Parents await the birth of a child with excitement, and usually this process goes smoothly, resulting in a healthy baby. Sometimes problems arise during pregnancy or childbirth, though. These may cause lasting harm to the child and the mother. Birth injuries are not always preventable, but often they result from errors by a health care provider. When a child or a mother has sustained an avoidable birth injury, a family may want to consider bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit for compensation.
One of the most devastating types of birth injuries is cerebral palsy, which is a group of disorders resulting from brain damage. This condition often arises from oxygen deprivation, hemorrhages, infections, or errors in using forceps or vacuum extractors during childbirth. Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition that may require treatment such as therapies, surgeries, and medications. Children suffering from cerebral palsy may experience problems with motor and cognitive functions, and they may miss developmental milestones. Some notable forms of cerebral palsy include:
The scope of head or brain injuries that a child may sustain extends well beyond cerebral palsy. Some of these conditions are relatively minor and will resolve completely if they are treated promptly and competently. Others cause irreversible harm and may affect many areas of a child’s life. Brain damage may be limited to a single area of the brain, especially if it results from physical trauma during birth, or it may affect the brain as a whole. Treatment for brain injuries may impose substantial costs and may extend across a child’s lifetime. Some notable types of head or brain injuries include:
Many areas of the body rely on signals sent from the brain through the nerves. When a child suffers a nerve injury, these signals may be disrupted. An injury may cause a loss of function and sensation in an area of the body. Some nerve injuries may involve minor stretching, while others may involve more serious tears. If a doctor properly diagnoses and treats a nerve injury, the condition often will resolve without lasting effects. However, some nerve injuries cause permanent disabilities, and a delay in diagnosis and treatment may worsen the prognosis. Some notable types of nerve injuries include:
Distinctive challenges may arise from a premature birth, while others may occur during a post-term pregnancy, but even a pregnancy that lasts a normal length of 37 to 42 weeks may involve complications. Doctors treating an expectant mother should test for risk factors and monitor any concerns. Scientific advances have provided ways to prevent or mitigate many common complications, but time is of the essence. Failing to promptly diagnose and treat a complication can have life-altering or life-threatening consequences. Some notable types of pregnancy and childbirth complications include:
When a doctor does not meet the standards established in their profession, they can cause permanent harm to a child and their mother. Errors may involve acts or omissions. In other words, a doctor may do something that they should not have done, or they may not do something that they should have done. Some types of medical errors that may occur during pregnancy or childbirth include failing to order appropriate tests, misdiagnosing a condition, failing to monitor a condition, providing improper treatment, or failing to follow up after treatment. More distinctive medical errors include:
Through a medical malpractice claim, a family can pursue compensation from any health care provider who was at fault for injuries to a child or mother. They may be able to recover damages for past, present, and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. Proving liability in a birth injury lawsuit requires showing that a health care provider did not meet a professional standard of care, and their departure from the standard of care caused injuries to a child or mother. A family will need expert testimony to prove the elements of the claim, and they may need to navigate around certain procedural obstacles as well.
Most people considering a lawsuit based on malpractice during pregnancy or childbirth should retain an attorney to handle the case on their behalf. An experienced birth injury lawyer will know how to avoid the pitfalls that can ambush unwary litigants. These attorneys typically offer free consultations and do not charge fees for their services unless they recover compensation for a client.
Why do birth injuries happen? Birth injuries may happen because of naturally occurring complications during pregnancy or childbirth, or because of medical errors during pregnancy or childbirth. Sometimes medical errors contribute to pre-existing complications or increase the risk of complications.
Can cerebral palsy be cured? No, cerebral palsy cannot be cured. Doctors have developed many treatments for this condition, though, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies. A child also may receive medications or may undergo surgery.
Why do I need a medical expert for my birth injury case? A medical expert will explain the standard of care that applied to a certain health care provider in a specific situation. The field of medicine is technical and specialized, so jury members and judges likely could not understand the standard of care on their own.
What compensation can I get for a birth injury? You can get compensation for treatment costs, such as medications, therapies, surgeries, and assistive devices. If your child suffers from a permanent disability, you can get compensation for reasonably necessary future treatment costs. A child also can receive damages for non-economic harm like pain and suffering.
Do I need an attorney for my birth injury case? Yes, you probably need an attorney for your birth injury case. These lawsuits involve many distinctive rules that an ordinary person might struggle to navigate. For example, attorneys will be better positioned to hire medical experts to provide affidavits or testimony.
Medical Errors During Childbirth A doctor may deviate from the practices established in their field by failing to monitor, diagnose, or treat a mother and her baby as a competent health care provider would have.
Birth Injury Lawsuits Parents can get compensation for birth injuries to their child by proving the liability of a health care provider for medical malpractice, but they must follow complex procedural rules.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Permanent damage from the death of brain cells can result when the brain of a child does not get enough oxygenated blood during pregnancy or labor and delivery, or shortly after birth.
Erb’s Palsy Damage during birth to a group of nerves known as the brachial plexus can cause a loss of function in an arm, although children usually recover fully if they receive proper medical attention.
Premature Birth Complications Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy face a higher risk of injuries and severe or permanent disabilities, and they may need treatment in the newborn intensive care unit at the hospital.