Nevada Birth Injury

Birth injuries can happen in Nevada whenever a doctor commits medical malpractice and the victim is a newborn baby. These injuries can alter the child's life and saddle them with serious medical conditions that will prove to be an obstacle for their whole life. Recovering compensation from the negligent doctor and their medical institution is critical.

The birth injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can provide the legal representation that victims need to recover the financial compensation that they deserve.

How Birth Injuries Happen in Nevada

Birth injuries can happen in a huge variety of ways. In some cases, they happen because of the genetic makeup of the child and his or her parents. In others, they are the result of bad luck, with little that could have prevented it from happening.

However, lots of birth injuries are the result of a doctor's negligence. That negligence can take the form of a poor decision, a negligent action, or inaction in the face of facts that demand something is done.

Birth Injuries Can Happen Throughout the Pregnancy

While most birth injuries that are the result of medical malpractice happen in the delivery room, they can actually occur at any point during the mother's pregnancy. Doctors can cause a birth injury if they:

  • Do not detect a clear genetic disease or threat;
  • Prescribe the mother medication that would put a fetus at risk without first checking to make sure she is not pregnant; or
  • Hurt the developing fetus with an internal procedure.

Causes of Birth Injuries in Nevada

Birth injuries can happen in a huge variety of ways. In some cases, they happen because of the genetic makeup of the child and his or her parents. In others, they are the result of a doctor's negligence. That negligence can take the form of a poor decision, a negligent action, or inaction in the face of facts that demanded that something be done.

Malpractice in the Delivery Room

Most birth injuries happen in the delivery room, and are caused by a doctor's medical malpractice.

That malpractice can take a huge number of forms and can happen in a wide variety of situations in the delivery room, alone. The only thing underpinning all incidents of medical malpractice is the substandard level of medical care that it provides – care that often does more harm than good because it is so substandard.

Common incidents of medical malpractice in the delivery room that can cause a birth injury include:

  • Neglecting or not monitoring the mother during labor
  • Ignoring signs of fetal distress
  • Not reacting appropriately to fetal distress signals that are noticed
  • Negligently administering the epidural
  • Using excessive force during an assisted delivery or with an extraction device
  • Making a harmful mistake during the C-section surgery

Many of these incidents directly cause harm to the baby and result in a birth injury. Others, though, only indirectly cause a birth injury by creating an intervening medical complication that, itself, causes the birth injury. Doctors can be held liable for medical malpractice in either situation – regardless of whether their mistake or negligence directly or indirectly caused the injury.

Malpractice Can Cause a Birth Injury at Any Point During the Pregnancy

While most birth injuries that are the result of medical malpractice happen in the delivery room, they can actually occur at any point during the mother's pregnancy. Doctors can cause a birth injury if they:

  • Do not detect a clear genetic disease or threat;
  • Prescribe the mother medication that would put a fetus at risk without first checking to make sure she is not pregnant; or
  • Hurt the developing fetus with an internal procedure.

Failing to detect a genetic disease or defect that can lead to a birth injury can amount to medical malpractice that can make a doctor and their medical institution liable for the results. This is the case, even though the birth injury was actually caused by the child's genes. By failing to find or even look for the potential for a genetic abnormality that could cause a birth defect, doctors prevent the parents of the child from making an informed healthcare decision. That negligence can be a superseding cause of the child's birth injury.

Defective Medical Devices Can Lead to a Products Liability Case

An often overlooked source of birth injuries in Nevada is a defective medical product.

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals use lots of different medical devices during childbirth. The number of devices used grows exponentially as soon as a C-section is involved. Some of these devices are:

  • Extraction devices, like forceps and a vacuum-assisted delivery system
  • Protective equipment, like masks and gloves
  • Drugs to induce labor and alleviate the mother's pain
  • Syringes to administer those drugs
  • Towels, sponges, sheets, and other similar equipment

Every single one of those devices and medical equipment has the potential to have a defect that can cause a birth injury. Those defects fall into one of the following categories:

  • Defective designs
  • Defective manufacture
  • Advertising defects
  • Packing defects

A design for a medical device that needlessly carries an increased risk of harm can be defective. Manufacturing defects, on the other hand, create products that do not comply with the original and intended design, making them dangerous to use and likely to break. Advertising defects in medical devices fail to warn doctors of the hidden dangers of using the device, keeping the doctor from taking adequate safety precautions that could keep their patient safe. Packing defects can affect medical devices that need to be sterile when they arrive at the hospital, allowing them to get contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria that could cause an infection.

Whenever any one of these problems causes a birth injury, the doctor would not have been at fault. Holding the company that allowed the defect to exist can take a products liability lawsuit. If successful, the lawsuit would provide compensation to the victims in the amount that they deserve to overcome the birth injury they have suffered.

Some Examples of Nevada Birth Injuries

Because a birth injury only refers to the victim of a doctor's malpractice, there are actually numerous types of medical conditions that it encompasses. Children who have been afflicted with a birth injury can suffer from any of the following medical conditions:

Each of these medical conditions can come with a host of other medical complications and can span a wide range of severity. For example, oxygen deprivation can cause significant developmental delays or even brain damage if left unchecked for even a few minutes and can lead to perinatal asphyxia if it is allowed to persist. However, if it is detected and corrected quickly, the effects of the deprivation might be minor and easily overcome as the child grows.

What are the Symptoms that My Child Suffered a Birth Injury?

