When doctors and nurses make mistakes during the labor and delivery process, the consequences can be tragic for the child and his family. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys are committed to holding medical professionals accountable in order for families to recover the financial compensation needed to care for their child’s birth injuries.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has successfully prosecuted birth injury lawsuits across Illinois and the Midwest. In one of the most poignant cases, our medical malpractice law firm recovered $6.14 million for a child who developed cerebral palsy when the OB-GYN failed to perform a cesarean section when signs of fetal distress were present.
We believe that no family should suffer financially if their child’s birth injury was preventable. Complete our on-line case intake form for a free review of your case with a birth injury lawyer.
Determining if Medical Negligence Caused Your Child’s Injuries
In order to recover compensation for a birth injury case, families have the burden of establishing the following:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed between the OB-GYN and the mother;
- The OB-GYN had a duty of care to mother and her child;
- The OB-GYN (or medical staff) breached her duty of care owed to the mother and new born child;
- The OB-GYN’s (or medical staff) breach of care was the proximate cause of injury to the child or mother; and
- The newborn baby or mother has incurred or is likely to incur some type of physical or emotional harm as a result of the doctor’s conduct.
For most families coping with a situation where a child was harmed during the birthing process, they may have a suspicion as to what happened, but rarely does the family know with certainty as to what transpired in the delivery room and how it impacted their child.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is committed to uncovering the facts surrounding a child’s suspected birth injury. From the time our office is retained, we begin the process of gathering the information needed in order to determine what happened and why. In situations where we’ve determined that negligent care was involved, we then look towards establishing the damages in a quantifiable manner so a judge or jury hearing the matter can fairly value the case.
In birth injury cases, our law office regularly assembles the following:
- Medical records from prenatal care and delivery
- Fetal monitoring strips
- Laboratory testing
- Consultation with nurses and physicians
- Evaluation of client with a physiatrist and reports regarding their care needs
- Reports from economists regarding present cash value of care required
Due to the complexity of birth injury cases, parents should contact an attorney as soon as feasible to begin the process of assessing the case.
My son had some significant complications related to a prolonged labor and delivery. The team at Rosenfeld Injury reviewed his records with several experts who helped me get a better understanding of what happened and where the errors were made. I am confident that this preparation greatly helped increase the value of our case at settlement time. I am extremely pleased with their services.
A second and perhaps more important reason to contact an attorney shortly after a family has a suspicion that their child may have been harmed due to medical malpractice is that Illinois has statute of limitations for filing a birth injury lawsuit. If your case is not filed within the prescribed time limits, you will NOT be entitled to any compensation.
Calculating the exact statute of limitations for your child’s birth injury case is dependent upon their physical condition and disabilities.
In situations where a child has been harmed during labor and delivery (but does not have any permanent disability) the case must be filed within eight years from the alleged occurrence.
Where a child has a disability related to a birth injury, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until two years after the disability has been removed. In the case of a child with a brain injury or cerebral palsy related to their birth, they could theoretically pursue a case at anytime during their life.
Our experience prosecuting birth injury lawsuits, enables us to fully evaluate your case and anticipate how the case may be defended by lawyers representing a defendant physician or hospital in the matter.
Before you consider ordering and reviewing a set of medical records from a labor and delivery on your own, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your situation and legal options with an experienced lawyer. If you elect to retain our firm, there will only be a legal fee charged when we have successfully recovered compensation on your family’s behalf.
Situations That May Contribute to an Injury at Birth
Doctors and their attending staff have the duty of taking reasonable measures to ensure the safety of their patients. When they fail to do so results in a life changing injury, it is within your rights to hold the negligent party responsible. Some of the most common things that go wrong during labor and delivery include the following.
- The child is not monitored for signs of fetal distress. It is important that the vital signs of both the mother and child are being monitored so that the doctor can determine whether emergency measures are needed to save or protect the child.
