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Stillbirths and Neonatal deaths

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The types of claims that can be made

If your baby was stillborn or died shortly after birth as a result of negligent care, you and other members of your family can make a claim for pain and suffering as a result of any psychological injury you have suffered.

If you have been unable to attend work as a result of psychological symptoms you can make a claim for loss of earnings, both for the past and future, as well as expenses in relation to counselling.

You may also wish to claim funeral expenses

If your baby has been injured due to lack of oxygen supply as a result of negligent care during the labour and has cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia or any other birth injury, a claim can be made for your baby in relation to pain and suffering, the costs of extra care and equipment your child may require, and future loss of earning capacity.

You and other family members who may have suffered a psychological injury due to the circumstances of the birth and the injury to your child may be able to pursue a claim for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses.

Time Limits

If your baby was stillborn or died shortly after birth as a result of negligent care, you have three years to bring a claim from the date that you became aware that you had suffered a psychological injury as a result of the fault of the hospital.

If your baby has been injured as a result of negligent care,  there is a six year time limit from the date you became aware that your child had been injured as a result of the fault of the hospital.

The Coroners Court

Usually in the event that a baby is stillborn, the Coroner in Victoria does not have the power to investigate the death.

However, if a baby survived for a short time after delivery the Coroner can investigate the matter.

The Coroner can investigate the circumstances by way of an Inquest or less formally, on the basis of various investigations made by way of obtaining statements from relevant parties and an opinion from medical staff employed by the Coroners Court or an independent medical expert.

The Coroner makes a finding as to the cause of death and makes recommendations as to how practices and protocols should be changed in order to avoid injuries to other babies.

A claim for compensation can proceed while the Coroner is investigating the matter and a successful outcome can be achieved in situations where the Coroner has not made findings of fault.

It is not essential to have legal representation at an Inquest, however legal representation can be of great benefit to ensure that all of your concerns are thoroughly and appropriately investigated.