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Liability and Litigation Involving Birth Injury

Posted by attorney R. Michael Bomberger

Birth injuries caused by a physician or obstetrician's negligent actions before or during birth can cause permanent disability and require lifelong medical care. This legal guide provides information about birth injuries vs. birth defects, common types of birth injury, liability and compensation.

Birth Injury Overview: Legal Claims Information

Birth injuries include all types of injuries sustained before and during the birthing process. Fortunately, most deliveries go smoothly, but complications can arise, which may result in devastating consequences. Mechanical forces, such as stretching, pulling and pressure may compromise an infant's oxygen supply and cause permanent brain damage. Additionally, a doctor or obstetrician may not diagnoses, monitor, assess or respond to symptoms or conditions during a woman's pregnancy or labor, which may contribute to a birth injury.

An estimated five babies per every 1,000 born in the U.S. sustain a birth injury. In cases where an infant is injured due to a birth injury that could have been avoided, the child's parents may be entitled to damages. Compensation may be obtained through a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, hospital, and others, and may be awarded for medical bills, lost wages and loss of future earning capacity, general pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects

Determining whether or not a complication during delivery caused a birth injury, or whether an infant was born with a defect can be difficult. Many birth defects are unavoidable and unpreventable, while others may be caused by a mother's alcohol consumption or drug use, or exposure to chemical agents. An estimated 7% of all babies are born with some kind of birth defect or irregularity, which may be very minor to life changing. Birth injuries are never present or detectable prior to birth..

Common Types of Birth Injury

Common types of birth injury include:

  • Brachial Plexus (Erb's Palsy) injuries
  • Cortical Blindness
  • Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a condition characterized by abnormal muscle tone and/or coordination, which may be caused by birth trauma. Other conditions associated with cerebral palsy (CP) include impaired motor function, speech and communication disorders, epilepsy, seizures, learning disorders and disabilities.

Liability for Birth Injuries: Proving Your Case

In order to obtain damages for a physician's, nurse's, or hospital's negligence, you will need to establish how your medical provider or other individual caused the injury, and how his, her, or their actions fell below a reasonable standard of care. Your attorney will consult with other medical experts who can demonstrate what level of care is accepted, and how the birth injury could have been avoided.

Birth Injuries: Protecting Your Rights

Birth injury claims are complex legal matters that can be challenging. If your family has been affected by a birth injury, protect your rights. Consult with a birth injury attorney with experience and success in both medical malpractice and birth injury claims. Due to a statute of limitations, you will only have a limited period of time to bring a claim.

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