For parents and children, birth injuries can be especially devastating. These injuries can result in lifelong cognitive, psychological, and physical problems. If your infant suffered from birth injuries because of negligence, you should talk to the birth injury lawyers at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer. We have offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Marlton, New Jersey and co-counsel with attorneys throughout the country to help children who have suffered birth injuries. We offer free consultations.
Healthcare professionals must exercise a duty of care to ensure the safety of mothers and infants during pregnancy, labor and birth. The fetal heart rate must be carefully monitored, the birthing tools must be used properly and the delivery techniques must be performed correctly. Doctors should also be competent and know when a cesarean section should be ordered. Making a medical mistake at any point in the pregnancy, labor and delivery process can result in birth injuries.
Common types of birth injuries
There are many different types of birth injuries. Some are immediately evident, while others might take a long time to show symptoms. Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain injuries
- Bleeding under the scalp or skull
- Forceps injuries
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Clavicle fractures
- Trauma to the cranial nerves
- Meconium aspiration
- Infant death
Compensation for birth injuries
The amount of compensation that may be available will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case and the extent and severity of the birth injuries. Our attorneys can evaluate your potential claim and provide you with an honest assessment of its merits (winnability) and value. If our lawyers agree to represent you, we will review the medical records, consult with expert doctors and work hard to prove how you or your infant suffered physical, emotional and financial harm as a result of medical negligence. In many cases, the cost of future medical treatment for the injured baby may be high. We work closely with rehabilitation nurses and doctors to determine a lifecare plan for injured infants and to value the future medical care costs.
Time limits for filing birth injury claims
Every state has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice and personal injury claims. The statute of limitations sets a deadline by which you must file a claim. If you fail to file a claim on time, you will not be able to recover compensation for your losses. Fortunately, most states have an exception to the general statute of limitations for birth injuries. For instance, under Pennsylvania law, the general personal injury statute of limitation requires a lawsuit to be filed within two years of the negligence. However, in Pennsylvania, there is an exception for minors (children) who are injured before they turn age 18. A claim for damages related to an injury to a child can be filed in Pennsylvania any time before the child reaches the age of 20.
Again, each state will have its own statute of limitations rules. It is important, and in the best interest of you and your child, to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect that you or your child was injured because of a medical error instead of waiting until the deadline draws near. The complexity of medical malpractice cases, especially birth injury cases, requires an in-depth investigation to uncover all of the evidence and to identify the liable parties. By getting help quickly, you may provide your lawyer with more time to conduct a thorough investigation and to preserve the crucial evidence to support your claim. If you are unsure whether you may have missed the deadline for filing a claim, you should talk to an experienced lawyer immediately to find out about your options.
Birth injury malpractice
While all birth injuries can be devastating, not all are caused by medical malpractice. However, there are some cases in which the negligence of a healthcare professional is the primary cause of a birth injury. In these situations, the parents have the right to file medical malpractice claims against the responsible parties. Whenever a physician, hospital or medical team member fails to exercise reasonable care that causes an unfortunate outcome, they may be liable to pay damages.
Infants and mothers may both suffer injuries during the labor and delivery process. These can include many different injuries to the infant and internal injuries or excessive blood loss for the mother. Some injuries are caused by negligence while performing the delivery itself, or in not properly handling birthing tools such as vacuum extractors or forceps. In other cases, a doctor’s failure to react to an emergency or his or her incompetence can result in birth injuries. Many other types of negligence can cause injuries to infants and mothers, as well. Complications during labor can lead to a lack of blood or oxygen supply and cause developmental delays and brain damage. This type of brain injury may cause problems with physical functions and cognitive abilities.
Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Brachial plexus injuries can result in paralysis in the arm or shoulder because of improper delivery of a shoulder dystocia. Doctors must respond quickly and properly in emergencies to prevent this type of damage.
In some cases, mothers could have infections that can injure their unborn children. Doctors must treat infections that could cause harm to the baby. Some infections that can pass from a mother to a fetus include meningitis and strep. Doctors should also recommend appropriate supplements to prevent spina bifida, folic acid deficiency, and anemia.
Ongoing impacts of birth trauma
Infants who have suffered birth trauma or other injuries can have psychological, cognitive and physical disabilities that will last a lifetime as a result.
Liability for birth injuries
Determining liability for birth injuries can be complicated. Many people are involved in prenatal care, labor, and delivery of infants. The hospital or facility may hold liability, and the equipment or product manufacturers may also be partially at fault. Attorneys investigate birth injuries to identify all of the potential defendants.
Many parties may be liable for birth injuries, including:
- OB/GYN doctors
- Medical staff
- Birthing centers
- Defective product or equipment manufacturers
If a doctor or nurse’s negligence caused the birth injury, an attorney would investigate to find out whether he or she is an employee of the hospital or birthing center, or if he or she is an independent contractor. If the doctor is an employee, both the doctor and the hospital may be liable. A hospital may be vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees or directly liable because of negligent hiring, supervision, training, and retention.
Plaintiffs must prove several elements when they claim that a doctor’s negligence caused birth injuries. You must be able to prove all of the following elements to prevail on your claim:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship.
- The doctor owed a duty of care and breached the duty.
- The breach of the duty of care resulted in birth injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered specific damages.
If you are unable to prove each of the elements, you will not prevail on your claim. In most cases, it will be necessary to call experts to prove the breach and that the breach caused the damages.
Experts usually are practicing physicians with experience in the field and who have a similar specialty as the defendant doctor. Experts can help to demonstrate that the defendant breached his or her duty of care and that the breach was causally connected to the plaintiff’s injuries.
Find birth injury lawyers near me
At Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer, we understand the devastation that can be caused because of birth injuries. We work hard to recover compensation for our clients and to hold the defendants accountable for their negligence. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation with a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer by filling out our contact form or calling our toll-free number at (800) 535-1797. A free case evaluation can help you to understand your rights and options.
If you or a loved one has been critically injured do to someone else’s negligence, please click here to fill out the contact form, or call 1-800-535-1797 and someone from our team will be ready to help.
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A physician failed to recognize the signs of distress from a drop in fetal heart rate during the delivery of a baby which resulted in decreased oxygen going to the baby’s brain and cerebral palsy.