In what is being called the largest personal injury verdict in Delaware County, a judge has awarded over $40 million to a birth injury victim and her family. The birth injury victim, now six years old, suffered a spinal injury during birth, which left her paralyzed from the chest down. The total award amount was $40.26 million, with $10 awarded for past and future pain and suffering, and the remainder of the award allocated for future economic damages.
In this post, we will discuss this birth injury case, and then provide some helpful information about spinal cord-related birth injuries. To learn more, contact Brown & Brothers to speak with one of our birth injury attorneys.
Spinal Birth Injury Case Information
In March 2011, the Delaware mother in this case, pregnant with twins, presented at Delaware County Memorial Hospital to have labor induced. The twins were reported to be healthy. The woman was reportedly told that the twins would be delivered via Cesarean section (c-section), but the attending physician proceeded with a vaginal delivery instead.
During delivery, the first twin was born without incident. The second was found to be in the footling breech position, which typically facilitates a c-section delivery. Instead, the doctor continued to push for vaginal delivery, and held the baby, attempting to pull her through the cervix. During this process, there was an audible “loud popping sound”, which was heard throughout the room and was later documented by nurses. The baby suffered a traumatic spinal injury during delivery.
As a result of the traumatic birth, the child is bound to a wheelchair, wears diapers, and cannot feed herself. She will require constant care for her daily needs, and will need lifelong occupational and physical therapy. An economist estimated the future medical costs required by the child to be $29 million.
In the lawsuit, the family alleged that the attending physician used excessive force during delivery. The physician has denied that his actions were outside the standards of care, and while admitting to hearing the popping sound, contends that no one in the room knew where the noise originated. A jury did not agree with his arguments, and ruled in favor of the plaintiff family.
Spinal Cord-Related Birth Injuries
Spinal cord damage during birth can be traumatic and have a lifelong impact on your child and family. There are several different reasons why spinal injuries occur during birth, with the most common being:
- Traction used during a breech delivery
- Rotational stress applied to the spine
- Hyperextension of the head
- Brachial plexus-related injuries to the spinal cord and nerves
Spinal cord injuries are among the most damaging because so much of what the human body does is centered on those delicate bones, muscles, and nerves. Depending on the severity of the damage, a spinal injury may cause the following:
- Inability to move (paralysis)
- Loss of sensation
- Abnormal reflexes
- Stinging pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to control bladder or bowels
If your child’s delivery was complicated or traumatic, or there was a noticeable injury, these symptoms may indicate that your child’s spinal cord was damaged. It is important to take note of these symptoms and discuss them with your child’s doctor immediately.
Depending on the nature and severity of your child’s injuries, treatment may improve or even resolve symptoms. In more serious cases, like the case discussed above, the damage cannot be resolved and will result in lifelong medical care and therapy. In either case, it is important that you understand your child’s needs and legal rights, and get help.
Get Help with Your Birth Injury Case
While no monetary award can make up for the trauma and lifelong consequences of a birth injury, cases like this one highlight how a birth injury lawsuit can offer, at the very least, some financial respite. The costs associated with traumatic birth injuries can range, but often top the millions of dollars. This makes it very difficult for families to get the help and medical care they really need.
If your child was injured during birth, and you believe that medical malpractice or negligence was the cause, contact Brown & Brothers today for a free consultation. Our medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys can answer your questions and offer solutions that will protect your family’s future. Fill out our online form to get started.