The birth of your child is one of the most important events in your life. It is a time of joy and excitement. However, every year many Chicago newborns come into this world with birth defects and birth injuries. Some of these birth injuries, unfortunately, are the result of the negligence of a doctor, or a hospital and its staff.
If you decide to pursue legal action against those you deem responsible for the cause of your child's birth injury or birth defects, the experienced birth injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. may be able to help you obtain the maximum compensation for your family.
Contact Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a Free Consultation with a Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer. The medical personnel that are responsible for ensuring that your baby is born safely are expected to provide a standard of care called for by their profession. However, when a doctor or other health care provider deviates from this reasonable standard of care and causes an injury to the baby, they can be held liable for their professional negligence.
Common mistakes that can cause a birth injury
Some studies have shown that nearly half of all birth injuries are preventable with the timely diagnosis of medical issues for a mother or fetus. Unfortunately, this doesn't always occur and it can lead to catastrophic injury.
For example, prior to delivery, a doctor performs an ultrasound of a baby which shows that the baby's umbilical cord was wrapped around its neck. This cuts off the flow of oxygen to the baby's brain. Further, the doctor fails to take any immediate action to unwrap the cord. If the baby suffers brain damage or even death, the doctor can be held responsible for these injuries caused by the umbilical cord.
Some other mistakes that can lead to a birth injury are as follows:
- Failure to diagnose an infection
- Failure to properly use tools during delivery, such as a forceps or a vacuum
- Not using standard procedures during childbirth
- Not proceeding with a cesarean section when necessary, where a vaginal delivery would put an infant or mother at risk
- A misdiagnosis of an issue that arises
- Failing to perform a C-section properly
- Not using proper medications
- Failing to manage shoulder dystocia
Types of Birth Injuries
Sometimes during childbirth, the baby may suffer an injury. This type of injury is most often known as a birth injury or birth trauma. Some types of birth injuries include:
- Paralysis. If something goes wrong during the birth process and the child suffers serious injuries, it may result in the baby suffering from paralysis. Infant paralysis may take the form of full paralysis or partial paralysis, depending on the cause and severity of the injury. Additionally, paralysis in infants may be temporary or permanent. Paralysis can be caused by a few different types of birth injuries, such as brachial plexus damage, nerve injuries, or spinal cord injuries.
- Cerebral palsy. A common type of birth injury caused when the baby has a lack of oxygen during birth is cerebral palsy. The lack of oxygen causes brain cells to die, resulting in the condition. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that impairs motor skills, muscle tone, and movement. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children.
- Learning disorders. Sometime during birth, certain injuries can occur to the child’s brain that result in learning disabilities. A learning disability is a class of neurological disorders that are characterized by a child having difficulty learning, organizing, or storing information. This can result in difficulty with listening, speaking, reading, writing, or other specific skills like math. These disorders can be particularly difficult because of the lifelong consequences and negative effects on a child’s academic performance and daily life. Learning disabilities can occur at childbirth but are often not noticed until the child reaches school age.
- Speech disorders. Speech delays and language disorders can be caused by certain birth injuries. A speech delay refers to difficulty, especially among young children, in pronouncing certain words or forming statements in speech. There may also be a delay in the thought process that impacts communication with others. Speech delay can also mean that a child has a much more difficult time learning a language and, as a result, does not speak until much later in childhood. A language disorder usually results in a child having a delay in understanding others in addition to speaking or writing something to someone else.
- Fractured bones. A child’s bones can break during a routine birth, but they can also become broken due to medical negligence or error. Although most doctors and nurses are great at their job, it only takes one instance of negligence to cause a serious problem for a child and their family. The most common types of broken bones during childbirth include a clavicle fracture, humerus (arm) fracture, femur (leg) fracture, and skull fracture. Bones can be broken during child delivery because of prolonged or rushed labor, failure to recognize a breech birth, aggressive delivery techniques, or improper use of delivery equipment.
- Brain hypoxia. Brain hypoxia is the inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain before, during, or after delivery. Brain hypoxia can cause brain injury and, if it’s not treated right away, can cause cerebral palsy and other neurological or cognitive issues. Most babies born with mild hypoxia will completely recover and won’t end up with any permanent disabilities. However, moderate or severe hypoxia greatly increases the risk that your baby could end up with a lifelong disability.
