When Your Child Suffers a Birth Injury, Call Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.
The birth of a child is a joyous occasion. Every parent wishes for their child to be happy and healthy. However, learning that your newborn child suffered an injury during delivery resulting in a serious medical condition can be extremely frightening. Mistakes made before or during the birthing process can leave your child to suffer lifelong consequences, including disability. When a birth injury is caused by the negligence of a medical professional, you may need a birth injury lawyer to help you get justice. A birth injury can result in extensive future medical costs as well as pain and suffering. But you don’t have to face the uncertain future alone.
For more than 60 years, the birth injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been helping clients throughout Pennsylvania through a difficult time in their lives. We know how to prove the difference between an injury caused by medical negligence and a genetic condition. If your child suffered an injury, call us or fill out our contact form. Tell us your story and get a free evaluation of your case.
What is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A birth injury is a physical illness or injury inflicted by a medical professional upon an infant, or upon the mother resulting in harm to the infant at any point during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
A birth injury lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice case intended to hold physicians, obstetricians, hospitals, and other medical personnel responsible when they cause a child to suffer preventable harm by failing to uphold the standards of their profession. By filing a birth injury lawsuit, families can obtain justice for their child and receive the financial resources they will need to provide their child with the necessary care.
Birth injury lawsuits should only be handled by an experienced birth injury lawyer due to the serious and complex nature of these cases.
What Causes a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries can be caused by trauma during labor and delivery, or unresolved complications during pregnancy. While not all medical conditions and complications are the result of medical malpractice, a doctor’s negligence can cause preventable harm to the infant or its mother.
Complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery can result in a wide variety of problems for a newborn. Oxygen deprivation is one major cause of birth injuries in newborns. This can occur when the umbilical cord becomes compressed or twisted during birth. Medical mistakes such as an incorrect reading or misinterpretation of the fetal heart monitor can result in severe brain injury to a child. Other common causes of birth injuries may include:
- Improper use of forceps or a vacuum during the birthing process
- Delaying or failing to perform a Cesarean section
- Umbilical cord complications, resulting in oxygen deprivation
- Failing to adequately monitor the mother or baby’s heartbeat during the pregnancy, labor, and delivery
- Failure to order or perform sufficient prenatal testing
- Failure to detect fetal distress
- Failing to make note of any other issues during the pregnancy or labor that might put the infant in danger
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a birth defect affects one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. Almost 21,000 infants had died in the U.S. in 2018 and one of the leading causes of infant death was accidental injury, such as suffocation.
There are times when a birth injury can be prevented if problems are caught during the pregnancy. Some red flags during pregnancy or birth are:
- Excessive bleeding
- Long labor
- Fetal distress
Failure to order necessary tests or interventions can result in permanent damage to the child.
What are the Common Types of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can happen at any time throughout the pregnancy, during labor and birth, and even after the birth of your child. It can result in a long-term injury that can last the baby’s lifetime and can also affect the mother’s health. Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injury
According to Dr. Arcangela Lattari Balest, MD of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, head injuries are the most common types of birth-related trauma. Brain injuries during birth can range from bruising and scratching that will heal on its own, to more serious injuries like brain bleeds, skull fractures, and even permanent brain damage.
When an infant is deprived of oxygen during labor or delivery or receives significant trauma to their head, they may develop cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term that describes a group of disorders that affect movement control, balance, and posture. The CDC states CP is caused by abnormal brain development, often occurring before birth. It’s one of the most common motor function disabilities in children and it impacts about 1 in 345 children.
Diagnosing CP can be difficult since the symptoms vary. For example, some CP sufferers are never able to walk while others only experience a minor change to their motor function. Some of the most common disorders related to cerebral palsy include stiff muscles, a lack of movement control, or poor balance and coordination.
Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy
Brachial plexus palsy is a weakness or paralysis in parts of the infant’s arm due to an injury to the brachial plexus during the birthing process. The most common type of brachial plexus palsy is called Erb’s palsy, which is caused by an injury to the shoulders during delivery. When the infant’s shoulder is caught behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery it can cause the child’s nerves to be torn, which can cause permanent paralysis of the arm.
To recover from the injury, the infant will need physiotherapy and routine elevations for the first few months of their lives. In some severe cases, surgery on the nerves and muscles may be required.
