Here are some FAQs and answers that may help as you consider whether to speak with an attorney regarding a possible birth injury lawsuit.
1. What is the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?
While the terms “birth injury” and “birth defect” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is an important difference between the two. A birth defect is a condition that forms during a mother’s pregnancy, before the baby is born, and is in no way caused by the baby’s or the mother’s medical care. Instead, the condition often arises due to genetics. However, a birth injury occurs when there is physical harm done to the baby during the labor or delivery process, causing a condition or disability to an otherwise healthy newborn.
2. How Do I Know if a Birth Injury is Caused by Malpractice or Negligence?
Malpractice or negligence in a medical setting means the doctor or other medical professional acted in a way that breached the duty of care (the doctor failed to follow the rules meant to keep patients safe). This means the doctor either failed in their duty to monitor a baby or take swift action to prevent a baby from suffering harm. Typically, malpractice or negligence comes into play with birth injuries caused by lack of oxygen or other physical harm.
3. What are the Most Common Types of Errors Leading to Successful Birth Injury Lawsuits?
Some of the common types of errors resulting in birth injuries include miscalculation of contractions, failure to perform an emergency cesarean section, delayed delivery, failure to monitor, prescription of wrong drugs, and improper epidural administration.
4. Who Can I Hold Responsible?
Typically, the most common parties responsible for a birth injury include the doctor or other medical professional who must provide care during a pregnancy or delivery. Nurses and the hospital or agency who employs the doctor can also hold some liability.
5. How Long Can I Wait Before Deciding to Take Legal Action?
Every state has a “statute of limitations” requiring lawsuits for medical malpractice (including birth injuries) to be filed within a certain amount of time. The statute of limitations in Maryland for medical malpractice requires plaintiffs to file a claim within five years of the injury occurring, or within three years from the date the injury was discovered, whichever comes first. You may have additional time to file on behalf of a minor, but the parents’ claims expire sooner. In general, the exact date by when you must file a claim can be a complex legal issue. You should consult with an attorney to determine the statute of limitations for your potential case.
6. What is the First Step to Take When Considering Legal Action?
When considering legal action, you should speak with an attorney who can give you advice on what to do moving forward and what rights you may have. A lawyer can help you understand the potential claim you may have.
7. How Long Do Birth Injury Lawsuits Take?
There’s no set timeline that determines how long a birth injury lawsuit will take. There are multiple factors that must be considered including whether a settlement is reached, the discovery process, and other legal motions that may be filed. While the process may take months or a few years, an experienced lawyer will handle most all of the work, allowing you to spend as much time as possible with your child.
8. How Much Money Can I Get in a Birth Injury Case?
The amount of money you may recover is dependent on the circumstances of your case, including the damages your baby suffered and the severity of the injury. Also, there may be a cap that limits how much you may recover. However, multiple Maryland juries have awarded millions of dollars in birth injury cases. In 2019 a Baltimore jury awarded $229 million in one case. While the family will not recover that full amount, this verdict shows how successful certain birth injury cases may be.
9. How Can Any Money I’m Awarded Help My Child?
While the money can’t help your child fully recover, it can help you cover past, current, and future medical expenses; costs associated with rehabilitation, therapy, counseling, or specialized medical equipment; and any other needs that your child may have moving forward.
10. Do Both Parents Need to Agree to Bring a Lawsuit?
Birth injury lawsuits do not always require both parents, as there are certain situations where it may not be practical for both parents to be involved. For instance, if one parent gives up parental rights, the other parent would be the only party to bring a lawsuit. There are also other situations where only one parent need bring the lawsuit. Should you wish to bring a lawsuit without the agreement or support of the other parent, you should inform your lawyer, and they will be able to advise you whether that is allowable and/or practicable.
Our Baltimore birth injury lawyers at Brown & Barron can help you.