What Birth Injuries are Caused by Medical Malpractice in Maryland?
Here are some of the injuries that can be caused by medical provider negligence in the state of Maryland:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb's palsy
- Brain damage
- Shoulder dystocia
- Facial paralysis
- Fractured bones
- Maternal hemorrhage
- Umbilical cord entrapment
- Fetal distress
- Birth asphyxia
- Fetal stroke
- Spinal cord injury
- Fetal malpositioning
- Fetal heart rate abnormalities
- Wrongful termination of pregnancy
- Retained placenta
Medical Malpractice in the United States
Shockingly, even though America is one of the most developed countries in the world, it is one of the few developed nations where the number of birth injuries caused by negligence is on the rise. Over the past decade, there has been a steady rise in the number of birth errors and prenatal errors, a worrying statistic.
Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological disorder that can affect the body's ability to coordinate with other parts of the body, such as the muscles. This can lead to impairment of movement, posture, and balance. The condition is usually caused when there is damage to a baby's developing brain during pregnancy or during birth.
While cerebral palsy can occur naturally, in certain cases, the damage can be attributed to the negligent behavior of the medical providers who were attending during the pregnancy or birth. This can happen in a number of ways, such as a lack of adequate fetal monitoring. If a baby suffers from an infection during the pregnancy and it is missed due to a lack of fetal monitoring, this could be negligence.
Adequate fetal monitoring should pick up the signs of fetal distress, allowing for timely diagnosis and action. Incorrect decisions during the birth, such as a delayed decision to convert to a c-section, may also lead to cerebral palsy.
If your baby has been born with cerebral palsy, and you have reason to suspect it was due to your medical provider's negligence at any point of the pregnancy, you may be able to seek financial compensation.
Erb's Palsy/Brachial Plexus Injuries
Connecting a baby's neck to the spinal cord is a group of nerves called the brachial plexus. When there is too much trauma to the neck or shoulder, or the head is pushed too hard to one side during the birth, these nerves can be damaged, leaving a baby with Erb's palsy.
Erb's palsy can be caused by a number of mistakes, such as the improper monitoring of the fetus, incorrect use of vacuums, and forced deliveries.
The brain does not have the ability to repair itself in the same way that much of the rest of the body does, and this means that extreme care should be taken to prevent brain damage occurring during either pregnancy or the birth.
Brain damage can often be caused by medical provider negligence during either the birth or the pregnancy. The damage is often caused by delayed diagnoses or a lack of fetal monitoring. It can also be caused by excessive force during labor or incorrect use of forceps or vacuums.
The most common forms of brain damage caused by medical provider negligence during birth or pregnancy are cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and infant stroke.
These conditions can all come with life-long, life-changing effects on a baby's development and movement.
This is a serious condition that occurs if a baby's shoulder gets stuck after the head has been delivered during the birth. When this happens the baby can suffer from a range of serious complications. In certain serious cases, the baby may suffer permanent injury and disability and in the worst cases, it may lead to the death of the child.
Shoulder Dystocia can happen naturally during the birth but often it occurs because a medical provider has acted negligently, failing to recognize risks and monitor the fetus for distress. There are certain risk factors that indicate that shoulder dystocia may be a risk, such as a large baby or a mother that suffers from diabetes.
Additionally, improper use of medical equipment, such as forceps or vacuum extraction, can also increase the chances of shoulder dystocia.
Facial paralysis occurs when a baby has suffered an injury to the muscles and nerves of the face, leaving them with paralysis. Sometimes this occurs naturally, and in many cases, it will heal over the coming days and weeks.
In some cases, however, facial paralysis is permanent. If your medical providers have acted negligently, and your child has been born with facial paralysis, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against them.
Examples of negligence are the incorrect use of forceps and the vacuum, as well as a lack of fetal monitoring for distress. There are also certain conditions that could leave a baby with facial paralysis and these need to be detected during the pregnancy. They include conditions like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, which can lead to facial paralysis of the baby in the womb.
Fractured bones are an injury that is commonly caused by medical provider negligence during birth or pregnancy. When in labor, a baby can sustain fractures if the medical provider applies excessive force during positioning or the actual delivery.
A baby may also suffer from broken bones and fractures if your medical provider failed to monitor for conditions such as osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition that can cause a baby's bones to be more prone to fractures.
This is the term given to any excessive bleeding that a mother suffers during the birth or after the birth, as well as during the pregnancy. Maternal hemorrhage is one of the most serious injuries the mother can face and is one of the main causes of maternal mortality across the country.
There are a number of conditions that can cause maternal hemorrhages, such as pre-eclampsia, placenta abruption, and uterine atony.
In many cases, however, maternal hemorrhage may be caused by a negligent medical provider who has failed to monitor and recognize the symptoms and wearing signs, or when they fail to stop the bleeding correctly.
