An injury to a fetus or baby before, during or after birth can be an overwhelming tragedy and source of pain. Countless questions emerge: How could this happen? Was it preventable? Was someone at fault?
We will fight for the full justice that you and your family deserve. Call us at (440) 252-4399 today to discuss your case.
At The Becker Law Firm, we have medical experts on our staff and employ a team of physicians to better understand every aspect of our case and know the right questions to ask to ensure that the negligence or malpractice which harmed you or your child is held accountable to the full extent of the law.
How Do I Know If We Have A Case?
The easiest way to know if you have a case is to meet with a strong legal team. If you suspect your child’s permanent injury or death could have been prevented or was caused as a result of malpractice or negligence, contact The Becker Law Firm today. We offer an initial consultation for your case free of charge, and since we accept cases on a contingency basis, you won’t be charged for any fees unless we win your case.
You can use the contact form on this page or call us at (440) 252-4399 to speak with our Ohio birth injury attorneys.
If you aren’t yet ready to talk with us directly, we have compiled a list of facts about birth injuries that may be important to know as you are deciding how to proceed in seeking justice for your family.
Birth Injuries Are Not Birth Defects
One of the first things to understand about birth injuries is that they are considerably different from birth defects.
Birth defects are health complications that develop before birth; birth defects are congenital and have biological causes, such as genetic abnormalities or problems with the mother’s health during pregnancy. A birth defect is a health problem that stems from who the baby is, biologically speaking.
Birth injuries are health problems that are created before, during, or shortly after birth. Birth injuries aren’t the result of babies’ biology, but rather the result of something that happened to the baby during gestation, labor, delivery, or shortly after delivery.
Preventable Birth Injuries Can Have Many Causes
Other factors that contribute to a birth injury, however, may be preventable by a physician or caregiver. If a physician or caregiver errs or fails to protect the safety of the patient, or if the hospital fails to ensure that the conditions in which care was provided were safe, a birth injury may be the result of medical malpractice and/or negligence.
Generally speaking, preventable birth injuries occur when:
- Caregivers fail to provide necessary prenatal care during pregnancy;
- Caregivers make mistakes during labor or delivery;
- Caregivers fail to recognize and respond to complications immediately following birth.
Common mistakes or failures leading to birth injury may include:
- During surgery;
- During labor and delivery;
- Procedures involving anesthesia;
- Treatments involving medication;
- Unnecessary treatments;
- As a result of unnecessary or risky medical tests;
- Malfunctioning medical devices.
Poor Patient Care
- Failure to properly monitor a patient;
- Failure to respond to a patient’s needs;
- Missed warning signs;
- Failure to take necessary precautions;
- Discharging a patient too early;
- Failure to provide patients with adequate post-operative directions.
- Poorly sanitized medical instruments;
- Unclean facilities;
- Other opportunities for cross-contamination;
- Abuse of patients.
Improper Management of Staff
- Failure to supervise new staff members;
- Failure to ensure staff members are adequately trained;
- Caregiver fatigue.
- Poor record-keeping and/or communication resulting in treatment delays or errors;
- Inadequate protocols.
Some Birth Injuries Are Caused by Factors that Can’t Be Controlled
Sometimes, conditions that can lead to the injury of a child or mother during gestation, labor, and delivery are beyond the control of a physician or caregiver. Examples of this could be a very premature birth or precipitous labor. When these or similar conditions are present, injury to the child or mother may be unavoidable, and the physician or caregiver may not be at fault for the injury.
Minor Birth Injuries Are Relatively Common
Birth is a traumatic experience for mothers and babies, as it takes a physical toll on their bodies. Minor injuries to both the mother and baby occur frequently, and these injuries often heal quickly and are not cause for serious alarm. These minor injuries include:
- Minor bruising on the child’s face and head due to pressure from the mother’s contractions, as well as travel through the birth canal.
- Temporary paralysis due to pressure damaging the baby’s facial nerves. As long as a nerve is not torn, this condition should resolve itself.
- Bleeding under the cranial bone (cephalohematoma) can cause a raised lump to appear on the baby’s head within a few hours of birth. The baby’s body will gradually reabsorb the lump, although it may take up to three months to disappear entirely.
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes of newborns (subconjunctival hemorrhage) may cause a red ring to appear around their irises. This does not damage the eyes and usually disappears within a week to a week and a half.
Serious Birth Injuries Are Less Common
Serious birth injuries to fetuses and newborns may include:
- Oxygen Deprivation/Asphyxia/Hypoxia (Oxygen deficiency in various tissues, including the brain);
- Ischemia (Reduced blood flow to tissues or organs);
- Untreated Infection, including, but not limited to Group Beta Streptococcus, Hepatitis B, Herpes Simplex, HIV, Listeria, Toxoplasmosis, urinary tract infections, and yeast Infections;
- Undiagnosed Conditions;
- Delayed Cesarean Section (The physician fails to recognize and respond to indications that a Cesarean Section is necessary);
- Delivery Trauma (Physical injury resulting from how the baby is delivered);
- Vacuum Extraction (The use of a vacuum pump to help guide a baby's head out of the birth canal during childbirth);
- Forceps Delivery (The use of a surgical instrument, resembling a pair of tongs, to assist in delivery);
- Improper Delivery Technique (A mistake by the caregiver while delivering the baby);
- Shoulder Dystocia (A form of obstructed labor that occurs when the baby's shoulders cannot follow its head past the pubic bone);
- Hemorrhage (Heavy discharge of blood from blood vessels);
- Surgical Malpractice during Cesarean Section;
- Pregnancy-Related or Obstetrical Negligence.
