Birth injuries are medical conditions that affect newborn babies and that are caused by a doctor's negligence or medical malpractice. They frequently lead to serious problems and disabilities that the injured child will have to deal with for the rest of their life.
Because birth injuries are the fault of the doctor who caused them, innocent victims in Illinois can recover compensation for their losses. The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help make that happen.
Birth Injuries Most Frequently Happen in the Delivery Room
Out of all of the birth injuries that can happen, they are most likely to occur in the delivery room when the child is born. Delivering a baby is a difficult and and often traumatic experience for both the mother and the child, especially if the mother's labor takes a long time or the baby gets blocked in the birth canal. In these cases, doctors often use extraction devices to help the baby get out. These assisted delivery techniques, though, can be dangerous to the child. If not done properly, doctors can cause trauma that ends with the child getting hurt in the doctor's attempt to bring the delivery to its conclusion.
Avoiding these situations entirely is a priority, and doctors know to take special precautions to prevent the possibility of a birth injury from getting too high. However, not all doctors take these appropriate precautions. When they fail to react to clear signs of fetal distress, it can amount to medical malpractice.
This is what happened to one of Gilman & Bedigian's recent clients. Doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore failed to take necessary steps to prevent a birth injury and the child was born with Cerebral Palsy. Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian helped the victims recover a Maryland record $55 million verdict.
Birth Injuries Can Also Happen During Pregnancy
While birth injuries are more likely to happen during the delivery process, they can also happen while the mother is still pregnant.
Doctors can commit medical malpractice and cause a birth injury at this stage in the process if, for example, they prescribe pregnant women prescription drugs that could harm the fetus' development. Whenever they prescribe these kinds of drugs to a female patient who could possibly be pregnant, doctors should check to make sure, first.
Examples of Birth Injuries
A birth injury includes a lot of different medical conditions. The only thing in common among them is the fact that the victim is a newborn.
Among the most common and severe birth injuries are:
- Bleeding in the baby's brain, including intracranial or subconjunctival hemorrhages
- Erb's Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Facial paralysis, often caused by trauma during the delivery, which can prevent the newborn from closing their eyes or nursing
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Shoulder dystocia.
Additionally, any period of oxygen deprivation during the baby's delivery can lead to a host of serious medical conditions and birth injuries. Oxygen is essential for the baby's growth and development. Prolonged periods without oxygen can be devastating, leading to severe developmental delays and even perinatal asphyxia if the baby suffers a physical impairment from the deprivation.
Compensation for Birth Injuries in Illinois
Because these birth injuries happened through no fault of the child or his or her parents but were the result of a doctor's poor decision making or negligent conduct, the victim and the victim's family deserve to be compensated. In Illinois, victims can recover that compensation by filing a birth injury lawsuit. If successful, the compensation that they stand to recover would cover their financial losses from dealing with a debilitating birth injury, as well as their pain and suffering.
An important aspect of that compensation is that it does not just include the medical bills that have already accumulated. It would also cover the medical bills that are likely to accrue in the future as the victim continues to undergo treatment to overcome their birth injury.
Additionally, victims are entitled to compensation for the mental and emotional anguish that their birth injury causes them. This is included in the “pain and suffering” portion of compensation so often mentioned in personal injury claims and covers things like:
- Emotional distress;
- Negative feelings and loss of confidence from any disfigurements;
- Loss of life's enjoyments; and
- Feeling of physical pain caused by the birth injury.
No Damage Caps in Illinois
Thankfully, in Illinois at least, victims of birth injuries can recover all of the compensation that they deserve because Illinois does not have a statute that expressly limits how much they can recover. Lots of other states have these statutes, which are supposed to be intended to protect hospitals from verdicts that are “too high” but in reality only leave victims undercompensated.
While Illinois does not have a damage capping statute, it is not for lack of trying. The Illinois State Legislature has twice passed statutes that would limit how much compensation a victim can recover in a medical malpractice case for their pain and suffering. Both statutes, however, have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Illinois. The most recent case, Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, was decided in 2010 and invalidated a damage capping statute, 735 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/2-1706.5, which had limited victims to $500,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Claims
Birth injury lawsuits in Illinois have to abide by the state's statute of limitations, which require lawsuits to be filed before a set period of time has passed. That time period depends on whether the child is filing the lawsuit or whether the parents are filing it on the child's behalf.
If the parents are filing on the child's behalf, 735 Illinois Compiled Statute 5/13-212(a) requires the claim to be filed within two years. However, subsection (b) of that statute gives children filing on their own until their eighth birthday to file.
Birth Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian Serve Victims in Illinois
If you or your child has 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.