The birth of a child is supposed to be a joyous time full of laughter and happiness, along with some loss of sleep and sanity. However, that moment can be interrupted if your baby is a victim of medical malpractice and ends up with a birth injury. If your family does have to deal with a birth injury because of neglect or other reasons, then you may have a case and could potentially benefit from working with Chicago birth injury attorneys, or an attorney in your area of the country. Learn more about birth injury cases and how to navigate one.
Common Causes & Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries, depending on their severity, can be costly and could be a lifelong battle. That means piles of medical bills and other financial obligations that could affect you and your family for years to come. If the birth injury was caused by negligence, then you may have a legal case. Common causes of these types of injuries include:
- Using forceps or a vacuum to remove the baby
- A mishap during a cesarean section
- A difficult and long labor
- A baby that is larger than anticipated
- Failure on the part of healthcare providers to properly assess risk factors
- Making a misdiagnosis during childbirth
- Failing to detect signs of fetal distress
While some causes are natural, some are due to medical malpractice. In fact, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to Yale University. These causes can lead to types of birth injuries such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Fractured skull
- Brain damage due to lack of oxygen
- Damage to facial nerves
- Erb’s palsy
Cerebral palsy can happen when a baby’s brain is somehow damaged before or during birth. This can happen when a baby is deprived of oxygen or experiences fetal distress, if jaundice goes undetected, or due to a medical error made by a healthcare provider. A birth injury may result in a lifelong battle, meaning many visits to children’s health providers. Erb’s palsy happens when the bundle of nerves near the neck is damaged or affected, causing partial paralysis. Many babies are able to recover from this with proper treatment and therapy, but it can take several years.
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Birth injuries are different from birth defects or an abnormality, which can happen during fetal development. A birth defect is not normally an issue that is caused by medical malpractice, so you should have your baby fully evaluted by a neutral third-party to ensure that it truly is a birth defect. Sometimes, there can be heart-related birth defects, but there are other serious heart issues that could be caused by other problems. For example, myocarditis is typically caused by viral infection. Symptoms of myocarditis include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and more. Your doctor or other medical professionals can evaluate your child’s health to determine whether their heart problems are linked to a defect or to acute myocarditis.
Once you’ve been able to determine what happened to your baby, you’ll want to reach out to a lawyer as quickly as possible. Some states have certain statutes of limitations set on medical cases, and you don’t want that to expire because, if it does, you will lose eligibility to file a claim.
What Happens In a Birth Injury Case
If your child is the victim of negligence or medical malpractice, then your next step will be to meet with an attorney who can help you with your birth injury claim. They’ll talk with you either remotely or at their law firm offices if everyone has passed COVID-19 testing or received their vaccines. Your birth injury attorney will need copies of medical records, any available witness testimony, and any supporting documents you can provide. Once they meet with you, explore your legal options, and determine that a lawsuit is the best route to take, they’ll begin to negotiate on your behalf with the medical professional and their insurance company to get you the compensation you deserve after this medical negligence.
Your medical malpractice lawsuit may go through a few rounds of negotiations before your lawyer is happy with the offer you’ve received. An experienced birth injury attorney will try to keep the case out of court in order to reach a swifter end. After your legal action goes through the proper channels, you’ll then be able to receive compensation. Your attorney will advise you on what all should be included, but types of compensation you may be able to get include:
- Medical bills: This can include costs of doctor appointments, hospital visits, surgeries, therapy, and anything else you’ve had to do to maintain your child’s health. These costs add up rapidly and can be financially debilitating. If your child was injured due to medical negligence, you should not bear this financial burden on your own.
- Wrongful death: If you sadly lose your baby due to a birth injury, then you can file a wrongful death claim. While absolutely no amount of money can even begin to replace your little loved one, it can help with unexpected funeral costs, burial expenses, and more.
- Pain and suffering: As a result of the birth injury and going through the birth injury lawsuit process, you and your family likely suffered a lot of mental and emotional trauma. You may be able to claim additional compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.
Going through this time can be incredibly stressful, but you should not have to go through it alone. The right lawyer will help you throughout your case and keep confidence in you through the attorney-client relationship. If you suspect your child has a birth injury, then you can contact a birth injury lawyer near you with a phone call or email to start your consultation. Many attorneys will provide an initial free consultation and some may also work with you on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay anything out of pocket, only a certain percentage out of the amount you win from your claim.