Few things will cause as much excitement as waiting for a new baby. Expectant parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles rally around to see if they can guess the date of arrival. Friends and coworkers throw showers and parties. The excitement never seems to wear off, whether the expectant mom is waiting for her first, or her fifth baby.
Unfortunately, in some of these instances, excitement often turns to concern and worry when a child is born with a birth injury. Birth injuries should not be confused with a birth defect, which is often genetic—instead, birth injuries often result from malpractice that occurs during the labor and delivery process. In many cases, these injuries can be avoided with proper medical care.
If your infant has suffered a birth injury, you should contact a Clearwater personal injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group immediately.
Clearwater Birth Injury Lawyers Fight for You
Depending on the severity of a birth injury, your child could be facing a lifetime of advanced medical care, unnecessary pain, or scarring which they will have to live with for their entire life. A lawyer who has experience handling birth injury cases can help you fight back and get compensation for your child so they can get the care they need and deserve. Fortunately, thanks to Tony’s Law,which was passed in 1996, many parents may file a personal injury lawsuit up until their child turns eight.
Despite this extended time period, as a parent, you should reach out to a Clearwater birth injury attorney immediately. An attorney can help you decide how to move forward based on what options you have available to you.
Keep in mind, medical malpractice cases are governed by Florida medical malpractice statutes and one of the prevailing statutes states “The existence of a medical injury does not create any inference or presumption of negligence against a health care provider, and the claimant must maintain the burden of proving that an injury was proximately caused by a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care by the health care provider.”
Seek guidance immediately, it takes time to develop a strong argument for why a birth injury could have been avoided.
Birth Injury Information You Should Know
Expectant moms in the Clearwater area gave birth to 8,122 babies in one recent month. While we tend to think about Florida as a haven for snowbirds, the median age in Clearwater is 44.1 years, with the largest population being between the ages of 25 and 44. The largest segment of our population is in the traditional parenthood stage.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, birth injuries range from very mild to life-threatening. There are several reasons why a birth injury can occur including a large infant, prolonged labor and delivery, or removal from the womb using suction or forceps.
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Brachial palsy – Also known as Erb’s palsy, the child may appear to have weakness in one arm or may have partial or total paralysis in one arm. In many cases, by the time a child reaches the age of two months, all symptoms may have subsided. However, for many children, their condition will cause a lifetime of weakness in the affected shoulder, arm, or hand.
- Damage from forceps – When giving birth and the baby does not seem to be advancing quickly through the birth canal, the doctor may opt for a delivery using forceps. Unfortunately, this is not without risk to the infant including seizures, bleeding in the skull, and skull fractures. Doctors have a duty to verify the mother’s birth canal is wide enough to safely deliver an infant and when a birth injury results, they may be held liable for the damage caused to either the mother or baby.
- Cephalohematoma – In most cases, this slight bulge in an infant’s head is a sign the baby had a hard exit from the birth canal. In nearly all cases, the bulge will clear up on its own, however, the child should be monitored for additional problems including jaundice.
- Infant Bell’s palsy – This is a form of paralysis of the facial muscles. Typically, a result of prolonged labor, or when the infant is very large, this paralysis often goes away without any treatment. However, in rare cases, the paralysis can be permanent and may have been prevented had the medical team properly monitored the mother.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage – Ruptures in the eye’s blood vessels can be caused by difficult births or when the medical team does not ensure the infant is not subjected to physical trauma and stress during birth. This is a common condition when an infant is subjected to forceps delivery and can be serious.
- Fracture during labor and delivery – These are most common when a baby is in a breech position. These fractures could be prevented if the medical team monitors the infant’s position and ensures the baby is out of the breech position.
While not every birth injury is the result of medical malpractice, there are cases where the mother’s medical team could have foreseen issues with delivery. No family wants to see their infant suffer because a doctor or medical team failed to follow reasonable procedures monitoring the mother during the labor and delivery process. When you feel your baby’s birth injury could have been prevented, contact us and discuss your case with a Clearwater birth injury attorney.
Determining Fault for Birth Injuries
Holding someone accountable for a preventable injury can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Your personal injury attorney can help you determine if the medical team acted with the proper amount of care required of them. To determine medical malpractice, there are three distinct steps to establish fault:
- The healthcare team failed to provide the proper level of care
- Due to such failure, the victim (in this case the infant) suffered an injury
- The suffering and injury had consequences
Based on these steps, your attorney will determine who may be at fault. Some of the at-fault parties may be:
- Hospital – The facility where the doctor who cared for you may be liable through the legal theory known as vicarious liability. In effect, this means the hospital assumed financial responsibility for the doctor who is their employee.
