A Guide To Stillbirth Medical Negligence Claims – How Much Compensation Can I Claim? / Amounts

Suffering a stillbirth is one of the most horrific and tragic events to befall any expectant parent. It is emotionally and physically devastating but knowing that it could have been prevented if it wasn’t for the medical negligence of a doctor, midwife or other health professional, makes the entire heart-breaking event so much worse.

Claiming compensation for stillbirth is a harrowing process, but it can sometimes bring peace and closure to anyone who has lost their baby due to the negligent actions of their healthcare professional.

Stillbirth medical negligence

Stillbirth medical negligence

Stillbirth compensation claims require the most understanding, empathetic and careful handling in order to be both respectful to you and your baby, and also to gain the most satisfactory outcome possible. At Accident Claims UK, we know that no stillbirth compensation amount will bring back the life of your baby, but it can be a good starting point to begin to rebuild your lives.

If you are considering pursuing a personal injury claim following a stillbirth & neonatal death, then Accident Claims UK can help guide you through his incredibly difficult process. Call our dedicated team today on 0800 073 8801 to speak to one of our advisors today who can connect you to a dedicated stillbirth compensation solicitor who will act on your behalf throughout your stillbirth compensation claim.

If you are still undecided about whether or not suing for stillbirth is the route you want to take or if you’re not even sure you may be entitled to stillbirth compensation, then this guide aims to answer all your questions. Read on to find out about the stillbirth negligence claims process as well as what rough stillbirth compensation amount you may be entitled to.

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A guide to making a stillbirth compensation claim

The loss of a baby is one of the most heart-breaking things a parent can go through but knowing that your baby’s death could have been prevented is almost impossible to deal with. When you are expecting a baby, you put both the baby’s and your own wellbeing in the hands of the medical experts whose duty it is to ensure both the health of baby and of mum. When those health professionals are negligent in that duty, it can have catastrophic repercussions.

Suffering a stillbirth due to negligence can unfortunately happen in a variety of ways. For example, some stillbirth compensation stories tell of missed opportunities to diagnose problems in labour resulting in a stillbirth and neonatal death. Other stillbirth compensation claims detail expectant mothers not given the correct monitoring or care once a problem had been picked up with the baby resulting in the baby passing away. Birth injury may also play a part in your stillbirth compensation claim if your baby suffered fatal injuries as a result of a doctor or midwife’s negligence during an assisted birth, such as with forceps or a caesarean section.

Losing a child is devastating and the emotional impact of such heartache cannot be underestimated. Any stillbirth compensation amount will take account of the trauma and suffering that the clinical negligence has put you through. You will also be able to include any added costs you have uncured as a result of the passing of your baby, such as lost earnings from time off work and medical expenses such as counselling for your grief of the loss of your baby and for the emotional trauma of giving birth to a baby who had already passed away.

What are stillbirths?

The NHS defines a stillbirth as the birth of a baby past 24 weeks gestation who is no longer alive. If the pregnancy is under 24weeks then the loss I classified as a foetal loss, or more commonly, a miscarriage.

Over 3,600 stillbirths are recorded in the UK every year and many of them are recorded as due to natural causes such as problems with the placenta which is supposed to provide the baby with all the nutrients it needs to develop healthily. Some stillbirths are recorded as due to the mother’s help and a small percentage are due to a birth defect which is non-compatible with life.

There are a proportion of these stillbirths however which are caused by clinical negligence and therefore, could have been prevented. It is cases like these in which the parents may decide to pursue a stillbirth compensation claim against the medical professional and the NHS.

Stillbirth statistics

These graph below displays the number of stillbirths in England and Wales from 2000 to 2016.

Stillbirth statistics

Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence.

What are the most common causes of stillbirth and neonatal death?

In the UK, roughly 1 in every 220 births results in a stillbirth. When you combine the stillbirth and neonatal death rate, around 15 sets of parents every day do not get to take their baby home with them. Neonatal death is defined as the death of a baby within the first 28 days after birth.

