Grand Rapids Birth Injury Attorneys
A birth injury permanently alters the course of a child’s life – as well as that child’s parents and family. Whether a birth injury results in physical injuries, mental impairment, or even death, there is a legal claim to be made against the medical staff that negligently allowed those injuries to occur. Parents need to pursue these claims to pay for their child’s extensive medical and care needs.
Parents need to hold negligent hospitals and medical staff accountable for the injuries they cause. This is the only way to deter such conduct in the future and prevent other innocent children from being injured – or killed – during labor and delivery.
The Different Types of Birth Injuries
Injuries sustained during labor and delivery can affect a child’s body in different ways. Your birth injury attorney must understand these differences, work with expert witnesses to prove the effects of your child’s birth injury, and persuasively convince a jury of the amount of money that will fairly compensate your child for the injuries he or she has suffered.
Physical injuries are most commonly associated with the mechanics of delivery. If a doctor is not careful, it is possible to break bones or injure a child’s nerves. One common example of this is Bell’s palsy. According to Medline Plus, this condition is the loss of voluntary muscle movement in an infant’s face due to pressure on the facial nerve just before or at the time of birth.
The pressure can be from the doctor’s hands, or from instruments used to deliver the child (such as forceps or a vacuum extractor). Some medical professionals consider this condition “benign” because it does not endanger a child’s life. But the child will still endure pain, humiliation, and difficulty eating for the rest of his or her life. These are compensable injuries.
Another common physical injury is Brachial Plexus Palsy. The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves between the neck and shoulder that control the shoulder, upper arm, forearm, and hand. The brachial plexus can be injured in a difficult delivery, and damage to these nerves can result in the permanent loss of function in a child’s arm. This may not be a life-threatening injury, but it greatly disrupts a child’s ability to lead a normal life. Boston Children’s Hospital reports that brachial plexus palsy occurs in about three out of every thousand births.
It is easy for a doctor to injure a child during delivery if he or she is not using equipment properly. The use of forceps has been phased out in favor of vacuum extractors in recent years, but either of these tools can injure a child. Forceps can crush a baby’s delicate bones. Vacuum extractors can come loose from a child’s head. While this is not unusual and does not always cause injuries, doctors who proceed to use a vacuum extractor in the face of continuous abrupt removals can cause serious damage to the baby’s brain. This can rise to the level of negligence.
Mental and Cognitive Injuries
A doctor’s negligence during labor and delivery can also cause a child to suffer brain damage. Even mild oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery can lead to permanent mental disabilities. Obstetricians have a professional obligation to ensure that labor is progressing in a timely fashion. If labor is delayed, a doctor must consider other methods of progressing the labor forward, such as inducing with medication or delivering the baby via a cesarean section. Failure to appropriately evaluate and respond to such a condition can constitute medical malpractice.
Mental and cognitive deficits can have a devastating impact – not just on the child, but also on the parents who will render the intensive care that child will need, and the siblings whose parents are distracted by a child with special needs. Birth injuries can lead to developmental delays and learning disabilities in young children. Later in life, the child might never hold a job or have normal interpersonal relationships. Very serious cases might even require full-time care if a child cannot bathe, feed, or dress on his or her own.
Sadly, some birth injuries are fatal. Parents have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent medical providers when death occurs, as well as the medical facility that employed them.
In a medical malpractice case, the victim sues a doctor for the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering endured as a result of the injuries. In a wrongful death case, the surviving family members sue for the tangible costs directly related to the death (such as burial and funeral expenses).
They also sue for loss of consortium, the term for the loss of the love and affection between parent and child. This is a highly subjective loss that cannot be calculated to a specific dollar amount, but it is also a very real, personal loss that resonates with jurors and is often the largest component of a wrongful death settlement or jury award.
Call Us Today for a Consultation With a Grand Rapids Birth Injury Lawyer
Birth injuries are devastating. Children, parents, and families often spend the rest of their lives dealing with the consequences of negligent labor and delivery. You have the legal right to be compensated for your financial losses and emotional suffering and need an experienced birth injury lawyer who knows how to file these types of claims, prove professional negligence, and project the expenses your family will bear throughout your child’s lifetime.
The experienced Grand Rapids birth injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers can help guide your family through the complicated process of filing and defending your legal claim. Call (616) 558-3970 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.