When an obstetrics team is negligent during labor and delivery or a C-section procedure, a child can suffer severe and permanent injury. These birth injuries may lead to life-long conditions and syndromes that can significantly affect the quality of life for both the child and parent.
To pursue justice and receive compensation, you need an expert personal injury law firm in your corner. The birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are litigation bulldogs with the financial resources to level the playing field and protect your rights.
In This Article
A Closer Look at the Conditions Caused by Birth Injuries
Birth injuries significantly increase the cost of raising a child. Two of the most damaging birth injuries related to obstetrician negligence are cerebral palsy (CP) and Erb’s palsy.
CP is a permanent birth injury and life-long condition that will affect both child and parent for the rest of their lives.
According to Cerebralpalsy.org, CP refers to a series of disorders generally affecting a person’s ability to move. This is caused by damage to an infant’s developing brain during pregnancy or delivery or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy may affect a child’s body movement, muscle control, coordination, tone, reflex, posture, and balance. People with cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy, and intellectual impairments.
CP cases are the most common motor disorder in infants, occurring in one to nearly four babies out of every 1,000 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 17 million people worldwide live with this condition. This condition, unfortunately, is often preventable.
In addition to natural causes relating to brain development, CP may be caused by either of the following:
- Perinatal brain cell death, which occurs during the birthing process as the brain is starved of oxygen or blood vessels rupture
- Postnatal non-functional or inappropriate connections (synapses) between brain cells, which occur due to trauma, infections, or asphyxia that damages the brain
These causes of CP are examples of medical mistakes and negligence. When medical malpractice occurs, the physician, medical staff, or hospital may be liable for damages. A birth injury lawsuit must illustrate medical professionals deviated from the expected standard of care.
It is essential that upon learning of a medical error, the parent must contact a top birth injury lawyer to begin investigating a potential claim against a physician or medical provider.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Erb’s palsy affects an infant’s arm and shoulder similarly to how other muscles and nerves are affected by CP. Temporary or permanent paralysis affects an infant patient’s voluntary movement in the shoulder and upper and lower arm.
The causes of Erb’s palsy vary from natural causes to medical negligence. For example, the condition may result from a failed cesarean section, trauma during delivery, or improper tool usage.
Erb’s palsy risk factors also include macrosomia and shoulder dystocia, which could involve negligence due to misdiagnosis.
Negligence Involving Forceps and Vacuum Extractors
In some scenarios, assistance is needed to help with the delivery of an infant. The obstetrician may use a vacuum device or forceps to help extract the child in these cases. However, these devices can increase the chances of an infant sustaining an injury during birth, especially if carelessness or negligence is involved.
Forceps and vacuum extractors increase the risk of:
- Cranial injury and skull fractures
- Skull malformations
- Brain damage
- Fetal stroke or seizures
A large percentage of the birth injury cases we deal with involve the negligent use of vacuum extractors and forceps. The use of forceps is strongly discouraged when the baby’s head has not moved past the midpoint of the birth canal or if the baby’s shoulders and arms are leading the way through the canal.
There is also an increased risk of injury to the newborn when the baby is too large to fit through the pelvis.
Birth Asphyxia Injuries
One of the most common medical malpractice injuries newborns suffer is birth asphyxia. These injuries occur when a child has oxygen flow reduced or cut off during birth.
Doctors and other assisting medical professionals delivering a child are expected to look out for issues that can cause birth asphyxia because of their pervasiveness and the severe consequences they can have. This means:
- Close monitoring of a child’s vitals for signs of oxygen deprivation
- Proper application of anesthesia dosage
- Proper use of instruments
Birth asphyxia, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), as it is more formally known, can occur during or after childbirth. When a child is deprived of oxygen, the damage that the brain can suffer is much more severe than if the same happened to an adult. Brain damage can occur within four minutes of asphyxiation and lead to lifelong disability.
