Discovering your child’s resulting birth injury can be frustrating and painful. In such an overwhelming state, it can be hard to discern the cause of the birth injury. Even worse, not all parents know what to do if their child suffers a birth injury.
Chances are the birth injury results from medical malpractice due to the doctor’s negligence. As such, if your child suffers a birth injury, contact a personal injury lawyer to help you file a birth injury lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages. Below is an expert guide on what to do if your child suffers a birth injury. For more information, reach out to a birth injury lawyer.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any type of harm that occurs to a baby during or near the time of birth. It can result in a birth injury claim, a form of medical malpractice.
Medical professionals must meet a certain standard of care when providing healthcare services. Failure to do so before, during, or after delivery can result in a birth injury.
Therefore, if a medical professional fails to meet this standard of care, resulting in a birth injury, they can be liable for damages arising from a medical malpractice suit. A birth injury can have a lasting impact on your child’s life and will likely need constant medical care. As such, filing a birth injury claim with the help of a personal injury attorney can help you get financial compensation to provide your child with care.
Types of Birth Injuries
Common childbirth injuries include:
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This type of brain dysfunction (brain damage) occurs when the brain experiences a decrease in oxygen or blood flow. It can occur before birth, during labor, or after delivery.
- Birth asphyxia
- Maternal injuries (not all birth injuries involve injury to the child. Mothers, too, can suffer harm and possible complications that qualify under a medical malpractice suit (birth injury lawsuit).
- Brachial plexus injuries. These include Erb’s Palsy, where the child’s arm is paralyzed or weak).
- Spinal cord damage
- Scalp bleeding
- Facial paralysis
- Cranial nerve damage. Cranial nerve issues can affect a motor nerve, known as cranial nerve palsy. It can also affect a sensory nerve, resulting in pain or diminished sensation.
- Nerve damage. Nerve damage includes Klumpke’s palsy, where the child’s hands take on a claw-like shape)
- Cerebral palsy. This is a disorder occurring from brain damage during birth. It is the most common motor disability happening during childhood.
For the survivors of these birth injuries, most of these conditions may improve over time with therapy, surgery, and medications. However, such treatments are rarely free, thus the need for filing a birth injury lawsuit before the statute of limitation’s expiry.
What Are the Causes of Birth Injuries?
As mentioned, medical staff are required to follow a set standard of care. This standard of care exists to ensure patients receive proper medical care. It also protects patients from preventable injuries (like most birth injuries).
Hospitals and healthcare providers are legally accountable when they fail to follow this standard of care and cause birth injuries.
Potential causes of birth injuries include:
- Delayed C-section delivery
- Oxygen deprivation/ hypoxia
- Meconium aspiration syndrome
- Trauma and excessive force.
Depending on the facts, some of these causes can warrant a successful birth injury lawsuit. However, some injuries and their causes may result from medical negligence.
Types of negligent acts that can lead to a birth injury lawsuit include:
- Exerting excessive force during delivery
- Failure to check for common neonatal conditions (such as jaundice)
- The use of dangerous delivery tools (such as vacuums and forceps)
- Failure to order a necessary and timely C-Section delivery
- Failure to detect and treat common maternal complications
- Inability to control blood loss in the mother
- Failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate and vitals
A serious birth injury sets the clock running. As such, the sooner you act, the more options are available to treat your child’s birth injury.
What Should I Do After My Child’s Birth Injury Diagnosis?
The steps building up to a birth injury lawsuit are equally important. As you settle into the new normal and continue taking care of your child, it is also essential to:
1. Visit the Right Doctor for A Proper Treatment Plan
The child’s pediatrician will create a personalized medical treatment plan for your child’s birth injury. Each treatment plan is unique and can include physical therapy, surgery, medication, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and other medical interventions.
2. Develop a Financial Plan
Birth injury costs can be high. Besides the medical expenses, you may also have to take unpaid time off work.
3. Develop a Life Care Plan
Healthcare providers can help you develop a life care plan for your child. This plan will estimate how much your child’s future medical expenses will cost, allowing you to plan.
Early intervention for birth injuries is vital. Your child might have a better prognosis when the birth injury is treated promptly. Birth injuries vary from child to child. Therefore, ensure you get a tailored treatment to address your child’s birth injuries.
4. Gather Evidence and Relevant Documents
Your medical receipts and documents are vital to a birth injury claim. Ensure you gather them and present them to your attorney.
5. Call a Lawyer
A birth injury lawyer can help you navigate this painful process by dealing with the legal aspects while you focus on your child’s health. Birth injuries are typically a result of negligence on the doctors’ part. A personal injury attorney can help you pursue a birth injury lawsuit if your child suffers a birth injury.
It is also important to avoid neglecting yourself if you want to take care of the child.
If you suffered emotionally, mentally, and psychologically, you can opt for options such as:
- Find a support group comprising parents of children with the same birth injuries
- Talk to a therapist or friend.