Failure to Prevent, Diagnose, or Treat:
- Uterine Rupture (A rare but catastrophic event during pregnancy which involves a break in the smooth muscles lining the wall of the uterus);
- Umbilical Cord Prolapse (A condition that occurs when the umbilical cord drops through the cervix into the vagina prior to the delivery of the baby. If the cord is compressed during delivery, blood flow to the fetus can be compromised);
- Fetal Distress (Signs in a pregnant woman, before or during childbirth, that may indicate that the fetus is not well);
- Gestational Diabetes (A condition where a woman who does not have diabetes develops high blood sugar during pregnancy);
- Pre-eclampsia (A complication during pregnancy involving high blood pressure in the mother);
- Eclampsia (Seizures occurring in a woman with pre-eclampsia before, during, or after delivery);
- HELLP Syndrome (A series of symptoms that involves three complications: Hemolysis, the destruction of red blood cells; Elevated Liver enzymes, an indicator of liver damage; and Low Platelet count, a lack of clotting factors in the blood).
Negligent Birth Management During Higher-Risk Pregnancies, Including:
- Advanced Maternal Age;
- Premature birth;
- Birth of twins or other sets of multiples;
- Suspected large fetus;
- Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) (A mother who delivers vaginally after a prior Cesarean Section may risk opening a previous C-Section scar);
- Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) (A condition that occurs when the amniotic sac containing amniotic fluid breaks more than one hour before the onset of labor);
- Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (A condition that occurs when the amniotic sac breaks prior to 37 weeks of gestation);
- Failure to prevent or timely treat newborn infection;
- Use of potentially dangerous medications;
- Postpartum Negligence (Failure to recognize and treat conditions in the child after birth).
Serious Birth Injuries Can Have Tragic, Life-Long Consequences
What may initially seem like a small problem can quickly spiral out of control and cause catastrophic, long-term damage. Some of the most common include:
- Brain Damage (An injury involving the damage or destruction of brain cells);
- Brachial Plexus Injury (Damage to the cluster of nerves that run from the spinal cord through the neck and down into the arm—which provide feeling and control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand—can result in paralysis or impaired movement);
- Developmental Delays (When a child fails to meet development milestones as expected);
- Cerebral Palsy (A condition caused by abnormal brain development or brain damage— often caused by lack of oxygen, before, during, or immediately after birth—impairs body movement, motor function, muscle control, reflexes, and balance);
- Wrongful Death (A claim brought in a civil action against a person who can be held liable for a death—a death that someone had a duty to prevent).
Serious Birth Injuries Create Significant Long-Term Costs
At The Becker Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of families whose children have been permanently disabled as a result of a birth injury. These families pay the most for mistakes made by others. The futures they had envisioned for their children may no longer be possible, and they face overwhelming costs for the ongoing care of their children.
Some of the long-term health care needs of birth-injured children include:
- Multiple surgeries;
- Nursing care;
- Ongoing medical care;
- Medical equipment;
- Physical, occupational, speech, vocational, and psychological therapy;
- Personal care attendants;
- Adaptive devices such as motorized wheelchairs, braces, and/or artificial limbs;
- Accessible vans and housing modifications;
- Enrollment in special-needs schools;
- Special tutors;
- Healthcare supplies.
Negligent Caregivers Must Be Held Accountable for Their Mistakes
If your baby was injured before, during, or immediately after birth and suffered a permanent disability or wrongful death as a result of errors or negligence made by caregivers, holding them accountable is more than just a right; for the sake of your child and your family, it is a necessity. The lifetime medical costs that a family incurs from a serious birth injury can be overwhelming and must be the responsibility of the caregivers or institutions which caused them.
Holding caregivers and institutions responsible for their medical mistakes is about more than just compensating those who have been harmed – it’s also about preventing future mistakes. Having to pay out large rewards for medical malpractice provides a huge incentive for caregivers and institutions to avoid making those same mistakes in the future. Using the courts to hold institutions accountable helps ensure your family has what they need to cope with the consequences of a birth injury and helps protect other families from similar experiences in the future.
Of course, caregivers, medical institutions, and their insurance providers employ armies of attorneys and experts to protect themselves from these cases and to claim that they were not at fault.
As a result, you’ll need your own team of experts to ensure that the interests of your family aren’t just brushed aside. As your representative body, The Becker Law Firm will get to the heart of your case, keep your family’s interests front and center, and won’t settle for anything less than the full justice you and your family deserve.
Legal “Damages” for Birth Injuries Go Beyond Medical Expenses
In legal terms, “damages” are awards of money paid to a person or family as compensation for an injury or wrongful death.
Damages as the result a birth injury are assessed with present and future costs in mind, and may include existing and ongoing cost of the medical needs of a child who has been permanently disabled, the loss of time and income of parents who must now care for the injured child, and the loss of the income that child would have earned as an adult if they had not been injured. If a child dies from a birth injury, their family’s award will include funerary costs as well.
Families with children who are permanently disabled or die as a result of birth injuries lose more than just time and money – they lose love and companionship from their children. Parents and siblings often experience emotional suffering from the loss of these babies, or from the stress of ongoing care for those who survive.