How long do I have to make a compensation claim against a hospital consultant if my child suffered birth injuries due to my consultant obstetrician´s negligence?
As it was your child who sustained the injuries at birth, and even though you will have undoubtedly suffered an emotional trauma, your child would be the injured party who would make a compensation claim against a hospital consultant.
A child is not allowed by law to instruct a solicitor or initiate a claim for consultant obstetrician negligence until they become a legal adult – meaning that the time limit in which to claim compensation for birth injuries against a consultant obstetrician does not start until their eighteenth birthday (if your child suffered a terrible brain injury due to mistakes made during his or her delivery, they might never be considered to have the cognitive ability to represent themselves in legal action).
However, as it is rarely beneficial to wait until your son or daughter becomes a legal adult to claim compensation for birth injuries against a consultant obstetrician, the law allows you, your partner or a legal guardian to make a claim for consultant obstetrician negligence on your child´s behalf until they are legally able to represent themselves.
At whatever stage you choose to claim compensation for birth injuries against a consultant obstetrician, your application to become a “next friend” will first have to be approved by the District Court. In order to do this, it must be proven that the compensation claim against a hospital consultant is in your child´s best interests, that there is no conflict of interest and that you (or any other “next friend”) are prepared to accept the financial responsibilities of making a claim for consultant obstetrician negligence if your claim fails.
It is recommended that you to discuss the circumstances of your child´s birth injuries with an experienced medical negligence solicitor as soon as practical; for although it may be many years before the time limit expires for your child to make a compensation claim against a hospital consultant, it will increase the likelihood of a successful claim for consultant obstetrician negligence if evidence of negligence is compiled while it is still recent.
Subject to the age of your child and the degree of your child´s injury, the solicitor may suggest that you claim compensation for birth injuries against a consultant obstetrician now, and agree an interim payment of compensation once the consultant´s negligence is acknowledged, rather than accepting a final settlement.
If your son or daughter is likely to require ongoing or permanent care and support it will be in your child´s best interests to delay a final settlement until such time as structured compensation payments are introduced in Ireland. This will give your child financial security for the rest of their life and provide you with peace of mind when you are no longer physically able to care for them.
This is just one alternative available to you, and you will be advised of other case-appropriate courses of action to claim compensation for birth injuries against a consultant obstetrician when you speak with a solicitor.