It’s widely acknowledged that childbirth is one of the most difficult things women face in their lifetimes. In fact, each year, childbirth claims the lives of roughly 800 women, according to the CDC. Although childbirth is challenging for the mothers, it certainly is not smooth sailing for the infant either. Infants can be harmed during the labor process if there are complications with the delivery. Some common complications that can arise when an infant is delivered include umbilical cord issues (when the infant is trapped or held improperly by the cord), asphyxiation due to low oxygen levels in the mothers’ blood, or even shoulder dystocia, where the infant’s shoulders are trapped in the mother. In fact, the CDC has found that about one in every seven infants suffers from a birth injury.
As a mother, the last thing you want is for your child to be injured during the delivery process. After nine months of pregnancy, you have cared for your baby as best you could. When it is time for delivery, you just want to cross the finish line; you are so close to having the child join your family. By choosing to deliver your baby in a hospital, you are trusting that the medical professionals managing your care will care for your child to the fullest of their abilities. A birth injury, therefore, is the last thing you may have anticipated.
Many infant birth injuries can be direct results of medical negligence either during the pregnancy, labor, delivery, or even after the birth itself. For instance, a doctor or medical professional may forget to run important tests, consult with the family, or fail to recognize the signs of fetal distress.
If you have questions about your infant’s birth injury, please reach out to us today for your free consultation. Our Allentown medical malpractice attorneys are experts in medical malpractice law, and have over 60 years of experience winning favorable outcomes for our clients. We look forward to receiving your case today.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can obviously affect both the mother and the infant. For both the mother and the infant, these injuries can be tremendously painful, and can, in many cases, result in permanent damage. In the infant, specifically, these can create long-lasting medical conditions such as cerebral palsy that will affect the child for the rest of its life. In this section, we’ll break down common injuries to both the mother and the infant.
Common injuries sustained by the mother during birth
- Perinatal tears
- When the baby’s head is positioned at an irregular angle, this can cause major problems for the mother. As a result, the mother may experience vaginal tearing. This can also be caused by the baby being delivered too quickly, certain delivery techniques, and underlying health problems, such as the mother being overweight. If the tearring is minor, it may be remedied by stitches. However, if the tearing is more extensive and rips through not just tissue, but muscle, surgical reconstruction is often required. This can cause major issues for the mother down the line which include incontinence and pain during intercourse.
- Broken Bones
- In addition to tearing, many women can experience broken bones, which are crushed by the infant’s descent. Some bones that commonly break during childbirth are the coccyx and pubic symphysis. With breakage, women experience discomfort. These injuries can heal more quickly than muscle ruptures, and a woman can begin to feel back to normal in about two months, though more severe breaks can take up to eight months to heal.
- Uterine Rupture
- The uterus rupturing is a rare complication, but is very serious. It can happen before or during labor and delivery. When the uterus tears, the baby and the placenta may go into the abdominal cavity of the mother. This is extremely severe and the mother and the baby must be rushed to emergency surgery. The tear may be caused by abnormally large babies or scarring from previous c-sections.
- Uterine Inversion
- Similar to the uterine rupturing during labor and childbirth, the uterus inverting is a rare but serious complication. The inversion of the uterus can occur when the placenta does not detach fully from the uterus. On its way out of the body, the placenta will pull the uterus with it, causing it to turn inside out.
- Nerve Injury
- As the baby is leaving the body, the baby can compress and damage nerve cells. In severe cases, the baby can even sever nerve cells completely. Mothers can suffer a range of problems, depending on which nerves are affected. Common issues are weakness, numbness, and even incontinence.
- Other injuries
- The mother can be affected in any number of ways from childbirth. The above list is not all inclusive.
Common injuries sustained by the infant during childbirth
- Brachial Palsy
- Brachial palsy is a common outcome when the mother and infant experience shoulder dystocia during delivery. As you may recall, shoulder dystocia refers to when the child’s shoulders are stuck in the mother. Brachial Palsy occurs when shoulder dystocia damages the nerve bundle called the brachial plexus, which are the nerves that control shoulder, arm, hand, and finger movements. In many cases, brachial palsy is reversible, though in more severe cases, the damage to the infant is permanent.
- Bone Fractures
- Just like the mother, the infant can experience bone fractures during delivery and labor. The most common bones that are affected are the collarbone and the clavicle. Although the breaks can be painful, infants make quick recoveries as their bones grow so quickly.
