If your child was injured during childbirth, you may be eligible to file a birth injury case against the doctors and nurses who were involved with your delivery process. A Kansas City birth injury lawyer can help you assess your medical malpractice lawsuit so you can pursue the compensation you and your family deserve. Learn more about birth injuries, how to file a birth injury claim, and when you should talk to a birth injury attorney.
Birth injuries are different from birth defects. A birth defect is generally something congenital that would be present at birth because it developed in the womb. A birth injury, on the other hand, is something that happens during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth. Not all birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice, though many may be avoided with sufficient medical care.
Is a Birth Injury Considered a Medical Malpractice Claim?
There are several injuries that can arise from unforeseen complications during childbirth. However, when a birth defect is caused by the negligent act of medical professionals, this is considered medical malpractice. A preventable error that caused lasting harm to your child is usually the result of negligence.
Although childbirth is inherently risky, modern childbirth should be generally low-risk to both the mother and child. A preventable birth injury occurs when too much force is used during delivery or when the medical professionals monitoring the delivery are careless. Even performing an unnecessary Cesarean section that results in birth complications can be considered medical malpractice.
What Are Common Birth Injuries?
There are several common birth defects that can cause long-lasting harm to children. While some birth injuries can be resolved shortly after childbirth, others can cause long-term developmental and physical disabilities. The most common medical malpractice birth injuries include:
Cerebral Palsy is a form of infant brain damage that affects a child’s ability to maintain balance, move, and uphold a straight posture. This disorder can cause spastic movement that results in stiffness. There are many different types of Cerebral Palsy that may affect balance and coordination as the child grows, which is why this disorder is often categorized as a developmental disability.
Most children who have this condition are diagnosed before the age of two, since this is the age when healthy children should hit certain developmental milestones. A child who has difficulty seeing or hearing, difficulty controlling movement, excessive drooling, or an inability to swallow may have this condition. Some infants will also experience shaking, spasms, and an inability to roll over or crawl.
Facial paralysis can be an injury caused by complications during natural childbirth, particularly if forceps are used to assist the delivery. Pressure on the baby’s face can injure nerves, which causes partial or full paralysis of the infant’s face. Often, one side of the infant’s face will be unable to move, and the eye may not be able to close. Sometimes, surgery is needed to repair this birth injury.
A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves in the brachial plexus are injured while delivering the baby’s shoulder. Sometimes called Erb’s Palsy, this injury causes the baby to lose the ability to rotate and flex the arm. Sometimes, this injury can be short-term since the nerves are only bruised, while other times, tearing of the nerves on the brachial plexus can cause permanent nerve damage.
Cephalohematoma is a common birth injury that is characterized by bleeding under the cranial bone, which can cause a raised bump on the infant’s head. Often, this injury is caused by the use of forceps. While this injury can resolve itself after a few months, other infants may suffer from long-term risks such as jaundice, meningitis, hypotension, and anemia.
Perinatal asphyxia occurs when an infant suffers from oxygen deprivation during delivery, such as from a blocked airway passage. Insufficient oxygen to the infant can result in low blood pressure immediately after childbirth, as well as severe consequences such as seizures. Perinatal asphyxia can lead to hypoxia, which prevents oxygen from being delivered through the body and can cause brain damage, intellectual developmental delays, and much more.
Delivery injuries such as bruises and fractures are also common injuries from childbirth. A complicated delivery can result in a fractured collarbone that can cause a new baby significant pain and even immobility as the bone is healing. Infants are also vulnerable to hemorrhages that can cause blood vessels in the eyes to burst. Even if delivery injuries are not long-lasting, you are still entitled to legal action to secure compensation for your child’s suffering.
Failure to recognize fetal distress is another common injury that may occur during the delivery process. If the fetal heart rate is signaling fetal distress, but the nurses and doctors in the delivery room do not notice or intervene in a timely manner, this can result in irreversible harm to the infant.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries sustained during childbirth can cause significant consequences, including paralysis and other neurological problems that can develop as the child grows. Often, spinal cord injuries occur as a result of the improper use of forceps.
Sometimes, birth injuries can also arise from hospital complications, such as the uncontrolled spread of infectious diseases. A new baby is vulnerable to infections from strep bacteria and viral infections. Unclean or dangerous conditions at the hospital can result in serious complications for newborns who are premature, as well.
What About Birth Injuries to the Mother?
For the mother, the risk of injury during childbirth is high across the nation. For women who have to give birth via C-section or Cesarean section, complications to the mother can include postpartum hemorrhage, blood clots, endometritis, and infection at the surgical site.
