While the process of giving birth can be physically taxing on both mother and infant alike, advances in modern medicine have made the process much less risky than it was in the past. Unfortunately, the same techniques designed to assist in the birthing process also have the potential to cause serious trauma when they are administered incorrectly. In addition, when medical professionals fail to diagnose issues in newborns, there can be lifelong consequences.
While some medical complications are unavoidable, those caused by negligence or incompetence are inexcusable and victims should be compensated for their harms and losses. Because medical negligence is sometimes hard to spot, anyone who has been affected by a birth injury should be sure to discuss their case with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible after the injury is recognized. Lawyers who are experienced in infant delivery litigation are dedicated to helping birth injury victims recover, and have the skill and experience necessary to bring your case to the best resolution possible.
Simple Medical Errors Can Cause Traumatic Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can be caused by a number of medical errors. Importantly, not every error in judgment gives rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to successfully bring a claim, a plaintiff must be able to establish that physician’s or medical professional conduct fell below the applicable standard of care.
Some examples of the kinds of medical errors that could lead to birth injuries include:
- Not recognizing an infection during the gestation period
- Administering defective drugs or improper doses
- Botching a surgery or procedure
- Failing to properly monitor the heart rate during pregnancy
- Failing to follow proper delivery procedures
- Failing to recognize a major issue with newborns, such as problems with umbilical or jaundice
- Improper use of delivery tools, such as vacuum extractors or forceps
- Failing to recognize the need for a cesarean section.
- Improper care during a cesarean section.
Many of these seemingly minor incidents can have devastating impacts on a child, leaving them to struggle with a disability or disfigurement for the rest of their lives.
Some of the most common birth defects caused by medical errors include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb’s Palsy (also called Brachial Plexus Palsy)
- Brain swelling or hemorrhaging
- Skull fractures or other bone damage
- Nerve damage
- Brain damage due to lack of oxygen (hypoxia) caused by umbilical cord compression or strangulation.
Estimates by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that the number of children in the U.S. who enter the world with an injury or birth defect may be as high as 1 in 33. The CDC also notes that about 20% of infant deaths can be attributed to birth defects.
Determining if a Birth Trauma Was Preventable
An experienced birth and delivery attorney can help to determine the origin of birth trauma. They will work with families to examine the circumstances and procedures of a birth to establish the possibility and responsibility for preventable birth injuries. They will also employ medical experts to determine whether or not the proper standard of care was used in your claim.
Compensation for Parents and Child Victims of Birth Injuries
When you pursue a birth trauma claim, you are allowed to seek compensation for the full extent of financial damages. Yet determining and documenting those damages requires thorough legal analysis. It also requires in-depth knowledge of complex medical issues and legal understanding. Common damages that are awarded compensation include:
- The extent of your child’s injuries and expected recovery time (including whether or not their injury will affect them throughout their life)
- The cost of your and your child’s medical bills (including the likelihood of future medical treatments, assistive devices, and special needs care)
- Any wages you lost as a result of missing work
- Your child’s pain and suffering
- Cost of life care if it’s determined that your child will suffer developmental issues as a result of their birth injury
When you hire a malpractice attorney, they will work with independent experts in the field of life care planning and medical treatment. They prepare every case as if it is going to trial. When the malpractice insurance company sees the facts in hand, they are typically ready to come to the negotiating table with a fair settlement. However, should your case go to trial, you can rest assured that your rights are in capable hands.
Parents Deserve Answers for an Injured Infant
Few understand the distress that follows trauma to a newborn or mother. One of the biggest questions is “what happened?”. A medical lawyer will be able to help you get those answers and they know how to take decisive action should negligence or malpractice be the cause.
While no amount of financial compensation can change the fact that a birth injury occurred, it can certainly help you and your family deal with medical expenses and get some peace of mind. Injuries or birth defects that occur during pregnancy or delivery can leave your child disabled for life and can threaten the life or health of the mother. Expensive surgeries or other interventions may be needed by your infant, and costly medical care may be required on an ongoing basis.
If a child has suffered serious trauma or died because of medical malpractice, it’s reasonable that any negligence or carelessness be addressed. Contact a skilled attorney near you to discuss your potential claim.