Birth injuries happen when doctors commit medical malpractice and their negligence or their poor decision ends up hurting a newborn baby. That malpractice can happen either during the pregnancy or during the delivery itself. In either case, it can saddle the child with a debilitating medical condition that will change the course of their life.
The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help victims and their families in Georgia when a child has been born with a medical condition because of a doctor's malpractice.
What are Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice. Unlike other incidents of malpractice, though, the victim is a newborn rather than an adult or even a young child. Because of the doctor's poor conduct, the baby is born with serious medical conditions that they may suffer from for the rest of their life.
In some cases, that medical condition is permanent and will never get better.
Examples of birth injuries that can happen in Georgia are:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss
- Bleeding inside the skull, often in the form of either an intracranial hemorrhage or a subconjunctival hemorrhage
- Facial paralysis
- Shoulder dystocia, where the baby's shoulders get caught in the birth canal, compressing the umbilical cord and depriving the baby of oxygen
- Oxygen deprivation, which can cause a host of other complications and developmental delays or even perinatal asphyxia.
Each of these conditions can be relatively minor or very severe. Even if they are not as serious as they could have been, though, the child who suffers one of these birth injuries will find themselves struggling to live a full life through no fault of their own.
Birth Injuries in Georgia Often Happen During the Baby's Delivery
Most of these types of birth injuries tend to happen during the baby's delivery.
The birthing process can be incredibly traumatic for both the newborn and the mother. Lots of things happen very quickly, so there is a lot that can go wrong and leave the child with a debilitating birth injury. However, there are ways for doctors to reduce the amount of fetal distress in the delivery room, often by taking reasonable precautions to avoid stressful situations and by using extraction devices carefully, if they do end up being needed.
When things go wrong in the delivery room, though, the consequences can be dire. The birth injury lawyers recently represented a family that was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to give birth. Despite strong signs of fetal distress, though, doctors dragged their feet for hours before performing a C-section. By then, the baby had been so deprived of oxygen that he was born with Cerebral Palsy and both physical and mental impairments.
With the help of Gilman & Bedigian, the family sued the doctors and the hospital for malpractice and won a record-setting $55 million verdict.
Birth Injuries in Georgia Also Happen During the Pregnancy
While less common, birth injuries can also be suffered in the uterus. This often happens when a doctor commits malpractice by prescribing a pregnant woman drugs that would harm the fetus. In many of these cases, the doctor failed to make sure that the patient was not pregnant before writing the prescription.
In still other cases, doctors commit malpractice and cause a birth injury by failing to properly perform or read a genetic test. This can leave a birth defect or injury undetected and can prevent the family from making an informed healthcare decision.
Compensation for Victims of Birth Injuries in Georgia
In Georgia, the victims of birth injuries are entitled to compensation when they were caused by a doctor's medical malpractice. That compensation is meant to cover the costs of the child's:
- Past medical bills
- Medical expenses reasonably anticipated in the future
- Reduced earning capacity
- Physical pain from the birth injury
- Mental suffering and anguish, including the loss of life's enjoyments caused by the developmental delays and medical difficulties from the injury
In addition to compensation for the child who was born with a birth injury, the child's parents can also recover compensation loss of consortium, which covers the stress and difficulties they will have to deal with as they raise a child with a severe medical condition.
Unlike in many other states, Georgia does not have a statute that limits the amount of compensation that can be recovered in a birth injury lawsuit. Georgia used to have one of these statutes, but the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled it unconstitutional in 2010 in the case Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery v. Nesthehutt. In that case, the state supreme court decided that statutes capping the amount of compensation available to victims intruded on the right of a victim to a trial by jury. By not allowing the jury to award damages above a certain amount, the statute took power away from the jury and deprived victims of their right to sue.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries
In Georgia, all birth injury lawsuits have to be filed before the statute of limitations has expired. For medical malpractice lawsuits for a birth injury brought by the child's parents on the child's behalf, that statute of limitations is two years under Georgia Statute § 9-3-71.
However, the child also has the option of exercising their rights without their parents and filing the lawsuit on their own behalf. In these cases, the statute of limitations is tolled or delayed because the victim is so young. Georgia Statute § 9-3-73 gives children until their seventh birthday to file a birth injury lawsuit.
Gilman & Bedigian: Aggressive and Compassionate Birth Injury Lawyers Serving Victims in Georgia
If you or your child has been hurt by a doctor's medical malpractice and suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation. The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online to get started on your case and tap into their track record of success in getting birth injury victims and their families in the compensation they deserve.