Birth Injury FAQs: Questions About Birth Injury Lawsuits

If you believe your baby is suffering from the effects of a birth injury, you will undoubtedly want to do everything in your power to help them out. Doing so starts by learning about the harm they’ve suffered and the legal options available. The following birth injury FAQs will help you understand what the future looks like for both you and your child.

Questions About Birth Injuries

Helping You Understand What Your Child Is Suffering

What causes a birth injury?

A birth injury can be caused by any sort of unforeseen complication during labor, but severe birth injuries are often the result of medical malpractice — that is, they occur when attending medical staff are negligent. Common causes of such birth injuries include oxygen deprivation and the staff’s failure to promptly perform necessary surgical procedures.

I have been told my baby sustained a brain injury at birth. How do I know if it will be permanent?

The answer depends, given that some injuries heal over time while others require a lifetime’s worth of treatment. You should regularly follow up with a pediatric neurologist to keep track of the progress of your child’s brain injury.

I delivered a stillborn baby, and I do not know why. What should I do?

Request that the hospital perform an autopsy or hire an independent pathologist to do so. If the autopsy determines that medical malpractice was what resulted in the wrongful death of your child, contact a lawyer immediately to file a lawsuit.

Is my child more likely to suffer a birth injury if I receive a cesarean section?

Today, approximately 32% of all U.S. deliveries are performed via C-sections, a far cry from the days when they were seen solely as an extreme measure. As medical sciences improve, doctors understand that, although the risk for birth injuries still exists when performing cesarean sections, the procedures typically prevent birth injuries when they are performed appropriately.

Many birth injuries caused by medical malpractice are due to an unnecessarily delayed cesarean section. These delays may be due to the staff being overworked or outdated beliefs about the dangers of a C-section, but regardless of the given reason, a delayed C-section may result in reduced blood flow or oxygen to the child’s brain (causing hypoxia), or other damage that could have been prevented had the doctor acted more quickly.

Questions About Cerebral Palsy

Is cerebral palsy a disease?

Cerebral palsy is not a disease but rather a brain disorder that hinders a child’s motor functions that results from a malformation of the brain.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Damage to the areas that manage motor control in a child’s developing brain can cause cerebral palsy. The disorder can also be caused during pregnancy by a mother’s exposure to infections, uncontrolled hypertension, and toxins, as well as prolonged oxygen deprivation for the baby, which usually results from medical malpractice.

How badly will cerebral palsy affect my child?

Your child will be affected by their condition for the rest of their life, but their experience will differ depending on the extent of the brain damage they sustained. Some people live relatively normal lives, though others require constant supervision.

Can cerebral palsy be prevented?

While there is always a risk of a birth injury during any delivery, the likelihood of your child’s developing cerebral palsy drops significantly if medical staff properly monitors their birth conditions, particularly oxygen levels. Doctors should also test for diseases and treat them promptly to protect your child both before and after birth.

Can cerebral palsy be cured?

Unfortunately, no. When brain damage occurs during a child’s developmental period, it cannot be reversed, although modern technology and treatments can do much to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from the disorder.

Questions about Erb’s Palsy

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy is an avoidable birth injury that results from shoulder dystocia, a complication that arises from a baby’s shoulders getting stuck on a mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Shoulder dystocia damages a baby’s brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves responsible for shoulder, arm, and hand movement, which can cause partial or complete paralysis to occur.

Can Erb’s palsy be treated?

Some instances of Erb’s palsy can be partially or fully treated, albeit with expensive and complex surgery.

Can Erb’s palsy be avoided?

Erb’s palsy is largely avoidable if obstetricians follow modern medical guidelines and watch for signs of shoulder dystocia during childbirth.

Are some mothers more likely to experience complications leading to Erb’s palsy?

Yes. Factors such as diabetes, prior deliveries in which shoulder dystocia occurred, obesity, and prolonged labors all increase the risk for shoulder dystocia and Erb’s palsy.

Questions About Birth Injury Lawsuits

Learn More About Getting the Compensation You and Your Child Deserve

Can I claim compensation for a traumatic birth?

You can receive compensation for a traumatic birth only if you or your child suffered damages resulting from it, which means you need to be dealing with economic losses due to the trauma or suffering from non-economic harm that is severe enough to be worth compensation. Furthermore, the harm you or your child faced must have been due to the negligence of another party.

What compensation can I get for a birth injury?

The compensation you can receive depends on the circumstances of your case. You may be able to seek compensation for many issues caused by the injury, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Payment for past and future medical and rehabilitation costs
  • Costs of in-home care
  • The child’s reduced enjoyment of life
  • The child’s reduced future earnings.

If extreme negligence caused the injury, you might also be eligible to receive punitive damages. Your Philadelphia personal injury attorney will determine what compensation you are eligible for during your free case evaluation.

How long do I have to sue for a birth injury?

Prior to 2018, there was a seven-year limit on filing all personal injury cases, which was found to be unconstitutional in Yanakos v. UPMC. Thus, if you were previously told that the time limit had passed, you should speak to a lawyer to see if that has changed, as you can now file a lawsuit on behalf of a child that suffered a birth injury up until they reach the age of 20.

Typically, however, you won’t want to wait, seeing as the sooner you act, the sooner you can start earning compensation for their medical costs. The main benefit of the law’s extended time frame is that it allows parents to file for a claim even if their child’s injury didn’t show signs until later in life.

What can a birth injury lawyer do for me?

A birth injury lawyer will fight to get you the maximum possible compensation for your medical malpractice case so you can spend that money to improve your afflicted child’s life.

Why do I need an attorney?

Without an attorney, you will have to rely on an insurance company to properly compensate you for the harm your child suffered, and that company has every reason to pay you less than you deserve or to deny your claim outright.

An experienced medical malpractice team, like the one at Wapner Newman, will fight to ensure you get every dollar you deserve and will represent you at trial if necessary.

How do I know if I have a legitimate birth injury lawsuit?

The birth injury attorneys at Wapner Newman will investigate your case and consult with medical experts to determine whether you have a strong case. Our attorneys have the experience to identify negligence and prove that it caused serious harm.

What types of experts are usually needed for a birth trauma or birth injury lawsuit? What are my family’s rights?

In birth injury cases, the following professionals may be retained to comment on various aspects of your case:

  • OB-GYN
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse
  • Neonatologist
  • Pediatric Neuroradiologist
  • Pediatric Neurologist
  • Placental Pathologist
  • Pediatric Infectious Disease Professional
  • Nurse Life Care Planner
  • Economist/Actuary
  • Vocational Expert.

You have the right to seek compensation from those who caused your child’s injuries and harm to you. The greatest way to protect those rights is to contact our office so we can start discussing your case.

Will my birth injury lawsuit need to go to trial?

Our medical malpractice attorneys approach all cases as if they are going to trial, and we investigate as though the evidence we gather will be used not only in court but also to attempt to negotiate a settlement. Most cases will end with a settlement, but if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, we have a proven record of successful outcomes in litigation.

Will my child’s medical treatment be a consideration in a birth injury lawsuit?

The extent of the treatment your child will require throughout their life is the primary consideration in a birth injury lawsuit. Our personal injury lawyers will use their extensive experience and document every expense to accurately estimate future expenses and get you the maximum possible compensation.

Who is liable in a birth injury lawsuit?

Typically, doctors, nurses, or hospital staff are liable in a birth injury lawsuit. These medical professionals are supposed to provide diligent care for you and your child during childbirth, but many are overworked or don’t follow proper procedures. Such negligence results in medical malpractice and directly causes harm to your child.

However, on occasion, birth injuries may be caused due to equipment failures. When those occur, our attorneys will investigate and determine whether the hospital was careless in its maintenance routines or whether the equipment was defective and then take action against the appropriate party.

How do attorneys prove negligence?

To prove negligence, a birth injury attorney needs to show that the medical personnel involved with your delivery failed to act appropriately given the circumstances, which typically means that they didn’t appropriately monitor the risks for potential harm to the child and failed to use accepted medical procedures.

Our attorneys will interview you and others present during the delivery, get copies of your medical records, and hire medical consultants. Medical staff will rarely admit to negligence, even if we can collect enough evidence to convince a jury, but it should be enough evidence to convince an insurance company to negotiate a settlement.

Why Choose Wapner Newman to Represent You in a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Pennsylvania or New Jersey

At Wapner Newman, we understand the difficulty of coping with serious birth injuries. Your entire family is physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelmed, and even the idea of having to deal with insurance companies or the legal process is daunting.

We seek to make the legal process as easy as possible. Our philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys will visit you in your home or at the hospital at any convenient time to discuss your claim. Hopefully, we can make your consultation as stress-free as possible and answer all of your questions in a single meeting.

If you have a strong case, we will devote our time to getting you the maximum possible award so that you can focus your time and energy on helping your child. Wapner Newman is one of the most respected law firms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey because we get results. Our legal team has over 100 years of combined experience, and we have won over $50 million for our clients in medical malpractice cases.

We believe that no child should suffer a lifetime’s worth of pain due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital staff, but should such a tragedy occur, we’ll fight vigorously to get your child every dollar they need to live the best life possible.

Our Philadelphia Malpractice Lawyers

If your child suffered a birth injury in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it was likely caused by medical malpractice. Almost every birth injury is preventable if doctors and other medical staff take the appropriate amount of care, but when they don’t, that is when a child can be permanently harmed.

If that has happened to your child, contact an experienced birth injury lawyer at Wapner Newman as soon as possible to determine whether your child is eligible to receive compensation. It could be the most important decision you ever make for your newborn child. Call us at (215) 569-0900 to learn about your legal options today.