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Birth injury lawyers help parents seek justice and recover damages for a child born with brain damage, cerebral palsy, and other injuries or conditions. A birth injury is any damage sustained to an infant as a direct result of the childbirth process, and they often result from medical malpractice.
What Is a Birth Injury Lawyer?
A birth injury lawyer specializes in helping families whose babies were born with devastating birth injuries. Some of the cases birth injury lawyers handle include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Erb’s palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brain damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Spina bifida
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension
- Forceps and vacuum extractor injuries
- Maternal infections
- Newborn jaundice
- Wrongful death
Why Do Parents Work with Birth Injury Lawyers?
Parents who hire birth injury lawyers are not satisfied with the medical care they received. Their child was born with significant injuries that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
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A birth injury lawyer can help these parents in several ways. The most important reason parents turn to a lawyer is to seek compensation to cover their child’s treatments and lifelong care.
Birth Injuries Explained
A birth injury is a physical injury, brain injury, nerve injury, or some medical condition caused by complications of pregnancy, labor, delivery, or the time shortly after a baby is born. A variety of factors may cause these injuries:
- For instance, untreated maternal illness, such as infections or preeclampsia, can cause harm to a baby if not diagnosed and treated in time. If a baby has untreated jaundice, that too can cause damage that could be considered a birth injury.
- Physical trauma during childbirth can also cause birth injuries. Pulling too forcefully on the baby or getting stuck in the mother’s pelvis can cause physical damage.
- Inappropriate use of forceps or vacuum extractors, such as using them with too much force, can also cause physical damage to a baby being born.
- Failure to recognize fetal distress can lead to brain or nerve damage and resulting disabilities.
Cerebral palsy is the most common type of birth injury, and any factor that causes it during childbirth leads to brain damage.
Other examples of birth injuries included Erb’s palsy, caused by damage to nerves that control the arm, brachial plexus injuries, skull fractures and other bone fractures, cranial nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, and in the most extreme cases, the death of the newborn.
Birth injuries are often permanent. Many children suffering a traumatic birth injury will have lifelong disabilities, ranging from difficulty walking or mild cognitive impairments to severe paralysis.
Are Birth Injuries Medical Malpractice?
In some cases, a birth injury occurs that is truly an accident. Better care could not have prevented it. Unfortunately, negligent care does often cause birth injuries.
Medical malpractice occurs when the child suffers injuries because a doctor or other medical professional failed to provide an adequate standard of care.
For example, it is considered standard care to monitor the fetus during labor. If a doctor fails to do so or detects fetal distress and doesn’t act quickly, they could be guilty of medical malpractice.
How Does a Birth Injury Lawyer Prove Medical Malpractice?
If you believe that your child’s birth injury was caused by an error made by a medical professional you trusted to care for you and your child, you may be able to prove negligence played a role.
To make a case against a hospital, doctor, midwife, or anyone else involved in the birth, you need to be able to prove three main factors:
- The medical caregiver or caregivers in question had specific responsibility for your care and your child’s care. You must show that this person took on the medical care for you and your child.
- The medical caregiver made an error. This could be an action, such as using too much force with forceps, or a failure to take any action, like failing to perform a Cesarean section when it was clear that there would be complications during labor.
- Finally, you have to be able to prove that the above error contributed to your child’s birth injury or that without that mistake, your child would be healthy and uninjured.
What Is Birth Injury Compensation?
If a medical professional behaved negligently, your child could be eligible for compensation. A birth injury lawyer gives you the best chance of getting the compensation that will help you give your child the best care possible.
Compensation claims can include money to cover:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Ongoing therapy costs
- Adaptive devices
- In-home medical care
Damages could also include punitive damages for things such as pain and suffering and emotional distress for both you and your child.
Parents might also claim compensation for lost wages. Many parents with a child suffering from a birth injury need to stay home to provide care.
How Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Help Me?
Having a child with a birth injury is tragic. It means that your child will face challenges that other children don’t have to face. Depending on the severity of the damage, your child may be facing severe and debilitating disabilities that prevent her from living a healthy life, now and in the future.
If you think someone is responsible for this injury, you probably want justice for your child.
A birth injury is not only devastating for your family; it is also expensive. Again, depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need a lot of expensive care for years to come.
There may be immediate treatments and surgeries, ongoing physical therapy, educational interventions, emotional and behavioral therapy, and even the cost of live-in or institutional care for decades into the future.
A good birth injury lawyer can help you make the case that will win you and your child both justice and compensation to cover all the associated costs.
A birth injury lawyer is someone with experience working on these kinds of cases, with medical malpractice laws, and with winning compensation, either through settlements or jury trials, for their clients.
What to Look for in a Birth Injury Lawyer
To fight for justice and the compensation that your child deserves, you need to work with the best representation. Start by finding a lawyer that specializes, not just in medical malpractice but birth injuries.
Some of these lawyers are even more specialized and may cover only cerebral palsy cases, for instance. The more expertise your lawyer has, the better your chances of making a successful case.
You may also want to find out what other clients have to say about a lawyer before making a choice.
A good birth injury lawyer should have testimonials or references from previous clients, the people for whom they have already won justice and compensation.
Before you make your choice, be sure that the lawyer can answer all your questions and that they make you feel comfortable going forward with your birth injury case.
How Do I Find Birth Injury Lawyers Near Me?
A quick search online will turn up several law firms and attorneys advertising birth injury services. If you search for a firm this way, be sure to do your homework. Reputable personal injury lawyers always offer a free consultation. Take this opportunity to interview several firms before you choose one.
If you know of other parents who have been through a similar experience, they may be able to refer you to a trusted lawyer. You can also look for a recommendation from a lawyer you trust with a different area of expertise.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Birth Injury Lawyer?
Like other personal injury lawyers, birth injury lawyers do not charge up-front fees. They operate on a contingency basis. This means you only pay fees when the lawyer wins your case and gets you a settlement or trial verdict.
They will take a percentage of the amount you win. Discuss the payment terms before you hire a lawyer or a firm.
What to Expect When Working with a Birth Injury Lawyer
Once you hire a birth injury lawyer, they will collect information and review your case. Be prepared with all the documentation they need, like medical bills and records.
With enough information to make a case, they will next file a lawsuit against the defendants. During a discovery period, both sides gather information and build their cases.
At this point, most lawyers recommend you seek a settlement. They will negotiate on your behalf with the defendants’ lawyers. If they cannot secure a fair settlement, your lawyer will take your case to trial. Trials are lengthy and at the mercy of the jury, so settlements are typically a better option.
In a trial, your lawyer will argue your case and present evidence and expert testimony. The jury decides if the defendants are negligent and, if so, what they owe your child.
If your child suffered significant injuries at birth, contact a birth injury lawyer for advice. They can help you get the justice your child deserves and the compensation they need.
- Birth Injuries in Newborns. (n.d.). Merck Manuals Consumer Version.
Retrieved from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/problems-in-newborns/birth-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
- Proving a medical malpractice case I – Proving negligence (Part I). (2017, March 17). Physician's Weekly.
Retrieved from: https://www.physiciansweekly.com/proving-a-medical-malpractice-case-i-proving-negligence-part-i/
- An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628513/
- Neurological Neonatal Birth Injuries: A Literature Review. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5811307/