About seven out of every 1,000 babies in the United States are injured during labor or delivery. There are many forms of birth injury, an injury that occurs during or near the time of giving birth, and they vary in severity.
Common Causes and Forms of Birth Injury
The most frequently recorded forms of birth injury are shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus palsy, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy. These are usually caused by doctor mistakes during the process of receiving newborns, and result in nerve damage and poor motor functions. While some birth injuries are minor and don’t have long-lasting effects, there are injuries that result in permanent disabilities. For instance, perinatal asphyxia, a common birth injury, can actually result in brain damage as well as limited motor functions.
The common childbirth injuries that may affect the child or mother are:
- Erb’s Palsy – the child’s nerves in the upper extremities are damaged
- Cerebral Palsy – disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, or posture
- Excessive bleeding – bleeding profusely
- Stroke – blood supply to the brain is interrupted
- Blood clots – a blockage in the blood vessel that minimizes blood flow
- Paralysis – discontinuation of movement
- Shoulder Dystocia – one or more shoulder’s get stuck in the mother’s pelvis
- Intracranial Hemorrhage – bleeding occurs inside the skull
- Anoxia and Hypoxia – absence or decrease of oxygen to an organ’s tissues despite adequate blood flow to the tissue
- Injuries from forceps and other tools
- Placental abruption – the placenta separates early from the uterus
- C-section complication or injuries
What Causes Birth Injuries?
There are, unfortunately, situations where a birth injury is a result of negligence on behalf of healthcare professionals such as a doctor, nurse, or midwife. Childbirth injuries stem from malpractice and medical negligence. Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide the safest care possible. When that standard of care is not met, negligence is liable to happen and birth injury can occur.
These are some examples of malpractices that your birth injury lawyer may investigate:
- Inaccuracy in interpreting fetal ultrasounds
- Failure to recognize any signs of fetal abnormalities and to provide appropriate treatment
- Failure to perform C-section when the child or mother requires it, and to expedite newborn delivery
- Wrong use of delivery instruments
- Improper use of drugs used to induce labor such as Pitocin
- Failure to properly care for baby after its delivery
It is the duty of a healthcare professional to be prepared for potential complications during pregnancy and birth.
How Do I Know if My Child Is Injured?
With any delivery, complications can arise. However, sometimes it’s difficult to determine if it’s due to natural causes or from a healthcare professional’s malpractice. Hiring a birth injury lawyer from Sutliff & Stout will work diligently and tirelessly to determine if your child’s injury was from the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.
How Can I File My Birth Injury Claim
Like most personal injury claims, birth injury claims are filed through an insurance company. However, insurance companies are not on your side. Insurance adjusters have been trained to talk to victims to take advantage of the situation and reduce the value of your claim. Their primary goal is to settle your case quickly for as little as possible. If you settle your claim early, you could be leaving money on the table or not addressing your future needs. This is why contacting an attorney is the best option if you are a victim of a birth injury.
What is the Legal Process of a Birth Injury Case?
If your healthcare professional is found negligent, filing a claim is not good enough. The next step is to file a birth injury lawsuit with your attorney. A birth injury malpractice lawsuit may take years to settle and is a lengthy process. Below is what you will witness in your birth injury case:
- Interview – Lawyers will speak to you to gather information involving your case.
- Medical Records – Medical records will be requested. This may take one to three months.
- Investigation – Once records are obtained, a review of your case will be done. If there was a violation of care, further opinions will be consulted by medical providers.
- Service of a Demand or Notice of Intent – If negligence is found, then a demand letter or Notice of Intent to File Suit is served by mail. A waiting period may ensue for up to six months before a case can be filed in court.
- Filing your Case – To file a case, a Complaint is filed then served on who is negligent. Once filed, the Defendants, or negligent parties, will file an Answer within 42 days after service.
- Discovery – This is the period after filing your case. This involves exchanging information between the two parties – Defendant and Plaintiff.
- Facilitation, Mediation, Case Evaluation – Once Discovery closes, then a mediator or a panel of attorneys will negotiate between the two parties. This is to attempt to achieve settlement. The plaintiff always has the right to accept or decline a proposed settlement.
- Trial – If a case is not settled, it then goes to trial. If it is a jury trial, the attorneys for both parties will pick a jury, and then each will give their opening arguments. If it is a bench trial, then the judge acts as a placeholder for the jury.
How Will a Birth Injury Lawyer Help?
No mother should go through her child’s injury alone, especially if it was caused by someone else’s negligence. A birth injury lawyer can handle all of your legal needs while you recover with your child at home. The birth injury attorneys at Sutliff & Stout can help if you or your child is suffering from the effects of a birth injury.
If you think your baby has a birth injury that may have been caused by negligence, we encourage you to call the Law Offices of Sutliff & Stout at (713) 987-7111 to schedule a free consultation.