- Oxygen deprivation during labor or delivery. There are many ways that the flow of oxygen to a child’s brain can be restricted and extended deprivation of oxygen can result in severe brain damage or death. This is frequently referred to as hypoxia.
- Improper use of vacuum. Doctors may elect to use a vacuum devices to assist women who are having difficulty pushing the child through the birth canal. If the vacuum is improperly used, it may cause serious harm to the child or mother. Common vacuum related injuries include: skulls fractures, bleeding in the brain and internal damage to the mother.
- Failure of staff to communicate with one another. Many of the problems that occur during delivery are not communicated to other staff members or the patients’ primary care physicians. This results in delayed action or diagnosis of conditions that can be treated with ease. When such conditions go untreated, however, they can lead to more severe complications.
- Failing to order an emergency cesarean when the child is in fetal distress. Once it is determined that the child is in danger, every minute that the doctor delays can have an impact on his or her wellbeing.
- Prolonged labor. While the labor and delivery process can be long and painful, there are certain interventions a physician can take to ease the strain on the mother and the child. When physicians fail to act, an injury may develop.
- Large babies. According to the CDC, the average newborn weighs 7 pounds. When a newborn weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, the newborn is classified as having macrosomia “large body”. Larger babies tend to take more time to delivery and there is an increased chance that the doctor will need to intervene to assist with the delivery.
- Improper use of forceps. A doctor may use forceps to position a baby for delivery or to help move the child through the birth canal. When forceps are used improperly or with too much force, they can injure the child. Injuries associated with forceps include: fractures to the head and nerve damage to neck and arms.
- Uterine rupture. A uterine rupture is a breach in the wall of the uterus that allows the contents of the uterus to spill out into the mother’s peritoneal cavity. The situation can be dangerous to both mother and child. In late-term pregnancies, there is window of no more than 40 minutes to evacuate the child or there is a substantial likelihood of death.
- Failure to monitor bilirubin levels after birth. Newborns have undeveloped livers that are unable to regulate bilirubin levels. Minor injuries usually raise these levels, making it important for staff to perform tests on children displaying symptoms such as jaundice and caput succedaneum.
Types of Birth Injuries Associated With Medical Malpractice
Anytime an infant is born with injuries that require ongoing medical care or determined to be permanent in nature merits close evaluation in a medical negligence context. Below are some injuries we see that may be associated with trauma during labor and delivery or medical negligence.
Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy (CP) may be due to problems that occur in the brain during development, which is frequently manifested when a child loses his or her ability to control their muscles. According to the CDC, the majority of CP cases are attributed to congenital issues, with the balance attributed to complications during labor and delivery where the oxygen supply is interrupted. There is no cure for cerebral palsy.
Facial Paralysis: Sometimes referred to as facial nerve palsy, the condition may be caused when a doctor puts pressure is put on a baby’s face before or during the delivery process. Most cases of facial nerve palsy involve the lower part of the facial nerve, which controls the muscles around the mouth and sometimes the eyelids. Some of these cases may be permanent while others may be treated with surgery or speech therapy. (See Medline Plus)
Brachial Plexus Injuries: The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that controls movement in the arm, shoulder, elbow and hand. During a rough labor and delivery, pressure may be put in the area when a doctor attempts to relieve a child who may be stuck in the birth canal. According to the University of Pittsburg, injuries to the brachial plexus area are some of the most common types of injuries associated with birth trauma, impacting 0.3 to 2 out of 1,000 births. Some brachial plexus injuries may heal on their own while more severe injuries involving severed nerves may be permanent.
Spinal Cord Injuries: Particularly for ‘difficult’ deliveries, where the labor may be extended, babies may be put at risk for spinal cord injuries when doctors apply force or use aggressive maneuvers to deliver the child. Symptoms usually include lifeless limbs. Depending on the location of the injury to the spinal cord will dictate how—or if the injury may be treated.