Some of the causes of birth asphyxia include:
- Premature birth
- Blockage or defect in the child’s airway
- Placental abruption occurring too soon
- Umbilical cord problems
- Meconium aspiration syndrome
- High blood pressure or low blood pressure in the mother
- Fetal anemia
- Delay coming out of the birth canal
Causes of Birth Injury
In most cases, birth injuries in Florida occur because of:
Improper Use of Delivery Room Techniques
Health care providers, including doctors and nurses who work in a delivery room, have a duty to care for and treat their patients properly. When these providers fail to follow the proper delivery room protocols, problems can occur during the birthing process.
The doctor may deprive your baby of oxygen or otherwise injure your baby. Your child may consequently suffer a birth injury that will affect them for a lifetime.
Improper Monitoring of Fetal Heart Rates
Healthcare providers should closely and continuously monitor the fetus’s heart rate using special equipment during the birthing process. The primary purpose of such careful monitoring during labor and delivery is to detect changes in what should be the baby’s normal heart rate.
If a health care provider detects the change early enough, they should undertake the necessary steps to avoid any problems. However, if the child’s heart rate is not brought under control promptly, a birth injury or defect could result.
Delayed C-Sections or Improperly Performed Medical Procedures
Delivery room doctors and nurses are responsible for knowing when it is safest to deliver the baby via C-section. If the delivery happens too early or too late, various problems can occur. For example, when doctors delay a C-section for too long, it can deprive the fetus of oxygen, leading to brain damage.
Moreover, health care providers who work in delivery rooms are responsible for performing safe C-sections, using the proper techniques and tools for a successful procedure. When providers do not perform C-sections properly, they could injure the baby, which might lead to long-term consequences.
Insufficient Oxygen to the Baby’s Brain
Health care providers have a duty to perform C-sections and other birthing procedures correctly and in the proper order. If doctors delay the necessary process for too long, such as when the child is left for too long in the birth canal, it can seriously deprive the child’s brain of oxygen.
If oxygen deprivation persists for too long, they could suffer mental impairments or disabilities because of birth asphyxia.
Improper Use of Forceps or Other Delivery Room Tools and Equipment
Delivery room doctors and nurses must often use tools to assist the birth. Those tools include clamps, forceps, and other instruments. If a provider fails to carefully and properly use these instruments, the child could suffer an injury or wound during delivery. This could lead to various physical or mental complications going forward.
Incorrect Delivery Room Drugs Provided to the Baby’s Mother
Medical doctors and anesthesiologists must regularly provide medication like pain relievers to the mother in the delivery room. However, when a doctor or nurse administers the incorrect medication type or dosage to a mother who is delivering a baby, harm could not just result to the mother but also to the child.
Insufficient Monitoring of Delivery Room Patients
Delivery room doctors and nurses are responsible for monitoring their patients and ensuring that they promptly receive the proper medical care and medication. Failing to follow through and consistently monitor patients can lead to birth injuries when it comes time for the mother to deliver.
Failure to Follow Correct Delivery Room Rules and Procedures
Delivery room rules and procedures regarding the presence of others, wearing masks, and undertaking the proper techniques and methods, are in place to keep patients safe and streamline the delivery process. When delivery room staff do not abide by appropriate protocol, delays may lead to the child suffering one or more birth injuries.
If you believe that one or more of these circumstances injured your child, an experienced birth injury attorney at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, might assist with your case.
We can investigate and evaluate the circumstances to determine if a medical expert would support that a birth injury occurred. If so, we could file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit against the health care provider or providers who took part in the delivery process, seeking the monetary compensation and damages you deserve.
Although no amount of money damages can truly compensate a person for an injury at birth, these damages can help provide for the child’s well-being and future care.
Types of Birth Injuries
When delivery room doctors and hospital staff fail to follow the proper delivery room protocols and procedures, serious birth injuries can result. Common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Injuries to the infant’s skull
- Hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain
- Wrongful death
- Irreversible brain damage
Any birth injuries can create obstacles for your child’s development and unnecessary costs for your family.
Proving a Birth Injury Claim
Birth injury cases can be an uphill battle in some instances. Therefore, if you are pursuing such a claim, get a knowledgeable and experienced birth injury attorney on your side to help you every step of the way.
