Bringing a newborn child into the world can be one of the greatest feelings in the world. When you go to a hospital to give birth, you expect that the doctors and staff will make sure that your child is born safely and that complications to do not put the mother at risk. When mistakes are made the consequences can be devastating. Birth injuries can change the course of a child’s life forever. Filing a birth injury lawsuit can allow you to recover the compensation you need to take care of your family after a tragedy. Call the personal injury attorneys at Citywide Law Group to request a free consultation and find out how we can help you get the money you deserve.
How Can You Sue for a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries most frequently occur when doctors, hospitals, and/or staff make preventable errors that result in harm to the mother or child. Medical professionals in California are held to a heightened duty of care, meaning that they have to take extra care and precautions to ensure the safety of their patients. When this duty of care is not met, birth injuries can occur. If you believe that a medical professional’s negligence is the cause of your child’s birth injury, you may have grounds to recover damages from a personal injury lawsuit.
In order to successfully recover compensation from a lawsuit you will have to establish each of the following things:
- A doctor owed a duty of care to the mother and child,
- The doctor breached this duty of care by failing to use the level of skill, knowledge, and care required,
- This failure caused a birth injury, and
- The child and/or mother have been financially or emotionally harmed by this injury.
When Can You Sue for a Birth Injury?
California limits the amount of time victims have to file a claim for damages after an accident. Since birth injuries affect newborn children and may not be noticeable until the child has grown up a bit, California applies a special statute of limitations. Rather than the one year that is allowed in most other medical malpractice cases, birth injury cases must simply be filed prior to the child’s 8th birthday.
Common Birth Injuries
Birth injury is a term used to describe any harm, damage, or disability sustained by a child (or mother) during the childbirth process. In many cases, these birth injuries are preventable if doctors and staff are alert, attentive, and thorough. Negligent behavior can increase the risks of causing life-changing and even deadly birth injuries. Common birth injuries, that are often preventable with proper medical care, include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Facial Paralysis
- Bone fractures
- Brain damage
- Fetal death, and
- Maternal injury or death.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Giving birth can be a complex process. This is one of the reasons your obstetrician (OBGYN) receives extensive and specialized medical training. Your doctor should be thoroughly prepared to assist you through the birthing process and handle any complications that may arise. Birth injuries are often the result of a doctor’s failure or inability to manage complications. Birth injuries are frequently reported to be caused by:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Improper use of a vacuum, forceps, and other delivery-assisting devices
- Failure to monitor signs of distress in the fetus or mother
- Failure to perform a C-Section when necessary to prevent injury to the child or mother
- Prolonged labor
- Difficulty delivering larger children
- Poor staff communications
- Uterine rupture
- Failure to monitor child and mother after delivery.
Proper monitoring of the child and mother before, during, and after the labor and delivery process is essential to a successful childbirth. Failure to monitor can cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of preventable issues.
Damages Available in Birth Injury Cases
Birth injuries can cause a child to sustain incredibly painful, embarrassing, and limiting injuries. In many cases, families may be faced with extraordinary medical expenses to diagnose, treat, and recover from a birth injury. Some injuries may stay with a child for life and require assistive care and housing. Birth injuries can also limit a child’s ability to work during their life, which will compound existing financial pressures. Filing a birth injury lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, or staff responsible for your child’s birth injury can allow you to recover monetary damages to take care of these (and other) costs.
In California, you may be able to recover damages to compensate for any of the following harms:
- Present and future medical costs
- Medical transportation costs
- Rehabilitation (e.g., physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy)
- Nursing care costs
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Emotional distress.
Steps to Take After a Birth Injury
If your child sustains an injury during labor or delivery you may be overcome with emotion. Figuring out how to move forward and help your child may seem overwhelming. While filing a lawsuit may not be your first thought, it is important to understand that the things you do immediately after the injury matter. The decisions you make during this time will affect any future legal action you decide to take. Keep these suggestions in mind to help ensure your family’s safety and support your future legal claims.
See a Different Doctor
Make sure that your child’s birth injury is treated as soon as it is discovered. You should consider seeking a second opinion from a doctor who was not involved in the injury-causing delivery. This medical treatment will make sure that your child’s health is protected. Any reports generated by this treatment will help to prove that the birth injury was the result of a negligent delivery.
Take photographs of your child’s injuries. Write down your recollection of the traumatic event. Ask for a copy of all hospital records generated during your visit. Gather and collect any evidence that may be helpful in proving that your doctor was negligent.
Listen to Administrators, But Don’t Speak
Hospital administrators may try to apologize and convince you to accept a settlement offer. While this money may be tempting, it is important to understand that it will likely not be enough to cover the full extent of the damages that were caused. Administrators are trained in how to speak with grieving and/or angry patients. They know what to say to limit their own liability. Listen to what they have to say, but decline to speak with them. You can, however, tell them to direct all communication to your attorney.
Hire an Attorney
Birth injury cases can be extremely complex and time-consuming. You should focus on your newborn child and the mother during this stressful time. Hiring an attorney allows a skilled professional to handle your legal issues and gives you the time to focus on your family.
Los Angeles Birth Injury Attorneys
Was your child injured during labor or delivery? Have complications affected the mother? If so, you may want to consider filing a birth injury lawsuit against the hospital or doctor responsible for the traumatic event. Call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Citywide Law Group to find out how we can help you maximize the compensation you are awarded. We have over 17 years of experience handling complex personal injury cases, including those for devastating birth injuries. We’ve helped clients like you recover millions in compensation, and we are confident that we can help you, too. While you have a few years to file a claim, it is important to understand that the sooner you begin the process the stronger your case will be. Call us today to request a free consultation and learn more. We will review your case, explain the steps involved in filing a lawsuit, and answer the questions you have.