Your child’s birth is supposed to be one of the best days of your life. For many families, it becomes unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. The memories of your child’s birth are marred by trauma because the hospital or a healthcare provider was negligent and you or your child were injured. Now, you are struggling to cope with the trauma of a birth injury and the resulting medical bills. A birth injury lawsuit can help.
Birth injuries are a serious matter regardless if they are small, such as a bruise or laceration on the child, or severe, such as cerebral palsy or a brain injury that leaves your child permanently disabled. In many instances, birth injuries can be attributed to medical malpractice. If a doctor or someone on your medical team makes a careless mistake, your child may have to live with the consequences for a lifetime.
Unexpected doctor bills and other related costs can get quite expensive. Fortunately, victims of birth injuries, and the families of victims, may be eligible to file a lawsuit for damages against the responsible party via a birth injury lawsuit.
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What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any injury that occurs immediately before, during or shortly after delivery. Some injuries are mild, causing short-term discomfort or suffering. Sadly, many others are severe and cause long-term or permanent injuries. Examples of common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb’s Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Injury
- Infant Brain Damage
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Vacuum Extraction Injury
- Forceps Delivery Injury
These are just a few examples of the most common birth injuries. There are numerous other possible injuries that can result in both short- and long-term suffering, permanent disability or even death.
During a birth injury lawsuit, it’s probable that a defense attorney will argue that your child doesn’t have a birth injury, but instead, a birth defect. A birth injury and a birth defect are often confused because they have similar signs and symptoms, but in reality they are very different.
Why File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A cerebral palsy or HIE diagnosis may result in your child facing months or even years of suffering. Many birth injuries result in pain, limited mobility and difficulty completing everyday tasks. Your child may rely on you and/or caregivers for the rest of his or her life. This can be emotionally distressing to you, your child and your entire family.
You may also suffer emotionally and financially. Some birth injuries require years of therapy, rehabilitation, medications and future surgeries. This is a tremendous financial burden. A birth injury lawsuit can help relieve this burden so you can focus on giving your child the care that he or she needs.
Other reasons why parents choose to file a birth injury lawsuit include:
- A birth injury lawsuit helps you seek justice for your child. This can result in peace of mind that you have done everything possible for your child.
- A birth injury lawsuit seeks to hold the negligent healthcare provider or hospital accountable for their actions or omissions that caused your child’s injuries.
- A successful birth injury lawsuit can provide you with a valuable sense of closure.
- By filing a birth injury lawsuit, you alert other parents to the negligence your child has suffered. This can prevent future tragedies.
- Birth injury lawsuits can identify grossly negligent healthcare providers and result in their losing their license and/or privileges.
- By securing financial compensation, you are ensuring that your child has the care that he or she needs for the future.
How Does a Birth Injury Lawsuit Help?
Some parents may be reluctant to file a birth injury lawsuit. Often time parents feel a lawsuit would be too stressful and they need to devote their time to caring for their child. Parents have to juggle medical appointments for the child, therapy and daily care. However, there are experienced birth injury lawyers out there who will make a lawsuit as stress free as possible.
Many are even willing to work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid out of the settlement or verdict you receive. In other words, they only get paid if you get paid. Many families are entitled to significant financial compensation for their child’s birth injury – money that can help your child and whole family tremendously.
A birth injury lawsuit can help you and your family recover damages for:
- Past, current and future medical expenses.
- Healthcare costs associated with rehabilitation, therapy, counseling and specialized medical equipment.
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress.
- Lost wages due to providing care for the disabled child.
- Loss of enjoyment and companionship.
The type of damages that you can pursue in a birth injury lawsuit will depend on the facts of your situation, the severity of your child’s injuries and other factors. Speak with a birth injury lawyer to find out more about damages.
Life Care Plans
Individuals who have long-term or chronic injuries can benefit from a life care plan. This plan helps identify their current and future medical needs. A life care plan also estimates how much care will cost over the lifetime of the individual.
If you file a birth injury lawsuit, your child’s life care plan may be presented to the jury. This helps the jury understand the extent of your child’s injuries and the assistance that he or she will need throughout their life. The life care plan will show the court areas where your child can function, and areas where he or she will need considerable assistance.
When developing your child’s life care plan, the following will be taken into consideration:
- The cost of medical care, including physical therapy, medications and surgery.
- The cost of speech or occupational therapy.
- Adaptive equipment
- Household modifications needed to accommodate the child, such as a wheelchair ramp.
- Respite care costs for parents if the child is kept at home and one parent stops working to care for him or her.
