Birth injuries can happen for a variety of reasons, but in instances in which they are caused due to medical negligence and careless mistakes made by your healthcare provider, you have the option and legal right to hold the responsible party accountable.
An experienced birth injury lawyer can help you understand these rights while at the same time work diligently to ensure that you have the best chances in proving your case. Before you get started or settle on a birth injury lawyer, it’s a good idea to understand what they do, how they can help you, why you need a birth injury lawyer, and most importantly, what to look for when choosing the best attorney to represent you.
What Types of Birth Injury Cases Do Birth Injury Lawyers Take On?
Whereas some birth injury lawyers may specifically specialize in one birth injury, such as cerebral palsy (the leading birth injury in the United States), most focus on a variety of birth injuries. Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia
- Infant brain damage
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Wrongful death
- Bone fractures
- Perinatal Asphyxia
- Facial Paralysis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Caput Succedaneum
- Fetal lacerations
- Shoulder dystocia, and
Regardless of the types of cases a birth injury attorney handles, the most important thing is a proven track record and extensive experience in representing clients with birth injury cases.
Birth injury cases are extremely intricate and although they are considered personal injury cases, a general personal injury attorney who takes on all types of personal injury cases may not have the experience and knowledge needed to give you your best chances in proving your birth injury case.
Statistics show that attorneys who specialize in a specific area are much more like to obtain a higher amount of compensation for their clients as opposed to an attorney who has a general practice.
Where Can I Find an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney?
While you can always go the more traditional routes of searching such as the Yellow Pages or word-of-mouth via family and friends, a recently study performed by Google suggests that most people seeking an attorney are now turning to the Internet more and more. With readily-available reviews, testimonies, areas of practice, and the ability to check an attorney’s past infractions, if any, by simple performing an Internet search, it’s now more common to find experienced attorneys by going online.
However, keep in mind that even after narrowing down your choices, you’ll need to interview each birth injury attorney to ensure that there will be a comfortable working relationship between the two of you. While everything may look wonderful online, you still need to make sure you’re at ease with whichever attorney you choose. You should always feel at ease and have no problems asking any questions you may have about your case.
What Will a Birth Injury Lawyer Do to Help Me and My Baby?
If you believe you or your baby were injured due to medical negligence, a birth injury lawyer will first determine if you have a case. They usually start by going over your case information thoroughly to ensure your case is valid. To help the process move faster, be certain to bring in all medical documents and anything else you have that you think will help your case.
Afterwards, an experienced lawyer begins the process of pre-litigation in which they will collect additional evidence, documents, a witness and expert list, and go through the additional intricate details involved in a birth injury case. During this time, it’s not uncommon for an attorney to propose a settlement amount to the defense, yet it’s not always guaranteed that they will agree to settle. You, as well as the defendant, must agree to the settlement amount.
If a settlement can’t be reached, the litigation phase of your case begins, in which your attorney will formally file a complaint against the defendant in civil court. Once the complaint is filed, the defense has an allotted amount of time to formally answer. The discovery stage of the case usually starts during this time, and the defense has the right to see “what’s stacked up against them,” meaning they can see the evidence, the witness list, and any other crucial information that has been gathered by your attorney.
It’s during this time that most defendants will negotiate a settlement once they see that it would be easier to settle than to fight a case in trial. However, although rare, there are instances in which a settlement is not negotiated. If this happens, be prepared that you may have to go to trial. However, it’s not uncommon for the defense to agree to a settlement after a trial has begun. Keep in mind that your case can be settled at any point once the litigation process has begun, even up until the last week of a trial.
Is a Birth Injury Attorney Expensive?
Most attorneys have their own rates based on experience and specialty. Of course it’s understandable to want a birth injury attorney who is experienced and affordable, but it’s impossible to determine the exact amount each lawyer charges.
The good news, however, is that most birth injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning they only get paid when you do. In other words, they must win successfully win your case in order to get paid. You won’t have to worry about any fees until your case is solved. Most people, especially families worrying about the care of a baby with a birth injury, can’t readily afford lawyer fees on top of medical expenses. Most attorneys understand this, and are paid a percentage of your final compensation amount when you win your case.
It’s important to note that you should always look for an attorney who works on contingency fees. This way, you can rest assured that your attorney has the up-front financial resources in order to give you the best chance in winning your lawsuit. In addition, you should never be charged for an initial consultation. It’s during these times that an attorney determines if they can handle your case or not, and most birth injury lawyers will provide the consultation free of charge.
It’s also important to understand what attorneys charge for. Although this will vary according to each lawyer, along with the fees for taking on your case and representing you, other costs may include:
- Office expenses
- Court costs, including the fees for filing the lawsuit
- Costs associated with copies of additional medical and witness reports
How Long Will a Birth Injury Lawyer Work on My Case?
Birth injury cases can be long and time-consuming. The time it takes will greatly depend on the factors involved in your case, such as how severe the injury is, how many witnesses there are, medical records, how willing the other party is to resolve the case, and much more.
Birth injury cases are rarely resolve in a few months. Be prepared beforehand that although the case may take a while, your attorney is using this time to ensure you have the best chances of success. A knowledgeable, experience birth injury lawyer will not give up on your case, and will ensure that everything is thoroughly investigated and uncovered.
How Much Compensation Can a Birth Attorney Win For Me?
Birth injury cases are all different, and therefore it’s difficult for a birth injury attorney to tell you beforehand an exact amount you should receive. In fact, if an attorney promises you a certain amount of compensation, this should raise a red flag as there are so many details that go into each individual case that it’s almost impossible to guarantee what you’ll win. However, in general, plaintiffs who win their birth injury lawsuits may be entitled to:
- Medical expenses associate with the injuries, including past, present, and estimated future costs
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs
- Physical pain and trauma endured because of the injuries
- Lost wages, applicable if a parent loses employment or work hours are reduced in order to care for the injured infant
- Emotional pain and anxiety
- Costs of special education and in-home care
- Punitive damages
It’s important to remember that while one plaintiff may win damages for all of the aforementioned reasons, another plaintiff may only win damages for a few. Again, as each case is different and tort laws vary from state to state, there is no clear-cut way to determine what you’re entitled to. This should only be used as a guide based on typical damages.