As a parent, your child’s well-being is always a top priority. When you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury, it is a terrifying and stressful time for you and your family.
Understandably, you might be considering filing a birth injury lawsuit. If a medical provider is responsible for your child’s injuries, you have the legal right to seek justice and compensation.
However, pursuing a medical malpractice claim is not simple. You need a skilled Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer to help guide you through the process.
Read on to learn more about birth injuries and things you need to know before deciding whether it’s worth proceeding with a birth injury lawsuit.
1. What Is a Birth Injury?
First, you need to identify whether your child has a birth injury. What is a birth injury? Birth injuries refer to the harm a baby sustains during the birthing process.
Malpractice can occur during your pregnancy, delivery, or post-delivery. Injuries can range from mild complications that ultimately resolve, or they can be long-lasting, permanent disabilities.
Some of the most common birth injuries include the following:
- Brachial plexus injuries, which involve damage to the nerves controlling the arm and hand;
- Cerebral palsy, which is a neurological disorder affecting movement and coordination;
- Erb’s palsy, which affects the arm, causing weakness and loss of motion;
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, which is a type of brain injury that results from oxygen deprivation;
- Fractures and broken bones; and
- Perinatal asphyxia, which is a lack of oxygen before, during, or just after delivery.
These are only a few potential birth injuries that could lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. Speak with a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea to discuss whether your child’s injury can be linked to medical malpractice.
Approximately 7 out of every 1,000 pregnant women in the United States encounter complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Birth injury malpractice specifically arises when healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses, fail to uphold the required standard of care during delivery. This negligence can result in serious complications during the birthing process.
2. Is a Birth Injury Preventable?
Is a birth injury preventable? A viable birth injury lawsuit involves preventable birth injuries. If your child’s injury was unavoidable, it’s not likely to rise to the level of medical malpractice. Many birth injuries are preventable with proper care and attention from medical professionals.
Obstetricians, nurses, and other healthcare providers are responsible for monitoring you and your baby throughout your pregnancy and delivery. These medical providers must make appropriate decisions and take necessary precautions to minimize risks.
Preventable birth injuries often result from:
- Failure to monitor your baby’s heart rate and respond to signs of distress,
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors,
- Delay in performing a necessary cesarean section, and
- Mismanagement of shoulder dystocia (a complication where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind your pelvic bone).
However, not all birth injuries are preventable; some may occur due to unpredictable complications or genetic factors. These types of situations may not have a valid cause of action. However, every situation could yield a different outcome.
For example, perhaps a genetic condition was not caught during your pregnancy. Had the doctor not missed this, the resulting birth injury could’ve been minimized. In this situation, you might have a medical malpractice claim.
3. How Common Are Birth Injuries?
How common are birth injuries? Unfortunately, birth injuries are more common than many people realize.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has previously estimated that 1 in 345 children have cerebral palsy. While some injuries may be mild and temporary, others can lead to lifelong disabilities that require extensive medical care and support.
4. What Is Medical Malpractice?
To pursue a birth injury lawsuit, you must prove that your child’s injury resulted from medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s negligence or deviation from the accepted standard of care causes harm to a patient. In a birth injury case, you must establish that:
- Your medical provider owed you a duty because there was a doctor-patient relationship;
- The medical professional breached their duty of care by failing to provide the same care a similar medical professional would have provided;
- This breach directly resulted in your child’s birth injury; and
- Your child suffered damages as a consequence.
You must show all four elements to pursue a birth injury claim successfully.
5. What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases?
Should you pursue a birth injury lawsuit, you have only a limited time to file your case. If you miss the filing deadline, expect the judge to dismiss your lawsuit entirely.
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for birth injury cases is generally three years from the date of discovery of the injury, but no longer than five years from the date of injury. However, there are exceptions for minors. The statute could be extended.
Should you file a parental claim for medical malpractice, you will need to adhere to the appropriate filing deadline. That’s why it’s crucial to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Baltimore to understand the specific deadline for your case.
6. Damages in a Birth Injury Case
Understanding the types of compensation you can pursue is another crucial element of a birth injury lawsuit. Compensation typically falls under two main categories—economic and non-economic.
Economic damages cover the tangible costs related to the injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including future expected medical costs;
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs;
- Special education and adaptive equipment; and
- Lost income potential.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, compensate for intangible losses that are difficult to quantify, including:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Permanent disability or disfigurement.
In some cases, a jury might award punitive damages to punish the negligent party and deter future misconduct. However, these awards are relatively rare.
7. How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?
You won’t receive any compensation unless you can successfully prove medical negligence. Proving a birth injury case can be complex and requires substantial evidence.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will work with medical experts to establish the standard of care the physician should’ve provided. We will demonstrate how the healthcare provider deviated from that standard.
8. How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
If you’re hoping to pursue a medical malpractice birth injury lawsuit independently, the odds of a successful resolution are significantly lower. Hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer is crucial for the success of your case.
When you hire Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico, your attorney will:
- Evaluate the merits of your case and advise you on the best course of action,
- Investigate and gather evidence to support your claim,
- Work with medical experts to establish the standard of care and causation,
- Represent you in settlement negotiations or at trial, and
- Fight tirelessly to help you receive the maximum compensation for your child’s injuries.
Choosing the right lawyer for a medical malpractice case is crucial. You need a lawyer you feel comfortable with and who will answer your questions and guide you every step of the way.
Contact the Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico
If you suspect your child has a birth injury due to a medical provider’s negligence, the time to act is now. Please get in touch with our office to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.
Our firm has years of experience representing victims of medical malpractice in Maryland. We’ve worked hard to build a reputation for success and will relentlessly pursue justice for our clients.
Do not let the fear of legal fees keep you from setting up a consultation. You will not pay upfront for any legal services in a medical malpractice case when you hire Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico.
We work on a contingency basis: we get paid only if we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get justice for your child’s preventable birth injury.