Medical malpractice cases are more common than people may think, and they can turn a life-changing experience such as the birth of a child into a terrible life-shattering moment. Several negligence errors can cause birth injuries, and sadly, they can have long-lasting harm to a baby's life. Moreover, mothers can also get in incredibly dangerous situations due to medical malpractice, which is why they should always get the compensation they deserve.
Therefore, hiring a Long Island birth injury lawyer from The Law Office of Carl Maltese is the best thing to ensure each case is treated fairly and all families get the justice they deserve. Moreover, financial compensation isn't enough to make up for any harm that the baby or the mother may have suffered, but it is the least a family can get to reduce the losses suffered.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury can be defined as any injury that happens to the baby or the mother during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. This can happen due to natural causes or medical negligence, and many of these cases end up in fatalities.
Babies can get injured throughout the whole gestation, so the doctor must identify all possible dangers and treat them as soon as possible to prevent them from happening. If this doesn't happen, the chances are that either the baby or the mother may end up with a disability or long-term injuries that could even lead up to death.
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can cause bruises, brain damage, and even death. Most births should happen effortlessly, but people don't usually consider that any minimal mistake can turn an easy medical procedure into a terrible accident.
An AHRQ report studied all births that happened in the United States for a whole year, and it revealed that around 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury every year. This can mean that one baby every twenty minutes is injured during birth.
Moreover, birth injuries are more common in babies with public insurance than those with private insurance. However, this has nothing to do with wealth, as the number of birth injuries in the country's wealthiest areas is mostly the same compared to poor areas. In addition, this study also showed that birth injuries are more common in rural areas.
These numbers are incredibly high, and sadly, most of them are severe birth injuries that have caused several deaths of children and mothers in the country.
It is important to know everything about birth injuries to understand how they work and how to pursue a claim appropriately. Moreover, these are important facts about medical malpractice claims and serious birth injury cases in America.
Around eight out of every 1,000 babies born in America have a birth injury, which adds up to more than 28,000 hurt babies every year.
Most cases are caused by the incorrect use of medical tools in mothers between 25 and 34 years of age.
The most common injuries are brain-related due to oxygen deprivation and fractures due to blunt force or incorrect procedures.
It is more likely to suffer a birth injury during a c-section rather than through vaginal delivery.
Is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
Yes. Birth injuries are entirely preventable, which makes them medical malpractice cases. Therefore, anyone who suffers birth injuries is entitled to pursue a lawsuit and take legal action against the medical team and hospital.
However, malpractice can happen in several stages of gestation, as the doctor could have failed to diagnose a condition, or they didn't act fast enough during the delivery. In addition, doing the wrong procedures during childbirth could also cause medical malpractice birth injuries.
Rough deliveries are more common than most people think they are, and they can cause severe consequences on the mother and child, which is why all mothers should find a birth injury attorney as soon as they're suspicious that the doctor may have been negligent during their delivery.
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Elements of a Birth Injury Case
However, to pursue a birth injury claim, the lawyer must identify certain elements present during the procedure. Without enough proof or evidence of these elements, the claim may get dismissed, as it isn't going to be strong enough to pursue legal action against the medical team. Nonetheless, a professional long island birth injury lawyer at The Law Office of Carl Maltese knows how to execute a case and all the needed evidence, so the court accepts it as a valid lawsuit.
Duty of Care
This element consists of proving there was a doctor-patient relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff, which is considered a duty of care between the two parties, as the doctor must take care of and provide high-quality medical services to the mother.
The breach of duty and the injury must be directly connected by causation. This means that there should be substantial proof that the doctor's negligence caused the victim's injuries, whether direct or indirect, such as a misdiagnosis or a badly-done procedure.
Breach of Duty
The breach of duty is also called negligence, and it means that the faulty party failed to deliver certain duties due to reckless actions. In this case, the doctor must have failed to provide proper medical assistance to the mother, which caused the injury to her or her child. Usually, an expert's testimony is needed to prove this type of medical malpractice.
Proof of Injury
There should be objective proof of the injury allegedly caused by the doctor's negligence, which can be everything from medical to police reports filed after the negligence happened.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Most birth injuries are caused when doctors and nurses fail to identify a possible danger or deliver the wrong treatment to their patients. This can cause them to not follow the specified protocols and make the mother and her child more susceptible to danger and injuries. However, some of the most common causes of birth injuries can be easily avoided once the medical staff knows them. Some of them are the following.