In a birth injury claim, the person filing the lawsuit—otherwise known as the plaintiff—has the legal burden of proof. The defendant, who is usually the delivery room doctor or another healthcare provider who performed or assisted with the birth, does not have to prove anything in the case. Instead, the legal burden of proof rests entirely with the plaintiff.
Violating the Duty of Care
To meet the necessary burden of proof, your legal team must prove that the delivery room healthcare providers (the doctors and nurses who took part in or assisted with the child’s birth) breached, or violated, the duty of care that the doctor owed to the mother and her child.
We need to identify violations of the duty of care on a case-by-case basis, but it typically means acting unreasonably under the circumstances.
To prove that medical malpractice or negligence happened, we will generally require expert testimony. An independent health care provider must review all the necessary documentation and determine that malpractice occurred to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
At a birth injury trial, the plaintiff will need to put on evidence in the form of doctor testimony to prove their case successfully. In addition to demonstrating a standard of care breach, the medical testimony must support that this violation resulted in the birth injury from which the child suffers.
As part of a childbirth injury claim or lawsuit, the plaintiff might recover various forms of damages. For example, if the family incurred medical costs to correct or lessen the problems associated with the injury, they could recover compensation for those costs.
Further, if the child who suffered the injury needs lifetime medical care, compensation may be available. Finally, the plaintiff might pursue and recover compensation for pain and suffering and similar related damages.
Our birth injury lawyers can help you retain an expert for your birth injury case and assemble all the necessary documentation. In addition, if the defendant’s malpractice insurance carrier offers to settle the birth injury case, we can negotiate with the insurance company and pursue a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
In many cases, settlement negotiations can be lengthy since insurance companies only want to pay out as little money as possible for a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit—even a serious one.
As seasoned trial lawyers, we can help you decide whether you should accept a particular settlement offer or reject it. If you turn down the insurance company’s top offer, we’ll litigate your case in court, represent you in mediation, or arbitrate your claim before a neutral, third-party arbitrator.
No matter the path you take, we will help you pursue the compensation you and your child deserve.
Statute of Limitations in Birth Injury Cases
When children sustain birth injuries because of negligent hospitals or delivery room staff, parents have a limited time to file a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice. Each state has a different statute of limitations, so it is crucial to contact a law firm with experience in your state.
In Florida, for example, parents must file claims against the negligent health care provider within two years of the date on which the parents should have reasonably discovered the birth injury. Under most circumstances, Florida law prohibits claims filed more than four years after the child suffered the birth injury.
Finally, for children born after July 1, 1996, “Tony’s Law” allows parents in Florida to file a claim for medical malpractice until a child’s eighth birthday. However, this extension to the filing deadline may not apply in cases where the child’s parent or legal guardians knew that the birth injury likely happened due to malpractice.
As you can see, the complexities surrounding statutes of limitations in birth injury cases require a law firm with experience handling these specific types of cases.
Due to these stringent time constraints, you should retain legal counsel as soon as possible if you are considering a birth injury medical malpractice lawsuit. A competent birth injury lawyer can meet all filing deadlines and retain and designate the proper experts.
Possible Effects of a Birth Injury on Your Child’s Life
Birth injuries can leave a significant impact on a child’s life. In some instances, these impacts can last well into adulthood and the remainder of the child’s life.
Sometimes, the effects of a birth injury are recognizable right away. However, the symptoms may take months or even years to become evident at other times. Therefore, during a child’s early development, parents should be on the lookout for any symptoms of potential birth injuries that may become apparent.
Not all symptoms are evidence of a birth injury. However, some may indicate that an injury or other damage occurred before, during, or after labor and delivery. Symptoms of a birth injury that typically become evident soon after a child’s birth include the following:
- Skull fractures
- Muscle looseness or stiffness
- Trouble with swallowing, eating, or drinking
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Low oxygen levels
- Low heart rate or blood pressure
- Excessive drooling
If you notice any abnormalities in your child soon after birth, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. The sooner you seek the necessary medical attention, the better the chances that doctors can address the issue and provide your child the special care they require.
