Birth Injuries: Legal Options
Every parent fears the discovery that a newborn child will be found to have a serious birth defect. If a child is born with a genetic condition like Down syndrome, a parent understands that there is nothing the doctors could have done to avoid this chromosomal anomaly, but in other cases, a child is injured during or just after birth. There is a vast difference between a birth defect and a birth injury.
In the case of a birth injury, the parents will be left with the feeling that something might have been done to prevent the accidental injury. If the injury was preventable, shouldn't the staff now be responsible for helping to pay for the parents' distress and the child's medical needs?
In some cases, the injuries are minor, for instance bruises or scratches resulting from a difficult delivery. In other cases, the injuries sustained by the infant are serious and result in long-term disability or even death. Here are some of the injuries that can occur during or just after a baby's birth:
One of the worst injuries a baby can sustain during birth is cerebral palsy (CP). CP occurs when the areas of the brain responsible for motor function are damaged. This type of damage can occur when there is oxygen deprivation for even a short span of time. As many as 20% of all CP cases find their origins in oxygen deprivation during or just after a baby is born.
CP causes issues with mobility, vision, and speech. Often, children with CP suffer from a lack of depth perception and may not be able to control movement. Some have seizures and others develop mental retardation, either mild or severe. CP children may need to be fitted for leg braces, while in severe cases, there may be wheelchair confinement.
Cerebral palsy is among the most serious of birth injuries, but there are many other types of birth injuries including:
*Eyes with broken blood vessels
*Injuries to soft tissue
*Abrasions and bruising
*Injuries related to the use of forceps or vacuum
*Erb's palsy (stretched shoulder muscles)
Sometimes, birth injuries occur because the mother-to-be has an infection such as strep or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during the delivery. Physicians are supposed to test for these diseases and take appropriate measures to avoid injury to the infant.
If you think it's possible your baby has sustained a birth injury as the result of a physician's mistake, it is your legal right to make a medical malpractice claim. If your baby incurs an injury due to acts or omissions by hospital staff members, you have the right to make a claim for hospital malpractice. If parents lose a child because of birth injury, they have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. You may not feel comfortable about seeking financial redress for tragedy, but your claim may prevent a similar tragedy from happening to some other innocent family.