If you have suffered excessive bleeding due to medical provider negligence, she may be entitled to compensation for her injuries.
Umbilical Cord Entrapment
Umbilical cord entrapment injuries occur when the child's umbilical cord becomes trapped around the baby's neck during the delivery. Your medical providers should be able to identify and diagnose an entrapment by the baby's position during labor but when they fail to do so, this is negligence.
If your medical provider has failed to diagnose and treat an umbilical cord entrapment, it can leave the baby with serious complications and injuries. In the most serious of cases, the baby may suffer from brain damage or other conditions caused by oxygen deprivation, even death.
The term fetal distress refers to a fetus that is suffering from some condition and is in distress. Monitoring the fetus adequately during the pregnancy and birth should detect any signs of fetal distress but if your medical provider is not carrying out adequate monitoring, they may miss signs that a baby is in distress, such as vital signs changing.
Adequate fetal monitoring should detect conditions such as preeclampsia, placenta previa or diabetes and this should prevent the baby from fetal distress.
If fetal distress is not detected or treated in a timely manner, it can lead to serious medical complications and even death.
Birth asphyxia is a term used when a baby suffers from a lack of oxygen during birth. It can be caused when your medical providers delay in responding to fetal distress signs and may also happen if there has been too much anesthesia administered. Fetal monitoring during the pregnancy should also ensure that risk factors such as a large baby, entrapped umbilical cord or blocked airway are detected early so steps can be taken.
Fetal stroke can be caused by a disruption in the oxygen and blood supply to the fetus. In many cases, fetal stroke can be caused by the negligence of the attending medical providers during birth or pregnancy. This may happen if they fail to detect and treat an infection in the mother, fail to detect and treat maternal hypertension, or fail to detect fetal distress in a timely manner.
Anencephaly is a tragic and rare birth defect that occurs when a baby is born without certain parts of the brain and skull. This is a fatal condition, and babies born with this condition will only survive for a few hours or days at best.
While it does occur naturally, Anencephaly is often caused by the negligence of medical providers. This can happen if they fail to carry out adequate monitoring that allows them to detect things like infections or a mothers health conditions that may indicate a risk of Anencephaly.
Spinal Cord Injury
As the tissue between the brain and the baby's spinal cord needs to seal properly for them to have full movement, any delay or failure in this sealing process can leave the child with serious injuries and lifelong impairment. The spine cannot repair itself in the same way that the rest of the body does, and this means that the damage, when done, is often permanent.
Spinal damage and spinal bifida should be detected by adequate fetal monitoring, such as ultrasound tests, blood tests, or the examination of the fluids surrounding the fetus. If your child has been born with a spinal injury, and your medical providers had no knowledge, they most likely have not carried out the right level of fetal monitoring.
The severity of the impairment caused by spinal injuries depends upon how high up the spine the damage happens, and symptoms are usually worse the higher up the spine the lesion is found.
- 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
Fetal malpositioning is a common medical complication that can occur during birth or pregnancy. It occurs when a fetus is not in the correct position for delivery, such as when the head is not facing the birth canal, or the baby is in a breech position.
Fetal malpositioning can cause a variety of complications, such as labor dystocia (difficulty delivering the baby), premature birth, and birth injury. In some cases, fetal malpositioning can be caused by medical provider negligence during birth or pregnancy.
For example, doctors may fail to identify the position of the baby during routine ultrasounds, or may fail to detect signs of fetal distress or malpositioning during labor and delivery. In addition, medical providers may fail to properly monitor the mother and baby during labor, or may fail to perform a timely Cesarean section if the baby is in distress. In these situations, medical negligence can lead to serious complications for both the mother and baby.
Hypoxia is a medical condition when certain regions of the body do not get enough oxygen, similar to oxygen deprivation in the brain, only in the body's cells and tissues instead. This can be caused by a lack of fetal monitoring.
This list is not comprehensive, and there are many other injuries that may occur during your pregnancy or during the birth of your child. However, they are the most common, and if your child has suffered one of the above injuries, we can help, as we have handled cases involving these injuries.
If your baby's injury does not appear on this list, do not worry, our team of skilled attorneys have access to some of the best medical experts in the field, and we can seek expert testimonials to help you hold those responsible for the injuries caused.
Peter Angelos Law - Powerful Advocacy - When You Need It Most
Obtaining representation from one of our team here at Peter Angelos Law ensures that you have legal representation from an attorney that has vast experience. When it comes to your birth injury case, we can tailor a bespoke strategy, one devised based on our countless victories in similar cases.
We have been serving the state of Maryland for over 50 years, since 1961, and in these 50 years, we have won countless cases, ranging from small injuries to vast settlements, won in tough fights against some of the biggest corporations of the state ($4.5 billion dollars from the tobacco companies).
