Just one month shy of his 12th birthday, the family of a Colorado birth injury victim has been awarded $4 million, but as the case lingers on, the fight for justice continues. In a lawsuit filed three years ago, the boy’s family alleged that negligence during labor and delivery caused brain injuries that will impact the pre-teen for the rest of his life. The doctor named as a defendant in the case was found negligent by an El Paso County jury, but attorneys and insurance companies are fighting against an award that is already small considering the nature of the injuries suffered.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Information
According to the birth injury lawsuit, In October 2005, the child’s mother was admitted to Memorial Hospital where labor would be induced. At the time, her husband was serving military deployment overseas. She was told that her pelvis was small and the baby was large, but the lawsuit claims that a cesarean section (c-section) was not ordered. It was argued that the doctor should have known that she would not be able to deliver the large baby, but failed to order a c-section.
After 2.5 hours of attempting to push, it was clear that the baby could not descend properly into the birth canal. Hospital staff began administering a drug designed to induce labor, but it did not help, and over a period of 12 hours, the dose was steadily increased. The doctor continued to approve the dosing, which eventually exceeded the maximum level allowed by the hospital.
Finally deciding it was time to take action, the doctor ordered an operative vaginal delivery using vacuum extraction. The lawsuit argues that this decision was not appropriate since the position of the baby was unclear and it was apparent that the baby was too large for the birth canal. Further, the doctor failed to obtain informed consent from the mother before applying vacuum extraction. She later stated that she would not have agreed to the procedure had she been informed.
On top of the fact that the baby already suffered from decreased oxygenation, the doctor allegedly misplaced the vacuum cup, attaching it on the side and back of the baby’s head, rather than the top. Vacuum extraction generally only takes a few minutes for delivery to be completed, but this time it took 25 minutes, all the while, the baby was stuck in the birth canal. After pulling so hard the device unattached, the doctor continued to pull when the baby’s heart rate showed signs of distress.
According to the lawsuit, the birth injuries sustained included bruising and scalp abrasions, severely diminished function, and “floppy” and unresponsive behavior. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it was determined that he suffered severe brain injuries.
Long-Term Consequences of Birth Injuries
For the past 11 years, the child and his parents have fought to give him the best possible life. He has been listed as “intellectually disabled” and requires constant care and supervision. He has difficulty reading and writing, and has muscle weakness on the right side of his body. Even though his parents have sought therapies since his birth, the child, now a pre-teen, still struggles with communication, education, and independence. He starts sixth grade this year, but still reads at a kindergarten level.
Fighting for Justice and Economic Support
While $4 million may seem like a large sum, it is not enough to cover the lifetime costs associated with the brain injuries those discussed in this birth injury lawsuit. In June 2017, a jury awarded $4 million in damages to cover past and future medical expenses and lost earnings. Prejudgment interest and legal expenses could raise that amount to almost $8 million.
Even though the award is not enough to cover the estimated costs associated with the birth injuries suffered, some sources have chosen to fight against the amount citing antiquated state laws that limit the amount of damages that plaintiffs can collect from negligent healthcare providers.
Though the doctor was found negligent by a jury, his insurance carrier trying to get the court to reduce the amount to $1million based on caps established in 1988. The defense team is also fighting against awarding the prejudgment amount of around $3.5 million to the family. More specifically, the defense aims to prevent the child’s family from recovering medical costs directly stemming from the labor, delivery, and NICU, as well as costs associated with therapies provided since birth.
Memorial Hospital has agreed to settle their portion of the lawsuit without going to trial. Details of the settlement agreement have not been made public.
Infant Brain Damage Information and Support
Brain damage during labor and delivery is caused by many factors – some unavoidable and others due to negligence. No matter what the cause, a birth injury that results in brain damage can have a long-term impact on you and your family. The financial costs associated with ongoing or lifetime care are often significant, including expenses such as:
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Psychiatric Support
- Educational Support
- CT Scans or X-Rays
- Caregivers for Day-to-Day Tasks
In addition to medical costs, there are other costs that often accompany birth injuries, including lost earning potential, lost wages, pain and suffering, home modification, and others. It can be difficult for any family to quantify the aftermath of a birth injury, which is why you need the guidance of a skilled medical malpractice or birth injury attorney.
Birth Injury Legal Help You Need
At Brown & Brothers, we may not be able to replace what was lost by your child being injured, but we will aggressively fight to get you the compensation you deserve. When healthcare providers are negligent and your child is injured as a result, our team is poised to fight for justice right alongside you. Complete our online form to set up a no-obligation consultation.