What Qualities to Look for in a Maryland Birth Injury Lawyer
As a mother, there is nothing more traumatic than witnessing your child suffer from a birth injury, especially if it was caused by the negligence of the medical providers who were responsible for monitoring your child during the pregnancy and ensuring your birth was as problem-free as possible.
With the extortionate cost of healthcare that we pay in this country, you should be able to trust in the competency of your medical providers, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, in the United States, we are one of few developed countries where preventable birth injuries are on the rise, not the decline.
A preventable birth injury is any injury that has occurred because your medical providers have failed to provide the level of care they are legally obligated to provide. If it can be proven that they have acted negligently, and breached the duty of care they owed you, then you may be eligible to bring a birth injury claim against those responsible.
At Peter Angelos Law, our team of Maryland birth injury lawyers has been fighting on behalf of the victims of medical malpractice for over 50 years. With this experience, we have developed a unique skill set that allows us to tailor a robust and bespoke strategy, tailored to your unique case.
Call us today at 410-705-2405.
6 Qualities to Look for in a Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child has suffered from a birth injury that you think was caused by negligence, and you are considering hiring a birth injury attorney to take your case, you may be unsure where to begin. After all, this is not a choice to be made lightly, as it will be the deciding factor in the success of your case.
Here are the qualities we think are important in a Maryland birth injury attorney.
A Proven Track Record
Your birth injury attorney MUST have a proven track record for winning birth injury cases. This is by far the most important quality to look for. The more cases your attorney and their law firm have won that are similar to your own, the better they will be equipped to handle your case, no matter what direction it may take. Being able to draw upon past victories and the experience they have gained will give you an advantage.
You can either ask your potential attorney straight up, as all good attorneys will be more than happy to share their victories with you or you can do your own independent research, checking independent sites like AVVO.
Experience in Your Local Area
Personal injury law is complicated, and when it comes to the specific laws and rules that surround a birth injury lawsuit, they become even more complex. This means you should always choose an attorney that practices in your specific state or county as opposed to nationwide attorneys.
Take our law firm for example, we have been serving the state of Maryland for over 50 years. Serving the state for this long has helped us do several things:
First, we have built a working relationship with many of the Judges, attorneys, and insurance companies that you may be dealing with in your case. With this knowledge, we may be able to tweak and tailor our approach to suit the individual Judge or attorney.
Second, we have earned a stellar reputation. One for winning cases and advocating aggressively on behalf of our clients. This means that the state's insurance companies may think twice about pushing for a court battle when they know you are represented by one of our fierce trial lawyers.
Lastly, over the last 50 years we have built an incredibly vast network of resources, such as expert witnesses and investigators. When it comes to birth injury lawsuits, having access to experts who can provide expert testimony is key to success.
Strong Communication and Organization Skills
Any attorney with a track record for winning complex cases will be in high demand. This means they will likely have a full caseload of clients. This is not bad, but they must be able to organize their time correctly, allocating the correct amount of time to each client and their case. While they may not be accessible around the clock, and you should never expect them to be, you should feel they answer your queries and calls in a prompt manner.
The Right Qualifications
You should never hire an attorney without checking their qualifications to practice law in your state. They should also have worked through all of the subsequent education sessions that work to keep them up to date on current laws and changes.
You may also want to look for accolades and awards such as the Super Lawyer award or Best of the Bar.
For example, attorney Jay D. Miller, from our team, can boast a number of accolades, such as being:
The President of the Baltimore County Bar Association, 2020, Vice President of the Baltimore County Bar Association, 2019, Listed in Top 100 Trial Lawyers by National Trial Lawyers, 2011 and 2012, Listed as a Super Lawyer in Maryland Super Lawyers Magazine, 2009 – Present.
Or Thomas Minkin, who has been listed as a Super Lawyer in Maryland, as well as a 2015 and a 2018 lifetime achievement award by the Baltimore Building & Construction Trades Council and the Daily Record, respectively.
A Caring and Compassionate Personality
Birth injury lawsuits are highly sensitive, and you will need to feel comfortable enough to discuss extremely personal matters with your attorney. This means it is always worth the time to make sure that you and your attorney do not have conflicting personalities.
A good attorney will be compassionate about what you have been through, and you should feel comfortable around them. When necessary, they should be able to advise you and educate you in a way that works for you. This is important, especially if you are already dealing with mental distress, physical pain, and emotional trauma as a result of the birth injury.
The Right Fee Structure
At Peter Angelos Law, it is our firm belief that if your child has been the victim of medical negligence, you should have the opportunity to pursue a claim on their behalf, regardless of your financial situation.