We always take the time to educate our clients, ensuring they are kept involved and informed throughout the entire case. This is part of our desire to build a confidence-inspiring attorney-client relationship with each and every client that comes through our doors.
We offer a free initial consultation and case evaluation to all new clients, making it easy for them to ask the important questions they need to ask and have their case evaluated before proceeding further. If it is worth pursuing, we will do so with no up-front fees, working on a contingency fee basis. This allows you to pursue your case without fear. If we can't win you a settlement via negotiations or in the courtroom, you don't pay us a penny.
If your case does proceed to the courtroom, you can proceed under the confidence that every attorney on the team here at Peter Angelos Law, is a fierce trial lawyer. The insurance companies of the state know our reputation and know that we don't settle for less.
Secure legal representation today by calling us at 410-705-2405.
Common Birth Injuries Causes
The injuries caused by negligent providers can lead to a child's birth injury that causes them to suffer for the rest of their life. Certain injuries and conditions will require the child to undergo life-long care and treatment and may affect their ability to develop normally and take part in normal life.
There are two categories of birth injury causes:
Prenatal errors are those caused by the negligence of a medical provider during the period when they should be providing fetal monitoring and prenatal care. Errors during this period include a lack of adequate monitoring and the failure to diagnose, as well as misdiagnosis and delayed diagnoses.
Labor and Delivery Error
Labor and delivery errors are those that occur when the time comes to give birth. If your medical providers have acted without due care and attention, or they have deviated from the practices they have been taught to adhere to, the result can be a serious injury or even the death of the child or mother.
Some of the more common causes of birth injuries that we deal with are:
Head Trauma During Delivery
Your medical providers need to take all care and attention to ensure that there is no excessive force placed onto the baby's head during the birth or labor. This prevents damage to vulnerable areas such as the brachial plexus, brain, and spine.
If too much force is applied, the damage can often be permanent and leave the child with impairments, disabilities, and paralysis.
Neglecting to Perform Specialized Tests
There are a number of conditions that can and should be detected should they arise during pregnancy. Carrying out adequate fetal monitoring is one of the tasks your medical providers should carry out under their duty of care to you.
When a baby is delivered, there are a number of complications that can occur, and these need to be diagnosed and dealt with in a timely manner. If this has not been the case, and your baby has suffered from complications that could have been prevented with timely care, you may have a medical malpractice claim.
The most common complications are:
- Cephalopelvic disproportion
- Maternal illness
Delay in Converting the Mother to Caesarian Section
Your medical providers need to convert you to a c-section in a timely manner when it becomes obvious that it is necessary a failure to convert to a c-section in a timely manner is negligence, and can lead to serious problems.
Your medical providers should be monitoring the child for a change in heartbeat or any other signs of fetal distress. This allows them to make the decision quickly and convert in a timely manner.
Negligent Vacuum Use
The use of a vacuum to assist a struggling mother is not a decision to be taken lightly as it comes with a range of potential problems. Incorrect vacuum use can lead to brain damage and other injuries, and so the decision should only be made when it becomes obvious it is the only way.
Similar to the use of a vacuum, a forced delivery should only be carried out when there is no other option, as there are a number of different injuries that can be caused.
Forced delivery comes with a variety of risks and should only be done if there is a clear reason to, as there is a risk of brachial injuries, Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy, or other trauma.
One of the biggest causes of a serious birth injury is when the baby suffers from some form of oxygen deprivation. This may occur in the brain or in the other tissues of the body. Without the right level of oxygen in the brain, the cells die off, and because the brain does not repair, this leads to irreversible brain damage.
When this happens, it is called Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE for short.
When babies suffer from HIE, it usually means that they need to be delivered immediately or they risk suffering from permanent brain damage.
There are several conditions that may occur when the baby is still in the womb too, and this is one of the reasons fetal monitoring should be thorough. When it becomes obvious the fetus is suffering from HIE, decisions can be made that may save the baby's life or prevent life-long brain damage.
If your baby has suffered from injuries caused by HIE and you believe your medical provider acted negligently by a lack of adequate monitoring, it may have been medical malpractice, and you should speak to a Maryland birth injury lawyer immediately.
Statute of Limitations for a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
Your Maryland birth injury attorney will explain to you that in Maryland, there is a statute of limitations placed upon those who wish to make a birth injury claim. This time limit prevents birth injury claims from being made many years after the injury, where the evidence will not be sufficient enough to prove a case.
For birth injury victims, there is a period of 3 years from the date of the birth or 5 years from the date of the birth if the injuries are discovered later on. However, you will only have 3 years from the date of the discovery.
