We Represent Families Impacted by Serious Birth Injuries
The birth of a child should be one of the most joyous events for expectant parents. Ideally, after a routine pregnancy, a healthy baby is delivered without any complications. However, unforeseen health complications can arise during pregnancy or during the delivery process that can jeopardize the health of the mother as well as the baby. While there are risks associated with every birth, some are caused by a health care provider’s negligent behavior.
For the parents of the injured baby, a birth injury caused by negligence is particularly devastating because the injury could have been prevented. The dedicated and compassionate Illinois medical malpractice lawyers understand the heartache and pain associated with birth injuries and work tirelessly to seek financial compensation for their clients.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any type of harm that was caused to the baby during pregnancy, the birth process, or shortly after delivery. In most cases, birth injuries are relatively minor and will heal on their own without any medical intervention needed. However, some are more complicated and can lead to serious health issues, including infections, broken bones, and brain damage. In extreme cases, the baby may suffer permanent physical or cognitive impairments.
While some birth injuries are unavoidable, most can be prevented if health care professionals follow the standard of care, ensure that the health statuses of the mother and baby are carefully monitored, and provide the appropriate medical care should any complications arise. If the health care provider fails to provide the standard of care, which results in a serious birth injury, the parents may hold the physician or nurse liable for medical malpractice.
What are the Different Types of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can range from minor complications to more serious injuries. The following are examples of some of the most common birth injuries:
- Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy): This occurs when the group of nerves that control arm and hand movements are injured during the delivery process. In most cases, it occurs during a natural delivery with shoulder dystocia. This injury can occur when the physician pulls too hard on the baby’s neck during a difficult delivery. Some children require surgery or physical therapy to recover, while others never fully regain use of the affected limb.
- Caput Succedaneum: This is the swelling of the soft tissue in the baby’s scalp. Oftentimes, it affects babies delivered with a vacuum extraction. In most cases, caput succedaneum resolves on its own.
- Cephalohematoma: This is an injury that occurs when there is bleeding under a cranial bone. In some cases, it can lead to jaundice or other more serious health complications.
- Cerebral Palsy (CP): Lack of oxygen during birth, infections, and birth trauma can cause this type of birth injury.
- Clavicle Fractures: These injuries are common among babies that are born in the breech position or who have shoulder dystocia. These types of fractures tend to heal quickly, but it may be necessary to limit the baby’s movement to allow the bones to heal.
- Facial Nerve Palsy: In some cases, babies are born with facial paralysis. The vast majority of these types of injuries are caused by traumatic birth injuries (TBIs).
- Head Trauma: Bruising or lacerations can occur as the baby passes through the birth canal. Forceful contractions and birth-assisting tools, like forceps and vacuum extractors, can cause head trauma.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): This is a type of brain damage that occurs when the baby does not receive enough oxygen at the time of birth.
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Birth injuries like cerebral palsy and epilepsy can also cause intellectual and developmental impairments.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL): This injury causes damage to the brain’s white matter around the ventricles, which are filled with cerebrospinal fluid. When improperly managed, PVL can lead to permanent motor disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, seizure disorders, vision and hearing deficits, and other health complications.
- Seizure Disorders: This type of birth injury is often caused by HIE, trauma during birth, or an infection.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: These usually occur when the health care provider pulls on the baby’s spine too hard during delivery. Damage to the spine cannot be repaired, but medical care and physical therapy can prevent it from worsening.
What are the Common Causes of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries may be caused by pre-existing medical conditions that the mother has, such as diabetes, obesity, an infection, or an abnormally shaped pelvis, that makes delivery more complicated.
Birth injuries may also be caused by health issues involving the fetus. For example, if the baby is born feet-first, weighs over eight pounds and 13 ounces, does not get enough oxygen, or loses blood flow it could increase the risk of a birth injury. Some birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice. In a medical malpractice case, a birth injury is particularly devastating because it is likely that the injury could have been prevented if the health care provider delivered the accepted medical standard of care to the mother and the baby. Instead of celebrating the birth of a healthy baby, the new parents must face extremely difficult challenges.
What are Examples of Medical Negligence?
Health care providers go through extensive education and training in order to have a thorough understanding of pregnancy, the childbirth process, and the steps that need to happen immediately following delivery. They are expected to anticipate any risk factors that may increase the risk of birth injuries, and they must follow the recommended treatment protocols based on the nature and severity of the injuries.
Medical negligence occurs when a health care provider fails to provide the standard of care, which results in some type of injury or illness. Birth injuries caused by medical negligence can occur during pregnancy, during labor, or immediately following the birth. Common examples of medical negligence include:
- Failure to respond quickly to a potentially serious situation.
- Failure to diagnose a health condition in the mother or the baby.
- Failure to induce delivery or make the decision to proceed with a caesarian section when the situation warrants it.
- Failure to properly monitor the mother or the baby’s condition throughout pregnancy, during labor, and immediately following delivery.
- Failure to discuss the health risks of certain anesthesia medications, administering the incorrect anesthesia medication, or administering a medication that interacts with another drug.
- Misuse of forceps, a vacuum extractor, or other medical instruments used during the birthing process.
- Unnecessary force used during the childbirth process.
Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for a Birth Injury?
If an expectant mother or her baby suffered an birth-related injury because of negligence, they may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to build a strong case, it will be necessary to collect as much information as possible, including all medical records and test results from throughout the pregnancy and during delivery. In Illinois, a plaintiff must file an affidavit of merit that states that the plaintiff has consulted with a health care professional who understands the medical issues associated with the case, currently practices in the same area of medicine, and has experience in the subject matter of the lawsuit.
It is highly recommended that the parents of a child who suffered a birth injury consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer who will protect their rights and assist them with the legal process. Oftentimes, medical malpractice cases are settled out of court in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense of a trial. A dedicated medical malpractice lawyer will communicate with the health care provider’s insurance company and negotiate the best possible settlement offer.
What Damages am I Entitled to for a Birth Injury?
The costs associated with a birth injury can accumulate quickly, particularly if the injury requires extensive follow-up procedures or long-term care. Every medical malpractice case is different, and the damages will depend on the severity of the injury. The following are examples of damages that the family is entitled to in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Wheelchairs and other assistive devices
- Lost income for the parents and the child
- Expenses associated with long-term care
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreased quality of life
It may be difficult to determine what types of damages are needed for a birth injury. Upon discovery of the injury, parents should seek legal counsel.
Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Seek Justice for Victims of Birth Injuries
If your child suffered a birth injury that was caused by medical malpractice, do not hesitate to contact one of our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. We understand how devastating birth injuries can be, particularly when they could have been prevented. Our dedicated legal team will thoroughly review the case, determine whether negligence was involved, and take every step necessary to secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 618-277-3644 or contact us online. From our office in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.