The birth of a baby is a precious time, filled with joy and excitement. Under rare circumstances, the condition of the mother or the unborn child can take a sudden turn for the worse, with devastating and long-lasting effects. Every difficult labor is not rooted in medical malpractice, but it’s important to investigate all adverse outcomes to make sure there are not preventable mistakes made on a routine basis, injuring countless babies. At KGG, our birth injury lawyers have decades of experience representing parents and children affected by birth trauma caused by medical malpractice.
What are the signs of a birth injury?
Parents often suspect birth injuries when their babies are born with excessive cuts, bruises, lacerations, limp limbs, broken bones, paralysis, or blue-grey skin color. Seizures within 48 hours of birth, low APGAR scores, labored breathing, and delayed developmental milestones are not always birth injuries caused by negligence, but they could be.
Birth injuries caused by negligence may include:
- Birth Hypoxia
- Brachial Plexus Injuries
- Brain Damage
- Broken Bones
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cesarean Section Injuries
- Erb’s Palsy
- Facial Paralysis
- Fetal Death
- Lacerations Causing Deformity
- Lack of Oxygen at Birth
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Skull Fractures
- Soft Tissue Injuries Causing Disability
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Strangulation by Umbilical Cord
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
When is a birth injury medical malpractice?
The birth injuries we see are typically caused by a myriad of factors, but were preventable, had medical providers delivered the patients the proper “standard of care.” There is no blanket definition for standard of care, but we can provide the courts with a definition based on testimony from other medical experts with the same education, training, skills, and background as the defendants. They seek to answer the question: “What would another individual in the same position have done, under the circumstances, to prevent the birth injury from occurring?” Our assembly of expert witnesses and testimonies will reveal procedural flaws and negligence where it exists.
Factors we’ll investigate include:
- Delay in performing a medically necessary cesarean section, leading to serious injury or death of the fetus
- Ordering premature delivery, before the baby is ready
- Failure to monitor or respond to signs of fetal distress and oxygen deprivation
- Failure to control maternal blood loss during delivery
- Failure to detect and treat maternal infections like meningitis
- Inappropriate administration of Pitocin during labor
- Failure to detect uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, or abrupted placenta
- Failure to adhere to proper protocol for complicated deliveries
- Unnecessary, invasive medical testing during the pregnancy
- Mechanical trauma caused by improper use of forceps, vacuum, tube insertion, or physical manipulation
- Incomplete prenatal testing and sonogram measurements
What it takes to win a birth injury lawsuit
The success of a birth injury lawsuit hinges upon the establishment of several strong arguments:
- Duty: The defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff. This is usually straightforward in a birth injury case, as the doctor and hospital treating a pregnant woman owe a duty to the mother, the father, and the unborn child to provide the best possible medical care.
- Breach in standard of care: Next, our attorneys must prove that the health care provider failed to properly monitor the patients, make reasonable judgements, and do what other medical staff with the same credentials would have done, given the situation.
- Injury causation: Medical documentation must substantiate that the health care provider’s actions or inaction directly led to the type of injuries sustained. Other possible factors must be overruled.
- Losses: In order for compensation to be awarded, there must have been some type of tangible loss.
Stages of a birth injury lawsuit
Birth injury lawsuits proceed through the following stages:
- Investigation: It could take up to a year for lawyers to obtain all the necessary medical records, expert witness testimonies, prepare the evidence, and write up reports detailing the claim.
- Filing: The formal complaint is filed, according to state requirements. Defendants have 60 days to respond.
- Discovery: Both sides exchange information requests and take depositions.
- Motions: The parties can file motions to move toward settlement or winning a summary judgement.
- Trial: If no early negotiations are reached, a trial date is set. Trials can last 1-5 weeks.
- Post-Trial: Once the jury reaches a verdict, the defense can still appeal the decision.
Compensation in birth injury cases
Plaintiffs in birth injury lawsuits may be compensated for:
- Economic damages, such as: hospital stays, doctor visits, medication, physical therapy, assistive technology, home modifications to compensate for disability, lost wages, special education expenses, or funeral costs.
- Non-economic damages, such as: pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and wrongful death. In New York and New Jersey, there are no caps on how much a plaintiff can receive for these losses.
It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to receive hefty sums of money for a successful settlement or verdict. One of our clients received $1.1 million when her an obstetrician failed to perform a timely cesarean section in the presence of fetal distress.
Birth injury statutes of limitations
The state protects medical practitioners against frivolous lawsuits by limiting the window of time when victims can legally file a lawsuit. Sometimes the effects of a medical mistake are not evident until years later, when the child suffers delays in developmental milestones and receives a diagnosis from a medical care provider. In New Jersey, parents have up to 2 years from the discovery of injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In New York, they have up to 2.5 years. Though it is a traumatic time for your family, it is best to find an experienced attorney right away who can provide assistance and compassionate support. A brief, free consultation with a legal expert at KGG Law will let you know if your claim is eligible to proceed in court.
Find a qualified New York or New Jersey birth injury law firm
Since 1975, birth injury attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have successfully pursued medical negligence claims for injured clients of all ages. Of these, some of the most heart-rending of all are birth injury cases, when delivery room, birthing room or operating room negligence causes harm to a newborn or endangers the life of a mother.
This type of case requires an experienced hand to gather all the testimony and records necessary to build a strong case. In addition to fighting aggressively in the courts and negotiating rooms, we compassionately connect clients with state resources that provide support and education for families with disabilities.
We offer complimentary consultations about your case. You are under no obligation to pay an attorney fee unless we win your case and collect a settlement or verdict in your favor. Seek truth and justice amid your heartbreak to gain the compensation your family deserves and ensure this same preventable tragedy does not happen to others.
Additional birth injury resources:
- Medscape – Birth Trauma, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/980112-overview
- Web MD, Childbirth Complications, http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/childbirth-complications#1