For that reason, we usually take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs for our representation, initial consultation, or case evaluation, and there are no fees to pay if we cannot win your case. This means there is no risk to pursuing a claim, you simply pay our fees if, and only if, we win you a settlement or your damages are awarded in the courtroom.
Our goal is to empower the victims of medical malpractice, educating them on their rights and giving them the confidence they need to hold their negligent providers accountable.
How Does Maryland Medical Malpractice Law Define Malpractice in Birth Injury Claims
As soon as you have agreed to representation from an experienced birth injury lawyer, they will arrange a free consultation and case evaluation. During this meeting, they will ask you about what happened to you and your child, using the answers to these questions to deduce whether it was indeed medical negligence.
Your Maryland birth injury attorneys will need to be able to prove that the medical provider has breached the duty of care they owed to you and your child. If they have acted unreasonably, and have breached their duty of care, then this is negligence. Any injuries caused by negligence are usually preventable.
Four Elements of a Birth Injury Case
In Maryland birth injury lawsuits, your attorney will be expected to prove the four elements of negligence.
- Firstly, you will need to prove that the party responsible owed you and your child a duty of care. Almost all medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients.
- Secondly, the medical provider's actions meant that they breached this duty of care.
- Thirdly, this breach in the duty of care directly caused either your child or yourself injury or harm.
- Finally, this harm resulted in you suffering an injury that required medical treatment and damages on your behalf.
The Most Common Birth Injuries Causes
There are a number of different root causes for a birth injury, and understanding what caused your child's injury is important.
There are two main categories of birth injury:
If your child's birth injury occurred during the pregnancy, then it is called a prenatal error. Usually, these injuries are caused because your medical providers did not provide you and your child adequate monitoring during the pregnancy.
This may have been through a lack of due care and attention, or it may be because they did not take into account certain markers that flag you and your child as a higher risk for certain conditions.
If the mother has diabetes, for example, then there is an increased risk of certain conditions that may require additional tests and monitoring.
If your child has been born with a condition that should have been detected during the pregnancy through fetal monitoring, you may have grounds for a claim.
Labor and Delivery Error
Birth injuries caused during the birth are known as labor and delivery errors. These injuries often happen because a decision has taken too long or because of the incompetent use of forced delivery methods, such as the vacuum.
Here are the most common birth errors:
Head Trauma During Delivery
Your newborn baby's head is particularly vulnerable during the birth, and the attending medical providers must take extreme care not to apply too much trauma. The results of too much trauma to the head during this period can be serious injuries such as:
- Brain Injury
- Facial Paralysis
One of the reasons fatal monitoring is important during both the pregnancy and the labor and delivery process, is so that any signs of fetal distress can be picked up immediately. When it becomes obvious that the fetus is in distress, a decision may need to be made to speed the process up to save the baby.
If it has become obvious that the conditions have been met that warrant a forced delivery, the decision must be made as soon as possible to reduce the risks associated with doing so.
Delay in Converting the Mother to Caesarian Section
If it becomes obvious that the mother needs to be converted to a c-section, it must be done in a timely manner, or there may be further complications. A delayed decision may lead to injuries to both the mother and the child.
Negligent Vacuum Use
The decision to proceed with a forced delivery with the use of a vacuum is not one that should ever be made lightly. This is because the use of a vacuum carries a number of risks.
To reduce the risks, the decision must be made in a timely manner and should only be carried out by an individual who has received the full training in its use.
The incorrect use of a vacuum can leave children with permanent brain damage and a range of other injuries.
The risk of oxygen deprivation to a baby's brain is one of the most important reasons that they need adequate fetal monitoring. Oxygen deprivation can lead to a range of conditions, such as cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, and brain damage. This damage is usually permanent, as the brain cannot repair itself after the damage is done.
Oxygen deprivation can happen at all stages of the pregnancy, but the highest risk is during the time period of the child being ready to be born and the actual birth.
Who Can You Bring a Malpractice Suit Against for a Child's Birth Injury?
Most health care providers and medical providers that owe you and your child a duty of care can be found negligent, including:
- Nursing Homes
- Healthcare Companies
- Aids or Assistants
- Many other medical providers
What Damages Can You Recover Following a Preventable Birth Injury?
Your attorney will need to calculate the value of the damages that have been incurred as a result of the injuries your child has suffered. This will give them a figure to work from when it comes to the negotiation of a settlement.
They will need to first look at the economic damages that have been suffered, which in a birth injury case, are the damages that have cost the parents financially. These include things like lost income from time taken off to be with the child and the medical expenses you have had to pay or will have to pay for your child's injuries to be treated.
Once they have figured out what your economic damages are worth, they will need to work out the non-economic damages. These damages are subjective, and it will be down to your attorney to calculate what they are worth In their opinion.
