How Can Negligence Lead To Birth Injuries?

January 17, 2024 | Thomas L. Stroble
How Can Negligence Lead To Birth Injuries?

The day your child is born is supposed to be perhaps the most joyous of your life. Unfortunately, birth injuries are all too common in the United States; the CDC reports that seven out of every 1,000 children born suffer from a birth injury. If a birth injury was due to medical negligence during the labor and delivery processes, your child can face lifelong impacts. Most families cannot afford the care that is often necessary for babies with birth injuries.

Fortunately, there may be legal and financial options available to help you. If your baby’s injuries were due to medical negligence, you can be entitled to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Let’s examine below how negligence can contribute to birth-related injuries. Questions? Experienced birth injury lawyers can answer them and represent you in litigation against the liable parties.

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Birth Injury Overview

If your child suffered any trauma or injuries during labor or delivery, it might not be obvious at first that they have a birth injury. Ask yourself the questions below, and if you answered yes to any, talk to a birth injury attorney today for more information:

  • Was the baby deprived of oxygen at any point during the delivery? 
  • Did your physician use forceps or a vacuum during the delivery? 
  • Did your baby suffer head trauma during the delivery? 
  • Does your baby have seizures? 
  • Did your baby have to be resuscitated? 
  • Did your baby have hypothermia therapy or head cooling after being injured during the delivery? 
  • How many days or weeks was your baby in the neonatal intensive care unit? 
  • Did you have placental abruption? 

If any of these questions apply to you, your baby may have suffered trauma, and you might not yet be aware of it. In some cases, the medical provider’s negligence - which involves violating the medical standard of care - can lead to the following birth injuries:

  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Infant cephalohematoma
  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Shoulder dystocia, which can cause oxygen deprivation
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

The most common source of many serious birth injuries is oxygen deprivation in the baby. If the baby does not receive enough oxygen at some point during the birth process, it can suffer irreversible brain damage. This birth injury can cause developmental delays if the problem is not addressed quickly.

In many situations, oxygen deprivation to the baby stems from shoulder dystocia. This is a condition during delivery where the baby’s shoulder wedges in the birth canal and pinches the umbilical cord. When the lack of oxygen is bad enough, it can lead to perinatal asphyxia, and severe deficits can result.

However, it is important to distinguish between a birth defect and birth injury. A birth defect is because of a structural change to the baby’s body that was present before birth, but the defect can be found during and after birth, too. Birth defects are more common than birth injuries, and your attorney and doctor will need to determine if an injury occurred. They also will determine if the overseeing doctor or facility violated the medical standard of care. This means that they acted or did not act in a way that another reasonable medical professional should have in the same situation.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Birth Injury? 

Experience Lawyer for Birth Injuries

Now that we have covered birth injuries extensively, you may wonder if your child has one. How do you know? What are the symptoms? Birth injury symptoms will vary based on the type and severity of the injury. Some of the most severe birth injuries may not present symptoms until months after the child is born.

In these situations, the clearest symptoms that the child has a birth injury can be developmental delays that happen when your child misses critical growth milestones. It isn’t unusual for a child to not reach a growth milestone as quickly as others. But when you notice your child is late to reach many growth milestones, something is likely wrong.

That said, some birth injury symptoms appear faster than others. For example, you can notice something is wrong with your baby within hours of the birth. But not every symptom you may notice shows that medical malpractice occurred. Some of the obvious symptoms that there may be a birth injury include:

  • Fractured bones
  • Fractured cranium
  • Seizures
  • Bruising and swelling anywhere on the body
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Paralyzed face, neck, hand, or arm muscles 
  • Breathing issues requiring a ventilator

Other symptoms that a medical professional should investigate but are less clear are:

  • Problems eating
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Drooling that seems excessive
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Breathing problems, including coughing and wheezing
  • Sensory problems, such as vision and hearing loss
  • Crying while arching the back
  • Fatigue
  • Odd eye movements

If you notice your baby with several of these symptoms simultaneously, it can be a sign he has a birth injury. However, sometimes these symptoms can be present with nothing wrong. If you’re uncertain about the symptoms, the best option is to see a pediatrician who works independently from the hospital where the baby was born.

What Are Common Birth Injury Causes? 

You entrust your and your baby’s health to medical professionals. When your doctor, nurse, or medical facility fails to uphold their standard of care, your baby can suffer severe damage, ranging from fractures to serious brain or spinal cord trauma. Negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, and hospitals during the birth process is possible, and some of the causes during the process are the following failures:

  • Not recognizing that the baby or mother is in distress during birth 
  • Not diagnosing medical issues correctly or at all
  • Not doing a C-section when it’s medically necessary
  • Not using correct tools or care during birth 

An important part of the medical malpractice process is to determine the cause of the birth injury. Another is establishing that a medical professional or facility was negligent. Experienced birth injury lawyers understand the complexities of these cases and can handle everything for you. That way, you can focus on your and your baby’s health.

What Compensation Can You Receive For A Birth Injury? 

