Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence
A birth injury can turn what should be a joyful occasion into a medical crisis with devastating financial implications. Common birth injuries like cerebral palsy are almost always entirely preventable with proper monitoring and medical care during birth. These injuries usually result when doctors, nurses, or other medical staff are negligent in providing care. Birth injuries are particularly tragic because they dramatically impact the rest of the child’s life. A condition like a brain injury caused by a traumatic birth will not only cause ongoing stress for the parents but can require enormous future expenses for necessary medical treatment.
If you believe your child’s injuries resulted from medical negligence, a birth injury lawyer from Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. can investigate your case. Before filing a lawsuit, we will get answers about what happened to your family. Then, we take into account not only your past damages but all future expenses as well. This includes future medical treatments as well as any necessary changes to your home and more. We have extensive experience handling birth injury cases for clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. In one case, we helped our clients reach a settlement of $8.9 million on behalf of a child who suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen during birth. We have successfully handled many birth injury cases for our clients; contact us today to see how we can help your family with a birth injury lawsuit.
Common Causes of Negligence During Childbirth
Although childbirth often requires quick decision-making by medical personnel, negligence is never acceptable. Typically, you have grounds to file a medical malpractice suit if the doctor, nurse, midwife, or medical practitioner:
- Chose a medically inappropriate course of treatment
- Failed to exercise proper skill or care during the delivery
It is also important to know that any medical personnel assisting during childbirth must meet the “Medical Standard of Care.” This is a legal concept that requires a doctor, nurse, or midwife to act as any other similarly skilled practitioner would under like circumstances. If a medical practitioner fails to meet this standard, then that action (or inaction) can be considered malpractice.
Injuries during childbirth are in news reports daily; read more from our attorneys on childbirth facts and statistics.
What are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence?
Birth injuries can occur as a result of negligence before, during, and after childbirth. In order to prevent birth injuries, it is important for obstetricians and other medical staff to continuously monitor the mother and child. When they fail to do so, serious birth injuries can result.
The most common types of severe birth injuries and resulting conditions include:
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). This injury is commonly referred to as birth asphyxia. It is a deadly brain injury that occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen during delivery. If the mother’s blood pressure drops during delivery, or there are problems with the umbilical cord, then the baby could become deprived of oxygen.
- Neonatal brain injury. A number of medical mistakes may result in brain injury to a newborn. Improper delivery techniques, as well as misuse of forceps and vacuum extractors, may cause these injuries. Lack of oxygen during birth is another common cause and may result from many kinds of medical mistakes, including failure to perform a C-section and/or monitor the mother and child for signs of distress. In addition to conditions like cerebral palsy, an infant brain injury may cause delayed development, other motor control conditions, and even death.
- Brachial plexus injuries. Nerve damage to the upper spine may cause a brachial plexus injury (BPI), which affects the ability to move one or both arms. The most severe cases, such as cases of Erb’s Palsy, involve the total paralysis of a limb. These injuries can often be prevented by a C-section. Misdiagnosed cephalopelvic disproportion, a condition where the baby is too large to fit through the birth canal, is a common cause of BPIs.
- Spinal cord injury. When medical negligence causes a baby’s spine to twist during delivery, the result may be a spinal cord injury. This can result in paralysis of varying degrees, depending on the site and severity of the damage.
- Intracranial Hemorrhage. Bleeding may occur within the brain or in the area between the brain and the skull. If the bleeding is not promptly treated, the affected area of the brain could have permanent damage. Babies with an intracranial hemorrhage may develop cerebral palsy.
- Shoulder Dystocia. This injury occurs when the infant’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal during vaginal delivery. A delay of just a few minutes between the emergence of a baby’s head and shoulders can have an impact on the baby’s health, requiring swift action on the part of the doctor handling the delivery.
A mother could also suffer from any of the following injuries:
- Perineal Tearing. This is a laceration of the skin or soft tissue structures that separate the vagina from the anus. Medical malpractice claims are typically filed if medical personnel provide inadequate or negligent treatment after such tearing occurs.
- C-Section Injuries. A C-section is a medical procedure where an unborn child is delivered through an incision made through the mother’s abdomen and uterine wall. The bladder is the most frequently injured organ when medical malpractice occurs during a C-section.
- Pelvic Fractures. If you are experiencing incontinence, back pain, or pain during urination, bowel movements, or sex, then you might have an undiagnosed pelvic fracture or tear. While medical personnel is supposed to prevent or help care for these types of injuries, they often go unnoticed and cause substantial problems.
When is a birth injury a result of negligence?
Proving that a healthcare provider’s negligence caused a birth injury is key to a malpractice claim. You must be able to establish a connection between the negligence and the injury; without that connection, it will be impossible to prove your case.
For plaintiffs to receive compensation for their damages, they must prove these four elements:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor breached his/her duty of care.
- The breach of care resulted in patient’s harm.
- The patient suffered specific damages.
