Birth Injury FAQs
Any harm to a newborn baby is tragic, but what can be most frustrating is if the harm never should have happened in the first place. While some birth injuries are genetic, others are caused by human error and mistake. Accidents in delivery rooms across the country happen, and when they do, the newborn baby and his or her family must deal with the consequences. For the newborn baby, that can mean physical and emotional pain, not to mention difficulty performing basic human actions. For the families, it can also mean financial strain due to the necessary follow up treatment, medication, services, etc. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our Memphis birth injury lawyers fight for injured newborns and their families, and below are questions commonly asked of our lawyers by families whose child has suffered a birth injury.
A birth injury, also known as a birth trauma, typically means a physical injury to a child before, during, or just after the birthing process as a result of being born.
Of every 1,000 babies born in the United States, approximately 6-8 are born with a birth injury. This equates to nearly 1 in every 9,714 people in the United States. Each year, 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury.
The most common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, Klumke’s palsy, brachial plexus, fractures of the clavicle or collarbone, facial nerve injuries, facial paralysis, nerve damage, and bleeding underneath the cranial bones.
Birth injuries can be caused by numerous factors. Sometimes, birth injuries occur due to genetic reasons. Other times, birth injuries are caused by medical error or malpractice. Examples of medical errors causing birth injuries are failure to identify a high-risk delivery, failure to order a C-section delivery if necessary, medication errors, applying too much force to the baby’s head or neck during delivery, and failing to properly monitor fetal heartrate. An experienced birth injury lawyer in Memphis or elsewhere will closely review your child’s medical records and be able to consult with qualified healthcare experts to see if a deviation from the proper standard of care took place.
Doctors can cause cerebral palsy and birth injuries by not following best practices and falling short of the relevant standard of care. Under the law, doctors are responsible for following the best practices of their specialty and community. For examples, OBGYNs and obstetricians should properly monitor the mother during pregnancy and order the appropriate tests. During childbirth, the doctor should also conduct sufficient monitoring, including of the baby’s heart rate, mother’s blood pressure, and other readings. Determining the manner of birth is important (i.e. natural versus C-section), as well as how much force to apply during the delivery itself.
A birth injury can be considered medical malpractice if certain elements are met. Generally speaking, you must establish the following elements to win a medical malpractice claim: (1) the doctor or healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient; (2) the duty of care was breached, or the medical professional’s conduct fell short of the applicable standard of care; (3) the birth injury was caused (either in whole or in part) by that breach; and (4) the patient suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s actions or inactions. If you think a doctor or nurse caused your child’s birth injury, speak with an attorney for a legal opinion. It is critical to conduct a thorough analysis to identify all parties who may have a role in the case.
How much compensation you can recover in a birth injury lawsuit depends on factors such as liability and damages. If you can prove that a doctor, nurse, medical clinic, or hospital’s error or neglect caused the birth injury, you can recover damages that stem from the injuries. Families can recover compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medication, orthotic braces, lost wages, and permanent disability, all of which are known as economic damages. Non-economic damages may also be obtained, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress. Knowledgeable legal counsel can explain the various forms of damages available under the law.
Some birth injuries are immediately apparent and known, while others develop over time, sometimes years. If your newborn seems to be missing certain developmental milestones or if something just seems off, you may want to seek a medical consultation and doctor’s opinion. Doctors and pediatricians are trained to look for warning signs that could suggest a birth injury. Symptoms of a birth injury can include seizures, difficulty eating or swallowing, low heart rate, weak muscles and reflexes, lower oxygen levels, muscle spasms, and delayed development.
How long you have to sue for a birth injury depends in which state the negligent act or medical neglect happened. In Tennessee, families typically have one year to sue for a birth injury, either from the date of injury or date it was discovered (known as the “discovery rule”). Since the statute of limitation in a birth injury case is a strict legal deadline, you should consult with an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as you suspect wrongdoing.
At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our birth injury and cerebral palsy lawyers have experience handling complex medical negligence cases. Utilizing a client-centered approach with compassionate client service, our attorneys understand how to properly investigate medical malpractice cases that involve cerebral palsy and birth trauma, and we have the resources to consult with qualified expert doctors. For a free case evaluation and consultation with an attorney at our Memphis firm, call us at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form.