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A birth injury is harm that a baby suffers during pregnancy, labor, delivery or shortly after birth. Some birth injuries are caused by medical negligence or error.
Doctors and other medical professionals must provide care that meets the accepted standard to the mother and baby before (prenatal care), during and after a birth. When they don’t, and a birth injury results, the medical providers responsible may be held liable for medical malpractice. A birth injury claim seeks money to pay medical expenses and other losses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
If you believe your child’s birth injury was caused by medical malpractice, contact the Abelson Law Firm for a free analysis of your case and advice about your legal options. We have helped families just like yours throughout Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas.
Common Birth Injuries and Their Causes
The two major causes of birth injury are oxygen deprivation and physical trauma. A baby may be deprived of oxygen during birth for several reasons, including a twisted or compressed umbilical cord or being left in the birth canal too long during a difficult delivery. When a baby assumes an unnatural position during birth, the child may suffer physical trauma during delivery.
Common traumatic birth injuries include bleeding, bruising, broken bones and nerve damage. Birth injuries may also result in lasting conditions such as:
- Cerebral palsy. Children with cerebral palsy have problems with muscle control and impaired fine or gross motor skills. They may suffer muscle spasms and speech impediments. In severe cases, cerebral palsy victims cannot ever walk. Cerebral palsy may also include intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, blindness or deafness. Lack of oxygen during labor and delivery can cause cerebral palsy.
- Brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy, for example). Too much pressure applied to a baby’s head or neck during a difficult birth can injure a group of nerves called the brachial plexus. The signs of Erb’s palsy include paralysis of the shoulders, arms or neck, reduced muscle control or a loss of sensation in the shoulders, arms or hands, and reduced arm strength or lack of fine motor coordination.
- Cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis). This condition, in which neck muscles contract and cause the head to tilt forward or backward or twist to the side, is typically caused in infants by head, neck or shoulder injuries.
Not all birth injuries are the doctor’s fault. However, if the doctor or other medical professional failed to take proper steps or failed to manage the birth properly, he or she may be responsible for the harm that results.
Standards of medical care require doctors to maintain thorough medical records for pregnant women in their care. Doctors must be aware of symptoms that may put the child at risk, including gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain, large fetal size (fetal size should be evaluated in the third trimester) and an overdue delivery date.
During delivery, the medical provider must constantly assess and evaluate both the mother’s and the baby’s conditions. It is the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that both mother and child have adequate oxygen and to take steps if the fetal monitor indicates the baby is in distress. If the baby is too large or becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, there are proper procedures to get the baby out safely. If a C-section (Caesarean section) is required, the doctor should make that determination and follow through in a timely manner.
Birth injuries can result in disabilities that have lifelong consequences for the child and the child’s parents. If a medical professional’s error has caused a birth injury, the baby’s parents may be entitled to compensation on behalf of their child. Financial compensation can help pay for the expensive, perhaps ongoing, medical care that the child is likely to need.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers About a Birth Injury
If you suspect that your doctor failed to follow reasonable standards of medical care and, as a result, your child suffered a birth injury, you may have the right to seek money damages. The legal team at the Abelson Law Firm has substantial experience handling birth injury cases. Let us review your claim and determine how we can help you get the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Attorney Michael A. Abelson has earned numerous professional honors, including the highest “AV” rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers and the Lawyer of the Year award from the Trial Lawyers Association of Washington, D.C.
Labor and delivery malpractice cases are usually very technical and require sophisticated analysis and review of pages and pages of medical records. It is best to get started as soon as possible if you have a claim. Contact us online or by phone today for a free consultation.