If your child has a birth injury, you can receive compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can easily add up, while non-economic damages are subjective. In any type of personal injury case, you can be eligible for these damages:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of the ability to earn a living
  • Your child’s pain and suffering
  • Your mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Disfigurement and disability 

Furthermore, if your child dies during the delivery process because of negligence, you can receive compensation for their burial and funeral costs. Unlike a medical malpractice claim, this situation will involve a wrongful death lawsuit. But you can still receive the compensation you need for your losses and future life.

When Should You Hire A Birth Injury Attorney? 

If you think you or your baby suffered a birth-related injury, you should talk to an attorney immediately. Your attorney will work with your doctor to determine what happened and if medical negligence was a factor. Your lawyer will review your case at no cost and quickly determine if there are future legal avenues that can result in compensation.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations? 

A birth injury claim against your doctor, hospital, or birthing center is a type of medical malpractice claim. In most states, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the medical provider’s actions or inactions that led to the injury. This deadline is strict. If you miss it, you probably cannot sue for damages. The deadline might vary in certain states that have different statutes of limitations. 

A critical exception exists in many state laws regarding the statute of limitations. For example, in states like Michigan, the medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within six months of discovering or when you should have discovered the injury. For the two-year deadline to apply, you must prove you couldn’t have known about your child’s injury before that date.

With the statute of limitations being complex in most states for birth injuries, always retain an experienced birth injury attorney in your state right away. Even if you don’t want the claim to go to court, filing with the insurance company will require an in-depth medical investigation overseen by a legal professional experienced in such matters. A skilled and experienced attorney is essential in determining what caused your child’s issues and getting fair compensation.

What To Look For In A Birth Injury Lawyer? 

There are many birth injury attorneys. How do you know you are hiring the best one? There are several traits to look for:

  • Works on a contingency fee basis: You shouldn’t have to pay legal fees to hire a birth injury attorney upfront. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay at the end of a successful case. The lawyer’s legal fees are deducted from your settlement or jury award. If you don’t win your case, you don’t pay. 
  • Proven record: Much is at stake when your baby’s health and future are on the line. You should only retain an experienced personal injury attorney with a proven record in winning birth injury claims and lawsuits. Only hire an attorney with an impressive record in birth injury claims, and it helps to retain a lawyer experienced with cases involving your baby’s specific injuries. 
  • Connections and financial resources: Birth injury attorneys must gather much evidence to support a valid birth injury claim. One way they get essential evidence is to hire expert medical professionals to testify on your behalf. Many experienced birth injury attorneys have medical professionals on staff to help with medical malpractice cases. 
  • Recognized by peers: Your attorneys also should have plenty of favorable recognition in their field. This shows that your attorney is highly successful and regarded in the legal field of birth injury. 
  • Free case consultation: Your attorney shouldn’t charge you for a case review. The consultation is a critical part of determining if compensation is possible. 

How Will a Birth Injury Attorney Help? 

Working with a skilled birth injury lawyer early on can be critical to your case’s success. Even though you acted correctly during the pregnancy and birth, the doctor or hospital might not have. You and your baby shouldn’t suffer because a medical professional violated their standard of care. Skilled attorneys will fight for and benefit you in these ways:

  • Investigate and create a robust case: During the free consultation, your attorney will review the case facts, including the injury, and determine if you have a strong claim. 
  • Filing a lawsuit for you: If your case is accepted, your attorney will file the lawsuit in the correct civil court against the proper party. Assembling and filling out all legal paperwork correctly ensures the process moves forward. 
  • Gathering critical evidence: Strong evidence is essential to win a birth injury lawsuit. An attorney will collect all the evidence to support a medical negligence case. For example, they will gather your medical records, professional statements, expert testimony, and more. 
  • Fight for the most compensation: If your child suffers an injury because of medical negligence, you deserve compensation. You and your loved ones can be devastated with medical bills for years because of a doctor’s or medical facility’s negligence. Why should you have to pay? Experienced attorneys will fight for the most compensation for your baby’s injury or disability. This compensation won’t necessarily fix the problem but will ease your financial burden. Plus, you will feel a sense of justice being served. 
Thomas L. Stroble Birth Injury Lawyer in Michigan
Thomas Stroble, Birth Injury Lawyer in Michigan

Speak To a Birth Injury Attorney Today 

If you or your child suffered injuries during birth, you can be overwhelmed with concern but uncertain of the steps to take. However, a personal injury attorney in Michigan understands the fear and trepidation you may feel about the future. Your attorney can explain your legal options as you seek compensation for your losses.

Contact a law firm near you today for a complimentary consultation about your birth injury case. Injury attorneys don’t get paid unless they obtain compensation for you.

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Thomas L. Stroble Author Image

Thomas L. Stroble


Mr. Stroble is a highly accomplished graduate of Michigan State University, with degrees in both science and law. He specializes in commercial lawsuits and personal injury cases. Licensed to practice law in Michigan and even the U.S. Supreme Court, he’s a well-qualified legal expert. Besides his career in law, he loves outdoor activities and volunteers as a part-time police officer in Birmingham.

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