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Facial paralysis, also known as facial palsy, is a birth injury. It’s a temporary weakness in facial muscles that can make a baby’s face look like it’s drooping. Typically, it will affect one side of the baby’s face; rarely will it affect both. Sometimes, this condition is called Bell’s palsy or idiopathic facial paralysis.
Facial paralysis may occur when a doctor uses too much force with either their hands or medical instruments like forceps when delivering a baby. It could also happen if the baby is large, they’re delivered after their due date, it’s the first time the mother is giving birth, or the labor takes a long time. If a healthcare professional administers anesthesia and other type of drugs incorrectly, then this could also lead to a birth injury. Facial paralysis can be a short-term condition or last throughout the rest of a child’s life.
Symptoms of Facial Paralysis
A baby may have facial paralysis, or Bell’s Palsy/idiopathic facial paralysis, if they’re exhibiting the following symptoms:
- They are not be able close their eye
- There is a loss of function of one side of their forehead
- Their mouth does not move down on the same side when they’re crying
- There isn’t movement in one side of their face
- They have trouble nursing
If problems persist when babies get older, they may have symptoms like:
- Speech issues
- Physical deformities
- Difficulty chewing
- Unusual ways of expressing their emotions
There’s no real way of knowing a baby has facial paralysis until a doctor diagnoses them with this condition. However, a doctor will usually diagnose it before a baby leaves the hospital. In order to properly diagnose it, a doctor will likely do a physical examination and/or perform a nerve conduction test.
Treatment for Facial Paralysis
The way you treat facial paralysis or Bell’s Palsy/idiopathic facial paralysis depends on the severity of the condition. For instance, you may not need to do anything aside from wait until the issue resolves itself. However, if it doesn’t, treatment could include:
- Physical therapy
- Eye drops, a patch, and/or ointment and ongoing ophthalmologic evaluations
- Speech therapy
If a child’s facial paralysis is severe, then they may need to have surgery done in order to correct it. This could include a muscle transfer, where the surgeon will remove one of more muscles or tendons and relocate them to areas of the face where natural movement could be restored. These types of surgeries could include digastric tendon transfer, temporalis tendon transfer, or a Gracilis transfer. A surgeon may also do nerve grafting, which would involve moving nerves from various parts of the body to the face. Grafting could bring back sensation and movement and increase muscle control.
How Do I Know if Medical Malpractice Caused Facial Paralysis?
Facial paralysis, or Bell’s Palsy/idiopathic facial paralysis does not always happen because of a birth injury. For instance, a viral infection or a head injury could cause it. But if you think that medical malpractice occurred while you were in labor or giving birth, then you might be able to demand a settlement from the defendant, who would be your doctor or another healthcare professional who helped you deliver.
Medical malpractice can be difficult to demonstrate because the law makes you jump through hoops to prove it. If it were so easy to sue doctors, no one would want to become one, so the legal system puts barriers in place to prevent that. This means that unfortunately, you may never get to trial before your case is thrown out.
The only way to know if you have a legitimate medical malpractice case on your hands is to get in touch with a birth injury malpractice lawyer. They will let you know what they think about your case and whether or not you’ll be able to prove medical malpractice.
How Much Will I Receive From a Facial Paralysis Settlement?
A birth injury lawyer will not be able to tell you how much you’ll receive from a facial paralysis settlement. However, they will tell you that you could receive damages to cover things like:
- Medical bills
- Loss of companionship and enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical care
- Loss of earning capacity
The amount of your settlement is going to depend on how severe the injuries are and what kind of treatment is needed for them. If you only have to go in for a few check-ups while the facial paralysis heals itself, then your medical bills are going to be lower and your settlement will probably be lower as well. But if the facial paralysis is severe and your child will not be able to use muscles on one side of their face for years to come – and maybe even the rest of their life – then you could add in future medical costs and maybe even the loss of future earnings. Pain and suffering could certainly apply as well. You’ll have to consult with a birth injury lawyer to see what damages may arise from your case.
Settlement Offers in a Facial Paralysis Case
If you hire an experienced birth injury lawyer, then they will work hard to get you the settlement you need to cover your damages. They will contact the defendant and attempt to negotiate a suitable settlement. Sometimes, the defendant will offer you something right away, or your lawyer might have to renegotiate. Either way, your lawyer will let you know what the defendant offered, and you can decide if it’s enough.
If no settlement is reached, you can choose to take the defendant to court. As it gets closer to the court date, the defendant may see that you have strong evidence and might not want to go to court, where they could end up having to pay you a much larger settlement. They could offer to settle before it reaches the court date. If not, your lawyer will arrange for a trial to be set and bring in an expert witness to back up your medical malpractice claim. They’ll also incorporate any evidence you provide such as medical records and bills, witness statements, and photos of your child’s injury.
Why Reach Out to a Birth Injury Lawyer?
While seeing your child for the first time was the happiest moment of your life, now you’re stressed and worried about their condition, and upset that your doctor allegedly did something wrong. However, right now you need some peace of mind and time to focus on your child’s recovery. You shouldn’t take on more than you can handle, which is why it’s best to leave it up to a lawyer. They will handle the negotiation and most of the legal process, and all you need to do is be there to provide whatever evidence you have and answer questions. Hopefully, by working with a birth injury lawyer, you will win damages that are rightfully yours.
Facial Paralysis Birth Injury Attorneys
If your baby has facial paralysis or Bell’s Palsy/idiopathic facial paralysis, and you believe that medical malpractice caused this condition, then don’t hesitate to call a birth injury lawyer today. Gilman & Bedigian is here for you in your time of need, and we’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact Gilman & Bedigian 24/7 for a free consultation at (800) 529-6162.