One of the most difficult things a family can face is an injury to a newborn during birth. Birth injuries can cause physical, learning, language or behavioral developmental delays or disabilities that may last a lifetime.
It is estimated that 28,000 children are harmed by birth injuries every year in the United States. That’s one in every 9,714 births, or 76 per day. In many cases, a birth injury isn’t recognized immediately and is only diagnosed after a child fails to meet developmental milestones, such as sitting up or verbalization.
If your baby has suffered an injury during childbirth that has caused a serious health complication, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Becker Law Office are here to help. Contact us today for a FREE case evaluation. Our birth injury lawyers will talk with you about your situation and help you determine the appropriate legal steps for your family.
A birth injury is one suffered by a child during labor or delivery, or soon after birth. Birth injuries may range from minor problems such as lacerations or bruising to severe injuries that could prove fatal, such as a spinal cord injury. In some cases, the mother may be injured during birth, as well.
The Becker Law Office has been representing victims of birth injuries for more than 25 years. Our birth injury attorneys have helped families like yours who have experienced serious injuries obtain compensation for medical care, including physical, vocational and occupational therapy and assistive devices, and for the child’s and family’s pain and suffering.
Common birth injuries include:
Cerebral palsy refers to several disorders that affect the ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP may be caused by head trauma or lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery. Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability. “Acquired CP” is caused by brain damage that occurs more than 28 days after birth and usually is associated with an infection such as meningitis or a head injury. Therapy helps some children regain or strengthen motor control abilities, but others will always suffer difficulties and limitations. Children, and eventually adults, who have CP may be unable to walk or care for themselves, and in some cases suffer hearing or vision deficits, epilepsy or intellectual deficiencies. Moderate to severe cases can result in medical costs for the life of the patient. About 10,000 babies develop CP every year and some 764,000 children and adults in the U.S. manifest one or more symptom of cerebral palsy.
Brachial plexus refers to a group of nerves in the neck that link to controlling nerves in the shoulders, arms and hands. If excessive pressure is applied to an infant’s head or neck during delivery, the brachial plexus may be damaged. A brachial plexus injury can cause a loss of muscle control, strength and sensation, or paralysis in the neck, shoulders, arms and/or hands. Erb’s palsy refers to damage to the upper nerves; Klumpke’s palsy is damage in lower nerves. Children with brachial plexus injury usually recover, but may require physical therapy and/or surgery to graft or transfer nerves and/or muscle to bypass paralysis. Brachial plexus injuries occur in 0.3 to 2 out of every 1,000 births.
Pressure on the child during a difficult birth may cause a head, neck or shoulder injury that results in muscles of the neck contracting and drawing the head forward, backward or to the side. Cervical dystonia is painful and can be disabling. A child with this injury will need physical therapy and medication, and may also need multiple surgeries to sever affected nerves or muscles. Advances in deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an electrode is surgically implanted in the brain to interrupt the nerve signals that make the victim’s head twist, help some dystonia victims. About 90,000 people in the United States are known to suffer from spasmodic torticollis.
Fractures most often occur during breech deliveries, shoulder dystopia in which a shoulder becomes stuck during delivery, or in infants with excessive birth weights. The collarbone is the most frequently fractured bone, but arms and legs may be broken as well.
Compression of the head during delivery, either by the use of forceps or as the head passes by the sacrum can damage any of several nerves and result in temporary or permanent paralysis and disfiguration.
Excessive traction or rotation during delivery can result in damage to the child’s spinal cord. A severe spinal cord injury is likely to result in stillbirth or quick neonatal death. Babies who survive are likely to have low muscle tone and strength. Most infants later develop spasticity that is much like cerebral palsy.
Factors outside of medical error that are linked to birth injury include:
It’s difficult for parents to determine on their own whether a doctor or health care professional failed to follow the recognized standard of care and caused a preventable birth injury. It usually requires a review of the medical records by independent medical professionals working with an attorney.
Medical errors that can lead to a birth injury include such negligence as not following accepted medical procedures, not promptly recognizing and addressing complications, and taking too long to make decisions, such as ordering a Cesarean (C-section). Some obstetric errors can be attributed to a lack of training or experience, or poor supervision, for which the hospital or birthing center itself may be held liable.
The laws that protect against medical malpractice, birth injury and birth trauma are extremely complex.
If an investigation of the factors surrounding your child’s birth indicates negligence, a medical malpractice claim may obtain compensation for your family’s losses and your child’s ongoing needs. A birth injury claim takes into account past and future medical expenses, including projections for special education and therapeutic costs, and potential lost income due to diminished earning capacity. Such a claim may seek payment for the child’s and parents’ pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
A disability caused by a birth injury may have life-long financial consequences for the child and his or her parents. When preventable birth injuries occur because of negligence by medical personnel or institutions, the family that has been harmed deserves to be compensated.
Becker Law Office has the experience to help your family find justice. If you believe your family has been harmed by a preventable birth injury, call us for experienced legal help. An initial review of your case is free. Call now.