Unfortunately, labor room accidents are a reality for many mothers. Human error is inevitable, whether a slip and fall, a drop or an incorrect fetal heart rate monitor reading. Unfortunately, these incidents result in birth injuries. While some injuries are minor and may not cause long-term damage, others can be much more serious, leading to a lifetime of medical bills and other challenges. In the US, a baby sustains a birth injury every 20 minutes.
Although no compensation can fully compensate for a birth injury, legal options are available to help ease the financial burden. We will discuss the most common birth injuries and tested legal methods for seeking compensation.
What is a Birth Injury?
Any physical damage to your baby during labor or delivery is considered a birth injury. It could be something as minor as a bruise from the forceps or as severe as a traumatic brain injury.
While most cases result from poor medical judgment or negligent behavior, there are some instances where the damage is unavoidable. For example, large fetuses and breech births can be more complicated.
Types of Birth Injuries:
Birth-related injuries range in severity, but some of the more common ones are:
1 or 2 in every 1000 babies in the US are born with this injury. Erb’s palsy damages the shoulder and nerves in the upper arm. As a result, the baby’s arm will appear limp and weak, and it may not be able to move it. Erb’s palsy resolves in 80-96% of cases during the first years. And if the child receives treatment in the initial four months, the rate is a complete 100%. However, to ensure your child gets the medical care they deserve, you’ll need an Erbs Palsy lawyer to help with the legalities.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination and body movement. It’s caused by damage to the brain, typically before or during birth. Children with cerebral palsy have variations in muscle tone, which can make some muscles weak while others are too tight. Tremors, difficulty swallowing, and problems with vision and hearing are also common. Sadly, CP qualifies as a permanent, non-progressive birth injury. There is no cure for CP, but treatments are available to help the child manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
When bleeding occurs between the skull and the periosteum, it’s called cephalohematoma. It usually appears as a large, raised bump on the baby’s head and can take weeks or even months to go away. The major cause is using forceps or a vacuum towards the end of delivery. Other risk factors include a prolonged delivery, macrosomia (a large baby), and breech position.
Also called Bell’s palsy, facial palsy is damage to the nerve in control of the muscles on one side of the face. It often happens when the fetus’s head is too big for the birth canal, and the doctor has to use forceps. The condition usually goes away on its own, but in some severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
What is the Main Cause of Birth Injuries?
Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure caused by pregnancy) can put the baby at risk. So can an abnormal fetal position.
You might wonder how to seek compensation if your child suffered from a birth-related injury during or after delivery. However, medical negligence remains the root of most birth injuries. When a doctor or medical professional fails to provide the standard of care that a reasonable person would expect, they can be held liable.
There are two common ways to seek legal compensation for a birth injury—each with a predetermined set of rules and procedures. The success rate and amount of compensation you may receive will be primarily based on the severity of your child’s injury and the state in which you file your case.
Let’s try and understand them.
Filing a Claim against the Responsible Parties:
You can file a claim against the doctor, hospital, or medical professional responsible for your child’s injuries. To do this, you’ll first need to prove that they were negligent. You’ll also need to show that their negligence led to your child’s injuries. Documents like medical records and expert testimony will be essential to building your case.
You must also understand that there are time limits for filing a claim, known as statutes of limitations. So, it would help if you spoke with a lawyer as soon as possible after your child is injured to ensure you don’t miss the deadline.
Filing a Claim with Your State’s Birth-Related Injury Compensation Program:
If the state you live in has a birth-related injury compensation program, you can file a claim with them. These programs provide financial assistance to families whose children have been injured during birth. To qualify, your child’s injuries must meet the program’s criteria.
Each state has different eligibility requirements, so it’s important to do your research and see if your child qualifies. You can typically find this information on your state’s website.
Generally, the eligibility requirements are based on the severity of the child’s injuries. In some cases, the child’s age may also be a factor.
How Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Help?
Birth injury cases are complex. They often involve multiple parties, as well as complicated medical issues. For these reasons, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
A birth injury lawyer can help you navigate your legal options and the claims process. They can also help you gather the evidence you need to prove negligence and causation. Since they have enough experience with these types of cases, they can also help you determine the best way to seek compensation in your situation.
Are you dreading labor and delivery? Unfortunately, this feeling of uncertainty and anxiety is normal for many expecting mothers. From the fear of water bag rupture to the thought of episiotomy, first-time moms have much to worry about. And when that’s topped off with the possibility of a birth injury, it’s no wonder many mothers-to-be are stressed out.
But there’s hope. It’s true in terms of both a bright future for your baby and receiving the medical compensation you and your family deserve.
If you are a victim of medical negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified birth injury attorney today. They will help you better understand your legal rights and options and guide you through the process of filing a claim.