Wrongful Birth.

Wrongful Birth & Failed Sterilisation Compensation Claims.

Have you received negligent care which has led to an unwanted pregnancy and wrongful birth?

Perhaps your sterilisation or vasectomy failed, or your baby was born with a disability which was not identified during your pregnancy. Whatever the reason for your situation, you may be entitled to make a claim for wrongful birth compensation.

Here at Lanyon Bowdler we understand how difficult parents can find it to admit that, had they known in advance about their baby’s disability or genetic condition, they would have terminated the pregnancy. We are not here to judge you on your thoughts or actions – we are simply here to help you to seek justice for the negligent care you have received.

Making a claim for wrongful birth compensation can help to ensure that better measures are put into place to minimise the risk of the same thing happening to anyone else in the future. Raising a child with additional health needs can place a large strain on a family – both emotionally and financially, particularly when it comes unexpectedly. The money you receive when you claim compensation can help to ease the financial burden and ensure your child can live a comfortable and happy life with access to all the necessary amenities.

If you have been affected by negligent care which has led to a wrongful birth, our specialist team of medical negligence solicitors can help you to claim the compensation you deserve. We are with you every step of the way, ensuring you receive the support that you need as you pursue legal action and seek justice and repatriation for your negligent treatment.

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What is a Wrongful Birth?

The term ‘wrongful birth’ refers to a situation where a child is born who would not have been born were it not for negligent treatment. There are two types of wrongful birth which may lead to parents seeking compensation:

  • When a sterilisation or vasectomy fails, leading to an unwanted pregnancy.
  • When the parents are not informed of a genetic condition or disability during the pregnancy.

Upon finding out that their unborn child has a lifelong or life-limiting condition, it is the prerogative of the parents to decide to terminate the pregnancy if they wish to do so. Some parents may choose to carry on with the pregnancy regardless of their baby’s diagnosis, in which case they would not be able to claim for wrongful birth. However, if the parents would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy had they had all of the available information, they may be able to claim for a wrongful birth.

Of course the subject matter is highly emotive, and our medical negligence team are able to deal with your case with the utmost sensitivity and empathy. If you’d like to discuss your experience with us, we’d be happy to advise on whether or not you have a valid claim.

Your Wrongful Birth Claims questions answered

Can I make a claim after a failed vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure which provides a permanent form of birth control. The procedure involves cutting or sealing the vas deferens, which is the tube that carries the sperm, ensuring that there is no sperm present in the man’s ejaculate, therefore preventing pregnancy from occurring.

Vasectomy surgery is successful around 99% of the time. The reasons why a vasectomy may fail include:

  • Surgical negligence – for example the vas deferens is not sealed properly.
  • Having unprotected sex too soon – the advice is usually to wait for at least 12 weeks after the procedure before having unprotected sex.
  • The tubes have reconnected – very occasionally the vas deferens may reconnect on their own and the channel can reform, allowing sperm to travel through once again.

If your vasectomy has failed for any of these reasons, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy and wrongful birth, you may be able to claim compensation. We would need to be able to provide evidence to show that the procedure was carried out incorrectly, or that you were provided with inaccurate information regarding how long to wait before having unprotected sex. Please get in touch if you’d like any further advice or information regarding your potential compensation claim.

Can I make a claim after a failed sterilisation?

Sterilisation is a surgical procedure, usually performed laparoscopically, in which the fallopian tubes are sealed or blocked off either by applying clips/rings, cutting the tubes, tying them, or removing part of them. Once the fallopian tubes have been sealed, the eggs released from the ovaries can’t travel into the uterus where they would meet sperm and fertilisation would normally take place, therefore preventing pregnancy from occurring.

Sterilisation is effective in more than 99% of cases. However, there are a number of reasons why a sterilisation may fail, including:

  • Surgical negligence – for example the surgeon did not seal the fallopian tubes properly.
  • Having unprotected sex too soon – additional contraception should be used until your next period or for three months after the operation, depending on the type of sterilisation performed.
  • The tubes have re-joined – as with a vasectomy, there is a small chance that the fallopian tubes could re-join either immediately or years later.

If a sterilisation fails, this can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the fertilised egg implants outside of the womb. An ectopic pregnancy can pose serious health threats to the mother if it is not treated promptly.

If you have experienced a failed sterilisation and it has led to an unwanted pregnancy, wrongful birth, or has caused an ectopic pregnancy and put your health in danger, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Please get in touch with our specialist medical negligence team today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Can I claim for failed diagnosis of a genetic condition?

In most cases an expectant mother will have their first midwife appointment before 10 weeks gestation, and during this appointment the midwife will ask a series of questions to assess the medical history of the family. From here, the midwife can determine whether the mother needs to be referred for further tests to check for genetic conditions, including cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, Turner syndrome, and arthritis.

All pregnant women are offered various screening tests to see if their baby has a higher chance of having a health condition. The screening tests used are a combination of ultrasound scans and blood tests. Different screening tests are offered at different times during pregnancy. The screening test for sickle cell and thalassaemia should be offered as early as possible before 10 weeks of pregnancy.

It’s recommended that screening blood tests for HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis also happen as soon as possible in pregnancy. This is so if you do test positive you can be offered specialist treatment to reduce the chance of your baby getting infection.

