The process of giving birth, while as old as time, has changed a lot in the past 50 years. Birthing rooms, underwater births, home births, birthing plans, doulas, and midwives have all become more popular. Hospitals find themselves competing with alternative, viable means of giving birth. The good news is, the overall rate of birth injury is reducing in the United States. Experts have documented significant declines over the last 15 years.
The bad news is, birth injuries still occur in North Carolina as well as throughout the United States.
Overview of North Carolina Birth Injuries and Developmental Delays
There is a recognized difference between a “birth injury” and a “birth defect.” According to the National Vital Statistics Report, a birth injury is defined as
an impairment of the neonate's body function or structure due to an adverse event that occurred at birth.
This is different than when an infant is born with a congenital anomaly. Birth injuries occur due to actions, or lack of actions, taken by the medical professionals relied on when caring for the laboring mother, delivering the child, and/or in the moments after birth.
Typical birth injuries and developmental delays are caused by:
- Improper use of instruments
- Failure to recognize signs of distress
- Failure to follow generally accepted standards of care.
Any step in the process can result in a birth injury or developmental delay if done incorrectly. From neglecting to perform standard tests to failing to monitor the labor the deviating from standards of care, every member of the hospital team has an obligation to both mother and child. This includes both their own conduct and recognizing when another professional's conduct falls below the accepted standard of care.
Common North Carolina
There are many injuries – from bruises to life-threatening injuries – that can be the result of a medical professional's negligence or medical malpractice. Below are brief descriptions of some of the more common and more serious birth injuries.
While not as prevalent as they used to be, forceps are still sometimes used during delivery. The use of forceps can cause skull fractures, clavicle fractures, and collar bone fractures. Treatment for fractures is injury specific.
Similarly, forceps can cause internal bleeding. Sometimes this bleeding occurs just below the scalp. Other times the bleeding is subdural. Treatment for brain bleeds depends on the severity of the bleeding and its location.
Erb's Palsy occurs when an infant's nerves in the neck are damaged during delivery. This injury occurs when the infant's head and neck are abnormally stretched as the infant leaves the birth canal. The injury results in a weakening or paralysis of the infant's arm. Treatment for Erb's Palsey ranges from physical therapy to surgery.
Cerebral Palsy occurs during or immediately after birth. Causes include strokes during of after birth, infections, and undiagnosed conditions. Treatments include medicines, surgery, and therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
The Process of Proactively Advocating for Your Child in North Carolina
If your child has suffered a birth injury, they may face months, years, or even a lifetime of medical care, medically necessary equipment, treatments and therapies. Advocating for your child living their best life includes holding accountable those responsible for your child's injury. This is the only way to ensure your child's medical needs will be met during their lifetime.
Contact an Attorney Who Understands Birth Injury Cases
All attorneys basically take the same coursework during law school. It is only after law school that attorneys begin their specialty practice. Technically, any licensed attorney could take on a birth injury case. However, it is a good idea to research attorneys to find one already familiar with how birth injury cases work. This includes investigation, filing a complaint, filing interrogatories, engaging in other discovery-related activities, case analysis, potential negotiation, and, where the case cannot be settled, trial.
A Proven Track Record
In 2010, Enso Martinez and Rebecca Fielding were just like any other couple, eagerly awaiting the birth of their son. When Rebecca went into labor, it soon became apparent that their dream of home birth was not a possibility. The couple went to the hospital, where the medical staff should have performed an immediate emergency c-section. Sadly, the staff ignored signs of fetal distress and delayed the procedure by two hours. As a direct result of the delay, Enso and Rebecca's son suffered permanent and irreversible harm, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, and a host of other medical conditions that will impact him for the rest of his life.
The medical staff at Johns Hopkins refused to accept responsibility for Rebecca and Enso's son's injuries. So, the lawyers had no choice but to take the case to trial. The jury returned a landmark verdict in the amount of $55 million dollars. This assures Rebecca and Enso their son will have his medical needs met.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations in North Carolina
The "statute of limitations" is a legal term that means, basically, "the amount of time you have from the time of injury until you must file a lawsuit." If you don't file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has run, you may lose your claim. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is typically three years from the time of injury. However, there are some exceptions, which are technical in nature, and should be discussed with an attorney well versed in medical malpractice claims.
Compassionate, Aggressive Birth Injury Attorneys Representing North Carolina
You only pay the firm if you receive a favorable outcome. You have nothing to lose – and so much to gain for your family. Don't wait. Our North Carolina birth injury attorneys are waiting to help. Contact the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC at 800.529.6162.