- Brain Damage – Brain damage is one of the most devastating types of birth injuries. It typically occurs when a pregnant mother’s infection or illness goes undiagnosed and untreated. Brain damage can also result from physical trauma during delivery or a delay in delivering a baby who is showing signs of distress and needs to be delivered ASAP. A child with brain damage might have severe developmental delays requiring long-term care. Brain damage can also cause an abnormal physical appearance, seizures and developmental delays.
- Failure to Timely Cool – Brain damage is one of the most devastating types of birth injuries. If your baby was born and did not breathe right away or seemed to be limp and very ill, the doctors need to suggest brain cooling for your baby. This process can help a baby’s recover from a traumatic delivery and may, in some cases, prevent permanent brain damage. There are set protocols for when head cooling needs to be considered and when it should be offered to families. In smaller hospitals, doctors need to think about this option right away and get the baby timely transferred to another hospital that has the cooling expertise and equipment.
- Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral palsy is a severe condition that affects muscles and motor skills. It’s generally agreed that this condition can be caused by different types of birth injuries. Cerebral palsy might have multiple causes, including physical trauma during delivery, oxygen deprivation, a mother’s untreated infections, and other untreated conditions during pregnancy. There are different degrees of this condition, but it can severely inhibit a person’s ability to eat, talk, control their bowels and bladder, and even breathe.
- Erb’s Palsy – Erb’s palsy is sometimes called brachial plexus palsy, and it results from nerve damage to the brachial plexus. This injury causes harm to the arm or hand of the baby. The brachial plexus is an essential nerve network that sends signals from the spinal cord to the arms and hands. When the brachial plexus is damaged, it can severely limit a child’s ability to use their arm muscles. Complications during childbirth, like overstretching the baby’s neck or use of devices improperly during the delivery can cause this condition.
- Klumpke’s Palsy – Klumpke’s palsy is a type of arm paralysis that often occurs due to shoulder dystocia. This birth complication occurs when the baby’s shoulders or arms become lodged in the mother’s pelvis during delivery. If the doctor is not trained on how to deal with this emergency or does the wrong things when the emergency occurs, the baby can be severely injured. Sometimes due to the large size of the unborn baby or the small size of the mother’s pelvis, doctors should predict this might happened and plan for it by offering the mother a C-section or have equipment ready. The sensitive network of spinal nerves can be injured due to excessive pulling, causing paralysis and a claw-like appearance to the hands.
- Fractures – Fractures might occur during delivery, especially if there are complications during childbirth. This type of injury tends to happen when the doctor pulls too hard during a breech delivery. Some fractures resolve without complications, but they can sometimes cause long-term medical issues.
- Cephalohematoma – Cephalohematoma is an injury where blood pools under the child’s cranium. This injury tends to appear a few hours after delivery and is common when birth-assisting tools are used. Cephalohematoma is not always harmful, but it can lead to health problems, such as anemia, infection, or meningitis.
The above birth injuries and conditions are frequently caused by:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Physical trauma from medical instruments, such as forceps
- Delayed birth or failure to perform a C-section
- Failure of nurses or midwives to get a doctor involved
- Failure to identify fetal distress
- Failure to transfer a pregnant mom or baby promptly to another facility for a higher level of care
- Failure to identify the breech position
- Failure to diagnose a mother’s infections and other illnesses that can harm the fetus
- Failure to conduct proper screenings and tests
Did your child suffer from the above injuries or complications? If so, your child and your family might be entitled to financial compensation.
Costs Related to Medical Malpractice During Labor and Delivery
Medical malpractice before, during, or after childbirth can lead to physical trauma, debilitating conditions, and long-term medical care – all of which can be costly for families.
These are some of the most common costs related to childbirth negligence:
- Long-Term Medical Care – For victims of childbirth injuries, medical care doesn’t stop after delivery. These children typically require long-term care in order to manage their conditions. This might include repeat visits to specialists, corrective surgeries, expensive medications, special schooling, nursing and home care and ongoing medical care to monitor their progress.
- Medical Equipment – Children who were injured during birth might require wheelchairs, foot braces, walkers, tracheostomy tubes, oxygen and more. Parents frequently have to implement home modifications as well, such as adaptive highchairs, special car seats, ramps, modified bathtubs, lifts, a handicap van and other equipment to ensure their child’s safety.
- Rehabilitation and Other Services – Conditions resulting from childbirth injuries might require lengthy rehabilitation care, nursing care, physical, speech and occupational therapy, and home health care services. Costs for these specialized services can add up over the years and is often not fully paid for by insurance plans.
- Loss of Income – Another cost that parents don’t initially think about is lost income. One or both parents might have to take significant breaks from work in order to care for their injured child. Likewise, if the child’s conditions are so severe that he or she cannot work in the future, then their earning capacity might be affected.
At Bertram Law Group, PLLC, we take all of these and other costs into consideration for all of our families. Our goal is to secure full and fair compensation for the harms your child suffered and will suffer, as well as the costs we can project into the future to give your child the best and safest life possible and reduce financial strain for your family. We want you to focus on being parents and focus on your family.
Health Care Providers Who Could Be Liable for a Birth Injury
In some birth injury lawsuits, the doctor who delivered the child might be the only defendant. But depending on the circumstances, there might be additional defendants.
When determining fault in a birth injury case, many factors should be considered:
- Did the doctor who delivered the baby act negligently, or were there complications during childbirth that were out of the doctor’s control?
- Did a physician’s assistant, nurse, midwife or other supporting medical professional act negligently during delivery?
- Did the mother’s OB-GYN fail to order appropriate tests during pregnancy or consider delivering the child earlier to prevent this outcome?
- Did the mother’s OB-GYN fail to consult with specialists, such as Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors before the delivery to give the mom and the baby the best possible change of a safe delivery?
- Given the known possible complications, did the doctor and team transfer the mom or the baby to a hospital with a higher level of care promptly to protect them?
- Did the doctor delivering the baby use defective surgical instruments that caused harm?
- Did the hospital where the baby was delivered fail to provide safe or adequate equipment or fail to make sure the doctor or the other team members were trained and safe?
In light of the many factors that can cause childbirth injury, possible liable parties in a birth injury lawsuit include:
- Medical residents
- Other doctors
- Physician’s assistants
- Medical practices
- Manufacturers of medical instruments
In medical malpractice and birth injury cases, establishing the national standard of care is essential in proving fault. The standard of care is what is required of a doctor in the same or similar circumstances. In other words, what would a reasonable doctor have done in that circumstance? During the initial investigation process, your attorney will hire medical experts to identify and determine which of the potentially liable parties failed to meet the standard of care, and if those errors caused harm to the baby.
If the medical experts identify evidence of negligence after reviewing the case and they believe the mistakes resulted in harm to the baby, they can testify on your behalf. The expert’s official opinion can also be used to assist with settlement negotiations as well.
At Bertram Law Group, PLLC, we work with top medical experts to build the strongest case possible to hold responsible parties accountable.
Compensation Your Family Could Recover for a Birth Injury
Victims of birth injuries in Washington, D.C. may be entitled to different types of financial compensation, such as:
- General Damages – This type of compensation covers non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, embarrassment, and any other psychological suffering.
- Special Damages – This specifically covers economic losses, such as past and future medical care, repeat visits to specialists, future lost wages, hospitalizations, therapy, special schooling or counseling, home care, medical equipment, medications and sometimes even home modifications to make your home safe for your child, and more.
To learn more about the types of compensation your child and your family may be entitled to recover, contact us to schedule a free consultation. The legal team at Bertram Law Group, PLLC would be happy to speak with you about your options.