Orange County Birth Injury Lawyer
While most births in hospitals and homes in the United States occur without complications, birth defects and birth injuries can occur for a variety of reasons. In fact, sources say that a birth injury occurs in about 27 of every 1,000 births. Sometimes these injuries are unavoidable, but more often they are the result of medical mistakes or medical negligence (i.e. failure to act to prevent such injuries) on behalf of doctors and/or nurses. The causes of birth injuries can be pinpointed to any point during the delivery process and sometimes even back to the pregnancy.
If you suspect that your baby has suffered a birth injury due to medical mistakes or medical negligence, you may wish to consult with an Orange County personal injury attorney who can assess your case to determine your rights and options. You may be able to seek compensation for your related expenses and suffering. For children who have developed serious and permanent disabilities from birth injuries, you may be able to seek lifetime compensation. Please contact our experienced Orange County birth injury attorneys today to learn more about your options.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury, a type of medical malpractice, is defined as any medical professional’s failure to exercise prudent and reasonable medical judgment in providing care that deviates from accepted medical standards and causes injury to a patient. Medical negligence is responsible for numerous birth injuries in the United States each year.
Causes of Birth Injuries
In some cases, the cause of birth injury can be traced back to medical negligence that occurred during a woman’s pregnancy. For example, failure to diagnose and adequately attend to maternal or fetal health conditions or complications can increase the risk of birth injury. Doctors have a duty to address prenatal issues such as:
- Rh incompatibility
- Maternal disease or infection
- Maternal diabetes
- Maternal hypertension
- Abnormal fetal growth or development
- Cephalopelvic disproportion
Most birth injuries, however, occur during the labor and delivery process. Shoulder dystocia, premature birth, prolonged birth, large newborn size, irregular birth presentation, difficult labor, problems with the umbilical cord, and other conditions can all increase the risk of birth injuries. Excessive use of force, improper use of medical interventions, needless surgery, failure to follow standard protocol, improper intubation, delay of c-section, and other hospital errors can lead to birth injuries during delivery.
Types of Birth Injuries
Several types of birth injuries can occur as a result of complications and medical mistakes during pregnancy or childbirth or in the immediate neo-natal time frame. These birth injuries may be mild and temporary, or their effects may be longer-lasting or even permanent. Please read below to learn about some of the most common types of birth injuries.
- Brain damage: There are various brain-related injuries that an infant can sustain. In many cases, brain injuries lead to oxygen deprivation for a child (anoxia, hypoxia, birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia). Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that results from oxygen deprivation. When a child’s brain is deprived of oxygen, the brain will not be able to receive proper nutrients. This can lead to substantial short- and long-term disabilities for a child that necessitate permanent in-home medical care.
- Erb’s palsy and other nerve injuries: Erb’s palsy is a common birth injury that leads to paralysis in the arm or hand of a child. This injury is caused when the brachial plexus nerves of a child are stretched or damaged during the childbirth process. In many cases, these injuries occur when a baby becomes stuck during delivery or when a doctor uses excessive force.
- Facial paralysis: often temporary, is often caused by medical mistakes during delivery.
- Cerebral palsy: The most common brain injury related to birth trauma is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects approximately 8,000 to 10,000 children each year across the country and can develop in a number of ways, including due to mistakes made by medical professionals. CP is a neurological disorder that can impair a person’s body movements and leave a child permanently disabled. Often, children with cerebral palsy are unable to control their legs or arms, will have speech issues, and require mobility assistance.
- Fractures, caused by forceful or excessive birthing techniques
- Caput succedaneum: Caput succedaneum is an injury to the baby’s head in which forceful delivery techniques cause severe swelling and bruising of the baby’s head. Fortunately, this birth injury is often temporary, though such excessive use of force during delivery can cause much more serious injuries, including brain damage.
- Cephalohematoma: Like caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma is a birth injury that affects the baby’s head. This birth injury involves irregular bleeding beneath the cranial bones in the head. When bleeding is severe, this birth injury can lead to jaundice, which can have serious consequences.
- Kernicterus: a form of devastating brain damage caused by excessive jaundice as a result of too much bilirubin in a baby’s bloodstream, due to a baby’s liver’s inability to excrete excessive bilirubin. In cases of extremely high levels of bilirubin, the substance can move out of the blood and collect into the brain tissue leading to serious neurological complications. Kernicterus usually develops within the first week of a newborn’s life, but may not be noticeable until a few weeks later.
How Long Do You Have To File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Birth injury cases are going to be handled under the same laws that guide medical malpractice claims. When we turn to the medical malpractice statute of limitations in California, we can see that these cases must be filed within one year of discovering that injury has occurred or within three years from the date the injury occurred, whichever comes first.
However, the statute of limitations is slightly different for children under the age of 18. In these cases, the legal guardians or parents of the child must file a medical malpractice claim within three years of the injury occurring. However, if the victim of the medical mistake is under the age of 6, then the lawsuit needs to be filed within that three-year deadline or before the child turns eight.
What Type of Compensation is Available in These Cases?
If a child sustains a birth injury that was caused by the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional, there may be various types of compensation available for the claim. While no two birth injury cases are exactly the same, the team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn is regularly able to help families recover the following:
- The cost of all emergency medical care related to the birth injury
- Compensation for short- or long-term care the child needs
- Compensation for any mobility aids such as wheelchairs, braces, walker, etc.
- Lost income if a parent cannot work while caring for their child
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages for the child
- Pain and suffering damages
- Possible punitive damages in cases of gross negligence on the part of the medical provider
Contact an Orange County Birth Injury Attorney
When a birth injury causes significant and/or long term harm to a child or mother, the family often has the legal right to seek compensation for medical expenses, monetary losses, and pain and suffering. To learn more about birth injuries and your legal rights, please contact the qualified and caring Orange County medical malpractice attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn to learn more. We can provide a free and confidential case evaluation so that you can determine the best course of action based on full knowledge of your options.