- Lacerations. Lacerations can be caused by scalpels or other instruments during delivery. Most of the time these wounds are minimal and heal right away. But sometimes, improper training or negligence can lead to a much more severe problem when the baby is accidentally cut.
- Erb's palsy. Erb’s palsy is the paralysis of the arm caused by an injury to the arm’s nerves at the point where they connect to the spine. Erb’s palsy occurs because an infant’s neck is stretched too much during childbirth, causing damage. This is commonly caused by excessive pulling or stretching of an infant’s head or shoulders during birth. However, it can occur during erroneously performed C-sections (cesarean sections) as well. Many Erb’s palsy patients completely recover (around 80 to 96%) but for those who don’t, they can suffer from decreased strength and stamina in the arm, abnormal movement and functioning of joints, muscular atrophy, impaired bone growth in the arm, a difference in limb length, and overall impaired balance and coordination.
- Spinal injuries. A spinal cord injury is a general term that refers to damage to the nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body through the spine. An injury to the spine can range in severity from mild bruising to complete paralysis. A spinal cord injury that occurs at birth can be caused by too much strain, pulling, or twisting on the child’s neck or by improperly using birth assistance tools. Spinal cord injuries at birth can also be caused by undiagnosed conditions prior to birth that should have been taken into account during delivery. These injuries may heal on their own, eventually heal with little repercussions, or may cause permanent paralysis. The amount they end up affecting a child’s life really depends on the degree of damage and how quickly it is addressed.
Further, while a child will have to live with the consequences of a negligently inflicted birth injury, a family will have to learn to adjust to the needs of the child. Sometimes the life-long care required by an injured newborn is incredibly expensive. A medical malpractice lawsuit can help relieve those financial strains over time.
Elements To Prevail In A Birth Injury Case
To win a birth injury case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that:
- A duty of care existed from to a doctor patient relationship — this element is easy to prove by showing that you were under the care of the negligent healthcare professional(s) using your medical records.
- A doctor, hospital, or other medical provider breached that duty by failing to adhere to the standard of care — this step is the hardest to prove and requires the input of a third-party medical professional. The standard of care refers to the standard practices that any competent doctor would engage in under similar circumstances. This means a doctor must use the best medical knowledge that exists at that time and in accordance with certain standard procedures. If a doctor deviates from this (using irregular, abnormal, negligent, or erroneous practices), and other medical professionals can attest to this deviation, you may be able to prove medical malpractice occurred.
- A birth injury is sustained by the child — you must then be able to prove that the doctor or nurse’s negligence is directly linked to the birth injury in question and that the injury wouldn’t have happened if the party hadn’t been acting negligently.
- Said birth injury occurred to the medical provider deviating from the established standard of medical care — and finally, you must be able to prove that the injury to the baby resulted in damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, or loss of normal life.
What Can I Recover in a Birth Injury Claim?
Raising a healthy child is expensive. Raising a child who has a disability because of a birth injury can be overwhelmingly more expensive. If someone else’s actions caused your child’s injuries, you shouldn’t be left with the financial burden.
If a doctor or other healthcare provider caused your child’s injuries, you may be able to collect compensation for all related medical bills, including specialized treatment, nursing care, and more.
You can also collect for loss of earnings capacity since many children who sustain birth injuries are unable to obtain gainful employment or will have difficulty working when they get older.
You may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering for the child, the mother, and the non-birthing parent.
A good attorney will factor these costs into your settlement, making sure you’re left with enough money to cover all your medical bills and to help fund your child’s future care needs.
Lawyers Ready To Fight For Your Child's Rights
Abels & Annes, P.C. is committed to the legal rights of your injured child; we will fight for your child’s proper treatment and the compensation you deserve. We will work to hold the responsible doctors and hospital accountable for their negligent actions.
Our office knows how frustrating and confusing the claims process can be. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers are experienced in handling medical malpractice cases and have helped a number of negligence victims over the years.
Do you believe your child's birth injuries are the result of negligent conduct by a doctor, hospital or other healthcare provider in the Chicago area? If you do, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.