The birth of a newborn should be a joyous experience. Unfortunately, when your healthcare provider’s negligence causes you or your newborn serious injury or illness, your entire life could be changed. When you want to hold the liable party accountable for their misconduct or medical errors and you do not know where to turn, a dedicated birth injury lawyer from Brown & Barron can help.
In the hopes of helping you feel more confident in your decision to pursue legal action, we have replied to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding birth injury claims below. Any additional questions you may have that were not answered on this page can be discussed during your free consultation.
What Are Some Common Types of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can take many forms. Although some may be unpreventable, many could have been avoided with proper medical care. With that in mind, some of the most common types of birth injuries you could sue for include:
- Facial paralysis
- Brachial plexus birth injuries
- Erb’s palsy
- Caput succedaneum
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Cerebral palsy
These are only a few of the common birth injuries you might file a claim for. If you or your newborn suffered another type of birth injury that was not listed above and you suspect your healthcare provider’s mistake or negligence was the cause, you can contact our office to explore your legal options.
Do Birth Injuries Have a Lasting Impact?
Many birth injuries can be treated and will resolve on their own with minimal impact. However, this is a best-case scenario. Many families find themselves dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury for the rest of their lives.
For example, a family dealing with a brachial plexus birth injury may go on to obtain an Erb’s palsy diagnosis several months later. From there, the child may undergo various physical and occupational therapies, surgical intervention, and be required to complete physical therapy for the rest of their lives in order to maintain the functionality of the affected limb.
In this example, the injured newborn’s entire life will be affected by their injury. These important details need to be kept in mind when your attorney is calculating the value of your birth injury claim.
Who Is At Fault for Birth Injuries?
It can be difficult to determine who is responsible for causing a birth injury. In general, nearly anyone involved in prenatal care, labor, and delivery could share liability. Some of the more common parties named in birth injury lawsuits include:
Only a thorough, in-depth analysis of the cause of your child’s birth injury will determine which party or party should be named in your birth injury lawsuit. Your lawyer will ensure that all parties who contributed to the incident are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
What does It Cost to Hire a Birth Injury Attorney?
If you have concerns regarding the costs of hiring a birth injury lawyer to represent you, you can rest easier. The majority of birth injury attorneys will be willing to work with you on contingency.
This means you will not be expected to cover any out-of-pocket costs or fees associated with pursuing your case. Your birth-injury lawyer will be responsible for handling all of the filing fees, the cost of hiring experts, and other expenses to help you get justice. Only once we produce a recovery in your case will you be required to cover your attorney fees.
Generally, contingency agreements work by providing your attorney with a portion of your financial recovery. However, if your attorney does not win your case, you will not have to worry about covering any costs. In this way, pursuing your case poses minimal risk to you and your family.
What Is the Medical Standard of Care?
The medical standard of care refers to the standard of care that all healthcare providers are held to. If this standard of care is breached in any way, it could constitute malpractice or negligence.
Essentially, anytime a healthcare provider makes a medical mistake or error that another healthcare provider of similar training, education, and experience would not have made, they can be held accountable. Your attorney will closely evaluate the details of your case to determine whether the medical standard of care has been breached in your birth injury case.
How Can I Win a Birth Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
If you are hoping to win your birth injury claim, your attorney will need to prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means a lawyer from our team will need to show that the four elements of negligence have been met as follows:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Since the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of the evidence, it will be up to your lawyer to gather the evidence needed to support your case. In birth injury claims, there are a number of different types of evidence that could be used to prove liability, some of the more common of which include:
- Injury photos
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Inspection reports
- Police reports
- Video footage
What Is My Birth Injury Claim Worth?
