Wrongful birth compensation claims
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What is wrongful birth?
Wrongful birth occurs when a child is has been born, who would not have been born had the correct advice been given, or the correct medical treatment been carried out.
A claim for wrongful birth is usually brought by the parents who have received the incorrect advice or negligent treatment. However, in a recent case brought by this firm, a Judge ruled that the injured child, born as a result of negligent advice given to a parent resulting in their own birth, could bring their own claim for that negligent advice.
This would entitle that child to claim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity as well as future costs limited by their life expectancy, rather than that of their parents, as is usual in wrongful birth claims.
When might wrongful birth occur?
Wrongful birth may result from failed medical procedures such as failed sterilisation or vasectomy or the failure to properly advise the parents that their baby is likely to be born with a particular disability or genetic condition.
Prevention of wrongful birth
Couples may seek to avoid a pregnancy by the woman undergoing a sterilisation or the man having a vasectomy. In the event this procedure fails, this leads to a wrongful birth. Wrongful birth can also occur if the couple would have terminated the pregnancy if they had known that the baby would have been born with a specific disability or genetic condition.
Some conditions, such as Down’s Syndrome can be picked up during antenatal screening which includes the performance of an ultrasound scan. Also, structural defects such as spina bifida and holes in the heart can be picked up during antenatal scans.
Negligence can occur during antenatal screening if, either the scan is not interpreted correctly or, if the defect or condition is picked up but the parents are not told that their baby will be born with a disability.
Do you have a wrongful birth claim?
You may have a wrongful birth claim if:
- If there has been an error, either antenatally or during a preventative procedure, and;
- This has resulted in the birth of a child; and,
- You would not have continued with the pregnancy because: either the preventative procedure would have avoided the pregnancy or, in the case of failure to pick up a specific condition or structural defect, you would have terminated the pregnancy.
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What compensation can be expected from a wrongful birth claim?
In a wrongful birth claim you can recover damages for physical and emotional pain and distress, loss of earnings due to the pregnancy and any psychiatric injury as a result of the pregnancy. However, the law is clear that you can only recover the cost of bringing up a child if the baby is born with a disability.
How Moore Barlow can help
We are one of the top medical negligence teams in the country. With many years of experience of claims against hospitals, GPs and other healthcare providers, we have a strong track record and are recognised as leaders in the field.
We also understand that it might be difficult for you to contemplate bringing a wrongful birth claim, now that your baby has been born. We will be here to support you and talk you through each step of your claim.
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Our expert team are based across our offices in London, Richmond, Guildford, Southampton, Woking and Lymington. We also operate nationally.
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