A Guide to Claiming Perineal Tear Injury Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a perineal tear injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a perineal tear injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Those most at risk are women giving birth for the first time, especially where the baby is over 8lb 13oz (4kg) or the second stage of labour is very short.
Induced labour or assisted delivery (forceps or ventouse) may also increase the risk of perineal tears.
However, for many women there is no clear reason for the tear.
Can a perineal tear be avoided?
If a midwife or other healthcare professional believes a woman to be at risk of tearing her perineum an episiotomy may be performed. This involves making a cut through the vaginal wall and perineum to create more space for the baby to be delivered. Unfortunately, an episiotomy does not always prevent further tearing of the perineal skin, muscles, anal sphincter and anal mucosa, known as third or fourth-degree tears.
Treatment of perineal tears
Third and fourth degree tears require repairing by an experienced doctor who will suture the tear under epidural or spinal anaesthetic. The stitches should be dissolvable and disappear within 6 weeks. Tears that are identified and properly managed should heal well and not present further problems.
What are the complications of perineal tears?
If the wound does not heal properly there is a risk of infection. It may also continue to bleed during physical activity. The wound may be swollen and bruised for some time, affecting urination and defecation.
Stitches which fail to heal may create a risk of a fistula developing, allowing faecal matter to pass from the rectum into the vagina.
Damaged muscles around the perineum may cause severe pain in the area, including pelvic and abdominal aches. This may impact on mother and baby bonding and aggravate post-natal depression.
Sometimes haematomas occur soon after childbirth and if large, may need to be drained.
Can I claim compensation for a perineal tear?
Because perineal tears are common, many women believe them to be an unavoidable part of childbirth and are reluctant to discuss their injuries. However, it is vital that injuries to the perineum are correctly and quickly identified, and that midwives and doctors attending deliveries seek expert advice where necessary.
Where the treatment of a traumatic tear has been non-existent or inadequate the consequences may continue for years. The misery of chronic pain, incontinence and painful intercourse may also result in psychological harm.
What type of claim can I make?
For a claim to be successful it will be necessary to demonstrate that the injuries sustained were either caused by a health care professional's failure to act or that the treatment was incorrect and caused damage.
Failing to act would include not diagnosing a tear or not taking appropriate measures to prevent a tear. A healthcare professional may be found to be negligent if the wound was poorly stitched or sutured, or if the healing process was not properly monitored.
A woman with a perineal tear should be advised on the necessary aftercare of the wound to help to heal and to prevent infections.
It may be also appropriate for a woman who has sustained a third or fourth-degree perineal tear to be offered a Caesarean section for subsequent pregnancies.
The amount of money you could claim for your perineal tear injury will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your perineal tear injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a perineal tear injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for a perineal tear injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a perineal tear injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your perineal tear injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Perineal tear injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a perineal tear injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your perineal tear injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a perineal tear injury compensation claim take?
How long it can take to secure compensation for a perineal tear injury can vary significantly.
A simple uncontested medical negligence claim might be concluded in 12 to 24 months. If the cases is particularly complex, the process might take a few years. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. See more:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a perineal tear injury after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your perineal tear injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
How does no win, no fee work?
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your perineal tear injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also called a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a perineal tear injury claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my perineal tear injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my perineal tear injury claim?
If your perineal tear injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Perineal tear injury FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert