Many parents understand that parenting does not come with a manual. There are many periods during the infant stage where parents use a trial and error method. Unfortunately, babies can develop serious conditions due to the carelessness of manufacturers and healthcare professionals.
One serious health condition recently leading to infant death involves necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The uptick in this life-threatening condition is due to premature infants who received certain types of Similac or Enfamil formula. Ingredients in the formula led the premature babies to develop NEC, and many tragically did not survive.
If your child suffered NEC and required surgery or passed away, you need aggressive legal help on your side. At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we are compassionate about your situation, and we fight for compensation for children, parents, and families following preventable injuries or death. Contact our NEC Lawyers today to learn more about your rights and legal options.
Table of Contents
- What Is NCE?
- Dangers of NCE
- Who is Liable if Your Child Suffers From NEC?
- What Types of Claims Can I File for My NEC Lawsuit?
- How Much is Your NEC Lawsuit Worth?
- How Will My NEC Lawsuit Resolve?
- How an NEC Lawyer Can Help You
What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
NEC is a gastrointestinal disorder that seriously infects the intestine of babies who are either premature or medically fragile. This disorder can result from bacteria developing within the baby’s intestinal wall. As a result, the baby’s tissue in the small and large intestine can be destroyed, creating a hole in the intestinal wall. Because the intestine is incapable of holding waste, it is easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and allow life-threatening infections to emerge.
Even though the cause of NEC is not always clear, there is one cause that can lead to NEC that is preventable. Exposure to cow’s milk formula fortifiers can cause babies to develop NEC. When you discover that your baby has developed a life-threatening disease like NEC due to exposure to formula, you have the right to seek compensation for your baby’s injuries.
An NEC lawyer can help reduce the stress of this trying time and help you seek the justice that your baby deserves.
Categories of NEC
Healthcare professionals categorize NEC into different types based on the type of symptoms babies experience and what caused the condition.
The following forms of NEC include:
- Classic. This type of NEC develops in infants born before 28 weeks of pregnancy. Classic NEC develops in infants three to six weeks after their birth. This type of NEC occurs suddenly and unexpectedly when babies adjust and do well.
- Transfusion-related. Some babies develop conditions like anemia and require a blood transfusion. Premature babies who have a blood transfusion are at risk of developing NEC within three days.
- Atypical. This type of NEC is rare and happens when a baby develops NEC within the first week of life.
- Term infant. This type of NEC develops within babies who have a birth defect.
Common Causes of NEC
Healthcare professionals are not certain about what causes NEC. Healthcare professionals assume that premature and medically fragile babies have weaker immune systems, making them more vulnerable to the disease. Other causes that physicians believe contribute to NEC include:
Babies who have weaker intestines have difficulty fighting against bacteria and other infections.
Dating back to the 1990s, medical researchers conducted a study revealing that babies fed formula were six to ten times more likely to be exposed to NEC. Although healthcare organizations recommend that premature babies be fed on a human milk diet only, healthcare centers still use a formula based on its cost.
Little oxygen flows to the intestine
Another potential cause is the lack of oxygen flowing through the intestine. When there is little oxygen flowing through a baby’s body at birth, blood and oxygen are sent to the brain and heart first. This diminishes the amount of blood and oxygen that flows through the intestine.
What Are The Dangers of NEC?
NEC is a dangerous condition that can cause infant death for premature and medically fragile babies. Babies can develop holes inside their intestines that allow different types of stool and other bacteria to leak into the baby’s intestinal wall. Infections inside of the intestine are hard for babies to fight.
Babies who are fortunate enough to overcome this condition are still at risk of experiencing serious health issues, including:
- Scars in the intestines
- Not being able to absorb food and other nutrients
- Sepsis, or severe infection around the entire body
Who Can Be Liable if My Child Suffers From NEC?
While external factors contribute to the risk of NEC, healthcare professionals who feed formula to premature and medically fragile babies are deliberately placing your baby’s health at risk. Suppose your baby develops NEC due to being exposed to certain types of formula. In that case, you have the right as a parent to file a lawsuit against the healthcare provider and formula manufacturers.
Different Types of Milk-Based Formulas
Two of the most common milk-based formulas fed to premature babies are Enfamil and Similac. Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not officially recalled Enfamil and Similac formulas, the two manufacturers have voluntarily recalled some products. This has resulted in several ongoing lawsuits. You can check with the FDA to see if the baby formula you use was recalled.
What Types of Claims Can I File for My NEC Lawsuit?
Depending on the cause of your baby’s NEC, there are various claims you can file to seek compensation.
An NEC lawyer can help you file a product liability lawsuit against the formula manufacturers for distributing and selling the formula. Formula manufacturers have a legal responsibility to warn consumers of the potential risks of using their products. Many of the parents currently suing Enfamil and Similac argue that the companies failed to warn the general public that their formulas increase the risk of NEC for premature babies.
Another personal injury claim that you can file against healthcare providers is a medical malpractice claim. You can file a medical malpractice claim for medical professionals who act negligently against their patients and, as a result, cause their patients to experience serious harm.
