A birth injury lawsuit can recover damages the family needs to move forward. When medical malpractice during pregnancy, labor, or delivery causes serious injuries to the infant, parents or guardians may have the right to pursue justice and compensation from the at-fault party. Answering some birth injury frequently asked questions may give you the information you need to take the first step in the legal process in Chicago.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury can refer to any damage that occurs during the birthing process. Most birth injuries occur while the baby goes through the birth canal. In the medical malpractice sphere, a birth injury is the outcome of medical negligence, carelessness, or intent to harm. A birth injury may constitute medical malpractice if a reasonable and prudent doctor or nurse would have done something differently in the same situation.
What are Examples of Birth Injuries?
Some birth injuries are serious and can have physical or cognitive damages on the infant for life. Others are more minor, and may only temporarily impact the victim. Birth injuries can range from broken bones to brain damage. Diagnosing a birth injury may take months or years after the child’s birth. Some examples of birth injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Facial paralysis
- Brain hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Erb’s palsy
- Klumpke’s palsy
If a doctor diagnoses your child with any type of injury, illness, infection, or condition after birth, ask yourself if medical malpractice could have played a role in the development of the issue. Speak to a birth injury lawyer about your potential right to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
How do Birth Injuries Happen?
Birth injuries are almost always preventable. They occur when one or more parties involved in labor and delivery fail to fulfill the accepted standards of care in the medical industry. An obstetrician that negligently fails to diagnose a maternal infection during pregnancy, for example, could contribute to damages to the infant that a timely diagnosis might have prevented. Similarly, a doctor that fails to monitor fetal vital signs during delivery could be responsible for resultant infant hypoxia and brain damage. Other examples include:
- Failure to detect fetal distress
- Improper use of birthing tools
- Failure to administer the correct medications
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Delayed cesarean section
- Umbilical cord complications
- Failure to react appropriately in an emergency
Some birth injuries occur naturally rather than from medical malpractice. A prudent physician may not be able to prevent infant injuries during complications such as prolonged or difficult labor, premature delivery, large babies, cephalopelvic disproportion, or abnormal birthing presentation. However, it is the doctor’s duty to act reasonably according to the standards of care to prevent injury.
When is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
When reasonable care for mother or baby would have prevented the birth injury, the incident may be medical malpractice. To have grounds for a medical malpractice birth injury case in Illinois, the plaintiff or his or her attorney must prove four main elements:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed, along with a duty of care between the defendant and plaintiff.
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care to the plaintiff through some act of negligence or carelessness.
- The defendant’s breach of duty directly or indirectly caused the birth injury in question.
- The plaintiff suffered real, specific damages as a result of the defendant’s actions, such as physical injuries, medical costs, or pain and suffering.
With these four elements, you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. If you are not sure whether your child’s birth injury qualifies as medical malpractice, speak to an attorney about your case. Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today.