During labor, the baby’s face may experience severe pressure, injuring the facial nerve and causing paralysis. Facial paralysis may also occur when forceps have been used during the delivery. According to Stanford Children’s Health, the injury may not be seen until the baby cries and there is no movement on the side of the face. In addition, the eye may not be able to close.
If the nerve was just bruised, facial paralysis will improve within a few weeks. However, if there is severe damage to the nerve, surgery will be needed.
Labor and delivery can be a difficult process. Sometimes during the delivery process, the child’s clavicle or collarbone can be fractured. This also happens if it is a breech delivery. The healing time is fortunately only two weeks as the new bone begins to form rather quickly. However, the fracture can be painful and the child will need to wear a soft bandage or splint to limit movement of the arm and shoulder.
Anoxia and hypoxia are conditions where there is either a decrease or an absence of the oxygen supply to the organ’s tissues. This usually occurs when blood flow is interrupted, such as a problem with the umbilical cord. Lack of oxygen can result in cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, developmental issues, and hearing/vision impairments. The infant will need extensive care such as surgeries, medication, therapies, and special education services.
Spinal Cord Injuries
While spinal cord injuries are rare, they tend to be very serious. Damage to an infant’s spinal cord is often permanent and can result in paralysis or the inability to breathe independently.
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
HIE is a form of brain damage in newborns that results from a lack of oxygen and/or blood flow. Also known as neonatal encephalopathy, birth asphyxia, and perinatal asphyxia, HIE can cause a range of serious complications including cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizures, epilepsy, and more.
How Can the Birth Injury Lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Help?
The birth injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have successfully litigated numerous birth injury lawsuits throughout Pennsylvania. We have the resources and knowledge available to investigate the circumstances surrounding your child’s injury. Working with medical experts, we will collect the evidence needed to find what had caused the birth injury, why it happened, and how the outcome affected you, your child, and your family. With this evidence, we can then give you what legal options are available to you and how we can help you with your medical malpractice claim.
The medical malpractice and birth injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have decades of experience negotiating settlements and winning cases at trial. Our board certified trial attorneys belong to the nation’s most prestigious and elite groups of civil trial lawyers. We have the experience and the resources necessary to win justice for your family.
Proving Negligence in a Birth Injury Lawsuit
When it comes to birth injuries caused by negligence, the following needs to be proven:
- Duty – The medical professional had a legal responsibility to protect the patient from harm. In medical malpractice and birth injury cases, this is established by showing that a doctor-patient relationship existed. A doctor-patient relationship exists between a patient and any healthcare professional responsible for administering their care.
- Breach – The medical professional had failed in their duty to protect the patient. In order to prove this, your birth injury lawyer will need to demonstrate that your doctor or other caregiver violated the acceptable standard of care in his/her profession.
- Injury – Because they were negligent, an injury occurred. Your birth injury lawyer will need to prove that your child’s injury occurred as a direct result of the doctor’s actions or inaction.
- Damages – That injury had caused damages for the victim. Your birth injury lawyer will need to show not only that your child was harmed, but that your child and your family suffered specific damages as a result of the injury, for which you seek to be compensated.
In order to prove the above elements, your birth injury lawyer will obtain evidence. One of the most important pieces of evidence in your case will be your medical records. We can help you obtain your medical records, then we will review them in detail with the help of an in-house licensed physician. Your medical records will help us to identify the actions or inaction that lead to your child’s birth injury.
In order to succeed with your birth injury case, you will need to prove that your doctors and healthcare providers failed to uphold the standard of care in their profession. As your lawyers, we will work with medical experts to determine the professional standard of care and whether your doctors violated that standard. The “standard of care” is the level and type of care that a reasonably skilled and competent doctor would have provided under the same or similar circumstances. The standard of care is the benchmark used to determine whether your doctor’s actions were appropriate based on your symptoms and situation or if your doctor was negligent. Other medical professionals – nurses, clinical medical assistants, physician assistants, and others – are bound to the standard of care for their profession and scope of practice as well.
Hospitals are used to malpractice lawsuits, and they employ large insurers and defense firms to minimize the payout owed to victims. Their initial offer may sound high, but it likely won’t be enough to cover a lifetime of costs incurred due to medical negligence. Be careful not to accept an offer of settlement before speaking with a lawyer – if you accept an offer, you waive your right to seek additional compensation in the future. A birth injury lawyer will work with medical and economic experts to calculate the full extent of the damages your family deserves. These include economic damages like medical treatment, physical therapy, occupational therapy, diminished earning power, adaptive technology, home modifications, and in-home care, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, altered quality of life, and more.
