Birth Defects Vs. Birth Injuries
A birth injury is the result of something out of the ordinary occurring during the delivery process. In many cases, birth injuries are the result of medical negligence and should have been prevented with adequate medical care. Birth defects describe harm to your unborn child that occurs before or during pregnancy. Many birth defects are genetic and cannot be entirely prevented. However, a congenital disability can arise if the mother has been prescribed unsafe medication.
Common Birth Injuries
There is a full medical catalog filled with known birth injuries, their causes, and their consequences. Some injuries are considerably rare, and others are unfortunately common. We can handle any birth injury claim, regardless of rarity or complications.
To discuss some of the more common birth injuries:
- Caput succedaneum: This occurs when the soft tissues of your newborn’s scalp swell as they are traveling through the birth canal. Vacuum extraction increases the likelihood of this injury. However, it does not typically result in serious effects and may heal within just a few days.
- Brachial palsy: If your doctor has difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder and the brachial plexus (the group of nerves connected to the arms and hands) becomes injured, it can cause brachial palsy. Your newborn will temporarily lose its ability to flex and rotate its arm. However, if the nerve was torn, the damage and its consequences can be permanent.
- Cerebral palsy: This can be caused by harm to the brain that occurs before, during, or after childbirth. It affects your child’s ability to control movement and posture. This can last for a short period of time or result in long-term complications.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage: This is caused if the tiny vessels in your newborn’s eyes break, making them appear red around the iris.
- Bruising or forceps marks: Forceps used in the delivery process can leave bruises on the baby’s face, and vacuum extraction can leave bruises and lacerations on their scalp. These may heal naturally or cause permanent disfigurement.
- Cephalohematoma: This occurs if there is bleeding between your baby’s bone and fibrous covering of the head, and it often appears as a raised lump hours after delivery.
- Facial paralysis: Excessive pressure on your child’s face can damage the facial nerves, causing paralysis. This paralysis may be temporary, long-term, or permanent.
Delivery & Labor Injury Lawsuits
Most delivery and labor injury lawsuits are caused by either the performance of unnecessary cesarean sections or by the birth of infants with brain damage, neurological disorders, or other serious injuries suffered during labor and delivery. Neurological disorders may not be able to be diagnosed immediately. Some parents may find that their child’s brain is falling short on certain developmental milestones within their first years of life. Parents are often told that this irreversible brain injury was unavoidable. However, this is rarely the truth.
Our team at Walner Law® has decades of experience in birth injury litigation. From a free consultation, we will work with you to create a timeline as part of an independent evaluation of your child’s medical records. Our birth injury attorneys will call upon the expertise of medical professionals for further insight. Together, we can determine the cause and timing of your child’s birth injury and whether the adverse outcome could have been prevented with proper medical care.
We ask the following questions and more when trying to get to the root of a delivery or birth injury:
- What caused fetal or neonatal brain damage?
- Did treating physicians timely diagnose and properly manage the conditions capable of causing irreversible brain damage?
- Were there warning signs of fetal distress during the labor and delivery process that should have prompted the obstetrician to intervene and expedite the delivery?
- Would earlier intervention or delivery have prevented the birth injury?
What’s the cause of my child’s birth injury?
Every medical negligence case is unique, but there are common types of birth injuries that infants wrongfully suffer because of a hospital error. Sadly, these medical mistakes often cause a profound impact on a child and their family members. While these injuries can be the result of unavoidable circumstances, they are often caused by negligence from a medical professional. Preventable injuries, unfortunately, occur more than they should. Depending upon the child’s birth injury, treatment options for families may be temporary or life-long. Conditions such as cerebral palsy affect the victim for a lifetime.
One of the most important things regarding birth injury litigation is finding what caused the injury. Some birth injuries occur due to natural circumstances, but some involve complications with the pregnancy, difficulties with the labor, or worse yet, negligence on behalf of the medical provider in prenatal care. The most common birth injuries result from the following:
- Improper fetal monitoring
- Improper delivery room techniques
- Delayed C-section births
- Improper use of delivery room tools such as forceps
- Incorrect delivery of medications to the mother
- Failure to follow delivery room procedures and rules
Proving Negligence to Strengthen Your Birth Injury Claim
In birth injury cases, a court will generally determine whether the obstetricians acted in compliance with the customary practices of their profession. Although the application of this standard is not the sole determinant of the outcome of the birth injury lawsuit, it is extremely important in evaluating the reasonableness of the obstetrician’s actions.
With the increasing rate of medical malpractice lawsuits involving childbirth, it is important for expectant parents to understand the medical procedures used during the birth of their baby and how those procedures can affect the health of their infant and the health of the mother. In the unfortunate event of an injury to either mother or baby, the parents may want to pursue both answers and compensation through legal action. This type of case requires an attorney with great knowledge and experience in the field of medical malpractice, especially in childbirth cases.
How long do I have to file a birth injury claim?
When a child suffers a birth injury due to the negligence of a doctor or other healthcare provider, the parents only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. This is called the statute of limitations. In the state of Illinois, parents have up to eight years to file a claim on behalf of an infant who was injured.
If the child was disabled as the result of negligence during the birthing process, the statute of limitations can extend to up to 22 years since some birth injuries do not become apparent until later in the child’s development. Failing to file your lawsuit for a birth injury within the required time frame could result in your loss of ability to receive any financial compensation for medical bills, medical equipment, or any losses brought on by the health of the baby. A Chicago birth injury attorney can be sure that all the deadlines are met so you can receive the maximum compensation that you are entitled to.
Contact Our Experienced Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers
While nearly all birth injuries are irreversible, a successful malpractice lawsuit allows the victim and family to recover damages for all medical expenses related to the injury.