Understanding the Lawsuit Process in Birth Injury Cases

gavel next to medical scrubs and a stethoscope

Birth injuries can lead to significant medical complications that leave lasting harm. Victims of birth injuries may require a lifetime of medical care and support services. They may also have a permanently reduced quality of life. In many cases, birth injuries occur due to medical malpractice. When a healthcare provider’s negligence injures a mother or child during birth, the family may have the right to file a birth injury lawsuit.

Families who have had loved ones harmed by the negligence of medical professionals should understand what to expect when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for birth injuries. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our legal team has a proven track record of success guiding families through the birth injury trial process and securing maximum compensation that provides clients with the financial relief they need and the justice they deserve. Some of our top results in birth injury and medical malpractice cases include:

  • $8.9 million for the family of an infant who suffered brain damage after doctors failed to recognize signs of umbilical cord occlusion/blockage and perform a timely cesarean section to restore oxygen flow to the infant’s brain
  • $4.5 million for a newborn who suffered neurological injuries after nurses failed to recognize and react to signs of an impending uterine rupture
  • $3 million for a girl who sustained brain damage

If you’d like to learn about your options after your child was injured during childbirth, reach out to an experienced and compassionate birth injury lawyer at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. for a free case review.

What Is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury includes any trauma or medical complications suffered by a newborn or mother during the delivery process. Some of the most common birth injuries that form the basis of medical malpractice claims include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Caput succedaneum
  • Hypoxic/anoxic brain injury
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Placental abruption
  • Vaginal/perineal tearing
  • Uterine rupture
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Wrongful death

Not every birth injury occurs due to medical malpractice. A medical professional commits negligence when they render treatment that fails to comply with the applicable standard of care in the patient’s case. The standard of care is the treatment decisions or actions that other health professionals of similar training and experience would undertake in similar situations.

Medical malpractice law asks whether the medical community would have treated the patient in the same way as the patient’s allegedly negligent healthcare provider. When a provider’s treatment falls outside the standard of care and causes the patient to suffer an adverse outcome, the medical provider might be legally responsible for the patient’s injuries and losses.

Examples of negligent treatment actions or decisions that can lead to birth injuries include:

  • Improper use of delivery assisting tools, such as vacuum extractors or forceps
  • Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress, such as a sharp rise or drop in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Failure to notice or respond to complications during delivery, such as shoulder dystocia, breech birth, or umbilical cord occlusion
  • Failure to recommend cesarean section when factors contraindicate vaginal birth
  • Failure to perform an emergency cesarean section in response to signs of fetal distress
  • Failure of the delivery team to maintain communication among team members
  • Medication errors, including administering medications that are not safe for pregnant women or miscalculating dosage
  • Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections or illnesses before delivery

Our experienced Philadelphia birth injury lawyers can review your situation and determine if you have a viable birth injury claim. We can guide you through every step of the process.

Steps in the Lawsuit Process

The legal process in medical malpractice claims involves several steps to achieving compensation for a loved one’s birth injury, including the following:

Consulting with an attorney

Families should contact a lawyer if they suspect that a birth injury has occurred. Philadelphia birth injury lawyers can review the family’s circumstances to determine whether they may have a viable medical malpractice case.

Investigating the case

A birth injury attorney can conduct an in-depth investigation into the birth injury case to secure evidence proving that a healthcare provider’s negligent treatment caused the child’s injuries. Lawyers who routinely handle birth injury cases have a network of medical experts they work with who can provide reports and testimony to support the claim.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit

An attorney may file a lawsuit against the responsible healthcare providers or facilities. Lawyers can ensure that birth injury lawsuits comply with all applicable court rules.

Discovery

Much of the litigation process involves the discovery phase, during which parties exchange evidence and information and depose witnesses to narrow down the issues that remain in dispute for trial. The parties also learn the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.

Trial

Birth injury cases can take years to reach trial. Given the complex medical issues involved in a birth injury claim, trials can last for several weeks as parties present the mother’s and child’s medical records and other evidence and develop testimony from medical experts.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Legal System

Under the statute of limitations in PA for birth injury claims, plaintiffs typically have two years after a birth injury occurs to file a lawsuit against the medical professionals whose negligence caused the injury. However, when a newborn suffers a birth injury, the law also states that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child turns 18. Therefore, the statute of limitations begins at age 18 in these cases, giving the child until age 20 to file their case.

Families should immediately speak with a medical malpractice attorney about filing a birth injury claim. Any lawsuit filed after the statutory deadline could be dismissed by the trial court, which can cause a family to lose their opportunity to achieve compensation from at-fault healthcare providers.

The Role of Medical Experts

Most birth injury cases require plaintiffs to present medical expert reports or testimony to support their claims that their healthcare providers rendered negligent treatment that led to the birth injury. Under Pennsylvania’s rules, a birth injury claim typically requires a certificate of merit, which confirms that an appropriate licensed medical professional has reviewed the facts of the case and found a reasonable probability that the healthcare provider’s treatment fell below the acceptable standard of care and caused the birth injury.

Medical experts help explain the specifics of the standard of care in a mother’s or newborn’s case, how their healthcare providers’ treatment decisions and actions failed to comply with the specific standard of care, and how that deviation from the standard of care led to the birth injury. Thus, expert testimony clarifies complex medical or scientific information that may fall outside the knowledge of the average juror.

Contact a Birth Injury Attorney Today

If you suspect your child’s birth injury was the result of medical negligence, you may have the right to hold your healthcare providers accountable for their carelessness. Contact Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., today for a free legal consultation with an experienced birth injury lawyer in Pennsylvania to discuss your legal options.