The doctor’s negligence and the harm resulting from the negligence are at the center of most birth injury claims. Determining whether a doctor acted negligently during labor and delivery comes down to comparing their actions with what a reasonably careful physician, with similar expertise, would have done in the same situation. Typically, plaintiffs use expert witness testimony to prove this element during a case. Pennsylvania courts require expert testimony except in rare cases where it is unnecessary to pursue the claim.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Birth Injury Case?
The first step toward seeking the full and fair compensation you deserve in a birth injury case involves identifying the doctor or healthcare worker’s negligence as the cause of injury. Our lawyers can explain the elements of proof needed to show who was responsible for the birth injury. Our attorneys can also collect all the evidence required to build a strong case.
To file a birth injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove:
- Negligence – this means proving that the doctor acted in a way that another qualified doctor would not have under similar circumstances.
- Causation – you must prove that the negligence was the direct cause of the birth injury.
- Harm – you must prove that the health care provider’s negligence or carelessness caused damages. Doctors sometimes make mistakes that do not cause harm. You may only file a lawsuit if you incur damages from the healthcare provider’s negligence.
Numerous parties may be held responsible for a birth injury, including:
- Lab technicians
Our law firm has extensive experience handling complex birth injury cases. We work with families who are struggling to cope with catastrophic injuries that will impact them for the rest of their lives. Our birth injury attorneys know how tough these cases can be, and we are prepared to fight aggressively for the justice you deserve.
How Long Do You Have to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
In the state of Pennsylvania, birth injury lawsuits typically must be filed within two years of the date your child turns 18 years old. This is known as the statute of limitations. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date of the death.
Philadelphia Birth Injuries Lawsuits
Caring for a child with a birth injury like paralysis or brain damage can strain a family’s finances. In addition to specialized medical care, you may face expenses like home remodeling for accessibility, additional schooling, and/or daily living assistance costs. However, if medical negligence is to blame, you can recover compensation through a birth injury lawsuit to pay for your child’s care.
If you or a loved one has experienced obstetrical malpractice or other medical negligence that resulted in a birth injury, we are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable Philadelphia or New Jersey birth injury lawyer. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing unless you win your case.
“Dan J., Josh and Fran, more than four years ago my life and the life of my family was changed. … Then a good family friend brought me to your firm. …Because of you all I was given a voice and it was heard loud and clear. … We are now able to put this behind us and move forward. So Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!”— Danaka and Mark Anderson
“When a loved one is catastrophically injured, your first concern is to get the best medical care. But you should also get the best legal team as soon as possible. After my daughter was paralyzed in a van accident, I was referred to Eisenberg Rothweiler…the next morning, Fred Eisenberg and Dan Sherry flew up to the hospital.”— Al Piro
“It was a difficult time for my wife and me, but you always assured us that you would do your best to make life more comfortable for us in the future—and YOU CAME THROUGH. …We really appreciate all the time and research you put into our case. …You are more than our lawyers—you are our friends. As a former Vietnam Vet and Marine, I say to you “Semper Fi”.”— Leo & Diane Leinheiser
Compensation for Birth Injuries
There are many different types of damages that families can suffer due to an injury to an infant or mother during birth. Although there is no amount of money that can turn back the clock on what has happened, our goal as your lawyer is to pursue the full amount you need to care for your child or yourself and move forward with your life.
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Caretaking expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life’s pleasure
- Increased risk of future harm
- Shortened life expectancy
Your family should not have to worry about being able to afford the best possible treatment and care for your child after a birth injury. Let our attorneys review your case for free and explain what compensation you may be entitled to receive.
How Do I Know if Medical Malpractice Caused My Child’s Birth Injury?
Not all complications during childbirth are grounds for a medical malpractice case or birth injury lawsuit. All medical procedures, including delivering a baby, carry a degree of uncertainty. When doctors and nurses follow proper procedures, this uncertainty is minimized. Nevertheless, in order to file a case for medical malpractice, you must be able to prove the following:
You must have proof that your doctor or nurse acted in a way that another qualified doctor would not under similar circumstances. For example, your obstetrician may neglect to monitor the baby’s heart rate during delivery, even though this is standard procedure.
Even if medical negligence is present in your case, it must be a direct cause of the birth injury. For example, if your child was born with a genetic birth defect, you might not be able to collect compensation even if your doctor failed to monitor the fetal heart rate.
Sometimes doctors make mistakes that cause no actual harm. For example, an obstetrician might not have monitored a baby’s heart rate, but the child was born perfectly healthy anyway. If so, you could not file a birth injury lawsuit because no injury resulted from the doctor’s negligence.
Contact Our Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyers
If you or your child were injured before, during, or after birth from negligence, you should contact us right away. Our lawyers are experienced and here to help.
Call us today to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We handle all of our cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t owe us anything unless you win your case.
We are located in downtown Philadelphia in the Center City district about a 5-minute walk from Rittenhouse Square.