If you are interested in learning more about what your birth injury claim could be worth, you can reach out to our team to discuss your family’s specific damages in greater detail. To give you a general idea of what you can expect, birth injury victims have the right to be compensated for every way their lives have been affected by their injuries. This means you could seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages encompass your financial losses. Some of the most commonly-sought types of economic damages in birth injury claims include:
- Costs of prescription medications
- Hospital bills
- Costs of physical and occupational therapies
- Other costs associated with ongoing treatment
- Diagnostic imaging fees
- Costs of medical equipment
- Unexpected child care expenses
- Costs of increased insurance premiums
- Costs of household upkeep and maintenance
- Loss of income
- Diminished earning capacity
Non-economic damages include all of the other ways your life has been affected by the birth injury. These do not have financial values and can vary in worth depending on the type of damage in question and how impactful it has been on your life. With that being said, some of the more commonly-awarded types of non-economic damages include:
- Diminished quality of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Skin scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
There is also the possibility that you could be awarded punitive damages in your claim. Punitive damages are not awarded frequently in birth injury claims, but they can be if the judge finds the defendant’s actions grossly negligent or egregious.
Maryland civil courts will only impose punitive damages when they want to punish the liable party beyond your compensatory damages. Doing so is an opportunity for the court system to send a message to the public that similar actions will not be tolerated in the future.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
It is possible that you will need to bring your case to court if you hope to recover maximum compensation. Unfortunately, the liable party may not always be willing to make you a fair offer during settlement negotiations. They may not acknowledge the full extent of your costs and losses or dispute certain aspects of your case. For this reason, we may recommend that we file a civil lawsuit and take your case to trial.
Often the other party becomes more motivated to settle a case when a trial is imminent. So, even if we do file a lawsuit, we may not ultimately have to proceed to the courtroom.
What Should I Expect After Filing a Claim?
After filing a claim with the liable party, you can expect some pushback. Insurance companies that represent hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers are for-profit entities. Every time they pay out on a claim, they lose money. They have entire teams working to figure out how they can reduce the amount of compensation they must pay out or deny your claim altogether.
Fortunately, you can avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance company by having a strong legal advocate on your side. Never give the insurance company a statement, and do not accept any offers from the insurance company without first reviewing them with your attorney. Insurance companies have been known to twist statements given to them by well-intending claimants.
If the other party argues that you share fault for your child’s birth injury or that your child’s injuries resulted from some other cause, our team can help. Having an attorney from our team handle the negotiations process on your behalf could be one good way to protect you and your family during this difficult time in your life.
What Is Informed Consent?
Patients are required to give their informed consent before being treated by a healthcare provider, per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Your healthcare provider is required to inform you of the risks of care, side effects, and how to properly administer your treatment or medication.
Once you have given your consent for the treatment after being informed of these important details, you can proceed with your treatment. Many healthcare providers have been known to hide behind informed consent to mask their own medical errors, however. They may claim that because you or your family consented to certain procedures, you were also agreeing to accept any risks associated with them.
Our attorneys can push back against unfair disputes of your birth injury case. We will scour for evidence that one or more of your child’s providers failed to uphold their normal duty of care.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Maryland Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for your birth injury lawsuit can vary considerably depending on whether you are filing a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice lawsuit. Under Maryland law, the statute of limitations for personal injury suits is only three years. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits can extend to as much as five years, per Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code § 5-109.
However, in either case, the date that the statute of limitations expires for you and your family can vary considerably based on factors such as the date of the diagnosis, the date the medical error occurred, and other factors. If your lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitation expires, you will no longer have the opportunity to seek compensation through the Maryland civil court system.
What Can I Expect From the Birth Injury Claims Process?
Although the thought of going up against a large insurance company or hospital may be intimidating, once you have a better understanding of what to expect from the claims process, you may be feeling more confident in your decision to take legal action against the liable party. With that in mind, here is a general idea of what you can expect from the birth injury claims process:
- Our attorneys begin by investigating your birth injury.
- We will gather the evidence needed to prove liability.
- Once fault has been established, filing a claim with the insurance company is next.
- If the insurance company is unwilling or unable to settle your claim fairly, negotiations will ensue.
- We will bring your case to trial if we are unable to secure the compensation you deserve through an out-of-court settlement.
Every family‘s birth injury claims process can vary based on the specific details of your case. You can find out more about what to expect from your birth injury claim if you contact our office for a case review.
Get Help From Brown & Barron Today
If you or your newborn has suffered serious injury or illness due to a medical mistake, you may have the right to financial compensation.
With help from a birth injury attorney at Brown & Barron, you could bring the liable party to justice and recover the compensation you will need to care for your child now and in the future. Receive your no-cost, risk-free consultation today when you call our office.