How Do I Tell if My Baby Has a Preventable Birth Injury?
Quick Answer - Consult With an Attorney
A preventable birth injury occurs when the medical providers who are responsible for looking after you during the pregnancy and the birth, act negligently, without due care and attention, or deviate from the standard medical practices they have been taught to adhere to.
This means that if your child was born with a birth injury, and it happened because of errors, mistakes, or a lack of monitoring, it was most likely preventable. If this is the case, you may have a medical malpractice claim and should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to seek the justice you deserve.
If you are worried that your baby is missing developmental milestones or have any other concerns, then you should contact your doctor for advice.
Types of Birth Injuries
There is a wide range of birth injuries, and over the years, we have dealt with cases involving most of them. Birth injuries have the potential to cause long-term complications and injuries and may seriously affect the child and the mother's quality of life. In some cases, injuries may lead to developmental problems or issues with motor skills.
Most of these injuries fall into two categories:
A prenatal birth error is the term that encompasses any injuries or errors that occur before the baby is born, during the pregnancy. Your medical providers should make sure that adequate fetal monitoring is carried out during your pregnancy. They should make sure they carry out tests to check for conditions like Spinal Bifida regularly so that issues can be detected early.
If your child has been born and they have a condition that should have been detected by fetal monitoring during the pregnancy, this could class as medical malpractice.
Labor and Delivery Error
Labor and delivery errors include all of the injuries that may happen during labor or when actually giving birth to the child. These periods are crucial, and your medical providers need to make sure that they act quickly when problems arise and that the child is monitored for fetal distress. If the child is in distress, then the right decisions need to be made quickly.
If it becomes obvious that you need a c-section for example, your medical providers should convert you in a timely manner, as delays may cause injury or complications.
Here are the more common causes of injury:
Head Trauma During Delivery
A newborn baby's head is extremely vulnerable, and when giving birth, your medical providers need to make sure that due care is taken to avoid too much trauma. If a newborn baby's head is subjected to too much trauma and force, it can lead to serious injuries, including brain damage and facial paralysis.
Neglecting to Perform Specialized Tests
Regular fetal monitoring during the pregnancy ensures that conditions that can be diagnosed during the pregnancy are detected early enough that measures can be taken in a timely manner.
Delay in Converting the Mother to Caesarian Section
It is imperative that your medical providers convert you to c-section immediately once it becomes apparent that it is necessary. If they delay, and you or your child have suffered injuries because of the delay, these injuries may have been preventable if they acted quickly and converted you in a timely manner.
Negligent Vacuum Use
If the mother begins to show signs of struggle and the child is not moving through the birth canal quickly enough, the decision may need to be made to assist the mother. One way that medical providers may choose to do this is to utilize a vacuum.
Using a vacuum to assist with the birth is not a decision to be made lightly. There are a host of risks and it must be carried out by a competent individual.
Your medical providers need to act carefully to prevent the vacuum from causing brain damage or bruising. This kind of damage is often irreparable.
If your medical providers made the decision to assist you in your birth by utilizing the vacuum and your child's birth injury occurred during the process, then you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
One of the most common causes of birth injuries in newborns is oxygen deprivation. This can happen for a number of reasons, and can cause serious life-long injuries, even death in the most severe cases. The brain does not repair in the same way that many of our muscles and other body parts do, and this means that brain damage is normally permanent
There are tests that can be carried out during pregnancy for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, which is the medical name for oxygen deprivation, and this is just one reason why adequate fetal monitoring is crucial. Detecting oxygen deprivation as soon as possible is crucial, as it allows for the right measures to be taken.
Types of Common Birth Injuries That Could Be Caused by Medical Malpractice
There are many birth injuries that can be caused by birth trauma, and an experienced birth injury attorney will have experience dealing with most of them. Here are the most common injuries:
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is found at the top of your arms. This group of nerves can be easily damaged when too much force is applied to the head, shoulders, arms, or neck during birth. The most common reason is when the head is pulled too hard to one side or the other.
Cerebral palsy is one of the more common conditions that can occur due to HIE and oxygen deprivation. When there is not enough oxygen or blood flow to the baby during the pregnancy or the birth, they may develop cerebral palsy.
Symptoms can include:
- Involuntary movements
- Delays reaching milestones such as motor skill milestones
- Poor muscle coordination
- Weakness in one leg or arm
- 'Scissored' gait
- Stiff or tight muscles
Spina bifida is one of the conditions that can be detected early with adequate fetal monitoring. There are a range of tests for it, including ultrasound, fluid tests, and blood tests.
Spina bifida occurs when there is damage to the child's spine. During the pregnancy, your baby's spine needs to connect and seal. If the spine does not connect properly or on time, there is an increased risk of spinal lesions and injuries. The higher up the spine these occur, the worse the effects. Spina bifida may lead to paraplegia or tetraplegia.
The spine is similar to the brain. It cannot repair after damage, and this means injuries are usually permanent.
Symptoms may include:
- Bladder or bowel problems
- Difficulty with planning, organizing, or solving problems
- Atypical eye movement
- Difficulty paying attention
- Hip injuries
- Club foot
- Weakness or paralysis of the legs
What is Medical Malpractice?
When a medical provider owes you a duty of care, they are legally obligated to act in a reasonable manner to protect those under their charge. When they breach this duty of care, either through a negligent act or an omission of an act, any injury they cause may class as medical malpractice.
An example of a negligent act, would be causing damage through the incorrect use of a vacuum during an assisted or forced delivery.
An example of an omission of an act, would be failing to monitor the fetus correctly during the pregnancy.