You should be offered screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome around the time of your 12 week dating scan. If this screening suggests your baby has a higher chance of having one of these conditions then you will be offered a diagnostic test known as amniocentesis, to give you a more definitive answer. This is a procedure whereby a small amount of amniotic fluid is collected for testing.

It is not compulsory to submit to screening, but it is standard practice for it to be offered to all pregnant women, along with advice about why and how the tests are carried out, enabling them to make an informed decision.

At around 20 weeks gestation, the mother will be offered an anomaly scan which checks the baby’s physical development, in particular their heart, brain, kidneys, spinal cord, face, abdomen, and bones. The scan also looks for the presence of 11 different rare conditions, including spina bifida, cleft lip, bilateral renal agenesis, anencephaly, diaphragmatic hernia, exomphalos, gastroschisis, lethal skeletal dysplasia, serious cardiac abnormalities, Edward’s syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome.

In some cases, accurate identification of a genetic condition may result in the parents making the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, particularly if the fetus’ condition is incompatible with life.

Some of the reasons failed genetic testing may lead to a wrongful birth compensation claim include:

  • Screening for genetic conditions was not offered or carried out.
  • The screening failed to detect the presence of a genetic condition.
  • An anomaly scan at 20 weeks gestation was not offered or carried out
  • The sonographer failed to identify a genetic condition during the anomaly scan.
  • The condition was identified but was not communicated to the parents.

If a baby is born with a genetic condition which the parents were not made aware of beforehand, and they would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy had they known of the presence of the condition, the parents may have a valid basis on which to make a claim for wrongful birth compensation.

If you have received negligent medical care which has led to a wrongful birth and you are unsure whether or not you are eligible to pursue legal action, please get in touch and we will gladly discuss your situation and offer advice and guidance.

Am I able to recover the costs of raising an unplanned child?

In 2000 a legal precedent was set with regards to this issue. In the case of McFarlane v Tayside Health Board, the defendant made a wrongful birth claim following the birth of a healthy child that was conceived following a failed vasectomy. During the process, the general costs of bringing up a healthy child were considered, however it was eventually decided by the House of Lords that such costs could not be compensated for.

Since this case, any wrongful birth claim brought about due to a failed vasectomy or sterilisation, in which a child is born after an unwanted pregnancy, cannot include the normal costs of raising a healthy child to adulthood. You can however claim for the costs associated with raising a child who has lifelong additional health needs or disabilities.

If you would like any further information or clarification on what you are eligible to claim for as part of a wrongful birth compensation claim, please get in touch and our specialist medical negligence team will be more than happy to assist you.

Should I make a wrongful birth claim?

Making a wrongful birth compensation claim can be an incredibly difficult decision for parents to make. Admitting that you would have terminated the pregnancy had you had all of the available information about your child’s health condition before they were born does not mean that your child is not wanted or loved now that they are a living member of your family.

For legal purposes, it means that your pregnancy was unplanned and/or unavoidable and that your family has faced some hardships due to the missed or misdiagnosed genetic condition or birth defect.

In order for a wrongful birth compensation claim to be successful it must meet the following criteria:

  • The medical professionals responsible for your antenatal care were negligent.
  • You can provide reasonable proof that you would have terminated the pregnancy if it were not for the medical negligence.

If you would have chosen to carry on with the pregnancy either way then you are not likely to be eligible to make a compensation claim. However, if your circumstances meet the above criteria, please get in touch to discuss your claim with one of our empathetic and understanding medical negligence solicitors.

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Time Limits on Making a Wrongful Birth Claim and Funding Options

In general, the time limit for bringing a wrongful birth claim is three years from the date of the injury or the ‘date of knowledge’ of the injury (to cover situations where the impacts of an injury surface at a future time).

However, if a child sustains an injury, due to an accident caused by the actions or negligence of another party, the time limit will usually expire on their 21st birthday unless the child never gains mental capacity due to their injuries, in which case the time limits do not apply.

We can support your wrongful birth claim through a range of funding options, including our No Win No Fee Injury Claim promise, as well as through private funding, and legal expenses insurance. Our Solicitors will consider whether we can handle your wrongful birth claim on a No Win No Fee basis at the point of an initial evaluation of the circumstance surrounding your injury.

Contact Lanyon Bowdler’s Wrongful Birth Compensation Solicitors

At Lanyon Bowdler, we take pride in being a friendly and approachable law firm, so please get in touch if you have been affected by a maternity or pregnancy injury. Our team of specialist Wrongful Birth Lawyers are part of our award-winning medical negligence team, we will be happy to talk you through the process of filing a compensation claim.

If you think you or a family member has been treated negligently by a hospital or medical staff during pregnancy or childbirth, which has resulted in injuries to the child or a wrongful birth, then it is likely you are entitled to make a Medical Negligence Claim. Give us a call or complete our online enquiry form, to see how our team can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. There is no obligation on you or any charges for our initial assessment.

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for your Wrongful Birth Claim, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on your team. Lanyon Bowdler’s Medical Negligence team is widely acclaimed and recognised as one of the best clinical negligence departments in the country. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes and help to get your life back on track.

We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry, and Telford, so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England or Wales.

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Beth Heath
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