- Facial Paralysis
- This occurs when the nerves controlling one side of the baby’s face are damaged as it leaves the birth canal. It is often noticed when the baby cries, but only one side of its face moves. If the nerves are just bruised, this condition can quickly reverse itself in a matter of weeks. For more severe cases, the child may be paralyzed for life.
- Brain damage
- There are a few different brain injuries that infants can sustain during either labor or delivery. Though they might be scary, some brain injuries are actually mild, such as cephalohematoma, which occurs when there is bleeding between the skull and the skull cover. Cephalohematomas heal quickly as the blood is often just reabsorbed into the infant’s cranial cavity. Other brain injuries are very serious, such as cerebral hemorrhages, subarachnoid hemorrhages, and perinatal asphyxia which can cause permanent damage, like comas, seizures, and cognitive dysfunctions.
Seeking Legal Recourse for a Birth Injury
Birth injuries are devastating. If you suspect that your injury was caused by medical negligence or medical malpractice, you are likely entitled to compensation. Medical bills add up quickly, and so seeking compensation may help take some financial pressure off of your family during this difficult time.
If you decide you want to move forward with litigation, it is recommended that you reach out to an experienced birth accident lawyer. Although you may feel that your claim is straight-forward, hospitals and insurance companies will put a series of obstacles in your way that make it difficult to receive the compensation you deserve. Hiring an experienced birth injury accident lawyer, therefore, will help you navigate the claims process and be instrumental to winning you the outcome you deserve.
We encourage you to reach out to us today for your free consultation. Our experienced legal staff will help you create a game plan for your case. The first step is figuring out on what grounds you will be suing and which party you will be suing. Below are a few common lawsuits we help our birth accident clients file:
- Compensation for medical expenses. Your medical expenses will likely outpace your own private health insurance policy. As a result, you will probably have a pile of unsupported medical expenses. You may be able to sue your own insurance provider, or more likely the hospital’s insurance provider for compensation.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress. A birth injury can destroy a family emotionally. If your injury or your infant’s injury is the result of medical malpractice, you likely will be able to seek compensation for the suffering you have endured as a result of your medical provider’s negligence.
- Disfigurement, specific loss, and scarring. If your injury or your infant’s injury resulted in permanent disfigurement or scarring, you can sue for compensation. If you sustain a specific loss, you are also able to sue.
- Disability and lost wages. Many injuries may inhibit your ability to work. For example, if your infant sustains a head injury that results in a cognitive abnormality, they likely will be unable to work as an adult. As a result, they may be eligible for disability benefits. Similarly, if your injury requires an extensive recovery that prohibits you from working, you may be able to recover some of the wages you lost while you were healing by filing a lawsuit.
Regardless of what type of lawsuit you file, the foundation of your case will be proving medical malpractice or medical negligence. In order to prove this, you’ll need to show the following:
- Duty of care: you must prove that the medical provider owed you, the plaintiff, the duty of care. Essentially, you will need to show that you entered into a doctor-patient relationship with the medical provider on trial.
- Breach of duty of care: after establishing that the medical provider did owe you the duty of care, you will need to show how the duty of care was violated. For medical malpractice cases, this is often demonstrated by showing that the medical provider acted carelessly or negligently.
- Harm as a result of breach: in short, you need to show that the doctor’s negligence affected you or the infant in a negative way. More than just demonstrating you or your infant was harmed, you need to establish the causal link between the doctor’s actions and your suffering.
It is also important to note that in the state of Pennsylvania, there is a two year statute of limitations. In most cases, this means that you will have two years from the date of the birth injury to file your lawsuit. Although this may seem like a long time, the claims process can be long and drawn out. It is therefore important to contact an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as you can.
How Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has over 60 years of experience litigating personal injury claims. Our track record in this field is extremely successful. In fact, many of our attorneys have won multi-million-dollar settlement outcomes for our clients. Accordingly, this has won many of our attorneys entry into the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of trial lawyers who have all won at minimum, million dollar outcomes for their clients.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is proud to call the state of Pennsylvania our home. We are deeply entrenched in the Allentown and Scranton metro areas, and we are proud to be able to serve these communities by representing them in the courts of law. Please reach out to us today for your free consultation. We look forward to using our sixty years of experience to win you and your family an outcome that you deserve.