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What Are Birth Injuries and How Do Victims File Claims?

Filing Birth Injury Claims

The delivery of a toddler is a joy to everyone; but even in modern medicine, issues can emerge in obstetric care that can affect both the infant and the mother.

Birth injuries arise when doctors make careless mistakes during deliveries or when negligence occurs in prenatal care.

Harm Caused During Delivery

Injuries to a mom or her newborn are frequently visible after delivery, but birth trauma can appear in subtle forms as well:

Bruising – tissue damage or cuts to a toddler’s head or body or to a mother’s torso, often caused by using equipment like forceps during delivery.

Paralysis – harm to a newborn’s nervous system due to pressure placed on its spinal cord during birth.

Bone Fractures – damage from doctors who improperly position an infant’s body as it departs the womb.   

Internal Bleeding – ruptured blood vessels during delivery, causing blood accumulation in the skull or in the body.

Brachial Plexus Palsy – a typical birth injury arising when physicians damage nerve fibers that pass through an infant neck and limbs.

Discoloration – oxygen deprivation before or after childbirth that can contribute to severe injuries later.

 

Prenatal Injuries

Birth injuries may likewise occur before infants leave the womb:

Misdiagnosis – doctors hold a duty to identify and diagnose reasonable birth defects that they can improve or repair with fetal surgery.

Failure to Diagnose – appears when healthcare providers fail to find a risk of harm or death to the mother from giving childbirth; physicians must further detect possible pregnancy complications during prenatal care.

Anesthesiology Errors – occurring during delivery or failure to order pain relief during cesarean sections when reasonably warranted.

 

Medication Error Damage

Women in labor need different medications to support the delivery process. Some drugs reduce pain while others help the mother’s body deliver her baby.

Healthcare providers breach their duties to provide reasonable standards of care when they carelessly manage maternity drugs. Birth injuries from medication error arise after providers administer unwarranted medicines to victims or after failing to apply medication properly during childbirth.

Questions and Answers About Birth Injury Claims

Now, this knowledge may sound disconcerting to folks who never viewed themselves or their newborns to be potential birth trauma victims. Many people who leave maternity wards with birth injuries believe the harms incurred were natural consequences of childbirth.  

The good news is birth injury victims have legal rights against the practitioners who harm them.  

Let’s review some Q&As and dig further into this type of medical malpractice and learn how individuals can successfully file a birth injury claim.

Q: What are the distinctions between birth injuries and birth defects?

Many victims seek answers to this difficult question because before one files a birth injury complaint, the party must determine if negligence occurred or if an unforeseeable birth defect caused harm to the infant.

Simply put, a birth injury is a medical malpractice that causes foreseeable damages to a newborn’s body; whereas, birth defects arise when heredity or prenatal ambient conditions in the womb cause natural harm to a baby’s life.

Q: How do birth injuries damage people?

Physical harm relating to birth injuries can encompass items like medication costs, wage loss, caretaker expenses, medical equipment use and home modifications; then again, one further has to consider consequential damages, typically pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.

Looking at birth injury damages from this angle, it’s easy to understand why healthcare providers end up settling their malpractice claims and class action lawsuits for millions of dollars.

Q: Who can a file birth injury claim?

Parents or legal guardians of injured newborns or women traumatized by healthcare professionals during childbirth may file civil complaints or join existing class action lawsuits to obtain legal relief from a birth injury.

Some jurisdictions allow injured children to file their own cause of action after passing eighteen-years of age; yet, waiting this long may moot a birth injury claim, as each state has its own statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits.

Q: So, what is the statute of limitations?

As suggested above, every state has specific rules; but usually, victims have one to three years to file their claim, counting from when the malpractice took place or from the date of their last obstetrician consultation.

Q: How can birth injury victims prove their claims?

Plaintiffs need to show the courts medical professionals or drug makers failed to provide them with adequate medical care or medication during pregnancy and/or during or after delivery.

The law considers medical professionals legally at fault when their conduct falls below generally recognized standards of medical care. Lawyers impute liability onto a healthcare provider after proving his or her negligent act actually caused foreseeable damages to a newborn or to its mother.

Expert testimony presented at trial affirms the duty of care owed and breach by the defendant; victims later prove legal damages through producing evidence of billings, receipts and income estimates.

Q: How much do birth injury lawsuits cost?

Victims normally pay nothing out-of-pocket when tackling a birth injury claim. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis.

This means paying no up-front costs for researchers and medical experts to prove up the case.

Lawyers who work on contingency also receive nothing unless they win the lawsuit; given that, they will charge anywhere from ten to forty percent of the total award if they prevail.

Q: What kinds of settlements or awards should victims expect when they win?

The courts attempt to make birth injury victims whole again by awarding them money damages. Compensatory awards for newborns go straight to the infant, ordinarily in the form of a trust.

Many jurisdictions limit malpractice damage awards to redress only legal and consequential damages. But, if the courts find the defendant acted willfully, or if the mother successfully sues the healthcare provider or intentional infliction of emotional distress, the courts may grant punitive damages.

 

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