You don’t have to do everything at once. A personal injury lawyer can help you with the legal claim to avoid overwhelming yourself.
Once you discover your child suffers a birth injury, you will want to determine if it was preventable. Most birth injuries are preventable, provided the attending healthcare provider follows the strict standard of care. Your birth trauma and injury attorney can help you investigate the precise cause of the birth injury.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits varies across states. Most states have a two or three-year statute of limitations to file a birth injury malpractice claim.
In most cases, the limitation period starts from the date of the birth injury. The statute of limitations to file a birth injury lawsuit can go up to 8 years or more from the date of the birth injury.
Who Is Liable for a Birth Injury?
The two common defendants in birth injury lawsuits can be the doctor/ healthcare provider and the hospital. One or both parties can be held financially liable for the child’s birth injury.
WHEN A DOCTOR IS LIABLE
The attending physician at the time of the birth injury is often the first person named in a medical malpractice suit.
To hold a doctor (the attending physician) liable, you must prove:
- The doctor has a duty of care
- The doctor failed to uphold their duty of care
- The child/ patient suffered as a result of the doctor’s failure to uphold their duty of care
- The child/ patient suffers damages/ injuries as a result of the damage.
WHEN THE MEDICAL FACILITY IS LIABLE
The hospital can also be held liable in addition to the nurses, doctors, and healthcare providers. Hospitals can be held liable for their own negligence and that of their employees. The doctor’s employer (the hospital) might have vicarious liability for the employee’s actions.
Can I Sue a Drug Manufacturer in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
If a prescription drug caused your child’s birth injury, you could file a birth injury claim against the drug manufacturer. Drug manufacturers have a duty to consumers to ensure the drug is reasonably safe when used as intended.
Therefore, if the pharmaceutical manufacturer fails to sufficiently warn doctors of a drug’s possible dangers, the drug manufacturer can be held liable under the product liability theory. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you file a strong suit against all liable parties in your child’s birth injury lawsuit.
What Type of Compensation Can I Recover in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The actual damages can be significant in a birth injury. As such, you need to be able to file for maximum compensation to help you deal with the birth injury effects. Not only will your child have to deal with the long-term effects of the birth injury, but your family also suffers a great deal of emotions, time, and resources.
Similarly, the compensation amount you recover in a birth injury medical suit can be significant, depending on the widespread nature of the damage and injuries. If your lawsuit is successful, you can win punitive and compensatory damages.
The compensation rules for a birth injury are the same as in any personal injury suit.
You may recover:
1. ECONOMIC DAMAGES
Economic damages cover the out-of-pocket costs of dealing with the aftermath of the injury.
- Medical bills and expenses
- In-home healthcare costs
- Modifications to your home to adapt to the child’s condition
- Special medical equipment.
2. NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES
Non-economic damages are less tangible and cover the emotional and psychological effects on the parent.
Examples of non-economic damages in birth injury lawsuits include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of quality of life.
Can You File for Punitive Damages in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A successful birth injury claim can ease your family’s economic struggles resulting from the injury. However, you can also file for punitive damages, intended to punish the responsible party for the negligence and deter them from future negligence.
For punitive damages, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malice, oppression, fraud, wantonness, willful misconduct, and conscious indifference to their actions’ consequences. It is a high standard of proof, but a birth trauma lawyer can advise on whether or not you qualify.
Can I File an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The tragic death of an infant can be deemed wrongful and preventable. You can file a child wrongful death claim against the liable party if you feel the child’s death resulted from medical negligence. With an experienced lawyer and a good case, you can get compensation.
How Much Compensation Can I Recover from a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The amount of damages you can recover from a birth injury suit will vary, depending on the circumstance of your case.
Some of the factors likely to affect your compensation payout include:
- Type of birth injury
- The severity of the birth injury
- Whether the birth injury effects are short or long-term.
The more severe the injury, the higher your compensation amount can be. A birth injury lawyer can help you properly evaluate your case and file for the maximum compensation amount possible.
How Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Help You?
The period preceding a birth injury lawsuit can be confusing for most victims. While you can file a suit yourself, you stand a better chance of a successful claim by contacting a birth injury attorney.
A birth injury attorney can:
- Help you receive financial compensation
- Gather supporting evidence, including witness testimonials and medical records
- File your birth injury case within the appropriate court of law
- Build a strong case against the liable parties.
A birth injury lawyer can assess your case to determine your eligibility to file a legal claim for your child’s birth injury.
How to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit
Your first step to filing a birth injury lawsuit is speaking with an experienced attorney. Personal injury cases like birth injuries involve complex laws and overwhelming procedural requirements.
In addition, birth injury lawsuits require a great deal of investigations, legal knowledge, and medical expert validation. By hiring an experienced birth injury attorney, you can get proper legal counsel and guidance throughout the claim and litigation process.
A personal injury lawyer can handle the lawsuit filing process on your behalf while you focus on healing and taking care of your child.