To do this, many attorneys will apply a multiplier to the total of your economic damages depending on how bad they think the pain and suffering have been.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages compensate your child for the pain they have been through and you and your spouse for the emotional trauma you have been subjected to as a result of watching your child suffer.
Pain and suffering damages may also compensate your child for any future loss of enjoyment of life. If your child has been left with a life-long disability for example, and will never be able to ride a bike or throw a ball, they deserve compensation for these losses.
It is extremely likely that you and your spouse have had to take time off work in some way or another, and you should not be left out of pocket for these lost wages. If your claim is successful, you will be entitled to recover all of the wages you have lost, and if you are going to have to work reduced hours or give up your job to look after your child after the birth injuries they have suffered, your attorney may seek the recovery of this future lost earning capacity also.
Following a birth injury, medical expenses can begin to mount up, especially if the injuries are serious and require complex treatment. If your child has suffered a birth injury because of the negligence of a medical provider, you can recover all of your medical expenses. This includes any future medical expenses from the highest-quality medical provider of your choice.
Punitive damages are rare, but they do serve an important role in the medical malpractice system. They act as a deterrent, sending a clear message that medical providers must take their responsibilities seriously and be held accountable for any negligence they commit. This helps to ensure that medical providers are more careful when treating patients, thus helping to protect them from harm.
In cases where punitive damages are awarded, the amount awarded is usually determined by the jury, with the amount being proportional to the degree of the malpractice. The amount can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the severity of the malpractice. In some cases, punitive damages may also be used to cover legal fees, court costs, and other related expenses.
Punitive damages can only be awarded by a Judge, so if your case settles without the need for court involvement, you will not be able to pursue punitive damages.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
The statute of limitations is a state-specific set of time limits placed on individuals who wish to make a medical malpractice, birth injury, personal injury, or wrongful death case. These laws protect medical providers from being sued for events that happened so far in the past that they will be impossible to prove.
According to the statutes in place in Maryland, you only have 3 years from the date of the injury to raise a claim. If the injury was only discovered later, you have 5 years, but no longer than 3 years from the date the injury was discovered.
While this may seem like a long time to file your claim, you should never wait this long. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney and begin the process of making a claim, the stronger your chances will be. This is because they will have longer to build the strongest possible case, and will be more likely to find fresh evidence.
Filing a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
If your child has lost their life as a result of the injuries they have suffered at the hands of the negligent provider, you will have to file a wrongful death case. While no amount of compensation will ever heal your grief, it can provide you with financial security while you come to terms with your losses at this difficult time.
Maryland Birth Injury FAQs
How long does a birth injury claim case take?
The period of time it will take for your birth injury case to complete will be entirely dependent on how complex the case is. The more serious the injuries, the harder it is to assign liability, and the particular insurance company defending the other party will all seriously impact the length of the case. Other factors include the reputation and skill of your attorney, as some insurance companies will be more likely to settle when they know you have representation from a skilled attorney with a reputation for winning cases in court.
How are birth injury cases funded?
Here at Peter Angelos Law, our law firm, we work on a contingency fee basis for clients in Maryland. This means clients do not have to worry about the financial repercussions of a potential loss and do not have to pay any money up-front for legal representation. If the case is lost, our clients will not owe anything to the attorney.
Do all medical negligence cases go to court?
Statistically, around 7 out of every 10 cases involving medical malpractice will be settled without the need for court involvement. This means that around 3 in every 10 cases will end up in the courtroom.
Whether your case will end up in court or not will depend upon how strong your case is, how good the reputation of your attorney is and the complexity of your injuries. If your injuries were clearly the result of a negligent provider, they will likely settle if your attorney is a capable negotiator.
As 3 cases in every 10 will require the need for litigation, we recommend that you choose an attorney that is equally as skilled in litigation as they are in negotiation, so they can handle your case no matter what direction it takes.
Should you accept the first offer of compensation?
A common tactic used by the insurance companies that work on behalf of Maryland's medical providers, is to reduce their overall payout by offering lower than the grand scope of your damages. They may do this relatively quickly after the incident, hoping that you accept and forgo your right to pursue further compensation.
You should always be wary of this and discuss any settlement offer with your attorney. If your child's injuries have not yet healed or there may be further complications, you may need more money than they are offering, in the long run, to care for them, and if you accept an early settlement offer, you forgo that right.
We always recommend refusing the first offer of settlement. This first offer is always a lowball and it will give your attorney a position to negotiate up from.
Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys May be Able to Help
No parent should have to witness their child suffering because their medical provider has acted negligently. You deserve a certain level of competency from your providers, and when they fail to meet their duty of care to you, you deserve to hold them accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused.
Call us today at 410-705-2405.