Though giving birth in the United States is far safer for both mother and infant than it once was, thousands of newborns still tragically suffer brain damage at birth, leaving families reeling from the experience and wondering where to turn.
Backed by our four decades of experience, the experienced NY birth injury lawyers at The Sanders Firm offer no-fee, no-obligation consultations to the families of victims of brain damage resulting from birth injury. We will evaluate your circumstances, help determine whether you are eligible for compensation, and lay out all your legal options. You can rely on us to provide compassionate and confidential advice – and you owe us nothing unless we win your case.
Notable brain damage lawsuits in NYC and on Long Island
In 2013 alone, hospitals in New York City settled 262 malpractice lawsuits by paying out over $131 million. A number of these cases involved brain damage caused by birth injury.
Other birth injury lawsuits were resolved by jury verdicts, in some instances for significant sums, including:
- A jury awarded a New York woman $77.4 million after her son was born with cerebral palsy, seizures, blindness, and profound disability as a result of errors during his delivery at St. John’s Riverside Hospital. Medical staff neglected to monitor the infant or respond to signs of his fetal distress. The jury awarded the woman $6 million for medical expenses, $4.9 million for diminished earnings in the future, $3 million for rehabilitative care, $23 million for pain and suffering, and $40 million for round-the-clock care for the infant during his lifetime.
- A Long Island jury awarded $130 million to a family whose brain-damaged daughter could neither speak nor walk as a result of oxygen deprivation during her delivery. The verdict against the Orange Regional Medical Center was the second-largest medical malpractice award in New York history.
- In November 2013, a jury returned a verdict of $25 million in a case against New York Methodist Hospital. A Brooklyn newborn was released from the hospital suffering from severe jaundice, despite his mother’s pleas that he receive additional examination and treatment. The boy suffered severe and permanent brain damage as a result of the hospital’s failure to treat the jaundice.
Symptoms of brain damage caused by birth injury
Brain damage at birth may express in a variety of symptoms and levels of severity.
Signs of brain damage due to birth injury include:
- Impaired motor function
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Vision problems
- Learning disabilities
Types of medical malpractice that can cause brain damage
Experts estimate that as many as half of the birth injuries that occur every year could be prevented. Competent medical professionals know the importance of attending to maternal and fetal conditions that signal potential complications such as breech presentation, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or other hypertension disorders.
In some instances, brain damage incurred at birth may result from genetic factors, beyond the control of medical professionals. But many others are caused by medical negligence during the birth process, for which victims and their families may be entitled to file a birth injury lawsuit.
Among the types of medical malpractice that may lead to brain damage are:
- Failure to treat umbilical cord problems or placental abruption
- Failure to undertake Caesarean section promptly once the need for its performance becomes clear
- Excessive force when using forceps or vacuum
- Failure to detect or respond to signs of fetal distress
- Prolonged lack of oxygen during labor, sometimes due to shoulder dystocia (a condition where the infant’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone, blocking progress down the birth canal)
- Errors in administration or dosage of Pitocin
- Failure to monitor fetal heart rate regularly and accurately
Even the most dedicated medical professionals can make mistakes due to fatigue, lack of training, inadequate equipment, or other cause. But a family whose child is born with brain damage face a lifetime of expensive medical procedures, round-the-clock care, costly schooling and housing, special nutrition and activity needs, and other requirements. It isn’t fair to impose that financial burden on a family when a health care provider could have prevented the damage by exercising proper care and offering appropriate treatment.
In these circumstances, damages won as a result of filing a birth injury lawsuit in New York can help ease the daily financial strain, and give parents confidence that their brain-damaged child will receive needed care for a lifetime.
Compensation available in a New York birth injury lawsuit
In New York State, a child who suffers brain damage at birth as a result of medical malpractice may recover compensation for a variety of losses.
Damages won in NY birth injury lawsuits include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Diminished future earning capacity
Parents, too, may be able to recover for losses, depending on the circumstances.
Families of injured newborns may recover for losses such as:
- Parents’ own pain and suffering
- Lost income (if, for example, a parent must quit his or her job to care for the injured child)
- Medical expenses incurred by a parent for conditions caused by the child’s injury
Establishing these losses requires painstaking record-keeping and careful analysis. The Sanders Firm’s team of medical specialists, financial experts, and attorneys can make sure that all your child’s losses, as well as your own, are fully and clearly documented. Our goal is to ensure that you receive every penny to which you are entitled.
Legal definition of medical malpractice
To recover compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York, a victim generally must show that:
- The treatment provided did not meet the standard of care that a reasonably skilled medical professional would have provided under similar circumstances
- The substandard care injured the victim
- The losses for which the victim seeks compensation were caused by the substandard care
In New York, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two and one-half years of the act, omission or failure complained of.
Where birth injury is concerned, this means filing a lawsuit before the child reaches age 2 ½. As a practical matter, it is vital for families to consult an expert NY birth injury lawyer right away, to ensure that hospitals and physicians retain all medical records, the parties responsible for the malpractice can be identified, and all necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures are utilized.
NYC & Long Island medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm can help
The Sanders Firm legal team has a four-decade track record of winning settlements and jury verdicts for families devastated by birth injury brain damage. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your situation. You can reach us any time at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.
- NY Civil Practice Law and Rules Article 2, Section 214-a “Action for medical, dental, or podiatric malpractice to be commenced within two years and six months; exceptions”, http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/CVP/2/214-a
- NY Daily News, “Disabled Brooklyn boy awarded $25 million in untreated jaundice case against New York Methodist Hospital,” November 19, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/methodist-hospital-malpractice-article-1.1522103
- NY Daily News, “Hospitals’ Malpractice Costs Drop by $3 Million from Last Year,” September 16, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/hosps-131m-errors-malpractice-costs-drop-article-1.1456979