Natural childbirth can also cause injuries, especially when physicians are not paying attention to the well-being of the mother. Studies indicate the national maternal mortality rate continues to rise each year, especially for women who have existing conditions and pregnancy conditions. Some women are at a higher risk of childbirth injury or death, such as minority women.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has a Birth Defect or Birth Injury?
It’s scary to think that something might be wrong with your baby. It’s important to know that the law requires physicians to disclose any potential health issues with your baby. If you know about a condition ahead of time, it’s a birth defect. If you become aware of a condition or illness shortly after delivery, it may well still be a defect – but there’s also a chance it’s actually a birth injury. Talk to an experienced Kansas City birth injury attorney about your options if you were expecting to welcome a healthy baby boy or girl, but something else happened.
Who Can You Hold Liable for a Birth Injury?
Liability for a birth injury means legal responsibility. The liable party will be the one that reasonably should have prevented the birth injury or the one behind the proximate cause of damages. If the birth injury would not have happened but for the defendant’s actions or lack thereof, the defendant will likely be the one liable for damages. Liability can fall to many different parties depending on the circumstances.
The hospital or birthing center. The facility where you had your child may be liable if it contributed to the incident. Examples include failing to hire safe employees, enforce better communication protocols, or maintaining its tools and equipment. The facility may also be vicariously liable for the negligence of one of its employees.
The individual physician or OBGYN. The individual doctor responsible for the birth injury could bear sole liability for damages if he or she is not an employee of the hospital or center. The hospital may not be vicariously liable for damages if the doctor is an independent contractor instead of an employee. Physicians carry personal insurance for just such cases.
A medical device manufacturer. If a defective, dangerous, or malfunctioning medical device contributed to the birth injury, you may have a product liability case against the manufacturer. The hospital may also be responsible if a lack of item maintenance caused a malfunction.
Many birth injury claims in Kansas City involve the shared negligence or responsibility of more than one defendant. It is possible to file a claim against multiple parties. Hiring an experienced birth injury attorney in Kansas City can help you answer the complex question of liability for your child’s injuries.
How Common Are Birth Injury Cases?
According to recent statistics, the prevalence of birth injuries in the United States is very high. The CDC estimates that every seven of 1,000 babies suffer from a birth injury, many of which are the result of medical malpractice. The most common birth injury is a fractured collarbone, with a fracture occurring every 15 out of 1,000 births. Cerebral Palsy is the most common childhood disability and occurs in one to four children every 1,000 births. Erb’s Palsy affects as many as 12,000 babies each year.
Who Can File a Kansas City Birth Injury Claim?
In Kansas City, MO, you may be eligible to file a birth injury lawsuit if you are the parent of the child who suffered from medical harm, the spouse of a mother who died due to birth complications, or sometimes related family members. If a child suffered from a birth injury throughout childhood, the child may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on their own behalf once they are 18 years old.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases?
In Kansas City, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice birth injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. This means that new parents will have up to 24 months to gather evidence for a medical malpractice case and file a lawsuit to recover compensation. For an individual filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on their own behalf, the statute of limitations allows the child to file a claim for two years after the child turns 18.
How Can You Win a Medical Malpractice Birth Injury Case?
Although medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult to win, experienced birth injury attorneys can help you build a winning case. A birth injury attorney with professional experience can identify the parties that should be held accountable in your birth injury claim. Some of the most important factors that can help you win a Kansas City birth injury lawsuit include:
Evidence and Witnesses
If you believe your child may be suffering from a birth injury, it’s very important to preserve evidence as soon as possible. Evidence such as medical records and medical bills can be used to prove that your child’s injuries first began under the medical care of the doctor who assisted with your delivery. If you suspect your child has nerve damage, you may want to complete an independent medical evaluation, which can also be used to pinpoint the onset of when an injury occurred.
You can also collect evidence from witnesses and first-hand written notes to attest to the severity of your child’s birth injury. Birth injury attorneys may encourage you to keep a detailed journal to keep track of your child’s injuries. Witnesses of the delivery process can also be used as evidence, particularly if nurses or other medical professionals speak up against the physician who delivered your baby.
In general, if a birth injury occurred because of a medical professional’s negligence, it should be possible to establish negligence with sufficient evidence. Law firms establish negligence by finding evidence that proves elements such as duty, breach, causation, and damages. Damages generally refer to the ongoing challenges your baby may face as a result of the birth injury, which can include economic and non-economic challenges.
A medical professional may be held liable for negligence if the physician owed you and your child a duty of care, and if that duty of care was breached by careless or negligent actions. It’s essential for your Kansas City lawyer to identify causation, or the actions that directly caused the birth injury. Usually, scientific evidence and input from other doctors can be used to establish causation and prove negligence in your case.
Proving a Birth Injury Claim
Once you identify the appropriate defendant, the next step is proving your birth injury claim. This will take demonstrating the defendant’s fault for your child’s injuries through a preponderance of the evidence. Proving your claim will require that your attorney provide evidence of four main elements.
The defendant owed you and your baby a duty of care.
The defendant negligently breached this duty.
The defendant’s action or omission caused the birth injury.
You or your child suffered damages as a result.
A Kansas City birth injury lawyer can help prove these elements through evidence collection, eyewitness interviews, expert testimony, case investigation, and many other strategies. Hiring a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney with medical malpractice experience can help give you peace of mind about proving your claim while your family focuses on healing.
How Long Does It Take to Win a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Like any other medical malpractice case, it can take several months or years to win a birth injury lawsuit. There may be multiple issues related to how quickly you can gather evidence to build your case, particularly since some birth defects are not noticed until the infant is several months old. The backlog on the court docket could also delay your case. However, as long as you have filed your initial lawsuit within the specified statute of limitations, you will be able to seek justice for your family.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
In a Kansas City birth injury case, victims are entitled to recover compensation to cover the cost of economic damages, such as medical bills and the cost of future medical bills. Compensation for a medical malpractice lawsuit can also cover expenses for vocational training, special education, physical therapy, home modifications for a disabled child, and the cost of owning an accessible van. An individual affected by a birth injury may also be able to sue for loss of income if they are over the age of 18.
Additionally, there may be other forms of compensation you have legal rights to. Some victims of birth injuries can sue liable parties to compensate for pain and suffering, which can include physical pain for mother and child, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and more.
Who Can You Seek Compensation From?
Most of the time, you will be able to file a lawsuit directly against the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who caused your child’s injury. However, there may be times when you can also pursue compensation from an insurance company representing these negligent parties.
Sometimes, pharmaceutical companies can also be held responsible for birth defects. A pharmaceutical company may be held liable for your child’s birth injury if there is evidence of defective packaging, defective advertising, or defective manufacturing in any tools or medications that were used during childbirth. A birth injury lawyer will be able to assess your case to determine who you can file a Kansas City birth injury lawsuit against.
What Is the Benefit of Legal Assistance?
Hiring a birth injury attorney in Kansas City is extremely beneficial for your birth injury claim. Parents who have a child suffering from a birth defect are likely consumed with the stress of caring for the child, which can make it difficult to build an effective case. A birth injury is also highly emotional for parents, so one of the main benefits of hiring a lawyer is overall stress reduction.
When a law firm is handling your case, you can rest assured that experienced professionals are taking every effort to advocate for you and your child’s rights. Law firms have significant resources that make it much easier to investigate medical professionals and medical facilities and can arrange for medical exams to gather more evidence for your case.
Birth Injury Statistics
As the victim of a devastating birth injury, you may feel alone in your battle. Thousands of other children, however, could have the same diagnosis as your child. Unfortunately, malpractice-related birth injuries are relatively common in the U.S. Many parents do not realize just how common until their children become victims. Negligence, carelessness, and recklessness cause thousands of birth injuries every year.
The leading cause of infant death is congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities. The second-leading cause is low birth weight and premature birth.
About six to eight of every 1,000 infants born in the U.S. suffer birth injuries. This equates to around 28,000 birth injuries per year.
The three most common birth injuries are brachial plexus palsy, broken bones, and cephalohematoma.
More birth injuries occur at private, non-profit hospitals than for-profit private hospitals (4.33 vs. 7.15 per 1,000, respectively).
The birth injury rate for non-instrument-assisted vaginal births is around 30% less than instrument-assisted vaginal births.
Every year, acts of negligence cause hundreds of thousands of preventable birth injuries in the United States. If your child has become a victim of suspected malpractice, do not hesitate to contact a Kansas City birth injury attorney. An experienced birth injury attorney can help you seek justice and financial compensation from the at-fault party in Kansas City.
How Can You Find an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney?
If you want to win your Kansas City, MO medical malpractice case, you will first need to find an experienced birth injury lawyer. Legal assistance is imperative in medical malpractice cases since a jury may be more forgiving to a medical professional. However, when you can find a law firm with a proven track record for winning medical negligence lawsuits, you will be more likely to receive the compensation you and your child deserve.
Law firms with experience winning birth defect cases typically have a good reputation. The easiest way to assess a Kansas City birth injury lawyer is to schedule a free consultation so your case can be evaluated. A lawyer will be able to outline all of your legal options so you can take the best legal action for your unique circumstances.
If your child’s birth injury was caused by a negligent act during delivery, it’s very likely that you can file a medical malpractice claim against the medical professionals or facilities who delivered your child. The individuals responsible for your child’s injuries should be held liable so you can recover compensation. Get in touch with personal injury attorneys at Wendt Law Firm for a free case evaluation today by calling 816-542-6734.