Compensation Claim for a Spinal Cord Injury at Birth

I want to make a compensation claim for a spinal cord injury at birth; can you tell me how I can make a claim as a Next Friend?

If your baby has suffered an injury to the spinal cord during birth which was caused by negligence of the delivery room staff, a compensation claim for a spinal cord injury at birth should be possible.

The first step you should take is to speak with a medical negligence solicitor about the case. It must be established that the spinal cord birth injury claim is valid before an application can be made to have you accepted as a Next Friend. Your solicitor will need to prove – on the balance of probabilities – the injury to your baby’s spinal cord was preventable under the circumstances, the actions of the doctors and nurses amounted to negligence and a reasonably competent midwife or obstetrician would have been able to deliver the baby without damaging the spinal cord under the same circumstances.

Once the right to claim compensation for a spinal injury to a baby has been confirmed, and evidence of negligence collected and assessed, you will be given an indication of the likelihood of the claim being successful and the amount of compensation for a spinal injury to a baby that can be recovered.

At this point you can decide whether it will be worthwhile making the claim. You do not necessary have to pursue the compensation claim for a spinal cord injury at birth at this stage, as once the case has been prepared and evidence collected, the right to recover compensation will have been preserved. The case could conceivably be left for your child to pursue personally once the age of consent has been reached, although the probability of the claim being successful may reduce if the case is not initiated promptly.

If you decide to proceed with legal action and make spinal birth injury claims on behalf of your baby, the next stage is to make an application to the courts to be accepted as a Next Friend, and a solicitor will handle this for you. A judge will need to be convinced that the claim is being made in the best interests of your baby and that you have the financial means to pursue the case should it ultimately be unsuccessful. Once authorisation for you to act as a Next Fried has been granted, your solicitor will issue a letter of claim to the HSE/hospital to initiate the claim.

If the spinal cord birth injury claim is successful, the award of compensation will be retained by the courts, as it can only be released to the plaintiff directly once the age of consent has been reached. The compensation settlement would be held in an interest-bearing account until the funds are released on your child’s eighteenth birthday.

Since spinal birth injury claims are often made due to the need to cover medical expenses and other costs during childhood, it should be possible to have some of the compensation paid to you directly to cover medical treatment costs and other expenses such as the cost of education. A solicitor will make the necessary applications to release an interim payment should this be required.

This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.