Thousands of babies are born every day in the U.S. with some type of birth injury. Some are permanently disabled while other infants are left partially disabled. Since a number of babies will be affected for the rest of their lives, and sometimes due to medical malpractice, a birth injury claim for compensation is a valid way to get money to help with medical costs and other expenses.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any injury that happens during childbirth, although sometimes a mistake made in the hospital shortly after a baby is born can also result in harm that is grouped together with birth injuries. Some of these injuries are physical, such as broken bones, a skull fracture, or paralysis of the arm or face. Others are neurological or mental, such as nerve damage that leads to a palsy or brain or spinal cord damage.
The consequences of a birth injury can range from mild to severe and temporary to permanent. Some children will live forever with cerebral palsy, a condition which itself varies in severity. A child born with cerebral palsy may have normal intelligence and only slightly impaired movement, while another may have cognitive impairments, difficulty eating and breathing, and movements that are so impaired that walking is impossible.
Other consequences of birth injuries are Erb’s palsy, which can cause paralysis, weakness, or loss of sensation in one arm to varying degrees. Brain damage that leads to epilepsy, cognitive impairments, developmental delays, and behavioral issues as a child grows older is also possible. Skull fractures ranging from small to large can cause serious and life-threatening consequences or may be mild and may not even be detected.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
There are many possible causes of birth injuries. Cerebral palsy is the most common birth injury, most often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. A number of factors may lead to a baby being deprived of oxygen during birth from complications in the womb or with delivery to a mother’s infection that went undetected and untreated. Preeclampsia in the mother may also cause a child to receive too little oxygen and to suffer brain damage as a result.
Physical trauma is another cause of birth injuries. If delivery is long and complicated, the baby may become injured in the womb and in the birth canal, simply from the pressure of the mother’s pelvis. If the doctor or other professional delivering the baby uses too much force, either while pulling on the baby or using instruments like forceps, that too can cause trauma and damage.
When Negligence Causes a Birth Injury
There are instances in which a birth injury is caused by some factor that could not be controlled for, that the doctor could not have prevented. Too often, though, the birth injury that causes a child to live with lifelong damage is caused by something preventable, a doctor or other staff member’s error. A health professional, in whom you trusted your care and that of your child, may take an action or may fail to take an action that directly leads to the birth injury.
As an example of each, a doctor using forceps to get a baby out through a difficult labor may use too much force and cause a fracture in the baby’s delicate skull. In another instance, a mother may show signs that her labor will be difficult or that her baby is unusually large. If the doctor fails to perform a Cesarean section to avoid complications, the baby may suffer a birth injury during delivery.
What is a Birth Injury Claim for Compensation?
A birth injury claim for compensation is a legal claim that a parent may make on behalf of a child that has suffered harm during or soon after birth. To make this claim you must be prepared to prove that your child’s birth injury was caused by negligence or medical malpractice. If, with the assistance of an experienced legal team you can make this claim, you stand a chance to win compensation to help care for your child.
A claim for compensation may include several factors. If you are thinking of filing a claim, you should be keeping track of all the expenses of the birth injury and what it is projected to cost your family in the future. A claim may include medical bills already incurred, but also those you expect to have to pay in the future. It can include the costs of any type of therapy your child may need, in-home medical care, institutional care, medications and adaptive equipment, and travel to medical appointments. A claim may also include the intangible costs of emotional suffering, for you and your child.
How to Make a Claim
To make a birth injury claim for compensation you need to start with a legal team. You need a lawyer or team of lawyers that are experienced in medical malpractice and birth injury cases. You also want a team that has won these claims for clients in the past. Once you have a legal team, these professionals will take the reins and file the claim.
The legal team will also go to work investigating the incident and collecting evidence needed to make your case and to prove that the medical professional you trusted for your care made an error that directly led to your child’s birth injury. Your team will then represent you and your child and fight to get you that compensation.
A Settlement vs. a Trial
Your claim for compensation will most likely end in a settlement. Most insurance companies and hospitals want to avoid going to trial, which is costly and time-consuming. They will try to settle with you, and your lawyer will represent you during these discussions. If neither side can come to a satisfactory agreement on a settlement amount, then the case may go to trial. In this case a judge and jury will hear your evidence and the arguments of the defendants, and a jury may or may not award you a settlement for your claim.
To file a birth injury claim for compensation is a big step, but it is an important one. Seeking justice for your child and forcing those to blame to recognize fault will not just bring money in for the care of your child, it will also protect children in the future from being harmed in the same way. It may seem daunting, but filing this claim is an important thing to do, and it needs to be done soon. Any delay can weaken your case.