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A birth injury lawsuit is a way for parents or legal guardians to seek justice and compensation for a baby whose injuries resulted from medical malpractice. If you believe your child suffered negligent injuries during childbirth, a lawsuit can give you a sense of justice. With an experienced birth injury lawyer, you have a good chance of recovering damages.
What Is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A birth injury lawsuit is a legal action against a doctor, another medical professional, or hospital over negligent medical care during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and neonatal care.
Most birth injury lawsuits end in a settlement, an agreement in which the defendants compensate the victims for damages incurred. Some cases go to trial to be decided by a jury.
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Can I File a Lawsuit Over a Birth Injury?
Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to act properly when caring for a patient. A birth injury lawsuit may be warranted if you believe that negligence or medical malpractice caused your child’s injury or illness.
For instance, if long and complicated labor resulted in nerve damage in your baby, they may be to blame for failing to recognize the potential for complications that should have led to a C-section.
Active mistakes can also cause birth injuries. If a midwife uses forceps to grip your child’s head and squeezes too hard, for example, that force can cause a skull fracture or brain damage. Doctors can make mistakes after a child is born too.
If your doctor fails to diagnose a condition and, therefore, does not treat it, your child may suffer. Hospitals have also been known to make mistakes with medications for newborns, and these mistakes can be damaging and even fatal.
What Kinds of Birth Injury Lawsuits Can I File?
A birth injury is a broad category of physical damage, mental injury, emotional, developmental, behavioral, and other types of injuries. They range from mild or severe and are related to pregnancy, labor, delivery, and care provided right after birth:
- The most common type of birth injury is cerebral palsy, a movement condition caused by brain damage that can cause difficulty moving, painful and spastic muscles, developmental delays, cognitive impairments, and many other possible complications.
- Birth injuries may also include skull fractures, which can cause brain damage, bleeding on the brain, and other complications.
- Brain damage, often caused by asphyxiation during birth, can lead to cerebral palsy. It can also lead to other conditions like cognitive impairment or later behavioral challenges, or even something as severe as physical paralysis.
- Damage to the spinal cord during birth can also be serious but is less common than brain damage.
- Nerve damage is another common type of birth injury. When the brachial plexus nerves suffer damage during birth, it can cause Erb’s and other kinds of palsies. These result in paralysis, weakness, and loss of sensation in the arm. Nerve damage may also cause facial paralysis.
- Jaundice, brain damage, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and other conditions a child may be born with, if untreated, can cause lasting damage.
Cerebral palsy can lead to several associated disorders, including emotional and cognitive limitations, seizures, oral health issues, and digestive problems.
What Is a Wrongful Death Birth Injury Lawsuit?
When birth injuries are severe enough to lead to the child’s death, you might have a case for wrongful death. It is a similar lawsuit designed to hold medical professionals accountable for negligent actions.
A wrongful death birth injury suit can also provide compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, and emotional suffering.
How Do I Know if I’m Eligible to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
It isn’t always immediately apparent that negligence played a role in a child’s birth injury. You might not remember much from the incident or just have a feeling that the doctor made a mistake.
To know for sure if you have a case, talk to a birth injury lawyer. This is an experienced professional who has handled many similar cases. They have medical experts and investigators who can look over your case and decide if it involved medical malpractice.
Why Should I File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
There are several ways a birth injury lawsuit can help you, your family, your child, and even other children:
- A lawsuit after the fact cannot reverse the damage done to your child, but it can bring you a sense of justice. It can bring the responsible parties to justice and hold them accountable for their actions (or failure to act) and the careless mistakes they made that led to your child’s suffering.
- A lawsuit, if successful, can also protect other children. Lawsuits and settlements force hospitals, doctors, and other medical caregivers to be more careful in the future. By holding these professionals and organizations accountable for their mistakes, you force them to institute safer policies, more training, and greater self-accountability.
- Further, a birth injury lawsuit can help your family and your child by providing you with compensation. If your suit is successful, you should win monetary and punitive damages, but that also provides you with the money you need to care for your child. Compensation from a lawsuit can pay for medical bills, treatments, therapy, adaptive equipment, future medical costs, and lost wages. It can even cover things like pain and suffering.
How Much Compensation Do Families Get in Birth Injury Lawsuits?