Other potential birth injury symptoms may arise when a child is between one and two years of age. Typically, these symptoms become noticeable when a child skips various developmental or physical milestones in their life. Signs of potential birth injuries during this time include the following:
- Difficulty with crawling or walking
- Inability to turn the head when there is a loud noise
- Difficulty with coordination
- Severe intellectual problems, such as the inability to remember things
- Inability to move various parts of the body
- Difficulty with holding onto cups or eating utensils
- Difficulty with eating or drinking
- Inability to walk, stand, crawl, or sit without the help of an adult
Although many birth injury symptoms are evident during the first two years of a child’s life, other symptoms do not appear until the child gets to elementary school or beyond. Many of these symptoms may even last for the remainder of the child’s life. Some of these potential symptoms of birth injuries include the following:
- Muteness and deafness
- Total or partial blindness
- Shakiness or tremors
- Stiff muscles, otherwise known as hypertonia
- Inability to drink, eat, or get dressed without the help of someone else
- Various forms of child/adult autism or autism spectrum disorder
- Jerky reflexes can lead to difficulty developing motor skills
- Delayed language development that precludes the child from comprehending or speaking in complete sentences
Neonatal Blindness Injuries (Retinopathy of Prematurity)
These cases tend to be complex and concern premature infants receiving oxygen treatment for under-developed
If you become aware of any of these birth injury symptoms, seek medical treatment for your child as early as possible. A qualified healthcare provider will explain all your medical options and offer you the best chances of improving your child’s condition.
If the healthcare provider suspects that a birth injury might have occurred, speak with a knowledgeable Florida birth injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances for you and help you decide on the best course of action for your case.
Liability and Birth Injuries: Who Pays?
How a birth-related injury occurs is essential for filing a civil case. A birthing injury attorney must prove negligence to pursue compensation for your damages. A doctor or medical facility may face litigation if one of the following occurs:
- Forceps caused harm to the baby during the birthing process
- The improper vacuum used to remove the baby
- Delayed action in conducting a cesarean birth
- Any actions that delayed oxygen to the baby causing fetal demise or other injuries
Negligence can also occur before birth, such as:
- Failure to conduct standard tests and specialized tests if needed
- Failure to carefully monitor the baby’s position or status
- Failure to diagnose and treat pregnancy conditions such as infections
These are a few examples of possible negligence. Your lawyer can review your medical records and pictures and speak with others who witnessed the birth. This information can provide them with the knowledge needed to identify all liable parties.
Some complications can arise during the birthing process; however, errors are generally preventable. If your doctor made a careless mistake that forever altered your baby’s life, seek help from the medical negligence attorneys at Dolman Law Group.
Possible Compensation for Your Birth Injury Damages
The shock of your child’s birth injury leads to the realization of additional medical costs and other financial challenges. These challenges are not usually temporary as the injury may require a lifetime of substantial and expensive care.
Caring for a special needs child and maintaining your career is a tricky balance. Numerous doctor’s appointments and time away for other related needs can impact your income and possibly your position. The birth injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group typically fight to recover:
- Medical expenses: both past expenses and future medical care needs such as doctors, surgeons, and therapists
- Disability costs: the cost associated with disability needs, including power chairs, home modifications, and more
- Special education: expenses relating to special education for a child with cognitive conditions
- Lost pay: the income you missed earning due to your child’s medical appointments, procedures, and needs
The outcome of your case is impossible to predict. However, with a member of our team by your side, you are not alone as we pursue compensation and justice for you and your child. We can handle aggressive insurance adjusters who are reluctant to pay you the compensation you deserve due to medical malpractice.
Our team understands state laws regarding cases of medical malpractice and birth injuries. Refer pushy insurance adjusters to us and do not speak with them alone.
Pursuing a Brighter Future for Your Child With Our Help
Children who face unfair challenges due to negligence deserve the best future possible. This means access to affordable programs, treatments, procedures, and education.
