Many parents put off contacting a lawyer until it is too late. They may not be sure whether the injury was caused by medical negligence. They may not want to “rock the boat” by reporting a doctor for mistakes. The parents may also not be sure what a birth injury lawsuit would do. It is better to have the information you need to make an informed decision instead of doing nothing at all.
Here is what a birth injury lawsuit CAN do. A birth injury claim can help you get compensation to care for your child for medical bills and for future medical needs. A claim can help provide for your child if you are no longer able. A malpractice lawsuit can also improve medical care to help other families avoid an unnecessary birth injury.
If you are not sure if you should contact a birth injury attorney, you have nothing to lose by calling an experienced attorney offering a free consultation. Get more information about your options if your child suffered a birth injury. Contact our birth injury law office today online or by phone at 800-529-6162.
Common Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can range from temporary traumatic injuries to permanent damage. When a child suffers a birth injury, the family may have to think about a lifetime of medical care. Some of the most common birth injuries in the U.S. include:
- Birth complications
- Birth injuries from extraction devices
- Birth paralysis
- Brachial plexus palsy
- Brain damage and head trauma
- Cephalopelvic disproportion
- Cerebral palsy
- Clavicle fracture
- Cortical blindness
- Developmental delays
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Erb’s palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Group B streptococcus
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Infant resuscitation errors
- Infant wrongful death
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Klumpke’s palsy
- Meconium aspiration syndrome
- Neonatal hypoxia
- Neonatal therapeutic hypothermia
- NICU malpractice
- Periventricular leukomalacia
- Placental abruption
- Retinopathy prematurity
- Shoulder dystocia
- Subgaleal hemorrhage
- Torticollis (Wry Neck)
Is the Birth Injury Caused by Malpractice?
How does a parent know if their child’s birth injury was caused by a doctor’s mistake or not? Unfortunately, most parents have no way to know if their child’s injury was caused by malpractice or not. This problem is not limited to birth injuries. Most medical malpractice accidents involve the same questions. One of the problems is the resistance of hospitals and doctors to have frank conversations with patients.
In the healthcare system, the insurance companies have so much power that they often scare doctors away from telling a patient when something went wrong. The insurance company is so worried about malpractice claims that they deter doctors from talking about any possible errors or complications. In many cases, the patients just want to know what happened or an apology. Instead, patients have to resort to lawsuits to get the answers they are looking for.
In childbirth and pregnancy, mothers and parents have to be very proactive in getting information. Doctors may not be focused on patient care or providing answers. It is left up to the parents to ask questions, and when the answer isn’t clear, to get clarification. This can make it nearly impossible to find out about a medical error that may have caused a birth injury.
When a doctor makes a mistake, they may not be willing to admit to their mistakes. If a nurse sees the doctor make an error, the nurse may not want to report the problem out of fear of repercussions. Even if a doctor has a history of medical errors, even the hospital won’t want that information getting out because it could hurt their reputation and profits.
This is why it may be necessary to get an independent review of your child’s injuries, your medical records, and the doctor’s errors. The best way to get a review may be to contact an experienced birth injury law firm. Your medical malpractice attorney can review your case, get an expert medical review of your medical records, and determine whether or not your child’s injury was caused by an avoidable mistake. Talk to a birth injury law firm for a free consultation to get answers.
Finding Out About a Birth Injury
One of the most common problems with birth injuries is that the parents are not really sure their child even suffered an injury. It is difficult to determine if a 3-month old baby has had brain damage. It often takes months or years before parents and doctors can even recognize that some permanent damage occurred.
Many birth injuries cause developmental delays. Developmental delays provide an indication that the child may have some mental or physical conditions that can impair learning and function. Some of the most common developmental delays are caused by injury to the brain. For example, reduced oxygen supply to the brain can cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This may cause permanent brain damage that only begins to show after the child begins to miss developmental milestones.
If a child shows evidence of brain damage or other developmental impairment, how does the parent know when the damage occurred? Birth injuries can occur at any point between conception and bringing your child home from the hospital. Many medical accidents are related to prenatal care, including failure to do proper tests, lack of monitoring, or negligent care during pregnancy. However, the majority of birth injuries occur during labor.
Labor and delivery are difficult for the mother and the baby. Improper delivery can cause traumatic injuries to the mother and failure to properly monitor the mother after delivery can also have serious consequences. For babies, improper delivery can mean the difference between life and death.
After months in the uterus, the baby has to transition from oxygen and blood flow from the mother to breathing oxygen in the outside air. Problems or delays in making this transition can cause oxygen deprivation, which can quickly lead to cell damage and brain damage. Delays are often related to improper delivery techniques or delayed C-sections. When there are birth complications or abnormal birth presentations, the doctor needs to act quickly to preserve the baby’s oxygen supply. Birth complications can include:
- Abnormal birth position
- Anesthesia errors
- Uterine rupture
- Fetal distress
- Placenta previa
- Premature birth
- Delayed C-section
- Nuchal umbilical cord
- Prolapsed cord
Can You Find Out About a Birth Injury From Your Medical Records?