Intracranial Hemorrhage: Commonly referred to as bleeding within the skull, the bleeding may occur within the brain itself or between the surface of the brain and skull. If the bleeding is not quickly identified and treated, the affected area of the brain may have permanent damage. Infants with intracranial hemorrhage may develop motor problems or cerebral palsy. When identified early, doctors may treat the condition with medication or surgery.
Bone Fractures: Occurring in approximately 1 out of 1,000 births, these injuries are more common in situations where the doctor attempts to maneuver the child for delivery. The most common types of birth injury fractures are: clavicle (45.7%), humerus (20%), femur (14.3 and depressed skull fracture (11.4%). Depending on the location of the fracture and severity, the bones may be treated with immobilization or surgery according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Brain Damage: Oxygen deprivation is the leading cause of infant brain damage occurring in 4 out of 1,000 full-term births. Even when a baby’s oxygen supply is interrupted for a short time can have drastic consequences with permanent brain damage or cerebral palsy. Situations where brain damage may occur due to oxygen deprivation include: prolonged delivery, baby getting stuck in birth canal, umbilical cord complications or the placenta separating from the uterus. When hospitals properly monitor the labor and delivery process, they should be able to identify these situations and evacuate the baby via cesarean section.
Fetal Death: A stillbirth can be devastating to mother and family. While most stillbirths occur during the early phases of pregnancy, stillbirths still occur with some frequency in viable pregnancies in about 1 out of 167 births. While some causes of stillbirth in full-term pregnancies may not be identifiable, some identifiable situations include: placenta previa, uterine rupture or prolapsed umbilical cord.
Maternal Injury or Death: The rate of maternal death during labor and delivery has been increasing over the past decade to approximately 17.8 out of 100,000 deliveries. While some attribute this increase to an increase in the number of unhealthy women giving birth, there still are a number of external factors that contribute to these situations including uncontrolled or undiagnosed bleeding.
Damages Available in Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuits
Our birth injury lawyers have handled many cases in which the child suffers developmental or neurological problems that will accompany him or her for life.
Conditions such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy, spinal cord injuries and other conditions that require long-term care can place a great deal of stress on the family. Needing to care for a special needs child usually requires one of the parents to stay at home and the resulting medical bills can be the source of emotional anguish and bitterness.
According to the CDC, birth defects (which include birth injuries) cost more than $2.6 billion annually in medical expenses. When the amount of medical care and other therapies are calculated, caring for a child with cerebral palsy or other birth injury can easily climb into the seven-figure range.
Illinois recognizes the following types of economic and non-economic damages in birth injury cases:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future assistive care expenses (nursing, home care)
- Therapies (physical therapy, counseling, speech therapy)
- Medical transportation (specialized medical vans)
- Pain and suffering
- Wage loss
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers appreciates the impact a birth injury has on the child and his or her family. Our goal on every case we handle is to recover the maximum compensation for each family via settlement or trial.
Hiring a Birth Injury Attorney to Investigate & Prosecute You Child’s Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers works tirelessly to alleviate these complications so that families can return to what matters— their love and dedication to one another as a family unit. We will investigate all of the details surrounding your child’s injuries to establish how they occurred and who is responsible. By utilizing nationally recognized experts in medicine, counseling and economics, we are able to seek an amount of compensation that will be sufficient to cover your child’s care for the rest of his or her life.
Contact us today to speak with one of our Chicago birth injury attorneys to learn more about your rights and legal options during a free consultation. Our first priority is to help you provide for your child and will fight vigorously to make sure that he or she has access to everything he or she will ever need. For this reason, we promise never to accept an attorney’s fee if we fail to recover compensation on your behalf.
For additional information on birth injury lawsuits, please review our:
- Cerebral Palsy FAQ's here.
- Medical Negligence FAQ’s
- Cerebral Palsy Infographic
- Illinois Hospital Ratings
The content on this page is prepared and maintained by attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld.