Birth injuries are legally defined as situations in which serious injury or death to the infant or mother has occurred due to medical mistakes, malpractice, negligence, or flawed hospital policy during the birthing process. Here are the 12 most important questions if you suspect or have received a diagnosis of birth injury.
1. What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injury Cases?
Labor can cause a preventable death or serious injury at a hospital. However, if any of the following situations occurred, you should speak with your attorney immediately:
- Cerebral palsy (CP)
- Erb’s palsy
- Brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
- Brain damage
- Birth trauma
- Placental abruption
- Fetal acidosis
- Retinopathy of prematurity
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Fetal death
- Fetal lacerations
Birth Injuries Involving Mothers
Mothers can also experience severe injuries during the childbirth process that can arise due to medical negligence, such as the following:
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Prolapsed uterus
- Ruptured uterus
- Fourth-degree vaginal tear
- Post-natal post-traumatic stress disorder
2. How Do I Know if the Hospital or Doctor Was Responsible for My Birth Injury?
If the unthinkable occurs during childbirth, it can be difficult to get answers from the hospital, especially if they suspect their own medical mistakes, malpractice, negligence, or flawed hospital policies were involved.
Our law firm taking on birth injury cases has the experience to handle your case could help. We can also recruit experts (usually other doctors) to analyze whether or not your doctor and the hospital followed the accepted standard of care and gave the mother all the necessary information and advice.
We can help you report your incident, find out what happened, and get justice for your loved one.
3. How Long Do I Have To File a Lawsuit in a Case of a Birth Injury?
Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101 requires that the plaintiff file the lawsuit within three years from the date of the injury. However, if the individual did not know and could not have known of the injury until later, that person may have more time. Under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-109, medical malpractice victims have three years from the date of discovery of the injury—but not more than five years from the date of the incident.
If malpractice is committed upon children, they have even more time to bring a claim. Some legal factors determine when the clock starts ticking regarding the statute of limitations. So, it is best to speak with your attorney as soon as you suspect a birth injury.
4. How Common Are Birth Injuries?
StatPearls reports that 1.9 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States in 2012 were estimated to be injured during birth. Understanding birth injury statistics can give you a better insight into how your case might pan out.
5. Does It Matter What State the Hospital Is Located In?
Your lawsuit must be filed in the state where the hospital is located. Your loved one’s hospital must be located in the state of Maryland or Washington, D.C. for Brown & Barron to represent your case.
6. What Is the Difference Between a “Birth Injury” and a “Birth Defect”?
A birth injury occurs during the delivery of the baby. A birth defect occurs prior to the pregnancy (e.g., a genetic issue) or during pregnancy.
7. Who Can File a Lawsuit in a Birth Injury Case?
In birth injury cases, both the parents and the child can have a claim against the care provider. The parents can have a claim related to the cost of any medical expenses, economic loss, and non-economic damages (pain and suffering) due to their child’s injuries.
The child can also seek compensation for any expenses, economic losses, and pain and suffering he or she will incur after turning 18 years old.
8. What Negligent Actions or Inactions Lead To Birth Injuries?
A traumatic event and severe injury to a newborn infant may result from a negligent act or inaction by a health professional. Moreover, oversight or improper execution of duties frequently cause birth injuries, which commonly include the following:
- Incorrect use of delivery instruments
- Incorrect medication administration
- Failure to diagnose a maternal medical condition
- Failure to order a timely C-section
- Failure to identify and address umbilical cord problems
- Failure to identify and correctly respond to fetal distress
- Failure to plan for high-risk deliveries and complications
9. What Damages Can I Recover in a Birth Injury Claim?
If your infant experienced a birth injury due to the negligence of health providers or the hospital, your family likely incurred significant financial and emotional losses. Fortunately, however, you have legal options for recovering compensation. You could pursue several types of damages, including the following:
- Medical expenses, such as past and future costs of medical care, doctor’s appointments, rehab, surgeries, diagnostic testing, etc.
- Disability costs, such as life-support and in-home nursing care
- Special education costs, such as physical and behavioral therapies
- Lost wages, including compensation for parents who miss work to engage in childcare
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life enjoyment and quality of life
10. What Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Do for My Family?
Lawyers will typically take on any viable case in which a baby suffered a severe birth injury such as cerebral or Erb’s palsy, brain damage, etc., as long as there is solid evidence of medical negligence or malpractice. When you retain a birth injury lawyer, they will begin by investigating your case and requesting and gathering medical records concerning your baby’s birth and prenatal care.
The attorney will then work to identify evidence that supports medical negligence. They can then hire expert witnesses to review your case and offer their professional opinion. Experts consulted often include other doctors, such as OB/GYNs, to help determine the proper standard of care.
If the expert agrees that malpractice transpired, your lawyer could file a birth injury claim against the relevant defendants involved in the baby’s delivery, including the nurse, doctor, and hospital.
11. What Is the Difference Between a Settlement and a Trial?
Many birth injury legal claims are resolved through an out-of-court settlement, which is faster and easier than going to trial. The amount of restitution you are awarded depends on the nature and severity of your child’s birth injury and the damages you’ve requested, such as the medical costs and loss of income.
That said, some birth injury claims go to court, where arguments from both legal teams (yours and the defendant’s) will be heard, and a verdict will be reached.
12. What if a Law Firm Cannot Take My Case?
You can report issues related to physician care to the Maryland Board of Physicians (MBP). You can also find out if a complaint has been filed against your physician. You can call the MBP at 410-764-4777 or 1-800-492-6836 or by clicking here.
We Can Help With Birth Injury & Wrongful Death Claims
Our team at Brown & Barron, LLC has been advocating for the victims of medical malpractice for more than 75 combined years. It can be difficult to face the individuals whose actions changed your child’s life forever, but your family deserves justice. We are here to help you fight for compensation. This way, your child can receive the best care possible and be supported through their life.
Call us 24/7 for a free consultation or reach out online. We’re here to give a voice to those affected by hospital negligence. Our team can answer your birth injury questions.