A birth injury is a serious medical condition suffered by a newborn baby. When that condition was the result of a doctor's medical malpractice in Louisiana, the afflicted child and his or her family deserve to be compensated by the negligent doctor and the hospital that employs them.
The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help victims in Louisiana collect that compensation by guiding them through the process of filing a medical malpractice claim and demanding the financial coverage that they are entitled to receive.
What are Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are medical problems that a newborn baby is born with. Because the birth process – stretching from the beginning of the pregnancy and culminating in the child's birth – is a long and complicated one, lots of things can go wrong and end with the child getting hurt.
Many birth injuries are the result of a doctor's poor conduct or decision-making. Some of these are the result of a doctor's negligence during the delivery procedure, as the doctor does something that ends up hurting the baby, like incorrectly using an extraction device. Other cases involve a doctor's inaction, where they should have done something to prevent a birth injury but failed to do so. In either case, it can amount to malpractice.
Some birth injuries are genetic. These lead to birth defects that might not necessarily have been the fault of a doctor's conduct. Even in these cases, though, it can still amount to malpractice.
How Can a Louisiana Doctor's Malpractice Cause a Birth Injury?
A doctor can commit medical malpractice and cause a birth injury during the mother's pregnancy or in the delivery room.
Malpractice during the pregnancy can take a wide variety of forms, including:
- Prescribing a pregnant woman drugs or medication that puts her fetus at risk of developing an abnormality while in utero
- Negligently performing a medical procedure on the mother, harming the fetus
- Failing to diagnose and communicate genetic risks to the parents.
Malpractice during the baby's delivery is more common, though. This is where a doctor's decisions can put a mother and her child at risk of enduring even more trauma than is normal while delivering a baby.
Different Kinds of Birth Injuries
Not all birth injuries are the same, though. Some are extremely debilitating while others are relatively minor. Even when the injury is the same, the results can be trivial, severe, or life-threatening.
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Broken blood vessels, whether they are in the child's eye (a subconjunctival hemorrhage) or in their brain (an intracranial or subarachnoid hemorrhage)
- Oxygen deprivation, a medical problem that can cause or contribute to other birth injuries
- Perinatal asphyxia, or physical impairments caused by oxygen deprivation
- Shoulder dystocia, which is a birth obstruction where the baby's shoulder gets caught in the birth canal and compresses the umbilical cord to the point where they are deprived of oxygen
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Diabetic retinopathy, a side effect of the mother's diabetes which can lead to vision loss in the newborn if precautions are not taken
- Facial paralysis, where the muscles in a baby's face cannot move, making it difficult for them to eat, nurse, or even close their eyes
Compensation for Victims of Birth Injuries in Louisiana
When medical conditions like this are caused by a doctor's malpractice, victims can recover compensation for their losses. For children who have been hurt by a doctor's malpractice, that compensation is meant to cover:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses for ongoing care
- The costs of specialized medical equipment, like the necessary wheelchairs and handicap accessible vans
- Home modifications
- Reduced earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress for any disfigurements
- Loss of life's enjoyments due to disabilities caused by the birth injury
Additionally, the parents of the victim can recover compensation for their loss of companionship and their emotional distress from watching their child grow up with a serious medical condition.
Louisiana Caps the Amount of Compensation a Victim Can Recover
Unfortunately, Louisiana is one of the many states in the U.S. that explicitly limits the amount of compensation that a victim of medical malpractice can recover, no matter how much they really deserve. Louisiana Revised Statute § 40:1231.2(B)(1) caps the amount of compensation that victims can recover in a medical malpractice case – including birth injury claims – to $500,000.
While this limitation does not include the costs of medical care that will be needed in the future, it can leave birth injury victims – who will have to live with the repercussions of a doctor's malpractice for their entire lives – under-compensated.
Statute of Limitations for Louisiana Birth Injury Claims
Birth injury claims in Louisiana also have to comply with Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:5628, This statute of limitations requires all birth injury lawsuits – whether brought by the parents on behalf of their child, or by the hurt child on their own – within one year of the malpractice.
This is one of the strictest statutes of limitations in the country and forces victims to take immediate action as soon as they realize they have been hurt.
An Example of a Birth Injury Lawsuit: Gilman & Bedigian's $55 Million Verdict
An example of a birth injury lawsuit in action is a recent case brought by the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian.
An expectant mother went to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to deliver a baby boy. The doctors failed to react appropriately to sure signs of fetal distress. Rather than delivering the baby via C-section right away, they waited for two hours. As a result, the boy was born with Cerebral Palsy and other impairments because he had been deprived of oxygen for so long.
The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian legally represented the victim and his family against the doctors and Johns Hopkins Hospital. When the defendants refused to settle or even consider the possibility that they acted inappropriately, the case went to trial. The jury awarded the victims a Maryland record for a birth injury case: A $55 million verdict.
Aggressive and Compassionate Birth Injury Attorneys Serving Louisiana
If your child has been born with a birth injury in Louisiana, contact the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian online soon in order to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires.