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A birth injury settlement is monetary compensation provided to a plaintiff in a birth injury lawsuit, which typically happens after a healthcare provider negligently causes injuries to an infant. Birth injuries are often lifelong conditions that can require expensive medical treatments.
Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
A birth injury settlement is awarded after a baby’s injuries are determined to be caused by medical malpractice. A doctor, for instance, may make the wrong decision about performing a Cesarean section, leading to a complicated delivery that harms the baby.
Another example of a negligent birth injury includes excessive force used with instruments like vacuum extractors or forceps that can break bones and cause brain damage. 
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Other examples include failure to diagnose an illness in the mother that impacts the health of the baby, making a mistake in diagnosing a condition that the child is born with, and then failing to treat it adequately or at all.
What is a Birth Injury Settlement?
A settlement is a monetary award after an agreement between both the plaintiff and defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
One purpose of a birth injury settlement is to award damages to the victim, while another purpose is to legally recognize that a medical professional or medical institution did something wrong.
The settlement amount is used to cover the costs incurred by a family with a child suffering from a birth injury. From medical bills to lost wages, the settlement covers tangible costs, also known as compensatory damages.
The settlement may also be used to compensate the victim for intangible things, known as punitive damages, such as the inability to live a normal life or emotional suffering. Laws for punitive damages will vary according to the state you live in.
How to Get a Birth Injury Settlement
The first thing you should do to have the best chances for a birth injury settlement is to get a good lawyer to represent you.
Choose a lawyer with expertise in medical malpractice lawyer who specializes in birth injury cases. A qualified lawyer or legal team should have the experience and knowledge you need to make a strong case.
Once you have selected the right lawyer, your legal team will do most of the work for you.
However, you should keep records of all expenses related to your child’s condition, including medical appointments, travel costs to the appointments, medications, treatments, therapy, and any medical or adaptive equipment.
You may also need to help your lawyer by recollecting precisely what happened when your child was born. Your lawyer will investigate the incident and collect evidence, but your memory of the events is crucial.
It’s important to file a lawsuit seeking a settlement as soon as possible after the birth of your child. There are statute of limitations in place in every state for medical malpractice cases.
Birth Injury Settlement Examples
In 1999, a child was born with severe birth injuries at the Monmouth Medical Center in New Jersey. According to court documents, an attending obstetrician, two nurses, and obstetric residents failed to notice warning signs that the baby was in severe distress, despite fetal monitoring strips indicating that there were complications.
Instead of performing a timely Cesarean section, the healthcare professionals let the mother go through labor for 10 hours, her birth injury lawyers said. While the mother was in labor, the baby was deprived of oxygen, which led to the infant’s severe brain damage.
The plaintiffs’ birth injury attorneys ultimately helped them obtain a $6.5 million settlement from the responsible parties.
A similar incident took place in 2006 at the Salina Regional Health Center in Salina, Kansas. Court documents indicate that an attending physician and nurses failed to detect an infant girl’s distress from umbilical cord compression.
Dr. David Prendergast, the on-call physician, had not met the infant, Adriane, until 7 a.m., hours after fetal monitoring showed distress. The doctor ended up rupturing the baby’s membrane, which subsequently decelerated her heart rate.
The baby’s fetal monitoring machine beeped for around 15 minutes afterward, but the doctor and nurses didn’t take action. According to court documents, each time the monitor beeped, someone muted it at the nurse’s station.
The delay ultimately led to Adriane developing hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, due to lack of oxygen. The little girl also developed cerebral palsy.
Birth injuries attorneys for the mother negotiated a $4.2 million settlement with the defendants. The compensation included an additional $20,000 from Dr. Prendergast’s personal account.
If you have a child that was injured during birth and you believe it was caused by medical negligence, you have the legal right to seek justice. Be sure to choose the right legal team and act quickly.
Your lawyer can help guide you and give you the best chance of winning the money that your child needs.
- Birth Injury - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). Welcome to URMC - Rochester, NY - University of Rochester Medical Center.
Retrieved from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02340
- Neurological Neonatal Birth Injuries: A Literature Review. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5811307/