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When Should I File a Birth Injury Claim?

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Deadlines to preserve your case

The last thing on the minds of most parents after a difficult labor and delivery is a lawsuit.  More immediate and important concerns, namely the health and emergency treatment of the baby, must take priority over all other considerations.  Even in the months that follow, it can be difficult for parents who are learning how to care for their child’s special needs to focus on a lawsuit.  But taking time to contact a medical malpractice lawyer is important.  Caring for a child injured at birth will never be easy, but lawyers can help.
 

Why Should I Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney Now?

If you suspect that medical negligence was the cause of your child’s birth injury, a lawyer can give you peace of mind by helping you to find the truth.  Some birth injuries happen for unknown reasons, and some happen even though doctors and nurses acted perfectly.  Some, unfortunately, happen because a health care provider made mistakes.

While prosecuting a claim for medical malpractice, your lawyers will work extensively with top-rated medical experts, including neonatologists, pediatric neurologists, nurses and life care planners.  Those experts will often meet with you and your child, and will help to assemble a plan of care that you can immediately use as an outline for taking care of your child.  This life care plan is yours to keep, and it will help you to guide your child’s medical team into his adolescence and adulthood.

Finally, a lawsuit can help to ease the stress of caring for a child with special needs because, if successful, a settlement or birth injury verdict will conclude the case.  Taking care of a child with special needs is expensive—without extra help, many families are forced to rely on taxpayers and the limited help of medical assistance and social security.  A successful lawsuit will give parents the financial freedom to decide on the exact means and type of medical treatment, educational opportunities, and other care for their child’s development.

What Are The Deadlines For Birth Injury Lawsuits?

There are two types of deadlines to be concerned about in birth injury cases:  notice requirements and statutes of limitation.  Determining the exact deadline can be tricky, and it is important to get a lawyer’s advice on the exact deadline that applies to your claim.  If a claim is brought after the deadlines, it may not be successful.  But, no matter how late it is, it is never too late to consult a lawyer.  There are oftentimes exceptions to these rules that may allow even adult children to recover for decades-old medical malpractice.

Notice Requirements

Many states have enacted strict notice requirements before a parent or child can file a lawsuit.  These notice requirements usually apply when one of the negligent medical providers was a governmental entity or worked for a governmental entity, like a county-run hospital, or an obstetrician who treats pregnant inmates at a prison.  Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether an entity is entitled to a notice provision—this is something a medical malpractice lawyer can figure out.  If notice is required, very specific information must be provided to a responsible person, usually written down in state laws, within a short amount of time.  Some notice provisions, for example, require a medical malpractice victim to send notice within 180 days after the injury.  If that notice is not timely provided, a lawsuit might be dismissed.

Statutes of Limitation

The other deadline is written in state statutes of limitation.  These are laws that specify exactly how long an injured person has to file a lawsuit.  These statutes differ from state to state.  Most require that a lawsuit be filed within two or three years after the negligent act, but some only provide one year.  These harsh rules are sometimes softened by statutes of repose, which may give extra time to file a lawsuit when the injury or the negligence was not reasonably known.

In birth injury cases, there are typically two claims, which sometimes have different statutes of limitation.  The first claim belongs to the parents, who (depending on state law) may be able to file a lawsuit for the cost of their child’s medical treatment and care from birth to age 18, as well as their own pain and suffering in witnessing their child’s lifetime of difficulties.  This claim typically has a shorter deadline.

The other claim belongs to the child.  The child can usually claim his or her own medical expenses and care after the age of 18, as well as his own pain and suffering damages.  Sometimes, if the parents’ claim is expired, the child can claim the costs of medical care up through the age of 18.  In some states, a child may be able to bring a claim up to the age of 21.  In other states, the claim is limited to only a few short years.

What Does A Lawyer Need To Investigate My Birth Injury Case?

Medical malpractice lawyers need time to properly investigate birth injury cases.  This is one more reason why it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.  Gathering the necessary medical records and contacting experts to review those records can take three to six months.  A lawyer doesn’t need much information to get started.  If you do not have any medical records, your lawyer will obtain all them for you.  You simply must provide a list of the child’s medical providers, your doctors throughout pregnancy and delivery, and other basic information.

Contact Us

If you think that your child’s injuries were caused by medical malpractice, and you want to know for sure, contact our birth injury lawyers at  (440) 252-4399 or online for a complimentary consultation.  We can give you answers, and help you to decide whether a lawsuit is right for you.  We can also help to determine the deadlines to file a lawsuit.

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