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Part 2 of video:
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.
Medical Negligence Contributing to Birth Injuries
Not all pregnancies and childbirth experiences go smoothly. That’s why expectant parents turn to medical professionals to guide them through the process. Unfortunately, medical negligence can be a key factor in birth injuries to both newborns and mothers. During pregnancy, an obstetrician may not properly diagnose or treat diseases or genetic risks. They might improperly prescribe medications. They could be negligent when performing in utero procedures.
During birth, medical professionals may delay or opt not to perform a C-section, thus endangering the mother and baby. While unthinkable, mismanaged labor and delivery or improper monitoring can cause the infant to suffer broken bones, fluid buildup in the brain, dislocated shoulders, and even spinal injuries.
Birth injuries are usually avoidable, and are often the result of medical negligence. Those who are responsible for an infant’s or mother’s injuries should be held accountable. A negligence lawsuit can potentially name a variety of people and entities, including the obstetrician, nurse, midwife, physician assistant, pharmacist, and hospital. Bringing a birth injury lawsuit can provide you with the compensation you deserve for you or your baby’s injuries.
Compensation for a Birth Injury Lawsuit
Gilman & Bedigian’s birth injury attorneys know that your attention is rightly on your family’s health and well-being. Achieving just compensation for the medical and emotional challenges you and your baby face is our focus. We want to ensure that the costs associated with your recovery are covered. Mother and baby deserve the best possible care – care that might take months or years – and money should be the least of your concerns.
Our birth injury attorneys tap into the knowledge of your healthcare team and our experts, and then estimate the costs associated with your injuries. These costs can include medical treatment – both now and in the future – lost earnings, long-term care, and medical equipment and supplies. In addition, we also seek compensation for reduced quality of life and pain and suffering.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN TEXAS BIRTH INJURY CASES
Medical malpractice claims in Texas are subject to the statute of limitations which provides only two years to file a claim. This means that in most cases, the injured party must bring the lawsuit for medical malpractice within two years of the injury or the discovery of the injury.There is an exception to the rule, however, and that exception refers to the injured party’s age. Under Texas law, an injured minor (a person under age 18) has until the age of 14 to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf. However, Texas law holds that a minor’s medical expenses before the minor turns 18 belongs to the minor’s parents. This means that any claim for 18 years of medical expenses must be brought by the parents of the child who are subject to the two-year statute of limitations.
It is critical that you contact an experienced birth injury lawyer soon after the injury occurs or as soon after the discovery of the injury. The earlier you approach your attorney, the more comfortable you can rest knowing that your case is not lost for being untimely.
BIRTH INJURIES DURING PREGNANCY OR LABOR & DELIVERY
Birth injuries that occur during the pregnancy, before the baby is born, can be incredibly serious and these types of injuries harm the developing fetus.Common injuries that occur in utero include, but are not limited to:
During delivery, a lot can go wrong if a medical professional does not do his or her job.
- Failure to diagnose genetic risks or diseases
- Improper prescriptions that are given to the pregnant mother
- Malpractice during in utero medical procedures
During delivery, a lot can go wrong if a medical professional does not do his or her job.
Improper use of medical procedures can result in:
- broken bones
- oxygen deprivation
- spinal injuries
- fetal stress
EXAMPLES OF BIRTH INJURIES
While there are a great number of birth injuries that a baby can suffer, some of the most common are listed below:
- Cerebral palsy: caused by brain damage sometime during childbirth
- Detached placenta: detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall
- Infant Anoxia/Hypoxia: loss of oxygen to the brain during childbirth
- Bell’s Palsy: baby’s facial nerve is damaged during labor or birth
- Klumpke’s Palsy: effects the lower 2 of 5 nerves in the brachial plexus
- Pediatric Hydrocephalus: a buildup of fluid in the brain, causes damaging pressure
- Brachial Plexus: injury to the network of nerves that connects the spinal cord to the baby’s arms and hands
- Brain bleeding: bleeding of the soft tissue of the brain into the skull and brain area
- Bone injuries: bruises to bones or broken or fractured bones
- Cephalohematoma: accumulation of blood beneath the baby’s periosteum (the protective membrane that covers an infant’s skull)
- Shoulder dystocia: the infant’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvic area
SYMPTOMS OF BIRTH INJURIES
Children who suffer neurological birth injuries can have serious mental or emotional impairments, including brain damage. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to detect when a child has suffered one of these birth injuries. In some cases, there are physical symptoms. They can include:
- A fractured skull, which parents can detect by noticing lumps or dents in the child’s head
- Erratic eye movements, which can be a sign of seizures or other brain problems
- Severe breathing problems, which can mean that the child was not able to get enough oxygen right after being born
- A subconjunctival hemorrhage in the baby’s eye, which can be a sign that the pressure on the baby’s skull during the delivery was so severe that it could have also created neurological damage in addition to bursting blood vessels in the newborn’s eye
However, many neurological birth injuries do not present any symptoms for several months. The symptoms that slowly begin to emerge are developmental delays, where the child is unable to perform the tasks that doctor would expect of someone their age. This can be a symptom that they are struggling to overcome a birth injury that has caused neurological damage.
Children who have suffered physical birth injuries have symptoms that are more pronounced. In many cases, the birth injury is the symptom. These cases include:
- Fractured collarbones
- Broken bones
- Dislocated shoulders
- Asymmetrical facial movements, which indicate facial paralysis and potentially even nerve damage
- Other limb paralysis, usually in the arms
- Chronic pain, where the child cries uncontrollably while arching its back
- Eating problems, like an inability to swallow, nausea, lack of appetite, and vomiting
RECOVERING COMPENSATION AFTER BIRTH INJURY IN TEXAS
Those who suffer because of medical malpractice in Texas deserve financial compensation for their losses. Birth injuries are often expensive, painful, and can lead to a life-long disability. As a result, the amount of damages can be incredibly high, resulting in a large award for the victim’s family.Compensation can come in the following forms:
- medical bills
- future medical expenses
- pain and suffering
- lost earning capacity
- loss of consortium
This financial compensation can help your family to recover after the devastating effects of a birth injury caused by medical malpractice. The responsible party should have to pay, not you.