Pregnancy and Birth Claims

As part of our health and medical law speciality, we have had to advise expectant parents when things have gone wrong during a pregnancy or at the birth of their child.  Such claims usually fall into 2 categories:

  1. A claim by the child if it is born with injuries that arise as a result of a failure by others looking after the mother during the pregnancy and birth.
  2. A claim by the mother as a maternal injury claim during or after the birth if there has been mismanagement.
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Child claims

A suitable adult, such as a parent, may bring a claim on behalf of a child injured because of negligent management of a pregnancy.

Sometimes negligence during the pregnancy causes premature birth of the baby, potentially leaving it with lifelong problems.  We have managed claims where children have been born as premature as 23 weeks out of a normal gestation of 40 weeks with significant disabilities. 

Claims for children born with injuries and disabilities as a result of medical negligence will often be very substantial as the child will be left with lifelong problems.  Where this is the case, highly qualified expert opinions from neonatology and paediatric specialists will usually be required to report on how the child has been affected, the likelihood of those problems persisting throughout their life and how it may affect the child’s development.

We have handled child claims including:

  • Failing to administer early antibiotic cover leading to infection within the birth canal and uterus and leading to premature birth.
  • Misdiagnosing of an expectant mother whose broken waters had broken as incontinence leading to premature birth.
  • Failing to recognise and treat rapidly increasing blood pressure in the mother causing pre-eclampsia and premature birth.
  • Failing to administer the correct type and dose of medication giving rise to injury to the unborn baby in utero.
Claims by mothers

Poor healthcare before and following birth can also give rise to a maternal injury.  We have acted for mothers in matters including:

  • Failing to recognize pre-eclampsia and treat rapidly increasing blood pressure in the mother causing stroke.
  • Failing to identify retention of part of the placenta in the uterus leading to sepsis.
  • Failing to properly repair a third degree tear following episiotomy needed during delivery leading to massive scarring, constant groin pain and the effect on activities of daily living.
Psychological injury
Tragically, in some circumstances, a baby will die or be seriously injured during pregnancy or birth as a result of mismanagement of the mother and the baby. Understandably, this is an enormous source of grief for parents and family. The law has been slow to recognise psychological injuries, but now injured parents and family can make a claim. This is called a mental harm claim.

About us

Matt Bridger and Tom Maling lead our health and medical law team and are assisted by Cecilia Pascoe and Gabby Bridger.  Our staff mix enable us to ensure you work with someone you are comfortable with.

Medical negligence and health law articles by elringtons

For more information or to make an appointment in either our Canberra or Queanbeyan office please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Bridger or Thomas Maling:

p: +61 2 6206 1300 | e: Info@elringtons.com.au