you deserve.

Making a neonatal death compensation claim will not only help you and your family financially, but may also help you to find answers that may not have been given to you at the time of your child’s death. Finding out the truth can help to bring some closure and help bereaved parents to come to terms with what has happened.

Our medical negligence team consists of solicitors who are members of the Law Society’s specialist clinical negligence panel and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitors’ panel. We have been named as a Tier 1 firm by Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, and are among the UK’s foremost authorities on medical negligence. 

When you open a case with our specialist medical negligence solicitors, we will work closely with you to set your expectations and help you understand the process. We can help you to seek any medical or mental health support that you may need while we work on your case. Having helped many parents following a neonatal death, we understand what parents and families go through, and will tailor our service to your circumstances to ensure your needs are met as compassionately as possible.

What are the most common causes of neonatal deaths?

Sadly, there are a number of potential reasons why a baby may die in the first few weeks of their life, and not all of them are avoidable. . Some of the most common causes of neonatal death include:

  • Premature birth - babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are at a higher risk of neonatal death due to their organs not being fully developed
  • Low birth weight - babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds are more susceptible to potentially fatal complications, including hypothermia, difficulty feeding and infections
  • Birth asphyxia - a lack of oxygen to the baby during the birth process
  • Infections - either contracted during pregnancy or during or after birth
  • Congenital anomalies - abnormalities that occur while the baby is developing in the womb can result in an early death
  • Neonatal encephalopathy - this condition is defined by decreased neurological function in the first few days of life in an infant

How medical negligence can cause neonatal death 

Medical negligence can contribute to neonatal death in several ways. It often involves a failure to provide the standard of care that is legally expected from medical professionals. Here are some examples of medical negligence resulting in neonatal death:

  • Failure to monitor - during pregnancy and labour, healthcare providers are expected to closely monitor the mother and baby's health. This includes regular checks of the baby's heart rate and the mother's vital signs. If there are signs of distress, such as a drop in the baby's heart rate or a rise in the mother's blood pressure, immediate action should be taken. Failure to properly monitor or respond to signs of distress can lead to serious complications, including stillbirth and neonatal death.
  • Mismanagement of high-risk pregnancy - some pregnancies are considered high-risk due to factors such as the mother's age, health conditions, or complications during pregnancy. These pregnancies require additional care and monitoring. If healthcare providers fail to identify a pregnancy as high-risk or fail to provide the necessary care, it can result in serious and potentially fatal consequences.
  • Failure to treat infections - infections in the mother can pose a risk to the baby and can lead to stillbirth or neonatal death if not properly treated. This includes infections like Group B Streptococcus, which can be passed to the baby during delivery and can cause serious complications if not treated.
  • Negligence in neonatal care - after the baby is born, they require careful monitoring and care, particularly if they were born prematurely or have health issues. Failure to provide appropriate neonatal care, such as not responding to signs of illness or not providing necessary treatments, can lead to neonatal death.

In cases where medical negligence is suspected to have contributed to a stillbirth or neonatal death, you should get in touch with a specialist medical negligence solicitor to see whether you have grounds to make a claim.

How do I make a neonatal death claim for compensation?

The process of claiming compensation for neonatal death can be complex and emotionally challenging, but it can also provide a sense of justice and financial support during a difficult time. Here are the steps involved:

  • Seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence cases to help you understand your rights, assess the strength of your case, and explain how much compensation you might be entitled to
  • Your solicitor will gather evidence to support your case, including medical records, witness statements and expert opinions
  • Once the evidence has been gathered, your solicitor will set out the allegations of negligence in a letter to the relevant healthcare organisation. 
  • If the defendant accepts liability and offers a settlement, your solicitor will help you decide whether it is fair and whether to accept it. If your claim is disputed, it may be necessary to enter into negotiations to see if a fair outcome can still be reached.
  • If your case has to go to court, a barrister will represent you and present your case. The vast majority of cases will not need to reach this stage, as we have a strong track record of achieving settlements without requiring court proceedings or trials.

Throughout this process, the neonatal death solicitors at JMW will provide support and guidance, helping you to navigate the legal system and working to achieve the best possible outcome for you. We can work with you on a no win, no fee basis, meaning you will only need to pay legal fees if the claim is successful.

How is the compensation amount determined?

The amount of compensation awarded in a neonatal death claim will vary depending on the specifics of the case, taking the following factors into account:

  1. Pain and suffering – this encompasses the pain and emotional distress experienced by the family, particularly if the parents have experienced an impact to their mental health and wellbeing as a result of the death of their child
  2. Financial losses – any financial losses that have been incurred because of the death can be claimed for. This can include medical costs, funeral expenses, and loss of earnings if a parent has had to take time off work
  3. Future losses - if the death has resulted in ongoing financial losses or emotional trauma, this will also be factored into the claim. This might include the cost of future therapy or counselling, or loss of future earnings if a parent is unable to return to work.