- Doctor – If the doctor failed to follow proper medical procedures and as a result your infant suffered an injury, the doctor could be liable.
- Staff – Anyone who was tasked with your care as an assistant to the doctor may be liable if their actions or inaction can be deemed to be negligent.
When you work with Clearwater birth injury lawyers, they will depend on expert witnesses to demonstrate the elements of a medical malpractice case. Florida statutes are clear about the qualifications of an expert witness in any instance where medical malpractice is a factor.
Recovering Damages for Your Child’s Injury
As with any personal injury case, damages are dependent on the type of injury, the extent of the injury, and the length of time during which the injury will impact the person’s life—in this case, the child. Since the parent is filing a birth injury lawsuit on behalf of their child, the most common forms of damage are:
- Medical expenses – Any immediate medical expenses for the care of an infant can be claimed as part of a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, when the birth injury results in the need for ongoing medical care these expenses will be covered as well. For example, if a child’s injury requires around-the-clock nursing care, visits to a specialist, or medical devices, these costs are recoverable. When parents must travel to seek specialized medical care for a birth injury, they also have the right to seek reimbursement for travel-related expenses. Your birth injury attorney can help you determine what may be covered under medical expenses including prescription drugs your child may need, physical therapy visits, and specialized tests.
- Non-economic damages – Some compensation is designed to pay for pain and suffering and other damages.
- Punitive damages – In some instances, if the behavior of the medical personnel treating the mother or infant was particularly egregious, punitive damages may punish the individual.
Since every case is different, it is crucial parents discuss all aspects of their birth injury case with their legal team.
Process for Filing Birth Injury Cases
Initially, you may file a complaint with the hospital where your baby’s birth injury took place. Once you have put them on notice they may deny there was a problem. Before you can file a lawsuit however, you must notify the provider in writing that you intend to sue for malpractice. Before this process starts, your attorney will take the steps necessary to demonstrate you have a claim against the parties whom they intend to serve notice. Your attorney will work with a skilled physician to establish you have a legitimate malpractice or negligence claim and obtain an affidavit from the professional to include with the notice.
Once the notice has been provided, the medical team may deny they have any liability, or they may attempt to negotiate a settlement. In nearly all cases, liability will be denied by the doctor caring for the mother or infant, the hospital, and any involved parties. The medical personnel have 90 days to either dispute their liability or agree to a settlement. Your birth injury lawyer will build a strong case before filing the affidavit to ensure your claim is as compelling as possible.
Helping You With the Cost of Birth Injuries
As a new parent, you are already facing financial challenges with a new baby in the house. Moms who have taken time off work to give birth may be using maternity leave to recover from the birth. However, when a child needs longer term care due to a birth injury, parents are naturally concerned about the costs of filing a lawsuit.
Dolman Law Group offers a free consultation to discuss your case. During this consultation, we will take the time to go over the details of your child’s injury and discuss whether your child’s injuries were a result of negligence or malpractice. Should we determine you have a malpractice case, we can then take your birth injury case on a contingency basis.
When a medical malpractice case is taken on a contingency basis, you do not pay for legal services until we have negotiated a settlement, or we have gone to court and won damages for your child’s injuries. Once we have successfully obtained financial relief on your behalf, our fee would be taken from the final settlement. We can discuss general costs during the consultation, and make you aware of Florida’s rules pertaining to attorney fees in personal injury cases.
Few things are more exciting than welcoming a new baby into your life. There is also nothing worse than finding out your baby could spend the rest of their lives overcoming a birth injury which could have been prevented if the medical team caring for you and your baby had acted in a responsible manner.
Dolman Law Group knows that no amount of money can make up for your child’s pain and suffering, or help you deal with the emotional impact of a birth injury. However, we also believe you should not have to suffer the economic harm a birth injury can have on your entire family.
Contact Dolman Law Group and speak with a Clearwater birth injury lawyer. Let us help you get the compensation you need to care for your child. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group at 833-552-7274 and schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We are committed to helping make sure the parties responsible for your child’s birth injury are held accountable for any actions or inactions that resulted in a birth injury.
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765