Peter Angelos Law - Medical Malpractice Law Firm
If your child suffered injuries during the pregnancy or birth, you have every right to be angry. Nothing hurts more as a parent than watching your child suffer. If the suffering could have been preventable, then you also have the right to pursue the recovery of your damages, and you may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you and your child have been through.
At Peter Angelos Law, PLLC, we are uniquely adapted to handle medical malpractice and birth injury cases. This is because we dedicated much of our professional time to doing just that. We have a long list of successful cases under our belt. We have won cases similar to yours before and this means we have an advantage when it comes to building a strategy for your specific situation.,
An experienced birth injury lawyer is ready to help, so call us today at 410-705-2405.
Four Elements of a Birth Injury Medical Negligence Case
If you are raising a negligence claim here in Maryland, your attorney will need to prove four important elements in order for your case to be a valid one. Your attorney will consider these four elements from the beginning and may ask certain questions during your initial consultation to help them deduce if they will be able to do so.
Duty of Care
First, you will need to prove that the individual who caused your child's preventable birth injury owed you and your child a duty of care at the time. This is relatively simple when it comes to medical malpractice cases, as all medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients.
Breach of the Duty of Care
Second, the at-fault party must have breached their duty of care to you by acting negligently, failing to act reasonably or by acting without due care and attention. To prove this, your attorney may speak to medical experts to gain their opinion. Often, the best way to prove they breached their duty of care, is to examine how other medical providers would have acted in the same situation.
Causation is the third step, and this involves proving that the injuries your child suffered, occurred as a direct result of the actions that breached the duty of care. In birth injury cases, it is easier to prove causation. The child was either injured during the birth or the pregnancy, so there will be no question of whether the injuries occurred elsewhere.
Last, you will need to prove that there were damages incurred due to the injury.
This may include economic damages, such as medical bills, or non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
Statute of Limitations for a Birth Injury Lawsuit
If you are considering bringing a claim in the state of Maryland, you need to be made aware of the statute of limitations. Under these statutes, you have a legal time limit placed upon you to make your claim. After this time limit has elapsed, you will no longer be eligible to make a claim. If you try, the other party will apply to have it thrown out and they will most likely succeed.
Besides the time limit placed upon you by the statute of limitations, you should also be aware that the sooner you get in touch with your attorney and begin your claim, the better. Their job of investigating, building your case, and calculating your damages is much easier if you give them the maximum possible time to do so.
Under Maryland's statute of limitations:
You have three years from the date of the malpractice incident or, in some circumstances where the injuries were discovered later, you have five years from the date but no more than three years from the discovery of the injuries.
Which Malpractice Personal Injury Lawyers To Hire For Your Case
When it comes to choosing an attorney to represent you, the decision is an important one and must not be taken lightly. The skill and competency of your attorney will influence whether or not you receive what could be owed to you.
For many clients, this is the first time in their lives that they have needed the assistance of an attorney. This can make it a difficult decision, especially if you have no idea what qualities to look for.
Medical malpractice cases involve fighting against not only the at-fault party, but their insurance company and the skilled and experienced legal team that they employ. Their sole job, each and every day, is working on the defense of their clients. This means they have a lot of knowledge and experience when it comes to devaluing the claims of people like you. This is because, historically, medical malpractice payouts have been substantial.
You will not stand a very good chance of seeking compensation against these aggressive legal teams alone, and this is why hiring the best possible attorney you can find is important. One great way to check if your attorney is reliable is to look for them on independent sites like AVVO. These independent sites place scores on attorneys independently, based on certain criteria, such as client reviews, accolades, and awards, years of service, and peer reviews.
Once you have narrowed your choices down, you should take advantage of the initial consultation to grill your attorney. You should prepare questions you want to be answered that will give you a good idea of your attorney's experience and skill. Preparing for your initial consultation will help you make the most of your time and get the ball rolling quicker.
During your free consultation, here are some things to speak to your attorney about:
- Experience - The main thing you should be looking for in a medical malpractice law firm is a track record for success in complex cases and in cases that are similar to yours. If your law firm has won huge cases against tough opponents (Such as our $4.5 billion dollar settlement win vs the states tobacco giants), then this gives you a good idea of how good they are. Equally important is being able to showcase victories in cases that are similar to your own case. This will mean they have dealt with and won cases like yours before.
- Reputation - One quality that many people do not think about, is the impact that your attorney's reputation will have on the case. Law firms like ours, which have been serving the state for half a century, are comprised of attorneys that have been involved in many cases. This means that they will likely have working relationships with many of the insurance companies and Judges. When insurance companies know that you are represented by an attorney with a reputation for winning cases, it makes it much more likely that they will either treat you fairly, or settle easier.
- Legal Expertise - A lot of law firms handle multiple practice areas but we recommend that in cases as complex as birth injury and malpractice, that you pick a law firm that dedicates most of its professional time to malpractice cases. This means they are dialed in to the right practice area and will likely be dealing with malpractice cases regularly.
- Medical Expertise - Your attorney will not have medical training, but if they regularly deal with malpractice cases, they should have a firm grasp of basic medical principles and should have access to medical experts to advise them where necessary.
Birth Injury FAQs
Contact an MD Birth Injury Lawyer Today
Every birth and every pregnancy comes with inherent risks that, sometimes, cannot be avoided. However, there are countless instances of preventable birth injuries across the United States every single year. In fact, the U.S. is one of the only developed countries in the world that can lay claim to the fact that preventable birth injuries are on the rise.
If your child has been born with an injury, or has been injured during the birth and you suspect the injuries were preventable, call us today at 410-705-2405.