The process of calculating compensation is complex and requires a detailed understanding of the law and the specifics of the case. Therefore, it's important to have a solicitor who specialises in cases of medical negligence causing death to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into account and that you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.

FAQs About Neonatal Death Compensation Claims

What is the difference between stillbirth and neonatal death?

Stillbirth and neonatal death are two terms that are often used in the context of infant mortality, but they refer to different types of loss.

A stillbirth is defined as the death of a baby before or during delivery. The exact timescales involved in this definition vary between regions, but in the UK, a stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy - a situation that applies in around one in every 200 births in England. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, this is instead known as a miscarriage, or late foetal loss.

On the other hand, a neonatal death refers to the death of a baby within the first 28 days of life. This period is further divided into early neonatal death, which occurs in the first week of life, and late neonatal death, which occurs from the 8th to the 28th day of life.

In both cases, the death of a baby will be a devastating event. However, the classification of the death as either a stillbirth or neonatal death can have implications for the type of medical investigations that are carried out, the legal rights of the parents, and the type of support services that are available. Medical negligence can contribute to both stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and can be grounds for a compensation claim.

Please visit our dedicated service page if you are looking to make a stillbirth compensation claim.

Is there a time limit to make a claim for neonatal death compensation?

The time limit for making a claim for neonatal death compensation is usually three years from the date of the death, or from the date you first became aware that negligence may have been a factor. As such, it is advisable to seek legal advice and start the claims process as soon as possible after the event, in order to ensure that no deadlines are missed.

Can I claim compensation if the cause of neonatal death is unknown?

In some cases, the exact cause of a neonatal death may be unknown. This can make it more challenging to make a claim for compensation, but it does not necessarily mean a claim is impossible.

If the independent medical experts we ask to comment on your case agree that, on the balance of probabilities, the mistakes that were made caused your baby to die, we can proceed with a claim. 

If you are considering making a claim for compensation following a neonatal death and the cause of death is unknown, seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in fatal medical negligence cases to determine whether you have grounds to make a claim.

Will an inquest be held into my baby’s death?

An inquest may be held by a coroner if the cause of death is unknown, or if there are concerns about the care provided to the baby. If an inquest is held, it will typically involve a review of the medical records, witness statements from healthcare providers and others involved in the care of the baby, and possibly a post-mortem examination. The coroner may also call for expert witnesses to provide evidence.

The inquest is not a trial, and is not intended to assign blame or liability. However, the findings of the inquest can be important if you are considering making a claim for compensation. The evidence presented at the inquest can help to establish whether there was negligence and whether this contributed to the death.

If an inquest is held into your baby's death, it is advisable to have legal representation. A solicitor can help you understand the process, prepare for the inquest, and ensure that all relevant evidence is presented. They can also help you use the findings of the inquest in any subsequent compensation claim.

Will my claim be affected by any pre-existing medical conditions?

Pre-existing medical conditions can potentially affect a claim for neonatal death compensation. If a pre-existing condition contributed to the death, it may be more complex to establish negligence. However, if the condition was mismanaged or not properly taken into account in the care provided, this could still constitute negligence. It is important to discuss any pre-existing conditions with your solicitor when making a claim to see how it might affect the case.

What support is available for parents who have lost a child?

There are a number of organisations that exist to help families to cope after suffering the loss of a baby. Managed by individuals who have first-hand experience of the devastation brought by a neonatal death, they look to offer support, campaign for better care and promote the need for research into neonatal deaths. 

We advise our clients to speak to the following organisations in their time of need: 

For more than 25 years, Sands has been helping women and their families cope with their baby’s death by offering emotional support and practical help. Many of the individuals who work for Sands have lost a baby themselves, meaning they understand the pain and distress that such an event can cause. This neonatal death charity has a network of local support groups in locations all over the country that can provide invaluable help to families during this difficult time. 

Visit the Sands website for information to guide women, their partners and their families through the many challenging stages they face following a neonatal death. 

The Birth Trauma Association (BTA) helps people who have suffered trauma as a result of childbirth, including if they have experienced a neonatal death. Established by mothers in a bid to help women who have suffered a traumatic birth, the BTA offers a wealth of information about birth trauma and how to cope on its website.

Talk to Us

Start your medical negligence compensation claim as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome. Contact our solicitors today to discuss your situation with our professional and understanding team by calling 0345 872 6666, or by completing our online enquiry form and we will be in touch at a time that is convenient for you.

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