File your birth injury lawsuit in Maryland within the statute of limitations. Filing a claim must occur before the insurance company’s deadline. When a physician or nurse causes a birth injury through negligence, however, you may be entitled to pursue compensation in the form of a lawsuit.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Lawsuits in Maryland?
The statute of limitations for malpractice lawsuits in Maryland is the earlier of either five years from the date of injury or three years from the time you discover the injury, according to Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-109. However, if the malpractice victim is a minor, such as in a birth injury case, the clock for the child’s claim does not start until the child’s 18th birthday.
What If You don’t Discover the Injury Right Away?
Of course, while some birth injuries to a delivering parent are immediately apparent, others may take years to surface. The timeline would begin on the injury discovery date in this case. Maryland allows people to bring an injury lawsuit within three years after the “date of discovery” for an injury.
The date of the injury can be subject to interpretation, so speak with your attorney who takes on birth injury cases when you suspect a preventable birth injury. Time is of the essence. Still, it’s important to remember that even if a considerable time has passed since your child’s birth, you might still have time to file.
Situations in Which You Could Sue for Negligence
Broadly defined, “negligence” means that someone has failed to live up to the “duty of care” owed to another person in a given situation. From the doctors who provide us with healthcare services to the other drivers on our roads, we can hold individuals and organizations accountable when they are negligent with our safety.
When it comes to birth injuries, these actions can impact our lives and our childrens’ lives. By seeking compensation, you could provide care, resources, and support for your child in the future. Here are a few common birth injuries caused by medical negligence:
- Cerebral palsy (CP) – The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states this is a severe motor disability typically caused by brain infections, interrupted blood flow to the brain,
- Erb’s palsy: Cleveland Clinic states that Erb-Duchenne palsy or “Erb’s palsy” can occur due to brachial plexus injury. The damage in the baby’s shoulder, arms, and hands can be permanent.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals states that this condition is caused by lack of oxygen or birth asphyxia, babies with HIE may develop epilepsy, motor disabilities, and developmental problems.
- Cephalohematoma: StatPearls reports that this is a medical condition where blood collects and develops on the surface of the baby’s skull. This condition can lead to respiratory, cardiovascular, or neurological issues and behavioral changes.
Aside from requiring immediate medical attention, these injuries may also result in the following long-term disabilities and conditions:
- Fetal lacerations and cuts
- Birth trauma due to prolonged labor
- Infant brain damage
- Fetal acidosis (buildup of acid in the bloodstream)
- Preventable infections and sepsis
- Untreated jaundice
- Perinatal asphyxia (loss of oxygen)
- Bone and skull fractures
- Placental abruption
- Brachial plexus injuries (also may be called “shoulder dystocia”)
Possible Recoverable Damages You Could Recover in a Birth Injury Claim
Depending on your case’s circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for your infant’s birth injuries, which can cause severe physical, psychological, and financial hardships. A monetary award can assist with your child’s medical, behavioral, educational, and rehabilitation costs when birth injuries occur due to a health provider’s negligence.
If your newborn has experienced a preventable birth injury, expenses requested in a lawsuit typically include those related to emergency care, hospitalization, home healthcare, medical equipment, etc.
The claim can also include loss of past and prospective earnings linked to missed work time. Many of these expenditures can be easily calculated using receipts and other documentation.
Proof for subjective damages, such as the child’s pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment, may include testimony from yourself and family members who can articulate the full impact of your child’s injuries.
Although these damages cannot be precisely quantified, the legal system still recognizes them as losses for which birth injury victims and their families are entitled to compensation. The parents also suffer when a child incurs a birth injury, and therefore, they are allowed to file a claim for their own emotional distress.
Wrongful Death Damages
Suppose the child dies due to their injuries. In that case, parents may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit that includes damages such as medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and loss of companionship.
Your Lawyer Will Prove Fault in a Birth Injury Case
You and your attorney must present evidence proving that the health provider failed to meet the reasonable standard of care that you were owed. This violation, in turn, resulted in your or your baby’s injuries and damages.
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the prenatal and delivery events and consult with a medical expert to build a strong birth injury case. The following evidence might be necessary to collect:
- Pregnancy- and delivery-related medical records
- Medical records of the newborn’s injuries and follow-up treatment
- Previous complaints filed against the defendants, if applicable
- Eyewitness testimony from those who participated in the mother’s labor and delivery
- Expert testimony from pediatricians, anesthesiologists, obstetricians, or nurses
A birth injury case hinges on properly determining who is liable for harming the child.
Who Could Be At-Fault for a Child’s Birth Injury in Maryland?
Health professionals responsible for a child’s birth injury may include the following:
Primary Care Providers
Although many general practitioners provide prenatal oversight, they are not typically experts in pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Therefore, failure to provide a patient with a referral to an obstetrician or gynecologist could mean that potential complications go unaddressed, increasing the risk of birth injuries.
Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/OB-GYN)
In administering prenatal care, OB/OB-GYNs are expected to identify issues that may put the infant and mother in harm’s way. For example, they are charged with developing high-risk pregnancy care and delivery plans. If one of these health providers commits an error before or during the baby’s delivery, it can place the newborn at risk for birth injuries.
During the vaginal birth, the OB/OB-GYN will likely be responsible for positioning the baby for delivery and correctly using forceps and vacuum extractors. However, improper use of these devices can lead to face, neck, or shoulder nerve damage. Also, oxygen deprivation can occur if the baby remains in the birth canal too long.
OBs and OB-GYNs can also perform a C-section if it is believed safer than vaginal birth. However, failing to perform a medically necessary C-section promptly or making surgical errors can cause injuries to both the newborn and mother.
If the baby is delivered through C-section, an anesthesiologist will administer anesthesia and monitor vital signs during the procedure to ensure the mother is not under duress. Moreover, emerging complications related to anesthesia require timely reporting and immediate action to prevent infant or maternal injury.
Contact Us for a Confidential Case Review
Contact Brown & Barron today for a free consultation on your birth injury case. We are available to help clients in Baltimore and beyond. Our representatives can answer your birth injury questions.