You waited somewhere around nine months for the birth of your child, each and every day becoming more and more joyous as you awaited the moment when you would hold your child in your hands. The unfortunate fact is that, for many babies being born each year, many will be injured either through the pregnancy or the delivery process. What do you do in a situation where your newborn has been born with severe injuries and you aren’t sure where to turn? Fortunately for you, this is where we come in. We can apply our experience to your specific case and help you and your child obtain the compensation they deserve after an injury has caused upset in your lives.
Birth Injuries and Defects
The truth is, birth injuries and birth defects are very different from one another – so how do you differentiate between the two? Depending on the specific injuries that a child has sustained, it may be difficult to tell if the child was injured by the negligence of a care provider or by an unpreventable birth defect. Birth injuries, for one, occur when a complicated occurs during the birth process. The numbers may surprise you: For every 1,000 babies that have been born each year in the United States, five will be injured during birth. In some cases, this is due to an obstetrician’s use of an improper medical technique or improper use of a medical device. However, you must realize that birth injuries are not always due to negligence because accidents will happen and not every birth will come without complications.
Birth defects are a bit different. These are defects that caused harm to the baby before they were even born, due to something that happened during the mother’s pregnancy. However, just because a birth defect occurred, does not mean the mother or her body were always to blame. Sometimes these defects occur because a mother was prescribed a medicine that affected the baby. It is estimated that nearly 7% of all babies are born with some type of defect, even if it is minor. Sometimes it is hard to prove whether or not a birth defect was the result of a mother’s actions during pregnancy, her environment, or a doctor.
Common Birth Injuries
Let’s focus on injuries that take place during the delivery process, when a doctor may be to blame for negligence. Here are the most common injuries that affect newborns in the hospital every year:
Caput Succedaneum: This is when a newborn’s scalp swells, which is sometimes caused by pressure on the baby’s head when they are being delivered head-first. Sometimes it can also occur when a doctor is using a vacuum extraction procedure.
Cephalohematoma: This can also happen as the result of a vacuum extraction, and occurs when blood collects between the skin and the cranial bone.
Erb’s Palsy: This is a nerve-related injury that occurs when the baby’s neck or shoulder is stretched too far during delivery. The newborn may experience weakness, numbness, and loss of motion from this injury. Erb’s Palsy can be very serious, but the good news is that many babies will recover feeling after some time. However, surgery may be necessary in many cases to fix this.
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: When the baby’s brain does not receive an adequate flow of oxygen, this condition can occur. This can result in the death of brain cells, brain damage, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or even death.
Fractures: Babies can sustain fractures through the birth process, primarily of the clavicle or collarbone. They most often occur when the doctor has a reasonable opportunity to utilize a C-section but does not.
Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: In this injury, the small blood vessels of the baby’s eye can rupture. In many cases, there is no permanent damage but is still handled very seriously.
On the most severe level, some birth injuries can result in fetal death. What if the treating physician failed to provide the level of care that a reasonably skilled doctor would have engaged in under the same circumstances? A wrongful death action may be brought against a doctor if this is the case. However, this will depend on upon many unique circumstances involved in your particular case.
Establishing the Standard of Care
How do you know how the “standard of care” applies to your case? To prove that medical malpractice actually took place, you must be able to show this in your claim. The question that you must ask yourself is this: “Would a similarly-skilled health care professional have provided me with the same treatment under the same, or similar, circumstances?” If the answer is “no,” then you probably have a case. To prove this, however, you will probably need an expert to testify. The expert must be trained in the same field as the one who injured your newborn and will need to establish the standard of care that was acceptable in that situation. By doing this, they will ultimately prove exactly how the treatment provided to you fell below the reasonable standard. (3)
Damages in a Birth Injury Case
There is always the question of how much you will receive from a birth injury compensation claim. Unfortunately, there is usually no definite answer because pinpointing an exact figure is next to impossible. Many damages will pay for things like medications, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, home accommodations, counseling, special education costs, and pain and suffering. In many of these cases, the parents of the injured infant will file for damages on their behalf. Medical expenses can be quite costly and compensation can go toward taking care of the infant in these mentioned aspects. Just remember: There is a statute of limitations for these cases, so act as quickly as possible to have your case resolved.
Has your infant been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional and you need help with your claim? Now that we’ve shared some of the aspects involved in a medical malpractice claim, you can turn to us for the help you deserve with your case. Call us at RAWA Law Group immediately to get started!