Medical professionals are constantly working to reduce the stillbirth and neonatal death rates and to help understand the causes of such tragedies. Unfortunately, some cases of stillbirth do go unexplained and where there is no liability, as heart-breaking as the event is, no stillbirth compensation claim can be pursued.

However, there are some common causes of stillbirth and neonatal death, and some of these can be prevented or if treated early, may not cause complications at all. If any of these causes have been mid-diagnosed or mis-treated then they may be grounds on which to file stillbirth negligence claims.

  • Placenta problems- the placenta passes nutrients from the mother to the baby and its functioning well is essential for the baby’s health and development. If the placenta stops working or ruptures, the baby will no longer receive blood and nutrients from the mother, this can lead to the baby passing away and can also cause serious health problems for the mother. A poor functioning placenta can also cause the baby not to develop or grow at the rate that it should meaning that the baby may not live for long once born.
  • Genetic defects- occasionally babies inherit genetic defects during development in the womb. In some cases these defects are so severe that the baby will not survive to be born.
  • Umbilical cord problems- the umbilical cord can become wrapped around the baby causing them distress and difficulties in the womb. It may also become knotted so that the baby is no longer receiving nutrients from the mother. In some cases, the cord can move down through the cervix and into the entrance to the womb, known as a prolapse, which can cause serious problems in labour if not seen and treated accordingly.
  • Pre-eclampsia- this condition causes the expectant mother’s blood pressure to severely increase. If left untreated, both mother and baby are at risk.
  • Obstetric cholestasis or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP)- this liver disorder affects pregnant women and its most obvious symptoms is extremely itchy skin
  • The mother’s health- pre-existing diabetes, obesity and age are all factors which can increase the chance of suffering a stillbirth
  • Infection- 1 in 10 stillbirths are caused by an infection, usually bacterial, which travels into the womb and affects the baby who is yet to develop an immune system. Infections such as this include chlamydia, Group B strep and Haemophilus Influenza amongst others. Other viral infections which can result in stillbirth & neonatal death include Lyme Disease, Rubella, Flu, Malaria and Toxoplasmosis amongst others.

If any of these potentially life-threatening illnesses are left untreated, mis-diagnosed or diagnosed too late by a midwife or doctor and your baby died as a result, you may be considering suing for stillbirth compensation. Most of these complications can be treated if diagnosed in time and could save your baby’s life. Stillbirth due to negligence should never happen, but if it does you are entitled to compensation.

The risks of stillbirth and how they can be managed

While not every stillbirth is preventable, there are steps which an expectant mother can take in order to reduce her chances of suffering a stillbirth and neonatal death.

One of the most important things any pregnant woman should do is to learn and be aware of their baby’s movements inside the womb. Pregnant women should expect to begin to feel their baby’s movements around 16-20 weeks into the pregnancy. The first movements may feel small, like a flutter or roll, but they will gradually get stronger and more frequent as the pregnancy progresses. By week 32, the baby will likely have a regular pattern of movements and clear awake and asleep phases. There is incorrect and poor advice out there that suggests a baby’s movements will slow towards the end of the pregnancy as the baby has less room to move. This is incorrect and potentially life-threatening advice. If at any point during your pregnancy you experience reduced foetal movements, you should inform your midwife immediately. Repeated episodes of reduced movements could indicate a problem and should be monitored by your midwife.

During your pregnancy, you will be offered regular antenatal appointments with your midwife or GP. It is important that these appointments are kept so that the health of you and your baby can be tracked. You will be offered blood and urine tests to detect early signs of low iron or infection as well as offered scans of your baby and routine measurements to ensure that your baby is growing well. Missing these appointments could mean that early signs of distress with your baby may go undetected.

In order to give you and your baby a healthy pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid certain foods, such as raw shellfish, certain soft cheeses and pate. All poultry should also be well cooked. It is also avoided that pregnant mothers avoid drugs and smoking and only drink alcohol in small amounts. Ensuring that you do not put too much weight on during pregnancy is also advisable as obesity can increase the chance of stillbirth.

