A doctor can commit medical malpractice while an expectant mother is pregnant or while she is delivering her baby and hurt the newborn. When this happens, the birth injury that it causes can leave the child with serious medical conditions that can prevent him or her from living a full life. Both the parents and the child deserve compensation.
In Nebraska, that compensation can be obtained by filing a birth injury lawsuit. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can help.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any medical condition that the child is born with. It can range from relatively minor to severe or even life-threatening. While the birth injury can be inflicted at any point during the mother's pregnancy, they tend to happen in the delivery room. When it happens because of a doctor's poor decision, their inaction, or their negligence, it can amount to medical malpractice.
How Can Birth Injuries Happen During Pregnancy?
Occasionally, birth injuries are the result of a doctor's malpractice while the mother is still pregnant. This can happen even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Many of these cases happen because a doctor:
- Prescribed a female patient medication that poses a threat to a fetus without ensuring that she was not pregnant first;
- Hurt a fetus during an internal procedure; or
- Failed to diagnose a genetic disease.
In some of these cases, the fetus is damaged in a way that will prevent it from developing fully before birth, leaving it with serious birth defects. In other cases, malpractice can prevent potential parents from making an informed decision about their family and their future.
How Do Birth Injuries Happen in the Delivery Room?
Most birth injuries, though, happen in the delivery room as the baby is being born. These are often the result of the doctor's:
- Negligent actions,
- Negligent inactions, or
- Poor decision making.
A doctor can commit medical malpractice and cause a birth injury through their negligent actions if, for example, they use an extraction device in an attempt to assist in the delivery, but end up hurting the baby by using too much force.
Negligent inaction can also be the cause of a doctor's medical malpractice and a child's birth injury. Doctors need to act appropriately to signs of fetal distress and take action to ensure everyone makes it through a potentially dangerous delivery in good condition. If they fail to act appropriately and it causes a birth injury, it can amount to medical malpractice.
Similarly, doctors can be held liable if they make a poor decision that puts a mother and her child in harm's way, rather than keeping them safe.
What Are Some Examples of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can take a variety of forms. Some of the most common include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging or intracranial or subarachnoid hemorrhaging
- Facial paralysis
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Oxygen deprivation
- Perinatal asphyxia
Each of these conditions can come with a host of medical complications, as well as developmental delays that can set a child back years behind his or her peers.
A $55 Million Verdict and an Example of a Birth Injury Case
How birth injuries can happen and how severe they can become is exemplified in a case that the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian brought to trial recently in Maryland.
In that case, doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore failed to react appropriately at strong signs that the fetus was in distress. Rather than perform a C-section to deliver the baby immediately, they waited for two hours before doing it. By then, the baby boy had been deprived of oxygen for so long that he was born with Cerebral Palsy and other developmental issues.
Gilman & Bedigian helped the victim and his family file a birth injury lawsuit and the case went to trial. In the end, the jury awarded the victim a $55 million verdict, setting a Maryland record for birth injury cases.
Compensation in Nebraska
When a birth injury happens in Nebraska, the victim and his or her family can pursue compensation by filing a birth injury lawsuit. This lawsuit, a type of medical malpractice claim, demands financial compensation from the doctor and their medical institution to cover their:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life's enjoyments.
When the parents of a birth injury victim file the claim on their hurt child's behalf, it can also demand compensation for the parent's loss of companionship.
However, Nebraska is one of the states in the U.S. that has passed a damage cap statute. This statute is a law that limits the amount of compensation that victims can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit, including a birth injury claim. Nebraska Revised Statute § 44-2825 limits the amount recoverable in these claims to:
- $1.25 million, if the malpractice happened in 2003 or earlier;
- $1.75 million, if the malpractice happened between 2004 and 2014; and
- $2.25 million, if the malpractice happened in 2015 or later.
For birth injury claims where the child will never live their life to the fullest and is in a constant state of suffering, this damage cap can be especially unfair.
Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Claims in Nebraska
Birth injury claims in Nebraska also have to follow the state's statute of limitations, which requires victims to file their lawsuit before a set period of time has passed. Under Nebraska Revised Statute § 25-222, these claims typically have to be filed within two years of the injury.
Importantly, Nebraska is unlike many other states in that it does not toll, or delay, the beginning of the statute of limitations when the victim is a child. Injured children still have only two years to file their legal claim for compensation.
Gilman & Bedigian: Birth Injury Lawyers Serving Victims in Nebraska
If your child was born with a birth injury in Nebraska and you suspect medical malpractice was to blame, reach out to the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian by contacting us online.