Over 28,000 birth injures occur annually in the U.S., which breaks down to about three babies per hour. Some injuries are minor while others are permanent. A severely injured baby will need medical care for the rest of its life.
What Are Birth Injuries?
Birth injury describes any type of injury that occurs to the child or mother during childbirth. Indeed, there are many types of birth injuries. Here’s a brief description of injuries that can be permanent:
- Cerebral Palsy. The condition is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls movement and often leads to problems with sight, hearing, and speaking.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. These are physical injuries that cause the child to lose the connection between the brain and body. The injuries can be severe and permanent.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries. These injuries happen when nerves that connect the spine and shoulders are damaged. A severe injury can cause permanent paralysis.
Of course, birth injuries may result in a child’s death.
Causes Of Birth Injuries
Sadly, many birth injuries are caused by medical negligence. For example, spinal cord injuries occur when the baby is pulled out of the birth canal too quickly. Further, the spinal cord can be damaged if the baby’s neck is stretched. If a mother has undetected preeclampsia, she may have seizures and the baby may be hurt. Likewise, doctors make mistakes using forceps and other instruments.
Getting Legal Help
The parents need to hire an attorney who works in the area of medical malpractice or negligence. The lawyer must prove several things in order to make a claim. First, there must be proof of a doctor-patient relationship. This means the doctor was hired to care for the mother and deliver the baby. Next, the doctor’s negligence must be proven. Most negligence cases revolve around the doctor’s standard of care. Usually, a medical expert is retained to discuss the doctor’s standard of care and whether it was appropriate.
In addition, the lawyer must prove that negligence caused the injury. The best way to prove the connection is by having the medical expert testify. Many lawyers refuse to handle birth injury cases, they don’t want to foot the bill for the expert’s fees. Lawyers lose their money unless they win the case.
What To Expect At Trial
Trial preparation is ongoing in this type of case and may require the lawyer to work many hours to build a case. The case must prove negligence and show the jury what the child’s life will look like in the future. The lawyer focuses on proving damages, which include lost wages for the parents when they miss work. Further, parents may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The lawyer, working with the parents and medical experts, determines the amount of money to seek for the child’s ongoing medical care. In addition, damages must be paid if the child is permanently impaired. Parents seek damages for their mental anguish and pain and suffering.
A recent industry report shows that only seven percent of medical malpractice cases go to trial. That means insurance adjusters and lawyers work together to try and reach a settlement. Settlements can happen before the trial or at any time during the proceedings. It may be best to try to settle the case if the parties want to avoid waiting two years or more to get to the trial stage.
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