Medical malpractice and negligence are serious problems. According to the website Stat Pearls, approximately 0.4 million hospitalized patients yearly experience some preventable harm at the hands of the hospital staff. When it comes to childbirth, birth injuries should not occur. Sometimes, babies are injured due to natural forces involved in the process and sometimes due to carelessness or negligence of the medical team in the labor room. Injuries caused by natural phenomena do not require any treatment and heal independently. Unfortunately, injuries resulting from mishandling and negligence can be much more severe as they can harm the baby’s brain, nerves, and bones. These injuries can lead to many long-term health issues and developmental problems which require expensive treatments and care. Any damage that isn’t addressed right away or ignored at birth qualifies for medical negligence and warrants a lawsuit.
A birth injury lawsuit is filed against negligent hospital staff that caused a preventable injury during the birthing process. In most cases, it becomes very difficult to know if your child sustained a birth injury, as symptoms sometimes take a year or two to show. Points to help you identify the signs and understand all the steps before you can proceed to file a claim are given below.
Many doctors brush malpractice incidents under the carpet by labeling them as “complications.” Yes, complications do happen, but this can also be an excellent way to not own up to the error and avoid a birth injury lawsuit. It is very hard for the parents to fully know if their child suffered a birth injury during the birthing process. The mother is in immense pain to be fully aware of her surroundings. Similarly, her partner may or may not be present in the delivery room. Even if they are, the birthing process can be very overwhelming to identify any malpractice incident. Some symptoms become apparent within 48 hours of birth which parents should always be on the lookout for
- Failure to begin breathing immediately after birth,
- Loose/limp arms,
- Hand curled into a claw-like shape,
- Low oxygen levels and heart rate,
- Rapid or slow breathing.
Sometimes, symptoms begin to show during the developmental stages in conditions like cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy. These conditions hinder the proper development of the body and the mind. If your child suffers from one of such conditions, you’ll begin to notice that they do not achieve normal milestones on time like
- Unable to sit without support at seven months and above,
- cannot roll over,
- Cannot crawl or stand even with support at the age of 1
- Has delayed or no speech development
- Has vision or hearing problems
- Has problems with hand-eye coordination
- Has slow bodily movements
Medical Conditions and Treatment
Children who have cerebral palsy or other nerve and brain damage will require constant visits to a pediatric neurologist. The conditions are usually diagnosed after running an MRI, an expensive scan, and other multiple tests. Lifelong care requires costly treatment and medication. Developmental flaws require physical therapies like speech, physical, etc., resulting in a considerable financial burden of medical treatments on the parents. Besides, raising children with such conditions can be physically and emotionally draining. Many parents do not know how to look after such children while working to earn more for their treatments. Their family lives get disrupted and can affect the mental health of everyone close to the child.
These medical conditions and treatments are the primary considerations in such lawsuits. If your child has sustained injuries due to medical negligence, you and your family should not be forced to bear treatment and care costs. You can file a lawsuit against the negligent medical team present at the time of birth and the facility’s administration at which you gave birth. Statistics show that about 95% of birth injury lawsuits end in a settlement, with the medical staff paying a huge sum as compensation.
The next step is to fully understand the law and all the legalities associated with filing a case. Many reputable birth injury law firms have successfully fought cases for many aggrieved families. These firms offer free consultation and review. Before initiating a lawsuit, the foremost question is if you are eligible to file a case. The term “statute of limitations” is a law that sets the maximum time the concerned parties have to file a claim and initiate proceedings from the date of the offense. Most states have a statute of limitations of 2 to 3 years, and it varies from state to state.
If you are eligible, your lawyer will go through all the documentation to see if you have a strong case. They’d require you to narrate your child’s birth series of events. They’d also ask you to share maternal records of pregnancy and any other conditions. Lawyers will also study your child’s medical reports and treatment plans to analyze the extent of the injury. The legal team would then determine the amount of compensation you should demand for the treatment and therapy of your child.
The Lawsuit and other Legalities
A formal lawsuit is filed after your lawyer successfully gathers all the relevant information. The case goes to court, with you, the plaintiff, and the medical staff/hospital being the defendant. The court will decide upon a date for trial. During this time, the court will encourage mediation. The usual timeline is 30 days in which the other party has to respond. Three scenarios can emerge during this period.
First, the other party does not respond, and you win the case automatically. Second, they respond to mediation and try to resolve the matter by settlement. Third, they respond but refuse to pay, taking the case to trial.
Birth injury lawsuits rarely go to trial as trials are risky, costly, and time-consuming. Trials require the judge to hear both sides of the arguments and give a verdict on the payment. Most of the time, the defendants agree to a settlement. If the court rules in your favor, you’ll receive the compensation. Unfortunately, if it rules against you, you will receive no compensation.
Medical negligence during childbirth can push the child and the family in a rigorous routine for a lifetime of treatments and therapies. It is very important to demand compensation for a birth injury that a professional medical specialist could have avoided. The process of filing a birth injury lawsuit is emotionally draining and time-consuming. Already, the parents of the victim are dealing with a lot. The good news is that the statistics are very promising, and consulting with a reputable firm can make this process easier for you and your family. If a medical professional is guilty of malpractice, they should shoulder the responsibility of piling medical bills and expensive therapies. The law gives you this right, and you must demand justice for yourself and your child’s future.