Birth Injury Lawsuit

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Having a child is an exciting time in people\'s lives. Parents-to-be are generally thrilled at the prospect of having a son or daughter they can nurture and help grow. They may envision days at little league games, attending piano and dance recitals, art shows, and school plays. Unfortunately, for some parents, the joy that is supposed to go along with becoming a parent can quickly be extinguished, as they learn that their child has suffered an injury that may cause a long-term disability. Quickly, thoughts of baseball, soccer, and the piano vanish and instead parents\' minds turn to long periods of treatments, therapies, and regular visits to the doctor.

While doctors, nurses, and hospitals typically take every precaution available to ensure a woman\'s pregnancy and delivery go smoothly and without complications, there are occasions when problems arise. For instance, a doctor may have difficulty guiding a baby through the birth canal. In instances like this, doctors will often turn to forceps or a medical vacuum to aid the delivery. On occasion, a mistake with these instruments may be made, such as using them too long, or not applying the instrument in the correct location, and the baby is injured. Another incident that may occur is a misreading of a fetal monitor, which may indicate that a baby is not getting enough oxygen and needs to be removed from the womb quickly. In instances of fetal distress, a baby must be delivered within 10 minutes to avoid asphyxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain) and brain damage. If a fetal monitor is misread, or signs of fetal distress are missed, a baby may not be delivered in enough time to avoid brain damage.

Factors that may contribute to birth injury include large babies, premature birth, a disproportion between the size of the baby and the size of the mother\'s pelvis, prolonged labor, a difficult labor, or an abnormal birthing presentation, such as a baby being born with its buttocks position to come out first (breech). In addition, birth injury may occur if a doctor does not handle one of these factors appropriately, misreads the characteristics that may lead to a challenging birth, or make an error in the delivery process.

Common injuries that occur during birth include, but are not limited to:

bruising/forcep marks – This may occur when forceps are used to deliver a baby or as a result of pressure on the infant\'s head when passing through the birth canal.
caput succedaneum – This is a severe swelling of the soft tissues of a baby\'s scalp. This occurs as a result of passing through the birth canal. This is a common injury associated with vacuum delivery. Typically the swelling will go down after a few days; however, this can lead to more severe problems, such as cerebral palsy if a bruise becomes jaundiced and bilirubin does not exit the body quickly enough.
cephalohematoma – This is bleeding between the skull bone and the fibrous covering of the skull. It may appear hours after birth as a bump, which is actually pooled blood. Typically, the body will reabsorb the blood and the bump will disappear. However, the bruise can become jaundiced. Complications of this can be a buildup of bilirubin, which can possibly lead to more severe conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
facial paralysis – Pressure on an infant\'s face during birth may cause nerve damage and facial paralysis. This may be temporary; however, if the damage is more severe, it may necessitate surgery.
brachial palsy – This injury occurs when the nerves controlling the arms and hands are injured. A common cause of this is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the shoulder gets stuck passing through the birth canal. In mild cases full range of motion will return in a matter of months; in more severe cases, the nerves may be permanently damaged, which may require extensive physical therapy later in life.

Many injuries that occur during birth will typically improve and heal in a matter of weeks or months. However, more severe injuries may leave long lasting effects, or cause other chronic disorders, such as cerebral palsy.

In the event that your child has suffered an injury during birth that may have been avoided or was the result of medical malpractice, it is important that you seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in your state. An attorney who is well-versed in medical malpractice law will be able to guide you through the process and determine whether or not you have a case.

Many states have limits regarding the amount you may be awarded as damages. In addition, many states also have statutes of limitations dictating the time frame in which a medical malpractice claim may be made. An attorney in your state will be able to advise you on these stipulations.

Proving a birth injury case is the result of medical malpractice or negligence is generally very challenging. Lawyers must assess the case and determine if there was a breach in the standard of care, causation, injury, and damages. Once assessed, a lawyer will determine whether or not the case is viable. If it is viable, an attorney will help to ensure you are compensated and justice is pursued.

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