If you experience any of the following then you should contact your midwife as soon as possible for further medical advice:

  • Reduced foetal movement
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Stomach pain/cramping
  • Persistent and severe itching
  • Light headedness/ dizzy or fainting spells
  • Palpitations
  • Fever
  • Swelling or hands and feet that does not reduce when elevated

While you may do all you can to protect you and your baby, if you have experienced clinical negligence on behalf of your midwife or GP, resulting in the loss of your baby, then by filing a stillbirth compensation claim, you could get a little bit of justice for you and your baby.

Medical and clinical negligence leading to stillbirths

There are few things in life more heart-breaking that the loss of a child and experiencing a stillbirth and neonatal death is something that most parents never truly get over. What can make then entire tragic event even harder to bear is that if it could have been prevented if you had received a higher level of antenatal care. Stillbirth medical negligence cases are complex and should be treated with respect and delicacy which is why at Accident Claims UK we will assign you a dedicated stillbirth compensation solicitor who will be with you every step of the way.

The Department of Health recently released a report suggesting that around 600 babies every year die because of mistakes made by doctors and midwives. This is a deeply disturbing statistic and one which both the NHS and private healthcare trusts are working to improve. However, if you have suffered the loss of a baby due to the medical negligence of your healthcare professionals then you may be entitled to a bereavement award for stillbirth. For example, if you were presenting symptoms of an infection which were dismissed or mis-treated by your healthcare team and you then lost your baby, this would be classed as medical negligence. Equally, if you received substandard antenatal care or poor care during labour which resulted in your baby dying, then you are well within your rights to make a stillbirth compensation claim against your healthcare provider.

Where can people get support after a stillbirth?

If you, or someone you care about, has suffered a stillbirth or neonatal death, there are organisations out there who dedicate their time and efforts to support parents who have lost a baby:

  • SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity- SANDS provide dedicated support to anyone who has lost a baby in the UK. They also promote better support for bereaved parents as well as supporting research into the causes and prevention of stillbirths.
  • Tommy’s- Tommy’s is the biggest charity in the UK dedicated to funding research into stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth. They offer expectant mum’s a wealth of information and advice to help them have a healthy pregnancy.
  • The Miscarriage Association- The Miscarriage Association offer support to anyone affected by miscarriage and stillbirth, including partners, friends, family and colleagues who would like to better support someone they love who has lost a baby.
  • The Lily Mae Foundation- The Lily Mae Foundation provides emotional support to anyone who has suffered a tragic or traumatic stillbirth or neonatal death of a baby.
  • Abigail’s Footsteps- described as a powerful and influential charity, Abigail’s Footsteps helps families and healthcare professionals cope with stillbirth better.
  • Life After Loss- Life After Loss provide support and guidance for anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Cariad Angel Gowns- Cariad Angel Gowns take donated wedding dresses and create bespoke burial memory packs for families who have lost a baby through stillbirth, miscarriage or neonatal death.

Case studies looking at stillbirth negligence

Stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death have traditionally been a taboo subject that many people shied away from talking about for fear of making others feel uncomfortable. The problem with this is that it meant that people were not accessing the support that they needed after such a devastating loss. Stillbirth medical negligence cases are however now starting to appear in the media as the public eye begins to focus on the importance of mental health and support.

High profile public figures have begun to open up about their own child loss with celebrities such as Amanda Holden and Kelly Brooke recently sharing their stories of stillbirth and infant loss Lily Allen also recently opened up about suffering a stillbirth after contracting a viral infection 6 months into her pregnancy.

Stillbirth compensation stories, such as that of Chris and Wendy Pratt, show that there are improvements to be made in antenatal care of pregnant women. Wendy Pratt’s daughter was born stillborn at 27 weeks after medical staff failed to notice and act on the signs that she was in distress. The Pratt’s filed a stillbirth compensation claim and the NHS settled the medical negligence claim out of court after admitting that if a CTG scan had been performed after the baby’s 20-week scan, the baby may not have been stillborn and there was a significant chance that the outcome would have been different.

