The birth of a child should be and usually is one of the most joyous moments in life. Those people who’ve experienced the birth of a healthy child are nearly universal in concluding that the experience represents a pinnacle moment for them. Sadly, each and every day, the birth of a child is accompanied by tragedy as the result of an injury to the baby that could have been prevented.
Approximately 28,000 babies are injured every year during birth. Of these, some babies sustain catastrophic injuries that will severely impact the course of their lives. An alarming number of babies who suffer brain injuries will never be able to fully enjoy life. Some of these babies may require around the clock care for the remainder of their lives.
If these injuries are caused by the negligence or misconduct of a medical professional this may be considered medical malpractice. Birth injuries often result in permanent damage that leads to years and years of medical care resulting in major medical bills, a diminished quality of life for the baby, and potentially emotional and psychological trauma for the patient and his or her family.
Most Frequently Occurring Types of Birth Injuries
Generally speaking, birth injuries can be placed into two broad categories. There are birth injuries like fractures or broken bones from which a baby recovers. On the other hand, there are profound traumatic birth injuries that result in permanent life-altering disabilities that change the entire course of a newborn’s life forever.
The most commonplace types of birth injuries are fractures. A broken collar bone is the most frequently occurring type of fracture at birth. It more often than not is associated with what is known as breech birth and is an injury that nearly always can be avoided if appropriate proactive steps are taken by the medical team. While a baby who suffers a broken bone or bones during the birth process will experience pain, fortunately, such fractures nearly always heal without added complications. With that said, the suffering endured by a baby with a broken collarbone or another type of fracture simply cannot be minimized.
Injuries during the birth process that result in lifelong implications are those generally associated with oxygen deprivation. As is the case with fractures sustained by a baby during the birth process, oxygen deprivation and resulting livelong consequences are nearly always the result of some type of avoidable mistake or negligence caused by the attending OBG-YN or someone else on the medical team.
Deprivation of oxygen during the birth process can result in cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is classified as a group of neuromuscular impairments of disabilities that affect a child’s ability to control movement. Cerebral palsy can also permanently impact a child’s posture as well as muscle tone.
Oxygen deprivation for three minutes or longer during the birth process can result in catastrophic brain injury. The effects of this level of brain injury can range from a coma to a broad impairment of motor functions (including paralysis) to profound cognitive limitations. Lack of oxygen at the time of birth can along result in hearing impairment or blindness. As is the case with fractures and other birth-related injuries, oxygen deprivation oftentimes arises from avoidable medical negligence.
Traumatic brain injury represents another category of birth-related trauma that can result in extremely serious and oftentimes debilitating injuries. Birth-related traumatic brain injuries typically occur as a result of the improper use of forceps or a vacuum during childbirth.
The extent of damage associated with the birth-related traumatic injury can be profound. A baby can be rendered broadly incapacitated as the result of this type of injury. A baby who suffers a traumatic brain injury during the birth process can be left unable to tend to any of the basic tasks of daily living for the rest of his or her life. Indeed, traumatic brain injury is among the most serious types of personal injury any person can face.
Parties Commonly Responsible for Birth Injuries
In a typical birth injury case, a number of different medical providers are likely to be included in a claim for damages and losses. The attending OBG-YN who is the physician during the birth itself is nearly always the primary medical professional identified as being responsible for medical negligence or medical malpractice.
If the birth occurs at a hospital or medical center, that facility is also likely to be named as a defendant in a malpractice lawsuit or in a claim submitted to an appropriate insurance company. If an anesthesiologist was involved in the birth process, that doctor oftentimes will be named in a birth injury malpractice claim.
If another OBG-YN attended to prenatal care matters, and if a birth injury can be traced to a failure to recognize an issue that should have been identified during that time period, that doctor could also be included in a claim or lawsuit. If a piece of medical equipment was somehow defective because of a manufacturing or design flaw, the manufacturer of that device would be included in a claim for damages or as a defendant in a lawsuit.
In the grand scheme of things, identifying and pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit against multiple individuals and different entities can prove to be highly challenging. Due to the potential complexity of identifying and pursuing appropriate claim against all possible negligent parties, professional assistance in the form of a skilled birth injury lawyer is crucial.
Compensation in a Birth Injury Case
Compensation in a birth injury case depends on the specific facts and circumstances of a case coupled with the nature and extent of injuries. With that said, there are some types of losses that are compensable in a birth injury claim or lawsuit.
Medical bills and expenses are apt to be extensive and accrue over the course of a lifetime. As mentioned previously, in a case involving catastrophic birth injuries, the victim of this type of injury may require around the clock care for all of his or her life.
Pain and suffering represent another category of injury for which financial compensation can be sought in a birth injury case. In addition, emotional distress and mental anguish represent losses in a birth injury case. When it comes to emotional distress and mental anguish, a claim might be brought not only on behalf of a child but for the parents as well.
Lost wages and lost opportunities represent other types of injuries that arise from a birth injury. If a person faces some level of disability as the result of a birth injury, that individual may face limitations on what he or she can do during the course of a lifetime.
In some cases, the facts and circumstances associated with a birth injury case are so egregious that punitive damages or exemplary damages can be sought in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Protecting the Legal Rights of Your Child After a Birth Injury
Protecting the legal rights of a child following a birth injury falls upon the parents in most cases. The reality is that medical malpractice cases pursued as the result of birth injuries are among the most complicated of all legal matters.
The first step in protecting the legal interests of a child injured during birth is to schedule an initial consultation with the attorneys at McGehee ☆ Chang, Landgraf, and Feiler.
During an initial consultation, a birth injury attorney provides a thorough evaluation of your case. In addition, our lawyers answer any question a parent has in regard to pursuing a claim for injuries, damages, and losses arising from the negligence of a physician or other medical providers. As a matter of practice, there is no charge for an initial consultation.
If your child suffered a birth injury, please contact us today at 713-864-4000.