A doctor can commit medical malpractice and hurt a newborn baby or an unborn fetus in ways that will forever change the course of the child's life. Should this ever happen to you or to your child in New Jersey, filing a birth injury lawsuit against the negligent doctor and his or her medical institution can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.
The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Their legal representation has helped birth injury victims recover huge verdicts in the past, and their advocacy can help you get what you need, too.
Types of Birth Injuries
A birth injury is any medical condition that a child endures or suffers during their time in their mother's womb or when they are delivered. This means there are numerous types of birth injuries, depending on what condition they are born with.
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Shoulder dystocia
- Subarachnoid or intracranial hemorrhaging
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging
- Erb's Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Diabetic retinopathy
Many of these birth injuries come with medical complications of their own, like developmental delays that can make it impossible for an afflicted child to grow up as quickly as their peers and master basic skills at the same speed as they should be able to.
Most birth injuries happen in the delivery room. For example, doctors can try to assist in the delivery of the child using an extraction device, but use too much force for the circumstances and end up hurting the child.
However, some birth injuries happen well before then. If a doctor commits malpractice on a pregnant woman and causes harm to the unborn fetus, it can lead to a birth injury.
Causes of Birth Injuries
A birth injury can be caused by the child's genetics or by a doctor's malpractice.
Genetic abnormalities happen and can lead to a child being born with a severe or life-threatening medical condition.
Typically, these are called birth defects rather than birth injuries because of the outsized role that bad luck plays in them.
However, even genetic defects can lead to a doctor's liability under New Jersey's medical malpractice laws.
Many genetic defects are easily detectable. When a doctor does not bother trying to look for the possibility of a genetic defect, it can deprive the parents of the ability to make an informed decision. This can amount to medical malpractice.
Birth Injuries Caused by Malpractice
Many other birth injuries are the result of a healthcare provider's medical malpractice. Malpractice is any healthcare service that falls below a reasonable level of care. Negligence, poor decision making, and an unreasonable lack of awareness can all amount to malpractice.
Some particular examples include:
- Failing to notice clear signs that the fetus is in distress during the mother's labor
- Not reacting to signs of fetal distress appropriately
- Using too much force with an extraction device in an attempt to complete the birth during an assisted delivery
- Hurting the child during a negligently performed Cesarean section
- Giving a pregnant woman drugs that would harm her unborn child
- Hurting the fetus during an internal procedure on the mother
Each of these incidents can directly harm the child or can set in motion a chain of medical complications that can lead to a birth injury. Even if the malpractice was not the direct cause of the injury, if the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the malpractice, the doctor and their medical institution can be held liable.
New Jersey Also Recognizes Both Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life Claims
New Jersey is one of the few states in the U.S. that provides multiple avenues of recovery for hurt children and their parents. Not only can they file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctor and the hospital that employs them; a hurt child can file a wrongful life claim, while the parents can file a lawsuit alleging wrongful birth.
Wrongful Life Lawsuits Can Be Filed By a Hurt Child
In a wrongful life lawsuit, the child claims that he or she was hurt or suffered birth defects while in utero, but a doctor's malpractice prevented the parent from terminating the pregnancy. Because the child was born with these injuries, the lawsuit claims, he or she deserves to be compensated for the extraordinary medical expenses related to them.
Most states do not allow children to recover compensation through a wrongful life lawsuit because were it not for the doctor's negligence, the child would not have been born at all. New Jersey, however, has recognized wrongful life actions since the 1984 case Procanik v. Cillo.
Examples of wrongful life lawsuits include situations where a doctor failed to abort a damaged fetus, leading it to be born with serious birth defects, or when a doctor failed to detect a genetic disorder that would lead to the child being born with a birth injury.
Wrongful Birth Lawsuits Can Be Filed By Parents
A wrongful birth lawsuit, on the other hand, can be filed by parents who were deprived of their right to make an informed medical decision about their unborn child by a doctor's malpractice. These cases often revolve around situations where a doctor fails to conduct a genetic test that would have detected a birth defect and allowed the parents to make an informed decision about whether to keep or abort the fetus.
Wrongful birth lawsuits have been recognized in New Jersey since the 1979 case Berman v. Allan. Parents can recover the extraordinary medical expenses associated with their child's medical condition.
Compensation Available in a Typical Birth Injury Claim
In addition to wrongful birth and life lawsuits, New Jersey allows parents and hurt children to file a traditional birth injury claim, which alleges that a doctor committed malpractice and saddled the child with a birth injury. These lawsuits can recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Anticipated costs for future medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life's enjoyments
- Loss of consortium
Unlike in many other states, New Jersey does not have a statute that caps the amount of damages that can be recovered in a birth injury claim. This means victims can recover all of the compensation that they deserve, rather than being limited by a law to a set and often trivial amount.
A Long Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Claims in New Jersey
New Jersey has a statute of limitations specifically for birth injury lawsuits that were the result of a doctor's medical malpractice. That law, New Jersey Revised Statute § 2A:14-2, gives the child victim and their parents until the child's 13th birthday to file their lawsuit. This is far longer than the statute of limitations for other states, which often only give the parents a couple of years to file a claim on their child's behalf.
A Track Record of Success: Gilman & Bedigian's Record-Setting $55 Million Verdict
The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian have already accumulated a track record of success representing victims of birth injuries. Just recently, they set a Maryland state record for birth injury claims with a $55 million verdict.
That case involved medical malpractice at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Doctors there did not take immediate action to signs of fetal distress after a mother came to the hospital to deliver a baby. It took doctors two hours to perform a C-section, and by that time the baby had been deprived of so much oxygen that he was born with Cerebral Palsy and other medical issues.
With the help of the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian, the victim and his family were able to invoke their rights and recover the compensation they deserved.
Compassionate and Aggressive Birth Injury Attorneys Serving New Jersey
If you or your child has been saddled with a birth injury in New Jersey, reach out to the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact us online to get started on your case today.