Childbirth is one of the most natural, miraculous medical miracles, but it is also one of the most dangerous. There is always a certain level of concern regarding childbirth because the process is often long, difficult, and painful. However, the challenges of labor and delivery can be even more perilous if the hospital, birth center, doctors, nurses, or medical staff are in any way unqualified or negligent. Unfortunately, incidents involving medical carelessness occur every day, sometimes resulting in serious injury to either the child or the mother. If you or your child suffered any harm during the labor or birth process due to the carelessness of another, you may have a birth injury case on your hands.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
As with any other personal injury case, birth injury cases must prove a few things. First, there must be some type of harm to either the child, mother, or both. There must also be some reason to believe that another person or company caused that harm. The person who caused the harm, usually a doctor, must have had some responsibility to the injured party. For example, if it was a doctor, the fact that he or she was indeed the mother’s doctor can effectively establish duty of care.
The injured party must also be able to establish that the defendant caused the injury, usually because their conduct fell below the acceptable standard of medical care. In other words, the doctor who harmed you or your child failed to do what any other qualified doctor would have done.
If the injury to the child took place prior to the labor or delivery process and was not the fault of the medical staff, the problem is referred to as a birth defect, not a birth injury.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Sadly, birth injuries aren’t all that rare. Data tells us that roughly 5 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States are harmed during the birth process. There are several different reasons for these injuries, but a few stand out as the most common.
Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s Palsy is a common type of brachial plexus injury. Brachial plexus injuries occur when the bundle of nerves located at the neck and shoulder is damaged, usually because the baby is handled improperly during birth. These nerves help the baby with crucial arm, hand, and shoulder functions, and when damaged they can result in loss of motion, loss of function, and muscle weakness.
Cerebral Palsy: If the baby’s brain is damaged before or during birth it can leave the child with cerebral palsy, an issue with brain development. This might occur if the head is subjected to some type of trauma or if the baby is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time. In some cases, these injuries can be life-threatening, but not usually. Cerebral palsy is, however, permanent.
Other Brain Injuries: If the baby’s head is subjected to any trauma or if the child is deprived of oxygen, other types of head injuries can still occur. Depending on the type of injury and the severity, head injuries that occur during birth can lead to developmental delays, permanent disabilities, or even death.
Bone Fractures: When the baby is handled too roughly, usually by nurses or doctors, the child can suffer bone fractures. Baby bones are not fully developed, which means they aren’t as brittle as adult bones and are more subject to fractures, rather than breaks. However, fractures can still be very painful and may cause further damage if untreated.
Nerve Damage: If the baby is under too much pressure during the birth process and the medical staff fails to relieve that pressure, it could cause nerve damage. As a result, the baby’s nerves could be harmed, resulting in paralysis, spinal issues, facial nerve damage, or other types of problems.
Most birth injuries occur when medical staff responds incorrectly to dangerous situations. For example, if the birth is particularly difficult and the doctor fails to perform a C-section quickly, it could deprive the baby of oxygen and cause serious injuries. Or, a nurse, doctor, or midwife might need to use forceps or a vacuum to help pull the baby through the birth canal. If any birthing tools are used incorrectly it could result in a brachial plexus injury or head trauma.
If your baby was harmed during the birth process, consider whether or not that harm was caused by negligence or carelessness. If you believe someone was at fault, our firm is prepared to help you fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.