Having a child is supposed to be a joyful occasion, but if your child suffers an injury during birth, the mood can quickly change. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible for your child’s injuries. But, how do you know when you have a legitimate case?
Birth Defects vs. Injuries
First, you have to understand the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury. A birth defect can be caused by genetics or something that happens during the pregnancy. For example, drinking alcohol while pregnant could cause birth defects. Because birth defects are out of the doctor’s control, you cannot pursue legal action if your child is born with one. On the other hand, birth injuries usually occur during labor and delivery, and are typically caused by improper use of medical tools, an inattentive healthcare professional, or improper delivery technique. A baby could be injured, for example, if the doctor and his staff do not recognize signs of distress that indicate the baby is deprived of oxygen. In birth injury cases, the baby’s family may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more, but this is never a guarantee.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
It’s estimated that about 1 in every 10,000 people in the United States are suffer an injury at birth. Some of these injuries are minor, but others are more severe and can greatly affect the individual’s life.
Unfortunately, brain injuries are one of the most common types of birth injuries. These injuries occur when a baby is deprived of oxygen during childbirth. The longer the baby goes without oxygen, the more severe the injury may be. Why would a baby ever be deprived of oxygen? It can happen for a number of reasons, including the doctor’s failure to monitor the baby and detect signs of distress, or the doctor’s failure to identify the need for an emergency C-section.
Babies can also suffer muscle-related injuries at birth, with the most common being brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located in the neck that controls most of the baby’s upper body. If this cluster of nerves is stretched, compressed, or ruptured during childbirth, the baby may experience weakness, burning sensations, and partial paralysis that can be temporary or permanent.
Brachial plexus injuries often occur when the doctor uses forceps or other tools during difficult deliveries. These tools are designed to help pull the baby out of the birth canal, but if too much force is used, the baby could be severely injured. Some doctors choose to use their hands instead of tools, but brachial plexus injuries can still occur even if no tools are used.
This is just a small sample of the many different types of birth injuries that occur. Babies can also be injured if they are mishandled by the doctor or another healthcare professional who is treating you after delivery. If your baby has suffered any type of injury during birth, it’s best to contact an attorney to determine if the doctor is liable.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice Occurred
Doctors are human, so they are bound to make mistakes once in awhile. In some cases, doctors’ mistakes are considered medical malpractice, which means victims that were injured as a result of the mistake could be entitled to compensation.
In every birth injury case, victims will have to prove that medical malpractice occurred. First, the victim will have to establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship between the defendant and the child who was injured at birth. Establishing this relationship shows that the doctor owed a legal duty of care to the mother and unborn baby, which is crucial in medical malpractice cases.
Next, the victim must prove the doctor acted negligently. Medical professionals are required to treat patients with a level of care that meets a certain standard. If the doctor fails to do so, it is said that he breaches his duty of care to the patient. How can you prove this happened? To put it simply, you must show that the defendant made a mistake that another doctor with the same qualifications would not have made. This can be done by calling a medical expert as a witness and questioning how he would have handled the situation if he were put in similar circumstances.
Then, you must show the negligent behavior was the cause of your baby’s injury. This means you have to be able to prove your child would not have suffered the same injuries if the doctor had not acted negligently during the delivery. You may have to call in medical experts to speak on this matter as well.
Finally, the victim has to show that the injury caused by the doctor has led to harm. Have you and your family suffered a great deal of mental anguish as a result of the birth injury? You may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Did your baby require medical treatment because of the birth injuries? You may be required to compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
If you can prove this, you may be awarded compensation from both the doctor and hospital, depending on who your attorney believes is liable for the injuries.
If your child suffered injuries at birth, contact us today to determine whether you should file a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties. Our team of attorneys can review your case to determine who should be held liable, and then help you hold these parties accountable for their actions. Birth injuries can occur within a matter of minutes, but the consequences can affect your child for the rest of his or her life. Let our attorneys help your family recover the compensation you deserve.