If your child was injured during or shortly after childbirth, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit for a birth injury. A lawyer from Newsome | Melton can sit down with you and look at the circumstances of your child’s injury, then let you know if you have a strong case and how you should proceed.
Before you file a lawsuit against your doctor for a birth injury, you should know a few things about the process. The following sections explain the nature of birth injuries, how they can result from medical malpractice, and what it takes to prove your doctor is liable.
What Is a Birth Injury
A birth injury is an injury to a child that occurs either just before, during, or just after childbirth. In other words, something happens during the birthing process that causes the child to suffer harm. Some birth injuries are unpreventable — something goes wrong that is out of anyone’s control, including the doctor, and by the time it happens it is too late to undo the damage.
But many birth injuries might have been prevented had the doctor upheld their duty of care as a physician. These are the injuries for which the child’s family can file a medical malpractice lawsuit and recover compensation. A birth injury lawyer can review your child’s injury and determine if it was unpreventable or if it likely could have been avoided with a more diligent doctor.
How Doctors Can Cause or Contribute to Birth Injuries
During childbirth, the attending physician has a long checklist of items to which they must attend to give the highest chance of a safe delivery. If a doctor is negligent or fails to provide the proper standard of care, the risk of injury rises. Most cases of negligence that lead to birth injury involve doctors or medical staff who fail to do one of the following:
- Recognize fetal or maternal distress.
- Correctly diagnose medical issues.
- Use birth-assisting tools correctly.
- Order a C-section when necessary.
- Promptly treat infections and other medical issues.
Who Can File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Birth Injuries
Each state has its own laws governing who is eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for birth injuries. In most states, this right is limited to the parents or legal guardians of the injured child. A few states allow the child to file himself or herself once they turn 18.
It is recommended that the parents or guardians file as soon as possible once they become aware of the injury. Many states have statutes of limitations for birth injury claims. Once the deadline passes, the injured party loses the right to sue.
The medical expenses from a birth injury can add up quickly, and medical malpractice lawsuits are known for moving slowly. The sooner one files, the sooner they can recover compensation.
Proving Your Child’s Birth Injury Was Caused by Medical Malpractice
To win a medical malpractice lawsuit for a birth injury, your attorney must show that your case satisfies four criteria:
- Your doctor owed you (and, by extension, your child) a duty of care.
- Your doctor breached the duty of care by failing to act the way a reasonable physician faced with the same situation would.
- Your child suffered an injury during birth that is directly attributable to your doctor’s failure to uphold their duty.
- You suffered economic or non-economic damages because of your child’s birth injury.
Collecting Compensation for Your Child’s Birth Injuries
If your birth injury lawsuit is successful, and you are awarded a judgment or settlement, it is likely to include compensation for several types of damages, such as:
- Medical expenses, including your child’s doctor visits, hospitalizations, medications, and other treatments associated with your child’s birth injury.
- Physical and occupational therapy for your child.
- Modifications to your home (e.g., a wheelchair ramp or handrails).
- Costs of tutoring and other educational help made necessary by cognitive delays associated with your child’s birth injury.
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
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