Fetal Distress Misdiagnosis
When the baby doesn't receive enough oxygen while in the womb, they are susceptible to suffering from fetal distress, which is when their heart rate increases at dangerous speeds. It can even start beating in an abnormal pattern. In most cases, this can be easily identified through a heart monitor, which alerts the doctors of the situation and ensures the baby gets delivered as fast as possible to perform any emergency procedures they may need.
However, if this doesn't happen, the baby can be vulnerable to developing permanent brain damage or cerebral palsy. Obstetricians not being able to properly identify fetal mistress and delaying the delivery of infants is one of the country's main causes of birth injuries.
Misuse of Extracting Tools
Although sometimes doctors can use forceps and a vacuum extractor, if these devices aren't used properly, they could severely damage the baby's skull and cause critical bleeding to the mother and her child. This can escalate to brain injuries and internal bleeding that could lead to death.
Excess of Pitocin
Synthetic oxytocin is also called Pitocin, and sometimes the medical staff uses it to induce labor. Nevertheless, suppose it isn't used correctly, and the doctors accidentally inject too much. In that case, it can asphyxiate the fetus, rupture the uterus, or several other injuries that could lead to death.
Ignoring Maternal Bleeding
Although sometimes, when the mother's water breaks, it can have some blood, there shouldn't be huge amounts of blood during the delivery process. This is usually an indicator of something wrong with the baby, placenta, or uterus. When the doctors detect vaginal bleeding, the baby must be delivered as soon as possible to identify what's wrong with the mother and perform the necessary procedures to stop the bleeding and prevent any placental abruption or uterine rupture. If the medical team fails to do this, the mom could end up bleeding out, cutting the oxygen flow to the baby's head.
Sometimes a natural delivery isn't possible, and when the obstetrician notices this, they should immediately order a c-section to prevent any potential injuries. Some examples where the baby must be delivered through a c-section are umbilical cord prolapse or entrapment, vaginal bleeding, and fetal distress. If these situations aren't handled as efficiently and fast as possible, they can result in permanent brain injuries and death.
Types of Damages
Although each birth injury claim changes depending on its specific circumstances, all possible damages can be classified into two of the following categories.
General Damages. These damages must be calculated with an attorney, as they don't have a specific price. Some of them could be related to the pain and suffering, trauma, anguish, and loss of quality of life. They are more related to subjectivity.
Special Damages. On the other hand, these damages are much more objective, as they already have a specific price attached to them. Some examples could be medical bills, loss of wages, care costs, etc.
Moreover, birth injury claims usually involve damages to two or even three parties, as the lawsuit tends to be backed by the damages that were done to the child, the mother, and in some cases, the other parent. However, the parents must prove emotional distress to receive compensation for it.
Type of Injuries
It is also essential to know that there are thousands of possible birth injuries, and these complications can be as mild as a bruise and as critical as death. However, Long Island birth injury lawyers like The Law Office of Carl Maltese tend to deal with some injuries more often than others. These are the most common birth injuries in the country.
Erb's Palsy - This injury is caused when a baby gets stuck under the mother's pelvic bone. In these cases, the obstetrician is supposed to apply mild pressure to pull the baby out as delicately as possible. However, brachial plexus injuries happen when the pressure is too much, and the nerves in the baby's shoulder get damaged.
Cerebral Palsy - This is one of the injuries that can happen when the baby doesn't receive enough oxygen for a long time during delivery. Cerebral palsies can permanently damage the brain's motor areas, which may cause the baby to lose posture and movement control.
Kernicterus - If the obstetrician doesn't properly diagnose this condition, the excess of bilirubin can permanently harm the baby's brain. However, under ordinary conditions, this shouldn't cause significant problems.
Cervical Dystonia - Under challenging births, the baby may be vulnerable to a lot of pressure being put on their head, neck, or shoulders, which can eventually harm their cervical and cause it to be tilted to one side.
Fractures - The most common fractures tend to be on the baby's collarbones, arms, and legs.
Spinal Cord Injury - This type of injury can be lethal for the baby, and it is usually caused when there's an excessive rotation of the baby's body during childbirth.
Cranial Nerve Injury - The baby can suffer paralysis and disfiguration if their head is pressed too tightly during childbirth.
These are permanent injuries that cause terrible damage to the child's life. Moreover, the family is going to have to take care of their conditions for the rest of their life, which is going to cost them thousands of dollars in therapy and other medical treatments.
Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries
A statute of limitations determines the deadline for the victim to seek justice. The victim usually has up to two years and six months to file the claim in a birth injury case. However, this can be a much shorter time if the injury happens in a governmental facility.
