Pregnancy and birth, while challenging, should bring some of the happiest moments to a mother’s life. Unfortunately, when a newborn child suffers an injury, these happy times can quickly turn sad and stressful.
You may seek a financial recovery if your child suffered harm during pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. A medical malpractice attorney can assist you with your claim.
Understanding Birth Injuries
An injury is difficult as it is, especially when a doctor injures a helpless newborn baby. Preventable medical mistakes cause many birth injuries.
Before determining your options after your child suffers a birth injury, you may want to know how doctor negligence causes birth injuries and how they affect victims and their families.
How Do Birth Injuries Arise?
Generally, there are three broad reasons why birth injuries happen:
- Failure to detect: Birth injuries often happen when medical professionals fail to detect potential dangers. This can include diagnostics related to the baby’s and mother’s health.
- Failure to prevent: Once a provider detects an issue, they must take action to prevent complications. Failure to prevent can also involve inadequate explanations or risk and violating duties.
- Failure to treat: When a healthcare professional notes an issue, they have a duty to treat it. With timely treatment, many health complications are preventable. If an issue goes untreated, it can result in substantial injury.
More specifically, some of the common causes of birth injuries include:
- Failure to monitor fetal vitals
- Failure to diagnose a medical condition
- Improper birthing techniques
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors during cesarean section (c-section) delivery
- Excessive force during birth
Every birth injury is different. However, it is also true that doctors can avoid many of these injuries with proper care and attention.
Common Kinds of Birth Injuries
The exact type of birth injury a child suffers depends on the circumstances.
Babies face elevated risks of:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Infant brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Skull fractures
- Facial injuries
- Brachial plexus
- Shoulder dystocia
Depending on the exact harm, some children may recover from certain injuries. However, newborn babies have fragile bodies, making them more susceptible to substantial injuries with long-lasting effects on their health.
Long-Term Consequences of a Birth Injury
Birth injuries often affect a child’s life in the long term.
Among the many physical and mental issues a newborn birth injury victim can suffer, the following are some of the most common:
- Brain damage
- Developmental issues
- Nerve damage
- Vision and hearing impairment
- Permanent scarring
- Physical disabilities
When your child suffers a birth injury, not only do you suffer through their recovery as a baby, but you may have to face the challenges they’ll experience as they grow and mature.
A birth injury can affect child victims and their families mentally and emotionally, but also financially, as long-term medical care is particularly costly.
Liability for Birth Injuries
One of the first questions that may come to mind after your child suffers a birth injury is, “Who is to blame?” Undoubtedly, you’ll want to know whose responsibility it is to take action against this party.
Some of the potentially liable parties in birth injury cases include:
- The hospital
- Any other medical provider involved in your pregnancy, labor, and delivery
Determining liability for a birth injury can be somewhat challenging in some cases. A birth injury lawyer can thoroughly review the details of your case and medical records to determine what party played a role in the injury.
Are Birth Injuries Obvious?
As a parent to a newborn, you feel extra protective of your baby. The stress of parenting a newborn, especially if you’re a first-time parent, may lead you to believe that problems exist where they do not. In some cases, however, your baby may have sustained a birth injury.
Some birth injuries manifest immediately after they happen, but some are not so obvious. You may not realize your child has suffered a birth injury until several days, weeks, or months after birth. You might not notice some birth injuries until later in a child’s life.
Immediately after birth or early on in a child’s infancy, your baby may exhibit signs of a birth injury, including:
- Breathing problems
- Paler than normal skin
- Low heart rate
- Muscle weakness
- Signs on the skin, like bruising or swelling
Signs that are common as a child grows and develops include:
- Vision and hearing issues
- Learning disabilities
- Problems with motor skills
- Inability to control bodily movements
- Speech impairments
- Difficulties with eating or drinking
If you believe your child suffered an injury at birth, do not wait to consult with a medical professional. Physical exams and diagnostic testing can provide answers and allow a physician to determine whether your child is the victim of a birth injury. This is a necessary step to proceed with a legal claim.
What to Do After Your Child Suffers a Birth Injury
Discovering your child has suffered a birth injury can frighten and overwhelm you regardless of when you find out.