Caring for a special needs child is challenging yet rewarding. The new demands of caring for a child with a birth-related brain injury or who develop CP can cause you to stress over daily routines. However, to observe your child learning a new skill or developing in ways you never thought possible, the joy is unending.
Any child who suffers a birth injury due to negligence is worthy of quality care throughout their lifetime. When the birth injury results from neglect, those responsible should pay for such care.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation if you face high medical costs and reduced income due to a birth injury. While no amount of compensation can ever correct the damage to your child, it can provide access to the services they require.
Our Commitment to Your Case
Your birth injury lawyers will fight for fair compensation from start to finish. Among the many steps we take representing birth injury clients are:
- We investigate: Our experienced attorneys know what information is needed to ensure a valid claim when investigating civil cases.
- We consult with the best: We have access to top medical experts who can assist us with your specific case.
- We demand a fair settlement: Your lawyer knows how to handle reluctant insurance companies strategically.
- We take the case to trial: We will go to trial if an insurance company is unwilling to pay what you deserve.
- We manage the final details: The collection and disbursement of funds is part of the legal services we provide.
We seek to provide you with care and comfort throughout the legal process. Your experience was traumatic and stressful. The birth injury your child suffered demands accountability.
Let us handle your case so that you can better focus on the comfort and well-being of your child.
Taking Action Now for Your Baby’s Birth Injury
Any potential birth injury lawsuit requires quick action. Your child may not exhibit the full effects of their injury for years. Contact our office as soon as you suspect something is wrong due to negligent medical care.
A lawyer from our team understands the statute of limitations for pursuing a civil lawsuit. Documentation of your concerns can serve as a record of when signs and symptoms of issues first appeared.
Many cases involving serious injuries sustained by a baby settle out-of-court. If your lawyer cannot secure a fair settlement through negotiation, they will proceed to trial. Do not wait until it is too late to file a lawsuit.
Your lawyer can determine if your case meets the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations. You are not alone with us by your side. Our staff is caring and here to help you. From our front office staff to our legal team, we treat all our clients with the respect they deserve.
Dolman Law Group Can Help You File a Comprehensive Claim
Contact us if your child suffered an injury during the birthing process, especially if you suspect negligence. We stand ready to help you fight for the compensation your child needs to achieve the best life possible.
Birth Injury Lawyers at Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized injury law firm with experience litigating preventable birth injury cases. Our birth injury lawyers have a combined 115+ years of experience handling catastrophic injury claims throughout Florida and other states with local counsel (licensed attorneys in the applicable jurisdiction).
We have recovered over $200 million for victims of negligence throughout Florida. Birth injury cases require significant financial resources due to costs associated with retaining experts.
Matthew Dolman is the managing partner of our firm, which has handled over 9000 personal injury claims and 1500 lawsuits. Matthew is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving claims over $1 million and $2 million, respectively.
In addition, his colleagues have selected him as a Florida Super Lawyer and part of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Matthew understands that every birth injury case is unique and has secured financial resources via an extensive credit line to retain the best experts for illustrating the losses sustained by our clients.
He has handled cases in the field of birth injury throughout Florida, representing many who have sustained severe injuries.
Stanley Gipe is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. This certification deems Stan an expert in the discipline of trying civil jury trials.
He has handled more than 1,000 lawsuits and has litigated cases as lead counsel in the following Florida Counties; Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee, Pasco, Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Orange County. Stan is both a trial attorney and a birth injury lawyer.
He has vast experience litigating even the most complicated cases and holding medical professionals accountable for their negligence.
Julia Dolman has also been voted by her colleagues to be recognized by Super Lawyers as a “rising star.” She has worked on several birth injury cases with our firm and understands the vast complexity of birth injury claims.
Contact a National Birth Injury Attorney Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation
If your child sustained a preventable birth injury due to the negligence exhibited by a delivery room doctor or another medical professional, you might be eligible for monetary compensation.
The experienced birth injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, are ready and willing to litigate your case and represent your interests in court, if necessary.
Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation or case evaluation with a birth injury attorney at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
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