Not all of the symptoms of a birth injury are so obvious that unsuspecting parents will be put on alert. However, some of them are pretty clear indications that something has gone wrong. These include:

  • An indentation or a bump on the baby's head – a sign of a skull fracture
  • A dislocated shoulder
  • A broken bone
  • Asymmetrical facial movements, a sign of facial paralysis
  • Weak or limp limbs, a sign of muscle paralysis or nerve damage
  • Breathing problems severe enough for the child to need a breathing tube right after birth

A lot of birth injuries – especially those that cause neurological conditions, rather than physical ones – have symptoms that are far less obvious. These symptoms can include:

  • A subconjunctival hemorrhage – a patch of blood in the white part of the baby's eye – which indicates that the birth put a lot of pressure on the baby's skull and may have caused a birth injury
  • Bruising or swelling
  • Eating issues, especially when the child has trouble swallowing
  • Lots of drooling
  • Nausea, constipation, or vomiting
  • Seemingly uncontrolled eye movements, which could be a sign that the baby is having seizures
  • Crying, especially if the baby is arching its back
  • Breathing issues, like wheezing or coughing

A pediatrician can diagnose a birth injury from these symptoms. Seeing one that does not work for the hospital that delivered the baby can ensure you get an unbiased medical opinion.

Some birth injuries, though, do not have any immediate symptoms. Some neurological conditions only become apparent when the child fails to achieve the developmental milestones that doctors use to gauge a child's growth. While children often struggle with one or two of these milestones, children that have a birth injury tend to struggle with nearly all of them.

Compensation for Birth Injury Victims and Their Family in Nevada

These medical conditions and the complications that they often cause are serious, debilitating, and expensive. When they were the result of a doctor's negligence, the doctor and their hospital should be held liable and forced to pay compensation for the foreseeable losses that they have caused.

In Nevada, that compensation can be divided into two parts:

  1. Economic damages, which are easy to state in a dollar amount; and
  2. Noneconomic damages, which are not easy to state in a dollar amount.

Economic damages include losses and setbacks like:

  • Medical bills
  • Anticipated medical expenses that will accumulate in the future for ongoing medical care
  • Any reduction in the child's expected ability to earn an income as an adult

Noneconomic damages include things that are not as easy to quantify, like:

  • The child's pain and suffering
  • The child's inability to enjoy life to the fullest
  • The parent's loss of companionship
  • Emotional distress

The difference between economic and noneconomic damages is critical in Nevada's birth injury cases because birth injury lawsuits are considered to be medical malpractice claims, and all medical malpractice claims are subject to Nevada's damage capping statute, Nevada Revised Statute § 41A.035. That law limits the amount of noneconomic damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice claim to a mere $350,000, no matter how debilitating the injury and no matter how much compensation the hurt child deserves to receive.

Cases Involving Infant Wrongful Death or Stillborn Births

Severe birth injuries can be life-threatening or fatal for infants or unborn children. The most common medical conditions that can cause fatal birth injuries include:

  • Traumatic births
  • Hypoxia, where the child is unable to breathe and the complete loss of oxygen leads to life-threatening tissue, organ, or brain damage
  • Reduced blood flow, which prevents blood from bringing oxygen to necessary organs, including the brain

When they are fatal, these medical conditions can lead to one of three different situations:

  1. The child is born alive, but dies from his or her injuries soon after birth
  2. The child is stillborn from injuries suffered after they would have been able to live outside the mother's womb
  3. The child is stillborn from injuries suffered before they were viable

In Nevada, these fatal outcomes can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. These are legal claims for compensation that are brought not by the victim of an accident, but by the victim's relatives or legal representative. Nevada Revised Statute § 41.085 dictates when and how these lawsuits can be filed, as well as who can file them.

Crucially, the statute allows wrongful death claims when the victim was a “person.” While the statute does not define “person” or say whether it includes stillborn children, the Supreme Court of Nevada stepped in to answer this question in 1969. In White v. Yup, the court decided that fatal injuries to viable fetuses, even if they end up being stillborn, can still lead to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the child's parents.

All children who were born alive, but who subsequently die from their prenatal injuries, can be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the child's parents.

Nevada's Statute of Limitations Requires Claims to Be Filed Quickly

Nevada also has a statute of limitations that forces birth injury victims to file their lawsuit before a set period of time has expired. That law is found at Nevada Revised Statute § 41A.097.

For parents who are filing the lawsuit on their injured child's behalf, that time period is:

  • One year after they should have reasonably discovered the injury; or
  • Up to three years after the birth injury happened.

However, children can invoke their rights to compensation without their parents' representation. This extends the statute of limitations to:

  • The child's 10th birthday, if they suffered brain damage or a birth defect
  • 2 years after the child discovers that their birth injury made them sterile

Gilman & Bedigian's $55 Million Birth Injury Verdict

The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian recently saw a birth injury case through to its final conclusion when they represented a birth injury victim and his family recover a record-setting $55 million verdict in Maryland.

Doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore had failed to take appropriate action in the face of sure signs of fetal distress. Rather than performing a C-section right away, they waited nearly two hours. At that time, the boy was deprived of oxygen. When he was born, he had Cerebral Palsy and other developmental delays.

With the help of the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian, the victim took his case to trial and won the compensation that he and his family needed.

Gilman & Bedigian: Birth Injury Lawyers in Nevada

If your child was born with a birth injury in Nevada and you suspect malpractice, reach out to Gilman & Bedigian by contacting us online.

Let Us Help

If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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