The birth of a child should be a wonderful occasion, but for too many families, it can be the beginning of heartbreaking trauma. When a child comes into the world with a birth injury, the family naturally wants to understand what went wrong. If those injuries were the result of medical malpractice, the parents may be able to seek justice in court.
The birth injury attorneys of Hale & Monico are here for you. Our compassionate team will review the facts surrounding your child’s birth injury and determine whether negligence is to blame. We fight to hold medical professionals liable when they commit medical malpractice.
Birth Injury and Birth Defect: What’s The Difference?
The term “birth defect” indicates a child was born with a medical condition that is owing to genetics or environmental factors. With respect to the doctors who helped the mother give birth, these cases are generally not actionable. On the other hand, “birth injury” describes some injury done to the child during labor or delivery. In these cases, and under certain circumstances, the parents can pursue legal action.
There are cases, however, where the line between these two terms is not as clear. During the woman’s pregnancy, doctors can usually perform an ultrasound or other test to determine the health of the unborn baby. Perhaps the child does have some sort of birth defect that the doctor or hospital did not cause. However, in many of these scenarios, the mother will need special care for her child. Even though the medical professional did not cause the defect, he or she could be negligent if the situation is not properly addressed. Any abnormality or irregularity involving the mother’s pregnancy or labor should be discussed with an experienced Chicago birth injury attorney.
Examples Of Birth Injuries
Pregnancy and labor require the utmost care. Unfortunately, the baby can be injured in numerous ways. These are some common examples of birth injuries:
- Erb’s palsy: paralysis of the baby’s arm resulting from nerve damage. This condition impairs the child’s movement and sensation.
- Cerebral palsy: a neurological development disorder that affects movement and balance. This is a life-long condition with no cure.
- Preeclampsia: indicated by high blood pressure and distress to the mother. This complication, sometimes called toxemia, threatens the life of both the baby and the mother.
- Birth asphyxia: any interruption in the flow of oxygen to the baby can cause serious injury. Brain damage is one of the most serious consequences of this oxygen deprivation.
- Spinal cord injuries: usually resulting from compression of the baby’s spinal cord during delivery. This may result in paralysis or neurological damage.
- Shoulder dystocia: occurs during delivery when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. This can cause a life-threatening emergency.
- Intracranial hemorrhage: bleeding inside the baby’s brain due to a ruptured blood vessel. Brain damage, jaundice, and other complications may result.
Why Do Birth Injuries Happen?
Natural circumstances can explain some birth injuries, such as the baby being too large to pass easily through the mother’s birth canal. However, in many cases, these injuries are due to medical negligence or malpractice. The following errors can lead to birth injuries:
- Failing to identify or address issues with the mother that arise during pregnancy
- Failing to identify genetic or other complications in the child which may require special care
- Oxygen deprivation which can be the result of numerous mistakes such as umbilical cord entanglement
- Administering the wrong type or dosage of medication to the mother, or other medication errors
- Failing to properly monitor the mother’s or baby’s condition before, during, or after birth
- Misuse of birth equipment such as forceps or vacuum
- Delayed C-section delivery
- Complications arising from premature delivery
Sometimes errors are the result of more general forms of malpractice, such as miscommunication between doctors and nurses. The simple fact is, birth is a complicated process involving many steps and often numerous medical professionals. That opens the door to costly errors that could have significant and permanent consequences for your baby.
Proving A Birth Injury Was Caused By Medical Malpractice
Not every birth injury is attributable to medical malpractice. For the parent to prove it is, he or she must show that the doctor failed to adhere to the established standard of care owed to the mother and baby. That means the level of care that an average doctor would owe in similar circumstances. Put another way, that the medical professional committed unreasonable errors or omissions that ultimately harmed the baby or mother.
Under Illinois law, medical malpractice cases brought on behalf of the child must be filed within eight years of the date of the injury, but must be filed prior to the child’s 22nd birthday. If the injuries caused a qualifying disability to the child, the statute of limitations would be tolled until the disability is removed. In cases of permanent disability, that could effectively toll the statute of limitations altogether.
In the event of the death of a child, or there were also injuries to the mother, that claim must be filed within two years after the date of the negligent act or omission, or within two years after the date the injury was (or should have been) discovered. In no case, however, can a lawsuit be filed more than four years after the negligent act or omission.
The sooner you bring a claim for birth injury, the more likely it is you will recover damages. Depending on your case, those damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Permanent physical disability
- Caretaking and disability services
- Lost future earnings of the child
- Loss of companionship
- Decreased life expectancy
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress
Contact A Chicago Birth Injury Attorney
The birth of a child should be a happy moment, and medical professionals should perform their jobs with due diligence and care. Sadly, this does not always happen. When someone else’s negligence has caused injury to the baby, the parents deserve compensation.
The attorneys of Hale & Monico pursue justice for injured babies and their mothers and fathers. If you believe your baby’s injuries were caused by medical malpractice, we want to hear from you. We will investigate the circumstances in your case and let you know what your legal options are. Give us a call today to speak with our dedicated team and schedule a consultation.