When doctors commit medical malpractice and the victim is a newborn baby, they can be held liable for the birth injury that they have caused. This means they can be made to pay compensation for the repercussions of their negligence or their mistakes.
In Florida, the birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help victims recover the compensation they need and deserve after suffering a terrible birth injury.
Birth Injuries are Often Caused by Medical Malpractice in Florida
Medical malpractice is a main cause of birth injuries in Florida.
That malpractice can happen at any point during the pregnancy – from early on all the way through the delivery process.
Malpractice can happen early on in the pregnancy and cause a birth injury if it damages the fetus or prevents it from fully developing. This can happen in a variety of ways:
- Prescribing a mother drugs that would harm the fetus without first checking to see if she was pregnant
- Harming the fetus during an invasive procedure
- Failing to detect a genetic abnormality that would increase the risks of a birth injury
These mistakes can prevent the parents from making an informed decision about their family.
However, the types of medical malpractice that cause birth injuries are more likely to happen when the baby is being born. Examples of this kind of malpractice include:
- Hurting the child by using an extraction device with too much force during an assisted delivery
- Not performing a C-section procedure correctly
- Allowing signs of fetal distress to continue for too long
Different Kinds of Birth Injuries
A birth injury is any physical or mental injury suffered by a child while developing in the uterus or while they are being born. Because these processes are complicated and can go wrong in a lot of different ways, there are also numerous different kinds of birth injuries.
Some of the most common or severe, though, include:
- Oxygen deprivation which can amount to perinatal asphyxia
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging or intracranial hemorrhaging
- Erb's Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Shoulder dystocia
Many of these examples of birth injuries can saddle a child with debilitating medical conditions that they will struggle with for the rest of their lives. To make matters worse, some of these medical conditions will cause further complications as time goes on, exacerbating the problems that the child will face.
Birth Injuries Can Happen in Florida During the Pregnancy or the Delivery
While there are a wide variety of different birth injuries that can happen – and with each particular type of birth injury coming in severe or relatively minor forms – birth injuries can only happen at two stages:
- The pregnancy, which involves a fetus suffering harm while developing in the mother's uterus; or
- The delivery, which involves the emerging baby suffering trauma that causes lasting damage.
Florida Birth Injuries in Utero
Some birth injuries happen while the fetus is still in the womb.
Many of these cases involve a doctor prescribing drugs to the mother without ensuring she is not pregnant. Many prescription drugs can have a dangerous impact on the development of a fetus. Whenever a doctor prescribes one of them to a woman who could be pregnant, tests should be run beforehand to make sure no harm can be done. If a doctor fails to take a reasonable precaution like this, it can amount to medical malpractice and make them liable for the birth injuries that it causes.
Other birth injuries that happen in utero stem from poorly administered genetic tests that could have detected a birth injury or abnormality, but failed to do so. This can keep the parents unaware of their child's condition and can prevent them from making an informed decision about their family.
Birth Injuries in a Florida Delivery Room
Birth injuries are more likely to happen in the delivery room than while the fetus is still in the uterus, though. The labor and the delivery process are complicated and can become traumatic for both the mother and her child. Minimizing the amount of fetal distress during the delivery is a huge part of the process, but doctors can make bad decisions or act negligently that can actually make things worse, like using an extraction device in a way that it was not intended and actually hurting the newborn.
An example of a birth injury that happened in the delivery room happened to a mother in Baltimore who went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to deliver a baby boy. Despite the fact that there were clear signs of major fetal distress, doctors did not take reasonable or appropriate action to reduce it. Instead, they waited for nearly two hours before performing a C-section. By that point, the baby had been deprived of so much oxygen that he was born with Cerebral Palsy and other physical and mental issues.
With the help of Gilman & Bedigian, the boy and his family sued the hospital and recovered a Maryland-record $55 million verdict for his birth injuries.
Florida Birth Injury Compensation
Birth injury victims and their families can recover compensation for their losses by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida against the doctor that acted negligently and the hospital that employs them. If successful, this lawsuit can recover compensation that covers all of the setbacks and expenses associated with the birth injury, including:
- Medical bills, including the expenses that are reasonably anticipated in the future;
- The child's reduced earning capacity from their birth injury;
- Physical pain and suffering that the child experiences;
- Mental pain and anguish felt by the child, including their loss of life's enjoyments as they struggle with the debilitation of their injuries; and/or
- Loss of consortium for the child's family as they deal with how the birth injury affects their lives.
No Damage Caps in Florida
Importantly, Florida does not have a law that puts a limit on how much compensation can be recovered in a medical malpractice or birth injury lawsuit. Florida used to have a law that did so – Florida Statute § 766.118 – but that law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Florida in North Broward Hospital v. Kalitan as a violation of the state's Equal Protection Clause. This means that victims who have suffered a birth injury, as well as their families, can recover all of the compensation that would make them, in theory, whole.
Statute of Limitations
Florida requires birth injury lawsuits be brought before the statute of limitations has expired. For birth injury cases, that statute of limitations can be found at Florida Statute § 95.11(4), which gives victims two years to file their case. However, children who have been hurt in a birth injury case can file without their parents also being listed as plaintiffs any time before their eighth birthday.
Compassionate, Experienced Birth Injury Lawyers Serving Florida
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a doctor's medical malpractice and suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Reach out to the attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian by contacting us online to get started with your case and fight for the compensation that you need and deserve.