Compensation amounts vary significantly depending on the unique factors of each case:
- The degree of negligence
- The severity of the child’s injuries
- Medical bills
- Expected future expenses
- Loss of independence
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages for the parents
While every case is different, these are some examples of birth injury lawsuits that resulted in substantial awards for the families:
- $34.7 million for cerebral palsy. A child born in a Baltimore hospital lives with permanent disabilities and cerebral palsy that requires lifelong care. Doctors neglected to react to his dropping oxygen levels during delivery, and he suffered brain damage as a result
- $900,000 for brachial plexus injury. A baby was born with nerve damage and arm disability after a doctor failed to respond to risk factors for shoulder dystocia.
- $4 million for wrongful death. A doctor in Mississippi failed to perform a C-section in a timely manner, leading to a baby’s loss of oxygen and severe brain damage. The baby ultimately died from the resulting disabilities.
Some states have laws that cap the amount of damages you can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The caps limit what you can recover for non-economic expenses, like pain and suffering. They do not limit recovery for actual costs, like medical bills.
How Does a Birth Injury Lawsuit Work?
To start a case against your doctor or hospital, you need the expertise of a reliable professional. You need a reputable and experienced lawyer to begin your birth injury lawsuit and to represent you and your child throughout the case.
A lawsuit like this starts with an investigation into the incident. Your lawyer will know how to do that and how to collect the evidence that proves that the person or persons responsible for your child’s care made a mistake that led to her birth injury.
To win a birth injury lawsuit means having the evidence and having the right lawyer. Make sure you choose a lawyer with the right experience and a proven track record of winning these cases for previous clients.
The lawyer will file the lawsuit for you, investigate and collect evidence, make a case for negligence, and represent you in either settlement agreements or at trial if it comes to that.
Most birth injury lawsuits end in settlements, but if the defendant’s insurance company does not want to pay or if either side cannot agree on a settlement amount, your case could go to trial.
When Should I File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Laws limit the amount of time you have to file a birth injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Most are one to three years. This is the statute of limitations, and it varies by state.
Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after discovering your child’s injuries and disabilities. If you wait too long, you could miss the opportunity to file a lawsuit.
I Don’t Think I Have Time for a Birth Injury Lawsuit
Right now, a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind. It is likely that you mainly want to focus on your child’s care. You may think that starting a birth injury lawsuit will be too difficult, too long, and also time-consuming.
The truth is that if you choose a good lawyer, you can rely on them to do most of the work. You will be free to focus on the care of your child while your lawyer does all the hard work of making a case.
How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
There is no guaranteed time frame when it comes to birth injury lawsuit resolutions, but you can trust an experienced and qualified lawyer to move through the case as quickly as possible. It could be a month or two or a few years. In general, settlements result in faster compensation than trials.
Will It Cost Anything to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A birth injury should not cost you a dime. Birth injury lawyers only charge fees after they win. They will take a percentage of your settlement or jury award. Discuss fees before working with any lawyer or firm.
If your child faces lifelong disabilities because of medical errors, you have a right to seek justice. Talk to a lawyer about filing a birth injury lawsuit.
- MBBS, MD;, N. L., & MD, T. R. (2019, November 10). Birth Trauma: Overview, etiology, prognosis. Diseases & Conditions - Medscape Reference.
Retrieved from: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/980112-overview
- Birth injury. (n.d.). Stanford Children's Health - Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.
Retrieved from: https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=birth-injury-90-P02340
- Oh CK and Yoon SH. (n.d.). The significance of incomplete skull fracture in the birth injury. - PubMed - NCBI. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20005051
- Brachial Plexus Birth Injury. (n.d.). Boston Children's Hospital.
Retrieved from: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/b/brachial-plexus-injury
- Cerebral Palsy - Symptoms and Causes. (2019, August 17). Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20353999
- Twenty Years of Evidence on the Outcomes of Malpractice Claims. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628515/
- Davis, P. (2021, August 17). Jury Awards $34.7M to Anne Arundel Family Who Sued MedStar Harbor Hospital Over Son's Birth Injury. The Baltimore Sun.
Retrieved from: https://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-medstar-harbor-malpractice-lawsuit-20210817-caaahbtdt5hlfnt5iumot3noe4-story.html
- Virginia Lawyers Weekly. (2020, December 28). Child Suffered Permanent Nerve Injury at Birth - $900,000 Settlement.
Retrieved from: https://valawyersweekly.com/2020/12/28/child-suffered-permanent-nerve-injury-at-birth-900000-settlement/
- O'Brien, J. (2022, January 25). Mississippi Supreme Court Affirms $4M Wrongful Death Verdict Over Birth of Child. Legal Newsline.
Retrieved from: https://legalnewsline.com/stories/618977744-mississippi-supreme-court-affirms-4m-wrongful-death-verdict-over-birth-of-child