Compensation claims vs NHS complaints

If you are considering whether you should make a stillbirth compensation claim or make a complaint to the NHS instead, the answer is that you should do both. You can still claim compensation for stillbirth and complain directly to the NHS for the medical negligence you have suffered. In fact, going through the NHS complaints procedure may help support your bereavement award for stillbirth as an investigation should be opened following your complaint and any evidence gathered during this investigation can be used to support your stillbirth compensation claim.

Complaints against the NHS will usually need to be filed within 12months of the medical negligence suffered and you can complain either direct to your healthcare authority or to the organisation which sells the NHS their services. The NHS will then respond to your complaint and they should outline how they intend to investigate and give you a time scale in which to expect a formal response to your complaint. Once they have investigated the incident, you can use their findings to support your stillbirth settlements claim.

Stillbirth compensation claims calculator

Stillbirth compensation amounts and neonatal death compensation amounts can vary dramatically and are awarded on a case-by-case basis. We cannot tell you how much you will receive for your stillbirth compensation claim but the below table give a rough idea of the compensation amounts which can potentially be awarded as part of stillbirth compensation claims.

Reason for claimPotential compensationDescription
Loss of anticipated earningsBetween £10,000 - £400,000To cover any loss of earnings while you recover from psychological damage
Loss of benefitsBetween £5,000 - £500,000Covers loss of income as a direct result of the stillbirth
Pain and sufferingBetween £1,000 - £200,000A hard one to prove but the level of perceived pain and suffering equates to the amount of compensation you can claim
Severe psychiatric damageBetween £41,000 - £88,000Negative impact on relationships/ inability to concentrate and work/ prolonged suffering with a poor prognosis of recovery
Moderately severe psychiatric damage Between £14,500 - £41,000Not as severe as category above but similar symptoms with a better prognosis
Moderate psychiatric damageBetween £4,450 - £14,500Some of the same symptoms as above with a much better prognosis and improvement seen
Less severe psychiatric damageBetween £1,170 - £4,450The extent to which your sleep and daily activities have been affected will determine – amount

Stillbirth no win no fee compensation claims

The last thing you want to worry about when making a stillbirth compensation claim is finding a large amount of money to get your claim started. At Accident Claims UK we will give you a free consultation to discuss your medical negligence claim and if we think you have grounds for a stillbirth negligence claim then we will represent you on a no win no fee basis. We understand that this is a terrible time for you and so we won’t waste your time and put you through a court case if we don’t think you can win.

No win no fee cases are designed to ensure that anyone can gain access to the justice and compensation they deserve no matter what their financial situation. If your stillbirth compensation claim is unsuccessful then you won’t need to pay us a penny. You only need to pay in the event that your personal injury claim is successful so there is no need to concern yourself with getting large sums of money together at all. You can be assured that we will do all we can to ensure that you get the bereavement award for stillbirth that you deserve.

Why make your claim with us?

The dedicated team at Accident Claims UK understand that making a stillbirth compensation claim is the last thing on earth that you want to be doing and we will treat you and your claim with the utmost care and respect. When you contact us we will put you in touch with a specialised stillbirth compensation solicitor who will arrange a consultation where they will delicately gather all the information they need in order to represent you in your stillbirth compensation claim.

As we operate on a no win no fee basis, you needn’t worry about getting a lump sum of money together as our fees will be taken from your stillbirth compensation amount should your claim be successful. We will be with you every step of the way throughout this difficult process to ensure that it is as easy as possible for you.

How to contact Accident Claims UK

If you are looking to make a stillbirth compensation claim then you should call Accident Claims UK today on 0800 073 8801 or you can email us at office@accidentclaims.co.uk. Our helpline is open 24hours a day, 7 days a week and we aim to respond to all emails within 3 hours.

Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form on our website and a member of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Useful links

Medical Negligence Compensation Amounts

Find out how much compensation you can claim for a mistake by a hospital or GP / Doctor or even a midwife.

NHS Stillbirth

The NHS offer advice and information about stillbirths here.

GOV Stillbirth Registration

It is an often misunderstood fact that you still have to register a baby if it has been stillborn. Here, the government’s information about registration can be found.

Count the Kicks

A charity offering support for those expecting a baby, and giving advice on baby’s movements.