A skull fracture that occurs during birth or shortly after is not as uncommon as many people may think. The newborn skull is vulnerable, delicate, and not yet fully formed. The pressure of the womb and birth canal can, in some cases, be enough to fracture that thin layer of bone. In most instances of an infant skull fracture, the damage is mild, but in some cases the baby will face living with permanent disabilities.
Parents may wish to consider making an infant skull fracture claim for compensation if they believe that the actions or inactions of a doctor, nurse, or midwife caused the fracture. Medical malpractice is very serious and in the case of an infant’s head can lead to lifelong consequences, and even the death of an infant. A claim may not only result in compensation for the injured child, but also justice and accountability for those responsible.
Fractures and the Infant Skull
Infants are born with skulls that are not hardened yet. They are softer and more vulnerable to damage than fully grown skulls of adults and older children. The infant skull is made up of several plates connected by flexible areas called sutures. Over time, as the child grows, these will expand and then harden. The flexible nature of the brain allows a baby to come out of the birth canal without damage to the head, in most cases.
There have been cases of babies born with skull fractures even when the labor is normal and uncomplicated. In these instances it is thought that it is simply the pressure of pelvic bones and birth canal that apply enough force in the right direction to cause a fracture. More often a fracture occurs when labor is difficult, when there are complications, and when the doctor or other medical professional makes an error and uses too much force in delivering the baby.
Most fractures that occur in the infant skull are linear, meaning fractures that do not cause the plates of the skull to move. These may be serious, but more often heal and cause no real damage. A fracture along a suture can be more serious, especially if it is not detected. As the child’s brain grows, the fracture may grow as well and start to cause problems. A depression fracture is the most serious skull injury, as it can lead to bleeding and swelling in the brain, which may cause brain damage or death.
Instrument Use the Leading Cause of Infant Skull Fracture
The leading cause of infant skull fractures, and a main reason why parents fine an infant skull fracture claim for compensation, is the inappropriate use of instruments during delivery. A doctor is more likely to use forceps or a vacuum extractor in delivery if there are complications or the labor goes on for a long time. These tools can be used to pull the baby out, but they can also apply too much force to the head and fracture the skull.
Infant skull fractures may also occur after birth when a nurse or doctor mishandles the baby or uses equipment incorrectly. If a baby falls or is dropped onto the floor, the impact can easily cause a skull fracture due to the delicate nature of the infant’s skull.
Making an Infant Skull Fracture Claim for Compensation Means Proving Medical Malpractice
If you have a baby that was born with a skull fracture, or that received an injury shortly after being born in the hospital, you may have reason to believe that the injury was the result of medical malpractice. If so, you have a right to file a claim for compensation, both to get money for your child and to bring the responsible parties to justice.
Making a successful claim means proving several important points. The first is that the person or persons you are accusing of medical malpractice were explicitly given responsibility for your care and the care of your newborn. Next you have to prove that this person made an error, such as using forceps too forcefully or failing to recognize the need for a Cesarean section to avoid complications. Finally, you must show that the error directly caused your child’s skull fracture.
A Claim for Compensation Provides for Your Child and Protects Others
If you are able to win compensation for your baby, you will be getting the money that will help you provide the best care. A skull fracture at birth can have lasting consequences for your child from developmental delays to seizure disorders to physical impairments due to brain damage. Whatever the outcome for your child, it is likely to be expensive. To give your child everything from treatment to assistive care and the best education, you will have to spend money.
In addition to providing for your own child, a claim for compensation will protect other children. Holding perpetrators of medical malpractice accountable means safer practices and policies for everyone. It forces the individuals involved to be more careful in the future and hospitals to keep a closer watch over doctors and nurses so that these kinds of injuries are prevented in the future.
Examples of Claims Won for Injured Infants and Their Parents
Cases of skull fractures caused by medical malpractice are more common than parents realize, but many of these parents have won claims for compensation on behalf of their children. In one example, a mother in Texas received a $10.3 million settlement for her child who was left severely brain damaged after a skull fracture that occurred during the baby’s birth.
This mother’s claim went to trial and a jury heard how the doctor delivering her baby used forceps so forcefully that she could hear her daughter’s skull pop as it fractured. Ultimately the doctor performed a Cesarean section to deliver the baby whose brain was badly damaged. She died five days after being born. The doctor was found to be mostly responsible and was ordered to pay 95 percent of the jury-awarded compensation. The mother also stated that she had asked for a Cesarean section and was dissuaded. She was in labor for 18 hours before the doctor finally performed the procedure.
Cases like these are extreme and tragic, but they highlight the importance of making an infant skull fracture claim for compensation. Mothers trust in the care of their doctors and when they make such big mistakes as these, they must be held accountable. If you believe that your baby’s skull was broken because of negligence, you too can make one of these claims and fight for justice and compensation for your baby.