As a patient, you have a right to see your medical records. However, getting a copy of them can be more difficult than it seems. Under federal law, after a patient makes a formal request for their records in writing, the healthcare provider has up to 30 days to provide a copy of the health information. However, it rarely works out so easily in practice.
What often happens is that after a patient calls their doctor or hospital, they will get transferred to an administrator that tells them that they don’t keep a copy and the patient has to get their medical records from another provider. Many medical records companies improperly overcharge for copies, even though they are supposed to be limited in how much they can charge. Even after you get a copy of your records, it may be difficult to find out what went wrong. You may need a medical expert to review your records to find signs of negligent care.
Do I Need A Lawyer After My Child’s Birth Injury?
If your child suffered a birth injury, an experienced law firm can help you file a malpractice claim to recover damages and losses. If you are not sure if you need a lawyer, you have nothing to lose by making a phone call for a free consultation. This may help you understand your rights and your options.
The primary purpose of medical malpractice lawsuits is to get compensation for your losses. The costs of a birth injury can be astronomical. Many parents have a hard time contemplating just how much time, money, and effort it will take to care for a disabled child. Medical care may be required long after the parents are no longer able to provide care. Damages in a birth injury lawsuit can include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Loss of opportunity costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of support
One of the most valuable things a lawyer can provide is guidance. When you have an injured child and are not sure if it was caused by a medical error, an experienced advocate can help you put things in perspective. You are not alone and there are other parents who have the same questions. A birth injury lawyer can help put your worst fears to rest while providing a seasoned perspective on what you can expect and how to best prepare for the future.
Birth Injury Experience
Before hiring a lawyer for your situation, make sure the lawyer has the experience necessary to fight for you. Experience includes more than just years of legal practice. Experience should also include handling birth injury cases just like yours. You may also want to consider trial experience and understanding of dealing with the insurance companies. At Gilman & Bedigian, our firm focuses on birth injury and medical malpractice cases.
Time and Resources
When thinking about hiring a lawyer, make sure your law firm has the resources necessary to take your case to trial and beyond. Complex med mal cases may take years before they finally go before a judge and jury. It takes time, money, and resources to build a strong birth injury case, and not all law firms have what it takes to give your case their full attention. At Gilman & Bedigian, we have the resources to pursue your case thoroughly and with integrity.
Should I Take a Settlement Offer?
One of the most difficult decisions facing parents with an injured child involves insurance settlements. If the doctor made a mistake that caused a serious injury, the hospital’s medical malpractice insurer may offer some money to settle the claim. Before you sign anything or take a settlement check, make sure you understand your rights and exactly what you’re giving up.
A settlement generally requires signing away your legal rights to seek compensation and other remedies in court. For example, consider a birth injury that you suspect caused arm damage. The insurance company may offer a $10,000 settlement. If you accept the offer, that will be the end of any claim for malpractice against the doctor. If you later find out the injury was much more serious and your child will need continuing care for the rest of their life, it will be too late to get the proper compensation because you already accepted the settlement.
Your lawyer can negotiate to get you a fair settlement that will compensate you and your family for expenses, losses, and future costs. Your attorney will also involve you in the negotiations so you have a say in whether you want to accept the offer or not. Your lawyer can’t take a settlement without your agreement. It is up to you whether you want to accept the offer or not.
How Much Time to Contact a Lawyer?
Don’t delay in contacting a lawyer. There is a limited amount of time to file a birth injury malpractice claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for birth injuries varies from state to state. In some states, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injury victim turns 18. However, other states have a set amount of time, no matter what the victim’s age.
In Pennsylvania, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. The injury victim has 2-years from the date of the accident or injury to file a lawsuit. If a child suffers an injury after medical malpractice, the clock does not begin to run until the child turns 18. Generally, this means a child who suffers from a malpractice injury has until age 20 to file a medical malpractice claim.
In Maryland, there is a 3-year statute of limitations from the time a birth injury should have been reasonably discovered or 5 years from the injury. For victims injured during birth, the time would generally not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 11. In most cases, this would mean a child who suffers a birth injury has until the child reaches age 14 to file a claim
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for birth injuries does not begin to run until the minor’s 5th birthday. The statute of repose limits claims to 5 years from the date of the injury. Generally, a minor who suffered a birth injury could not bring a malpractice action after their 10th birthday. If the minor was over the age of 5, the minor could not bring a malpractice action more than 5 years after the negligent action or omission occurred.
With such a wide range of time limits, it is important to talk to your attorney sooner rather than later. If you file your claim too late, you could lose out on your chance to recover damages.
Birth Injury Trial Attorneys
The birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent victims of birth injuries throughout the country. The firm won a record-breaking $55 million verdict in Maryland for a birth injury victim against Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online or at 800-529-6162 for a free consultation.