How do You Prove a Doctor's or Hospital's Negligence Resulted in a Birth Injury?
Identifying a doctor or hospital’s negligence as the cause of your child’s birth injury is the first step toward obtaining compensation. The next step is successfully navigating the civil justice system to achieve financial recovery. A birth injury lawyer can help with this task. A lawyer can walk you through all the elements of proof you need to establish the defendant’s responsibility for the birth injury, as well as help you collect evidence to build a strong case.
Establish a Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed
The first element of proof in a birth injury claim is to show that a professional relationship existed between you and the defendant. You need proof that you were a patient of the physician, obstetrician, gynecologist, surgeon, hospital, and/or birthing center at the time of the incident. Proof could come in the form of medical records, documents, or hospital bills. If a doctor-patient relationship did exist, the physician in question owed you certain duties of professional care, which may include:
- Providing a certain level of skill and care to patients
- Acting as a reasonable and prudent physician would under the circumstances
- Attending to the patient’s medical needs and concerns
- Accurately diagnosing the patient based on available information and tests
- Referring the patient to a specialist, when applicable
- Treating and instructing the patient according to his or her diagnosis
The physician-patient and hospital-patient relationship both involve certain standards of care. If the defendant breached these standards of care to you or your child during labor or delivery, you could have grounds for a case. If, however, the defendant was not your doctor or health care provider at the time of the incident, he or she may not be liable for damages.
Collect Evidence of a Breach of Duty of Care
The second burden of proof is negligence, or a breach of duty of care. Your attorney must use evidence to demonstrate that the defendant breached, or failed to fulfill, the medical standards of care according to the circumstances. Any act or omission that a reasonable and prudent party would not have committed in the same situation may constitute a breach of duty. Common breaches that may cause birth injuries include:
- Failure to diagnose maternal infections or conditions during pregnancy
- Prescription of the wrong medication to the mother
- Failure to monitor machines for signs of fetal distress during labor/delivery
- Lack of adequate knowledge about how to handle birth complications
- Failure to order an emergency cesarean section during delivery
- Use of inappropriate or dangerous birthing techniques
- Misuse of birth-assistive tools, such as forceps or vacuums
- Negligence after birth, such as failing to diagnose infant jaundice
A physician’s breach of duty during pregnancy, labor, or delivery could cause a serious birth injury to the infant and/or trauma to the mother. Proving the breach of duty may take collecting evidence such as opinions from medical experts, statements from eyewitnesses, medical documents, and any previous complaints against the doctor or hospital.
Causation is the link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your child’s birth injuries. Causation means the plaintiff’s injuries were a direct result of what the defendant did or failed to do. Your lawyer must prove that the doctor or hospital’s negligence caused or contributed to the injuries in question. Proving negligence may take evidence such as your child’s medical records, diagnosis, and statements from birth injury specialists.
A common defense during birth injury lawsuits is that the child would have had the birth injury or defect even without the defendant’s negligence. It is up to you and your attorney to establish that your child’s injuries in fact would not have happened were it not for the defendant’s malpractice. Your lawyer may hire a medical expert to testify during your case to help prove a causal link between the defendant’s negligence and the birth injury.
Prove You or Your Child’s Damages
The final element of proof in a birth injury claim is that the defendant’s actions or omissions caused your family real, specific damages. Damages in Illinois can include physical injuries, emotional distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, disability costs, lost quality of life, loss of consortium, and property damage. Your lawyer will need to bring proof of your losses in the form of medical records, bills, and photographs.
Proving damages is an important part of the claims process if your case goes to trial. During a medical malpractice trial, it is the jury that determines the amount – if any – of pain and suffering damages. If malpractice caused your child a serious, lifelong injury or medical condition, the ability of your lawyer to demonstrate the significant impact the event had on your family can determine how much you receive in compensation. Hiring a lawyer with experience can help improve your odds of pain and suffering damages.
Build a Strong Case With Help From an Attorney
Do not try to prove your birth injury case in Illinois alone. Hire a birth injury attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC to strengthen your claim. We can help you fulfill all the necessary elements of proof, and secure justice for your child’s injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation in Chicago.