Can Birth Injuries Be Medical Malpractice?


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Expectant parents may be some of the happiest people on earth. Anticipating and preparing for the birth of their new baby is meant to be an exciting and joyous time in their lives. Fortunately, most pregnancies and deliveries go smoothly and new families are formed. However, there are times that complications occur that can put both mother and child at risk of injury. When these situations are found to have been preventable, the birth injuries may constitute a medical malpractice claim.

How Do Birth Injuries Happen?

There are numerous ways that birth injuries can happen, but they generally fall into one of two situations: either the doctor (or other medical professional) fails to asses or treat conditions, or there are injuries resulting from negligent prenatal care.

In the first situation, the doctor may fail to properly diagnose conditions like hypertension, may use medical instruments like forceps or a vacuum incorrectly, may fail to monitor the baby’s heart rate properly, or fail to perform a cesarean section when necessary. In these types of scenarios, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed against the doctor and other medical staff who were involved, and sometimes a claim against the hospital where the delivery took place can be filed.

In the second situation, negligent prenatal care may occur in treating the pregnant woman. This can include the prescription of medication that causes the mother (and possibly the baby) to be injured. When this happens, the doctor, pharmacist, and sometimes even the drug manufacturer may be held accountable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Birth Injury to the Infant

When a baby is injured during birth, the parents, as guardians for the infant, must bring the lawsuit. They may ask for both general and special damages for their child. That includes medical bills and the cost of pain and suffering – both mental and physical – and loss of enjoyment of life.

For example, if a baby suffers brain damage because the doctor mistakenly decided to deliver the child too early, the parents may be able to sue for medical expenses that have already been charged as well as future expenses. They may also recover damages for the pain and suffering that the child will have as a result of the physical and mental disability.

Birth Injury to the Mother

If the mother is caused injury or harm during pregnancy or childbirth, she may bring a claim against the responsible medical professional. One example of birth injury to a mother is when a doctor fails to note her high blood pressure, which is a sign of preeclampsia, and she has a seizure during delivery as a result. The mother may be able to sue for the injuries caused by the seizure.

Parents may also be able to recover damages for the pain and suffering they go through due to their baby’s injury.

Proving Medical Malpractice

Whatever the specific facts of the medical malpractice case are, to be entitled to a financial recovery for birth injuries, plaintiffs have to prove that the medical professional involved failed to provide adequate medical care or advice regarding medications during the pregnancy and birth.

In order to find that a doctor or medical professional is legally responsible for a birth injury, it has to be proven that his or her conduct did not meet the accepted standard of care. The standard of care is determined based on what another, similarly qualified, medical professional would have done during the same set of circumstances.

Once that is proven, the plaintiff’s attorney will have to show that failing to meet the standard of care is what resulted in the mother’s or baby’s injury. Typically, plaintiffs’ attorneys will use a medical professional to testify as an expert witness to prove these points to the judge or jury.

If it is established that the injury did occur due to negligence or medical mistake, damages must be presented to the court. Some damages are fairly simple to calculate (medical expenses, for example), while others are more subjective and left up to the jury to decide upon (pain and suffering).

Getting Help for Your Claim

Anytime there is a birth injury that could have been avoided, the case should be reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The family could be entitled to monetary compensation for their emotional and financial burdens that resulted from someone else’s negligence.

If you or someone you know has suffered a birth injury, let one of the knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys at Ross Feller Casey evaluate your case to determine if you have a lawsuit. The consultation and case review are free, and all of our medical malpractice cases are handled on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay if we don’t win.

Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.