This may seem like a long time, but the sooner you involve your Maryland birth injury attorneys, the better. This is because the evidence is easiest to uncover, and the case is easier to build if you involve them immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes for them, and the lower your chances of a successful claim.
Four Elements to Prove in Maryland Birth Injury Lawsuits
There are four important elements in any lawsuit that involves negligence:
- The medical provider owes you a duty of care - All medical providers owe a duty of care to their patients.
- The medical provider breached their duty of care - They behaved differently from how a reasonable person would in similar circumstances.
- The breach of their duty of care resulted in preventable birth injuries.
- These injuries led to damages, such as medical expenses.
Which Malpractice Law Firm To Hire For Your Case
Serious birth injuries and birth trauma can leave you in a state of shock, dealing with pain and injuries and the suffering of your child. This can make it a difficult time to think clearly. When you need to find an attorney to handle your case, the task may seem difficult in the state you may be in.
Many of our clients have never needed an attorney before, and this means they may not know the right qualities to look for.
We recommend that clients avoid making choices based on advertisements. Instead, look at any potential attorney and their profile on sites like AVVO, which places an independent rating on each attorney based on their skills, victories, peer reviews, and years of service.
Once you have made a shortlist of the potential attorneys that you might want to represent you, make arrangements for initial case evaluation and initial consultations with each of them and prepare a list of questions you wish to ask. This is your space to feel out your attorney and ensure your personalities don't clash. A good attorney will use this meeting to assure you that they are the right fit for the job, and you should come away from the meeting confident in their ability. If not, choose a different attorney.
During your free consultation, here are some things to look out for:
- Experience - Birth injury cases, and medical malpractice cases, in general, are complex and require a lot of skill and experience. Your attorney should be able to show their past victories in similar cases and should have a lot of experience fighting birth injury cases. If they have victories in similar cases, it will mean they have past experience to draw upon, which can be invaluable.
- Legal Expertise - As the most complex form of personal injury case, your medical malpractice attorney should have full knowledge of the complexities of medical malpractice law.
- Medical expertise - Your attorney will not have medical training, but they should have a full panel of medical experts to seek expert testimonials from. These experts are invaluable in a medical malpractice case, so ensure your attorney has the best experts on hand to provide that testimonial.
Potential Damages You Can Recover in a Birth Injury Case
Your attorney will help you to calculate the damages you and your child have suffered as a result of the malpractice and will work to recover as much as possible. They will also consider what your pain and suffering should look like in terms of compensation.
To determine how much you are owed, they will evaluate your damages, such as:
Pain and Suffering Damages
The pain and suffering your child has been put through as a result of the negligence should be compensated if they have been put through painful procedures or they have suffered injuries that will affect the way they live their lives, this needs to be considered.
The lost income you and your spouse have suffered while you care for your child following the malpractice should be recoverable. If you are left unable to return to work because your child is going to require long-term care, this should be accounted for.
One of the biggest worries following a birth injury is the rising medical costs that come with further treatment for the injuries caused by negligence. Your attorney will work to ensure that you are compensated for the medical expense you have incurred as a result of the malpractice. They will also ensure you receive enough in your settlement to cover the cost of ongoing medical care.
Maryland Birth Injury FAQs
Are all birth injuries actionable?
All births carry some level of risk, and if your child has suffered an injury that was not caused by the negligence of your medical providers, you will not have a case.
However, many birth injuries are preventable, and in these cases, you deserve to hold the medical providers responsible.
If your medical providers have acted without due care or attention or have deviated from the practices they should have followed, and you or your baby have suffered a "preventable" injury, you most likely have a claim.
How long do birth injury cases take?
The period of time that a malpractice case will take to complete will always depend on the complexity and the ability of your attorney. It will also depend upon the insurance company on the other side and their willingness to negotiate and settle.
In many cases, medical malpractice claims will take several years to complete.
How are birth injury lawsuits funded?
We work on a contingency fee basis here at Peter Angelos Law, which means we take cases on for no upfront cost and for no cost if we lose. If we negotiate a settlement or win your damages in court, we take a flat percentage of the sum of compensation.
This means that we take on your case without you taking any risk on your behalf. You will never have to find money to pay us yourself.
Do all birth injury cases go to court?
Around 7 in 10 cases never see the courtroom, which means whilst it is likely your case will settle, there is a good chance it will not. This makes it extremely important that you choose an attorney to represent you that has experience fighting in the courtroom, as your case will depend on it if your attorney and the other party cannot negotiate a settlement.
Contact a Maryland Birth Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has suffered from a birth injury, then it is important to contact a Maryland birth injury attorney as soon as possible. Qualified birth injury lawyers can help you understand your rights and options for holding the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and your emotional distress. An experienced lawyer can also help you determine how to best pursue a legal claim so that you can receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Call us today and arrange a free consultation at 410-705-2405.