A life care plan takes all of these financial considerations into account. These plans are developed with the help of a number of expert medical professionals who can estimate how much it will cost to keep the child healthy over the course of his or her lifetime.
Courts are happy to grant money to parents and children with life care plans, and receiving the money for these plans allow parents to relax a bit more, sometimes allowing them to leave their job in order to care for their child full-time without guilt or fear of financial hardship.
When Do I Start a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The sooner you file a birth injury lawsuit, the better. Lawsuits take time whether they settle or go to trial. All states have a statute of limitations, or a time limit, for filing lawsuits. After the statute of limitation expires, you are no longer allowed to file a lawsuit, even if your child is severely injured.
It is recommended that you contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible so that your rights and the statute of limitations are protected.
As you file a birth injury lawsuit and move through the process, it is important to make sure that your child is getting adequate treatment. Don’t wait for your lawsuit to be resolved to start getting your child the care that he or she needs.
There are four elements that must be established when you file your birth injury lawsuit. These include:
Duty of Care
It must be clear that the defendant (the healthcare provider responsible for the injuries) was responsible for the medical care of your infant with the birth injury happened. The doctor-patient relationship in obstetrics generally extends to the mother and unborn child. In such a situation, the doctor then has a duty to care for you and your child in adherence of medical standards.
Breach of the Duty of Care
Next, there must also be evidence that the defendant breached the required duty of care. That means, you must show that the healthcare provider failed to adhere to medical standards. Examples include not adequately monitoring fetal vital signs, failing to order a timely C-section, or administering a dangerous medication to the mother.
The Breach of the Duty of Care Caused the Injuries
In a birth injury lawsuit, it isn’t enough to show that the defendant breached the duty of care. You must also show that the breach is what caused your child’s injuries. For example, if a traumatic event occurred during pregnancy that’s unrelated to medical care, such as falling down a flight of stairs or getting in a car wreck, you can’t sue the defendant for damages. However, if the defendant pulled too hard on your infant during delivery and he suffered a brachial plexus injury as a result, you can sue him or her for damages.
What to Expect after Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit
The amount of time a birth injury lawsuit takes to resolve varies depending on the case. In some cases, it may take months and in other cases it may take a few years. As a plaintiff, you and your birth injury lawyer will:
- Gather evidence
- Interview witnesses
- Hire expert witnesses
- Research relevant laws and similar cases
Birth injury lawsuits are complex and require time and dedication. Fortunately, your birth injury lawyer handles the majority of the complex issues, allowing you time to spend with your infant. After filing the lawsuit, you can expect the following:
- Your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the defendant to resolve the case without going to trial.
- Your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyers will exchange information about the injury and case.
- You and other parties may be asked to give statements or testimony about the situation surrounding the injury.
- If negotiations are unsuccessful, your case will proceed to trial. Trial dates will depend on the court’s schedule and other factors.
- During trial, the judge and jury will hear testimony and review evidence. Then, the jury will decide whether your child’s injuries were caused by the negligence of the defendant.
How Much Compensation Will I Get?
Compensation for birth injury lawsuits will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of and severity of the injury and the estimated past and future costs associated with the birth injury. Your lawsuit may seek a particular dollar value in damages based on your child’s life care plan and other costs associated with the injury.
In general, your lawsuit will seek compensation for:
- Medical costs, including past and future costs.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses.
- Costs associated with in-home care, special education, and therapy.
- Specialized equipment (if needed), such as wheelchairs, braces, etc.
- Home modifications.
- Pain and suffering experienced by your child because of the injury.
- Loss of income if you had to quit your job to take care of your child.
You should know that many states have caps that dictate a maximum amount of compensation allowed in medical malpractice cases. This can ultimately affect how much compensation you receive.
How Will I Receive Compensation if I Win?
If your birth injury lawsuit is successful and you accept a settlement or are awarded damages, you may receive your funds in one of two methods:
- A lump sum that you receive all at once.
- A structured settlement with compensation paid as an annuity.
Discuss your payment options and possible tax implications with your lawyer before deciding how you want to receive compensation.
Get Help Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit
Mistakes or poor decision-making by medical professions can result in your child suffering for the rest of his or her life. This is simply unacceptable. But birth injuries result in harm that extends beyond the victim to his or her parents, siblings, extended family and even the community.
“You shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes or poor decisions of healthcare providers. Birth injuries are often preventable, and those responsible must be held accountable. To do so, your best option is a birth injury lawsuit.”
To get help filing a birth injury lawsuit, contact Birth Injury Guide. Our legal professionals are here to help you understand your legal rights and find the best options to get justice for your child. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling a free consultation with one of our birth injury lawyers. Call us today at 1-877-415-6603.