When you determine that someone else injured your child suffered during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, protect your and your child’s rights and:
Focus on Your Child’s Health
First and foremost, place your child’s health and well-being first. If you recently learned your child suffered a birth injury, keep their health and recovery on your mind.
Talk to Doctors and Document Everything
Depending on your child’s birth injury, this may require meeting with and speaking to many doctors and healthcare professionals. If possible, document everything, and keep a record of all your visits.
During every appointment, write down:
- The doctor’s title and specialty
- The doctor’s diagnosis
- Information regarding your child’s health
- Your child’s prognosis, according to the doctor
All of the information you document can help your legal case. Your lawyer will prefer too much rather than too little information, so keep everything.
Obtain Medical Records
Whenever your child’s medical records become available, request a copy and keep them for your records. As your child’s parent, you may request these medical records for your review.
You may also consider requesting your medical records from your pregnancy, labor, and delivery, as these can contain vital information regarding your child’s injury.
Speak to a Qualified Birth Injury Lawyer
An experienced birth injury attorney can provide quality advice and guidance and determine whether you have a valid compensation claim. If so, you can trust your lawyer to offer aggressive representation as they fight to hold the at-fault party responsible and obtain the most favorable compensation for you and your child.
During your initial consultation, you can provide your attorney with any and all information you have concerning your child’s birth injury. They can then investigate and seek and obtain critical answers, including the cause of the injury and who they can hold responsible. This information can help kick-start your claim for financial recovery.
Elements of a Birth Injury Claim
Most birth injury cases rest upon a theory of negligence. A negligent party failed to act in the same way a reasonable person in a similar situation should have acted.
You must prove four critical parts in a personal injury claim based on negligence. These elements can establish the responsible party’s negligence to pursue the compensation you deserve.
The elements of a birth injury claim include:
- Duty: Medical providers owe their patients a high duty of care. Showing a healthcare professional owed you a duty of care requires proving a doctor-patient relationship existed.
- Breach: Once you’ve established the provider owed you a duty, you must show how they breached it. Medical professionals often breach their duty by failing to provide adequate care under the circumstances.
- Causation: It is not enough to show the responsible party made a serious mistake. You must also show how that act or omission relates to the resulting harm. Proving causation requires creating the link between the healthcare professional’s act or omission and your child’s birth injury.
- Damages: Finally, you must show that the at-fault party’s wrongdoings resulted in losses.
The success of your birth injury case rests on these elements. For this reason, your attorney will do everything necessary to substantiate their claims and prove how the responsible party’s actions or omissions negatively impacted your and your child’s lives.
Recoverable Damages for Birth Injury Claims
One of the primary goals of a birth injury lawsuit is obtaining fair compensation. Your damages depend on the specifics of your case.
Damages for a birth injury can either be economic or non-economic.
Economic damages represent provable monetary losses, which can include:
- Medical bills for past and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Expenses for in-home care and home modifications
- Lost income
Non-economic damages are harder to prove as they represent intangible losses.
These damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages may be available under specific circumstances. Instead of compensating victims, punitive damages punish defendants for their intentional or reckless behavior and deter future bad actors.
Determining the value of your case is critical to pursue the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can review your case, including the type of injury your child suffered, the total cost of medical care, and how the injury will affect your child’s future.
Time Limits on Birth Injury Claims
While you may pursue justice and financial recovery for your child’s birth injury, statutes of limitations set a deadline to file your civil lawsuit in court. These time limits vary by state but typically range from one to six years for personal injury cases like birth injuries.
Although you might still file your claim after the allotted time has passed, you are unlikely to proceed with your claim and obtain a favorable result. Therefore, when you discover your child’s birth injury, hire a qualified attorney to handle your case.
Determining Whether You Have a Valid Birth Injury Claim – A Skilled Attorney Can Help You
If you wonder what to do if your child suffers a birth injury, consult a personal injury attorney. A skilled lawyer can answer your questions, address your concerns, and determine the best next steps for your situation.
Should you have a valid claim for your child’s birth injury, your attorney can handle your case from beginning to end, providing quality legal representation.
When your child suffers harm at the hands of another, you deserve justice. Speak with a lawyer as soon as possible for guidance. You will need help with a complex birth injury claim, and your family may deserve substantial damages. Do not risk leaving money on the table – instead, seek help from a trusted birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.