Birth injuries in New Mexico are serious medical conditions that newborn babies suffer when a doctor commits medical malpractice. They can happen during the mother's pregnancy but are more likely to happen in the delivery room. When they do happen, both the injured child and the child's parents deserve to be compensated.
The birth injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can help victims in New Mexico recover what they deserve from the people who caused their pain.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any medical complication or condition that leaves a newborn child with an injury or birth defect. While some birth injuries are genetic conditions, many are the result of a doctor's negligence or malpractice.
When they are the result of malpractice, birth injury victims can recover compensation from the doctor who acted negligently, as well as the doctor's medical institution.
When Do Birth Injuries Happen?
Birth injuries can happen either during the mother's pregnancy or while the baby is being born, in the hospital delivery room.
Relatively few birth injuries happen in utero. When they do, though, they are often the result of one of the following situations:
- The doctor or surgeon negligently performed an internal procedure on a pregnant patient and harmed the fetus.
- A doctor prescribed medication to a pregnant woman that harmed the fetus' development.
- A doctor failed to notify the parents of a genetic defect or condition that would lead to a birth injury.
Birth injuries are far more likely to happen at the point of delivery, though. Having a baby is a traumatic event, and doctors need to take precautions to make sure no one is put in unnecessary danger. This is especially true when the delivery is a difficult one with fetal distress or the mother is in labor for a long time. Doctors who assist in the delivery by using extraction devices can end up hurting the baby more than helping in its delivery.
What Are Some Common Types of Birth Injuries?
Because a birth injury is technically any medical condition that afflicts a newborn child in their earliest hours, the term encompasses a huge spectrum of injuries. Some of the most common, though, include:
- Erb's Palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Oxygen deprivation
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Skull fractures
- Broken blood vessels, including conditions like subconjunctival hemorrhaging and intracranial hemorrhaging
Each of these injuries can span a range of severity and are often interlinked. For example, a child whose birth is obstructed by shoulder dystocia can suffer oxygen deprivation when its umbilical cord is compressed. If the condition is rectified quickly, the effects of the deprivation might hardly be noticeable. If the condition persists for more than several minutes, on the other hand, it can lead to severe developmental delays, brain damage, perinatal asphyxia, physical impairments, and even Cerebral Palsy.
Gilman & Bedigian's $55 Million Verdict as an Example of a Birth Injury
An example of how a birth injury can happen comes from a case that the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian recently saw through to trial.
In that case, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, did not react appropriately to signs of fetal distress and oxygen deprivation. Rather than taking action to correct the situation and deliver the baby boy quickly, they waited for nearly two hours before performing a C-section. By that time, the damage had been done and the child was born with Cerebral Palsy and other mental and physical impairments that would prevent him from living a normal life.
When the doctors and hospital denied negligence or any sort of wrongdoing, the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian helped the victim and his family sue them. The case went all the way to trial when the hospital refused to settle it. There, the jury awarded the victim a Maryland record for a birth injury claim: A $55 million verdict.
Compensation in New Mexico for a Birth Injury
Victims of birth injuries in New Mexico can file a lawsuit of their own if they have been hurt by a birth injury that was caused by a doctor's medical malpractice. That lawsuit is a formal demand for compensation for the victim's:
- Medical expenses;
- Costs of future medical care; and
- Other expenses related to the victim's medical needs.
In addition to compensation for these medical expenses, victims in New Mexico can also pursue compensation for:
- Any reduction in their professional income once the child becomes an adult
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life's enjoyments
- Loss of companionship suffered by the hurt child's family.
These non-medical expenses, though, are subject to a strict damage capping statute in New Mexico. New Mexico Statute Annotated § 41-5-6 limits the amount that a victim can recover in non-medical compensation in all medical malpractice cases to a strict $600,000. This damage capping statute prevents birth injury victims and their families from recovering all of the compensation that they need and deserve after suffering such a terrible ordeal at the hands of a negligent doctor.
New Mexico's Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries
New Mexico Statute Annotated § 41-5-13 is the state's statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, including birth injuries. This law provides a timeframe during which lawsuits can be filed after a birth injury. Initiating a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired will result in the claim being dismissed quickly, even if it is a strong case.
New Mexico's statute of limitations distinguishes between cases brought by the child's parents, on behalf of the child, and those filed directly by a child, without the representation of their parents:
- Claims brought by parents on behalf of their hurt child have three years to file; NS
- Claims brought directly by the child have until the child's ninth birthday to file.
New Mexico Birth Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you suspect that a doctor in New Mexico caused your child's birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation. The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online to get started on your case, today.