The birth of a child should be the most joyous time for a parent. Most childbirths in this country happen without critical complications; however, birth injuries can still occur, even today. Some birth injuries result from the pregnancy, the delivery, or the maternity ward care after birth, resulting in devastating effects on the child and emotional turmoil for parents. It is necessary to review the circumstances around the damage to determine at what stage of the newborn the injury occurred and how to assess liability.Possible Stages of Neglect for Birth Injury
This may refer to a doctor or clinics failure to recommend healthy pregnancy guidelines, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. By not recognizing these symptoms and making recommendations such as the right prescription drugs, this may be attributed to a birth injury. This may also mean a medical malpractice claim and gets complicated. Furthermore, let us assume the correct prescription was given, but the drug manufacturer did not accurately warn side effects for pregnant women. This may be deemed a product liability case.
In this scenario, perhaps the woman requested to do a traditional birth, and was given an epidural. If the needle was defective or un-sanitized, and it harmed the mother and baby, it can lead to complications for the baby. This would be a product liability case during the delivery stage. If the residing physician harmed the child during delivery, with actions that would be deemed a breach of his or her duty as compared to other physicians in the same circumstance, then it could be deemed a Medical Malpractice.
Maternity Ward Care:
Newborns are especially vulnerable to infections and hospitals are rife with bacteria and viruses. This means that maternity wards need to be impeccably clean and sanitized. If the maternity ward used a brand of formula that was found to be tainted, it could pose a severe risk to the newborn. The hospital’s maternity ward and baby’s parents can sue the formula manufacturer for a defective product. If the residing hospital staff negligently cared for the child in the ward, resulting in harm, then it would be considered a Negligence case.Birth Injury Vs. Birth Defect
This will be a common objection by clinics and insurance companies, arguing the birth injury is attributed to a congenital disability. It may not be immediately clear what complications the newborn is experiencing, and a thorough medical review may be necessary.
For a lawsuit, the birth injury is when the actions of a medical provider or medical product provider caused the trauma of a newborn. Birth defects can be from many variables, including heredity and environment. Hospitals and providers may try to argue this to diminish their responsibility in the case.Making a Case
Whether the impact is one that will significantly affect the entire life span of the infant or is a minor and temporary compromise to the infant’s health, showing that a provider was negligent will be necessary for birth injury lawsuits. For medical malpractice cases, there has to be evidence that the caregiver’s work was substandard in accordance with the generally accepted criteria of medical care. An experienced attorney who has worked with hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical industries, and doctors can advise you on what you would need to do to make your case.Product Liability
Product liability cases will have to show that a product is defective, they do not have to demonstrate negligence. A product liability case will have to show a product was deceptively advertised, poorly made or designed and went to market without correcting defects. To gain compensation from a product liability case, plaintiffs have to show the fault of the product that seriously injured them.Class Action Lawsuits
In some product liability and medical malpractice cases, you may also consider a class action lawsuit. This will represent others who were injured by the product or malpractice, and have claims as well. There is strength in numbers. A large settlement can result in millions distributed to the victims.California Product Liability and Strict Liability
In the state of California, product liability is held to the standard of strict liability. This means that a defendant, or in this case, a manufacturer, may be found liable whether or not there was any direct negligence. Essentially, the strict liability doctrine mandates that manufacturers have an implied responsibility for the safety of their products and can be held liable for wrongdoing.Case Law
Legal requirements for birth injury cases follow the general guidelines of personal injury cases. Meaning, damages must be able to be proven to be the cause of another party’s fault. In these cases, that fault is most often the medical staff attending mother and child.
Uniquely, birth injury claims are considered a priority on trial calendars. Most cases involving birth injury have a lengthy statute of limitations, because many conditions may not be evident until later in the child’s life – such as after beginning schooling – but there are exceptions. Government hospitals have the potential for shorter time periods in which a claim can be filed, and they can also be more difficult to go up against. In general, these claims have a difficult element because they deal frequently with large hospitals that have many staff, including many legal representatives. Considering the practical side of filing such suits and the emotional trauma the family is experiencing are equally important factors that must be considered and appropriately handled by the family’s representing counsel.
Birth Injuries Cases Available for Legislative Action:
- Improper use of suction or forceps resulting in birth trauma
- Delays in: performing a C-section, diagnosis of fetal distress, diagnosis of maternal distress
- Brain hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in brain injury
- Vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) complications
- Medical or hospital errors resulting in cerebral palsy, paralysis, spinal cord injury, bleeding in the brain, bowel infections, or lung damages
Statute of limitations for birth injury claims are set forth by California legal code. Knowing how long you have to file a claim is important. If you think you have a claim but are unsure about how long you have to file, or if you have run out of time, then this breakdown should help you understand if you are still able to pursue legal justice.
These statutes include:
- 6 Months – This is the shortest timeframe for birth injury cases. Claims with a six month deadline include those with injury resulting from inadequate care at a public healthcare, district hospital, or a county hospital.
- 1 Year – The one year limitation applies to cases in which an adult parent had immediate knowledge of a child’s injury, or should have had immediate knowledge of a child’s injury within reasonable consideration.
- 8 Years – This is the longest timeline for birth injury statute of limitations, and the one applied most frequently to birth injury cases. Claims under this eight year timeline are those in which the birth injuries are not immediately or readily apparent. This would include certain developmental injuries that become known only after the introduction of schooling and other complex tasks in the child’s life.
Birth injury cases often bring in large settlements. This is because of the costs associated with not only the immediate care needed in the aftermath of a birth injury, but also the associated long-term care and therapies potentially required down the road.Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Causes of Birth Injuries?
There are many causes for birth injuries. They can include: excessive force, improper sterilization, negligent care, and delays in medical care or treatments.
What are the Common Birth Injuries?
Some of the most common birth injuries include: bruising, umbilical cord complications, bone fractures, and skin irritations. More long-lasting and serious injuries include conditions like cerebral palsy and brain damage from oxygen deprivation.
I Feel Alone; Does This Happen to Other People, too?
You are not alone! Although our medical care is greatly improved from other times and places, there is still a significant prevalence of birth injury. Statistically, the rate of birth injury shows that out of every 100 births, around three babies that are born in the United States will suffer from birth injuries each year.
How do I Know who was Responsible for my Child’s Birth Injury?
This is a difficult question to answer. The only way to know is to conduct a thorough investigation, and this is a process that our firm can assist you in.
How do I Know if I Have a Claim?
If you believe you have a claim then the next steps are to sit down with knowledgeable legal representation and discuss the circumstances and your options. The law gets very complicated with such cases and you should never feel like you have to face it alone.How an Attorney can Help You
If you feel your baby incurred a severe injury due to the negligence of a product or defective product, we can help you understand if you have a case. Also, keep in mind that if it happened to you, it may have happened to many others, which would be potential for a class action lawsuit. A class action lawsuit would involve many participants, can demonstrate even more validity to the claim and offer a more substantial compensation to be shared amongst the recipients. Some class action claims can run into the millions; find out what yours is worth.
We have health care protection laws in place to prevent companies and medical providers from acting recklessly and making sure that they are practicing responsibly. While they are here to protect us, they can still be hard to understand. With excellent legal representation, you can learn about your options and what you may be entitled to receive. Request a consultation today and find out what we can do for you.