Moreover, if the birth injury caused any fatality, the victims have up to two years from the moment the baby died. This may seem like a lot of time, but proper research takes a lot, which is why it is important to work with a Long Island birth injury lawyer at The Law Office of Carl Maltese so they can start working on the case as soon as possible.
If the victims fail to file a claim within this time, they aren't going to get any financial compensation from the negligent act. In addition, the victims can help their lawyers by collecting as much evidence as possible, including any medical records and recovery pictures.
Who Can Be Sued for a Birth Injury?
If the mom is sure that she or her baby was a victim of medical malpractice and wants to sue her doctor for a birth injury claim, she has all the legal right to go to court and receive proper financial compensation. Moreover, this also makes the hospital reevaluate its protocols and potentially save other families.
The mom can sue the doctor, the hospital, or even a pharmaceutical company and a medical manufacturer depending on the injury's cause. However, most cases are going to involve several liable parties, which is why the best thing to do is to hire The Law Office of Carl Maltese to do proper research before filing the claim.
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Although sometimes the medical staff can make mistakes that result in birth injuries, these can be confused with birth defects, so it is vital to learn how to differentiate between these terms to avoid making false claims.
A birth injury appears during the delivery and is caused by the negligence of the medical staff. However, a birth defect occurs during the baby's development stage in the womb and is usually caused by genetics or other external influences during gestation.
The medical staff is only going to be liable for a birth injury, as they can't control whether birth defects appear or not during the pregnancy.
How to Get a Police Report
Once the situation ends, it is crucial to get a police report to pursue a lawsuit. However, the victim may only gain access to the public portion of the case, as the investigation is still ongoing. However, once it is finished, the birth injury lawyer is going to access this file, and they're free to share it with their clients if needed.
The other way to obtain a police report is to directly request it to the local government, but this is most likely going to require a small fee, and the chances are that it isn't going to be available right away.
Compensation for Medical Malpractice Birth Injuries
Moreover, when the victim's family files a claim, they're entitled to several types of compensation depending on the severity of the injury. Therefore, these are the most typical settlements someone can get.
Medical Bills. When someone goes through a birth injury case, they're entitled to receive compensation for all the medical bills they need to pay to take care of the said injury. These expenses may include direct treatment, long-term care, any necessary equipment, medications, and possible physical and mental therapy.
Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering. When birth injury cases happen, they cause a lot of emotional trauma to the victims due to medical malpractice. Therefore, they should get compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused by a disability, emotional distress, disfigurement, anguish, or trauma.
Impaired Quality of Life. These medical malpractice cases can severely impact the victim's life quality, which is why they may be eligible for this type of compensation depending on the severity of their injuries. If they can't engage in hobbies or other activities due to cognitive, physical, or social impediments that need to have special accommodations, this type of compensation should be included in the claim.
Lost Wages. Sometimes the parents are going to suffer lost wages due to having to take time off to take care of their child. Therefore, the financial compensation should include any work benefits, future income loss, or salary difference that the parents may suffer.
Wrongful Death. When the mother or children die during childbirth, the birth injury case becomes a wrongful death case, and the victim's family is entitled to receive compensation for all funeral expenses, special damages, pain and suffering, loss of parental guidance, companionship, financial support, and society.
How to File a Claim
Filing a claim requires a thorough investigation and collection of evidence that fulfills all the needed criteria. This is why it is challenging to face a birth injury lawsuit without a birth injury attorney who can help the victim with all the messy aspects of the claim.
Anyone can ask for a free consultation where they're going to get explained all the aspects that are going to be covered by a birth injury lawyer. However, in most cases, they're going to collect all needed evidence that proves the medical negligence, the injury, and all the possible consequences of the situation on the victim's family.
Once The Law Office of Carl Maltese proves all the claim elements, they're all ready to file a lawsuit and negotiate the possible compensation for the injuries and consequences.
How Likely Is It to Go to Court?
It is very unlikely for a case like this to end up in court, as insurance companies tend to settle the claims before this happens. It wouldn't be good for them to take birth injury cases to court as these are very emotional cases that are likely to win over a jury.
However, some cases do go to trial, but if the defendant is smart enough and the victims have a good birth injury lawyer, there's no reason why the case should go to trial without being settled.
Give Our Team a Call
Birth injuries are terrible situations that must be pursued as medical malpractice litigation to settle the claim. Luckily, the Law Office of Carl Maltese has an incredible legal team with birth injury attorneys who have years of experience and an impeccable reputation. This makes us perfect for dealing with any birth injury lawsuit and bringing justice to all the families who go through hardships like this.
Anyone interested in a free case evaluation can schedule a call for long island birth injury claims.