A birth injury can be a devastating and life-altering event. A birth injury is any injury sustained by a baby during or shortly after childbirth. Some birth injuries are minor and resolve themselves quickly. Others, however, can never be repaired and will leave victims facing lifelong consequences. These injuries can be quite costly, so parents need to know their options when it comes to compensation.
How Birth Injuries Occur
Birth injuries can occur in numerous ways. Some occur prior to birth due to an untreated infection in the mother. Birth injuries can also be the result of physical trauma as the result of a long, complicated delivery or due to a doctor using too much force in pulling the baby through the birthing canal.
There are many different types of birth injuries. Some of these injuries are physical and can include broken bones, while others are neurological. The most common birth injury is cerebral palsy, which is most often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Cerebral palsy is a form of brain damage. However, it doesn’t necessarily involve any impairment to the cognitive centers of the brain. Many people with cerebral palsy have unaffected intelligence, but all have to deal with movement disorders. Sometimes these disorders are minor and only affect an arm. Other times, they are quite severe, affecting the entire body and requiring a wheelchair with full supports.
The Right to Sue
Some birth injuries come down to bad luck and a situation that could not have been reasonably prevented. However, many birth injuries are caused by negligence or malpractice on the part of the doctor or other medical staff involved in the birth.
A doctor is not only liable for damages in cases where your child was physically injured due to improper actions during birth, such as pulling too hard. A doctor can also be sued if they failed to meet the standard of care at any stage of your pregnancy or while you were giving birth.
Examples of times in which a doctor would have failed to meet the standard of care include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to perform a C-section when there are signs that a traditional birth could be complicated or dangerous
- Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose an infection in the mother
- Not properly screening the mother during pregnancy
- Not acquiring a complete medical history of the mother that would have revealed information that could have helped prevent the injury
As mentioned, these are only some of the possible failings by the doctor that could lead to a lawsuit. However, at the same time, these failings won’t always be enough to establish fault. Sometimes a doctor fails to diagnose a mother’s infection, but the mother shows no symptoms of the infection. If it is an uncommon infection, it would not be reasonable for the doctor to run the screening.
When Filing a Lawsuit
If you are considering filing a lawsuit for birth injury compensation, you should first talk to a lawyer. Determining the fault of a doctor in a birth injury case can be very tricky for many reasons. By getting a free consultation from a qualified birth injury lawyer, you will get a better idea as to whether or not you have a case.
When bringing a lawsuit against the doctor in charge of your birth, the first thing that must be done is to establish the medical standard of care. To do this, your attorney will rely on the testimony of a qualified medical expert to establish what actions should have reasonably been taken by a doctor with training matching that of the doctor present at the birth.
Next, your attorney will measure the care received versus what another doctor would have done in your doctor’s shoes. They will use the established standard of care and show that your doctor behaved inappropriately and failed to live up to that standard. After that, your attorney will need to prove that the deviation from the standard of care was the reason the birth injury occurred.
Assuming that your attorney is able to prove that your doctor was at fault, it will then be time to speak of damages. An experienced birth injury attorney can help you to determine what the total cost of your damages are both present and in the future in cases of lifelong disability.