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Birth injuries are terrible injuries that can saddle a child with irreparable abnormalities or impair their physical, mental, or emotional development. When they were caused by a medical professional's negligence or mistake, both the child and parents deserve to be compensated.
The medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of birth injuries across the country.
Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries come in a huge variety of forms and severities. Some of them are trivial, like a birthmark. Others, though, almost guarantee that the infant victim will live a short and potentially painful life.
These birth injuries can happen at two different points during a pregnancy:
- in utero; or
- during delivery.
In Utero Birth Injuries
Birth injuries that happen while the fetus is in the womb are usually the result of genetics or drugs that the mother took before knowing she was pregnant. Birth injuries that happen in utero can also be the result of medical malpractice. Doctors who prescribe potentially harmful medication to a woman without checking to see if she is pregnant can put the unborn child in jeopardy. When the birth injury is genetic, doctors can still be liable for medical malpractice if they:
- had an opportunity to discover the risks and inform the parents of the odds of having a child with a birth defect, or
- failed to notice the signs of a defect during the early stages of the pregnancy.
During Delivery Birth Injuries
Meanwhile, birth injuries that happen during delivery are often the result of a complication during birth or physical trauma during the delivery process. These incidents can also be the result of medical malpractice. In lots of traumatic deliveries, there were steps that reasonable doctors would have known to take to minimize the trauma felt by the mother and her unborn infant but which were not taken.
Common Birth Injuries
Regardless of when the injury occurred, some of the most severe and common birth injuries are:
- Intracranial or subconjunctival hemorrhaging, or the rupturing of blood vessels during delivery
- Oxygen deprivation, often caused by the umbilical cord
- Cephalohematoma, or bruising of the skull during an assisted delivery
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Facial paralysis
- Skull fractures
- Shoulder dystocia
Many of these birth injuries create lasting repercussions for the children. Most of the injuries produce serious developmental difficulties and delays that can set the child behind his or her peers for the rest of his or her life. For example, when an infant is deprived of oxygen during a difficult delivery, he or she can suffer brain damage that can lower their mental aptitude, irreparably.
Birth Injuries Are Disturbingly Common in the United States
Even though birth injuries are life-altering and often life-threatening –and are also often very preventable – thousands of them happen every year in the United States. One study found that between 0.06 to 0.08% of live births in the U.S. involved a birth injury. They also accounted for nearly 2% of neonatal deaths.
While that percentage might seem low, it is important to keep in mind the number of babies born in the U.S. every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were an estimated 3,855,500 babies born in the U.S. in 2017 alone.
According to the statistics, that means between 231,330 and 308,440 infants born in 2017 were born with a birth injury that could impair their lives.
How Victims of Birth Injuries Can Recover Compensation
Every state in the United States recognizes that birth injuries caused by medical malpractice leave innocent victims in need of compensation. They all have a procedure that victims can follow to recover compensation by filing a medical malpractice or a personal injury lawsuit.
The details of this process vary by state. In general, though, there are several important elements that will be present in every birth injury case:
- The statute of limitations;
- The extent of the damages suffered by the victims; and
- Any damage caps the state imposes.
Statutes of Limitations Force a Lawsuit to Be Filed Quickly
Every state has its own statute of limitations that dictates when a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. These statutes create a window that begins at the time of the injury – or sometimes when the injury should have been discovered – and ends a certain amount of time later.
Typically, the statute of limitations for personal injury and medical malpractice cases is around two or three years. However, malpractice claims involving birth injuries may be tolled or delayed because the victim was a child. Many states allow injured children to sue for childhood injuries – like birth defects – after they reach the age of majority, whether that be 18 or 21.
Even if there is plenty of time before the statute of limitations is set to expire, seeing a lawyer and beginning your case soon after the birth injury is essential. Evidence becomes difficult to gather as more time passes, so starting the process quickly can make a huge difference.
Legal Damages in Birth Injury Cases
Birth injury cases are unlike many other personal injury cases because the victim is so young. This means they will not be able to recover compensation for things like lost wages. However, it does mean that the medical bills and pain and suffering compensation that can be recovered can extend years or even decades into the future. It also means that the child's entire professional life can be included in the legal damages recoverable in a lawsuit.
Damage Caps Can Limit What Is Recovered
Some states have enacted statutes that put limits on how much compensation can be recovered in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These can be a huge obstacle for victims who have had their lives changed by a birth injury.
Birth Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent victims of birth injuries throughout the U.S. They even won a record-breaking $55 million verdict in Maryland for a birth injury victim against Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Contact the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian online to get started on your case.