Since 1959, the birth injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve following an injury. We have won millions for our clients, including a $5 million settlement in a medical malpractice case.
Our attorneys understand how difficult it can be when your child is injured by someone’s negligence. That’s why we will do everything we can to get compensation for your child’s injuries.
If your child was injured at birth as a result of medical negligence, don’t wait much longer. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Why File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
While medical conditions like cerebral palsy can change and present differently throughout the lifespan, they are often permanent conditions. Babies born with cerebral palsy, paralysis from nerve damage, or traumatic brain injury may need ongoing medical care and special accommodations for their entire lives. Often, the way to ensure that your child will have the financial means necessary to meet these needs is to file a birth injury lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible for causing the damage. The reality is that you are unlikely to receive proper compensation without the help of a highly skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. By filing a birth injury lawsuit, you can obtain the resources necessary to give your child the best quality of life possible.
A birth injury lawyer will deal with the hospital, their insurers, and their defense lawyers on your behalf so you can focus on your new child and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Birth Injuries
Q: Is There a Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?
A birth injury refers to harm that takes place during or immediately after delivery that results from trauma or medical error. A birth defect is a physical or developmental condition that originates before birth and is often genetic.
Q: How Long Do We Have to File a Birth Injury Claim? Is There an Age Limit?
While some birth injuries are diagnosed immediately after birth, some will take longer to identify. For example, cerebral palsy may only be diagnosed after a child misses significant developmental milestones. All children develop at different paces, but according to the CDC, most developmental delays can be identified between the ages of 18-30 months.
Since it can take some time for the child to develop issues caused by a birth injury, the statute of limitations is a little different for children. Instead of the usual two years after an injury, you or your child have until your child turns 21 to file a lawsuit against the medical professional.
If your child has developmental delays that are diagnosed as a form of cerebral palsy (or other disorder) and you believe this was caused because of complications that occurred at birth, you may have a claim. A birth injury lawyer can help determine if medical negligence is to blame.
Q: Is Cerebral Palsy Always Medical Malpractice?
Cerebral palsy and other birth injuries are not always the result of medical negligence or malpractice. There are situations where the doctors and nurses do everything they are supposed to do in a timely manner, and complications still arise. In other words, illnesses and medical conditions are not always preventable. However, if you suspect that your doctor failed to adequately address your symptoms or otherwise made a decision that adversely affected the health of your child, you can have a birth injury lawyer review your case for free.
Q: How Do I Know If My Child’s Birth Injury Was Caused by Medical Malpractice?
In many cases, a birth defect or developmental condition is not the direct result of medical negligence. But if any form of malpractice – a failure to meet the standard of care – was to blame for your child’s injury, the parties at fault should be held responsible under the law.
Birth injuries can result in significant medical bills now and into the future; they may also cause your child lifelong challenges. A birth injury lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can review all medical records and consult with experts to determine whether the injury was the result of negligence and what medical professional should be held accountable.
Q: If My Child Suffered a Birth Injury, Do I Need a Lawyer?
If malpractice caused your child’s birth injury, you and your child deserve to be appropriately compensated for the costs and suffering that you face, and the negligent caregiver should be held accountable. However, achieving this will take plenty of resources, investigation, and possibly a jury trial. We will need to prove that the healthcare professional owed a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care, and that your child suffered harm as a direct result. This kind of investigation can be difficult and complicated, so it is important to have a lawyer who has experience with birth injuries and the resources to hire the best experts. An experienced lawyer will fight the legal battle so that you can focus on giving your newborn child the love and care they deserve.
Q: How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Birth Injury Lawyer?
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means that we do not charge a fee for our services unless we win your case. This is especially important in a birth injury case. Birth injury and medical malpractice cases are expensive and complex to litigate. The contingent fee agreement protects you from financial risk; we invest all of the necessary resources into hiring experts and building your case, and if we do not obtain a favorable result for you, you will owe us nothing. If and when we do secure a settlement or jury verdict on your behalf, our standard fee will come out of the total settlement amount. You pay nothing out of pocket.
If you’re unsure whether you have a case, you can have a birth injury lawyer review your case for free. During the initial consultation, we will listen to your story, gather some preliminary information, and advise you as to how to proceed. Should you agree to have Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys represent you, we will get to work on your case right away and guide you through the legal process from that point forward.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.