You may want to consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit if you believe a medical professional irresponsibly fed your baby Enfamil or Similac formula or misdiagnosed your baby’s NEC condition. Medical professionals can even be held liable for failing to inform you about the risks associated with cow’s milk formula.
What Factors Determine How Much My NEC Lawsuit Is Worth?
With an NEC lawsuit, your baby’s condition is not enough to prove the formula manufacturers or healthcare providers liable. There are certain factors that an NEC lawyer must consider to evaluate the amount of your compensation.
Some of these factors include:
- The severity of your baby’s condition. The more severe your baby’s condition, the higher the amount of compensation that you can receive.
- Your baby’s ability to make a full recovery. If the chances of your baby recovering from NEC are small, you may receive higher compensation.
- The possibility of medical services for your baby in the future. Because the chances of your baby recovering from NEC are small, your baby may have to rely on medical services for the rest of their life. This factor can be a reason why your compensation should be greater.
- The financial strain on you and your baby. Your baby’s condition does not just affect your baby. You and other family members will have to spend so much time and money tending to your baby’s injuries. This financial strain includes medical treatments and lost income.
- The possibility of pain and suffering. NEC causes babies to experience an enormous amount of physical pain and the emotional toll it has taken on them and their families.
How Will My NEC Lawsuit Resolve?
Although it is not possible to determine the outcome of your lawsuit, there are two ways that your lawsuit can end.
Formula manufacturers, healthcare professionals, or insurance companies may decide to offer you a settlement as compensation. The other parties may offer you a settlement to avoid the negative publicity of a trial. If you want to avoid a trial, a settlement might be a great decision.
However, an NEC lawyer may advise you against accepting the insurance company’s first settlement offer. Insurance companies offer a settlement, not from a moral standpoint but looking out for their client’s best interests. On many occasions, insurance companies offer a settlement for compensation that is less than what their actual lawsuit might be worth.
Bench Trial or Jury Trial
If you decide not to accept the settlement or cannot come to a mutual agreement with the other party, your lawsuit will then transition to either a bench trial or a jury trial. A jury trial is the traditional trial format that comes to many people's minds. With this trial, a jury of your peers considers the facts of your case and decides your damages. On the other hand, a bench trial is a trial format where the judge issues the final verdict of your lawsuit.
Even though one type of trial is not better than the other, an NEC lawyer can advise you on the most likely method of getting the most money in your case. For example, you may have a greater chance of being rewarded compensation in a jury trial because jurors are naturally more sympathetic to injured plaintiffs. However, if your claim is a medical malpractice claim, a jury trial may work against you. Jurors may not understand the complex medical jargon in your case.
How an NEC Lawyer Can Help You
When filing an NEC claim, there are so many decisions that you must make regarding your lawsuit. You can easily become overwhelmed between deciding what type of claim to file, whether to accept a settlement or not, or whether to choose a jury trial or bench trial. An NEC lawyer can help relieve that overwhelming feeling by using their experience to guide you. An NEC lawyer is familiar with the legal consequences of your baby’s condition and can help file a claim on your behalf.
Assessing the Worth of Your NEC Claim
An NEC lawyer can review the facts of your baby’s incident and assess the actual worth of your claim. Because NEC lawyers know about the condition, an NEC lawyer can identify the different types of compensation that you can pursue through your lawsuit.
Some of the common forms of compensation for an NEC claim include:
- Prolonged medical expenses. The more severe your baby’s condition, the more likely your baby will have to rely on medical treatments in the future.
- Expenses for future physical limitations. Babies who develop NEC are at risk of having part or all of their intestines damaged. The damage can be so severe that the baby needs surgery to have the intestine removed.
- Pain and suffering. Compensation should be offered for the physical pain your baby is currently experiencing and may experience in the future.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. Your baby requires compensation for the complications that NEC has caused. Babies with NEC may have gastrointestinal issues for the rest of their lives. They may have issues absorbing nutrients from food and have neurodevelopmental delays.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies On Your Behalf
Another way that an NEC lawyer can help you is by representing your interests against insurance companies. Whether insurance companies represent formula manufacturers or medical professionals, their objective remains the same: to avoid paying as much compensation to you as possible.
An NEC lawyer can gather the necessary evidence to support your lawsuit and use that evidence to negotiate for the compensation that you are requesting. Unfortunately, insurance companies will test the waters and offer you a low settlement offer to resolve the matter. An NEC lawyer can ensure that the insurance companies do not try to lowball you and that you are prepared to counter their tactics if they do try.
Speak to Our NEC Lawyers Today
If your baby was the victim of NEC due to someone else’s negligence, that person or entity deserves to be held accountable. Speak to an experienced NEC lawyer from Michigan Injury Lawyers. We can help you fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. The longer you wait to file a claim, the higher risk of missing the statute of limitations. Missing the deadline to file a claim can result in your case being dismissed by the judge.
2525 S Telegraph Rd, Ste 100
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302