Adding to your family with the birth of a new child is most often a joyous occasion. With new life comes new possibilities, a new dream for the future, a new and different family dynamic. But sometimes, things don't go as planned. Sometimes, an infant suffers a birth injury during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth.
When a birth injury occurs, many times it is due to the negligence or fault of a medical professional or medical institution. If that is the case, then you are entitled to compensation. Though compensation will never change what has happened, it can reduce the stress through financial means and present you with an opportunity to make sure your child receives the proper care he or she should receive.
Common Birth Injuries in South Carolina
Birth injuries can occur in utero (while the fetus is developing) or during the delivery and birth. While in utero, a doctor may prescribe medication harmful to the fetus because he or she did not take proper precautions to ensure the patient was not pregnant or the doctor may fail to take a test that would have identified concerns about the health of the child that could then be appropriately addressed. In other cases, harm can occur during the delivery when a doctor, for example, uses forceps too aggressively or fails to conduct a C-section timely.
Common birth injuries include:
- Facial paralysis
- Shoulder dystocia
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging or intracranial hemorrhaging
- Spinal cord injuries
- Erb's Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Oxygen deprivation
- Perinatal asphyxia.
A Real-Life Birth Injury Example
Rebecca Fielding and Enso Martinez were like most expecting parents in 2010. They were excited to welcome their son into the world. After careful consideration, Rebecca and Enso decided their best birth choice included laboring and giving birth at home.
Sensibly, Rebecca and Enso secured the services of an experienced midwife to guide them through the birthing process. After experiencing some labor at home, Rebecca and Enso were advised to go to the hospital for a more medically monitored birth. Because they trusted their midwife, they did so.
Unfortunately, Rebecca and Enso were not listened to when they arrived at Johns Hopkins. Despite being examined and despite a finding that a cesarean section was the appropriate and medically necessary course of action, Rebecca and Enso waited and waited for the medical professionals to actually perform the cesarean section.
Two hours later, medical professionals finally performed the emergency surgery. Unfortunately, by then it was too late. Rebecca and Enso's son suffered irreversible brain damage and will suffer from physical and mental disabilities for the rest of his life. This is a tragic situation that could have been prevented if medical professionals had just done their job.
A Real-Life Medical Malpractice Example in South Carolina
Rebecca and Enso turned to the medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC to see if they could help. As new parents of a severely disabled child, Rebecca and Enso were facing massive amounts of medical costs, therapies, medications, home modifications, and a host of other unexpected changes to their life.
The Gilman & Bedigian, LLC medical malpractice attorneys utilized their deep bench of case managers, medical professionals, and legal professionals to gather the necessary information to determine if Rebecca and Enso had a case on behalf of their family. In the end, the attorneys managed to obtain a verdict of $55 million dollars. This money will cover Rebecca and Enso's son's lifetime of medical needs.
The Timeline of a Medical Malpractice Birth Injury Lawsuit
However, the case did not go from attorney contact to $55 million in one fell swoop. No. Instead, there was a long road of legal work in between the time Rebecca and Enso first made an appointment with the law firm and the time of the verdict.
Initial Consultation. As with any other set of parents fearing medical malpractice caused their child's birth injury, first, Rebecca and Enso met with the legal team to discuss the case.
The Case Review. Then the lawyers contacted medical professionals to review the case to determine if, indeed, medical malpractice caused the injury. Once this was confirmed, the lawyers filed suit.
The Filing of the Lawsuit. When a medical malpractice suit is filed, the medical professionals being sued have the opportunity to file a response. Next, a court becomes involved to review the case for legal sufficiency.
The Discovery Phase. The filing of the lawsuit is followed by a discovery phase. Each party writes up a list of questions, called “interrogatories” for the other side. The interrogatories are exchanged. Next, the parties are expected to answer the interrogatories and provide documentation to the other side. This can be productive, as each side gets a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the other side's case.
Settlement Negotiations. Often, during the discovery phase, the attorneys will engage in settlement negotiations. Settlement negotiations include discussions of level of responsibility, cost of ongoing care due to the birth injury, and, in some cases, other things the parties desire. This may include no admission of responsibility (often desired by the medical professionals involved) or an apology (often desired by the family of the birth injured child). If the parties cannot come to an agreement, many courts will send the parties to mediation.
Mediation. Mediation can be beneficial, as the mediator is a neutral third party who speaks with both parties to determine whether there may be common ground. The mediator can suggest possible settlement approaches but cannot force a settlement on either party.
Trial. If the case cannot be resolved, it is set for trial. Even on the day of trial, the judge and the parties may attempt to resolve the case. The truth is, most medical malpractice cases settle. However, this is not always the case. As you might imagine, the skills necessary to negotiate the case are not the same skills necessary to try the case.
In Rebecca and Enso's case, the litigators took the case to trial when Johns Hopkins refused to accept responsibility for their conduct. The jury, after hearing all the evidence, made the decision that $55 million was the right amount of money to cover Rebecca and Enso's son's medical expenses and address other issues presented by the court.
South Carolina's Statute of Limitations
In South Carolina, the general rule is that medical malpractice cases must be filed within three years of the date of injury. However, this is a general guide, and parents are cautioned that there may be exceptions to this rule, depending on the facts and circumstances of an individual case.
It is a good idea to contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as practicable to determine if there is a cause of action.
Do You suspect a Birth Injury?
If you suspect your child was injured before, during, or after birth due to medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.