Birth Injury Lawyer | Ethen Ostroff Law

Welcoming a new life is a moment of unparalleled joy, filled with dreams, hopes, and the promise of a bright future. However, this beautiful experience may sometimes be marred by the unexpected occurrence of birth injuries. Families find themselves navigating challenging terrain, grappling not only with the physical challenges but also the emotional and financial burdens that come with such unforeseen circumstances. At Ethen Ostroff Law, we acknowledge the profound impact that birth injuries can have on families. Our commitment goes beyond legal representation; we strive to be a guiding presence and a supportive system for families facing the complexities of these situations. In this compassionate and comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of birth injuries, recognizing the unique challenges they pose. We emphasize the crucial importance of securing justice and compensation with the assistance of a skilled birth injury lawyer.

Understanding Birth Injury

A birth injury occurs when a newborn’s body function or structure is compromised due to an adverse event during birth. Typically resulting from physical pressure, particularly during passage through the birth canal, these injuries include bruising, swelling, bone fractures, nerve injuries, and more. The consequences of such injuries can vary, ranging from temporary discomfort to severe and long-term disabilities.

Difference Between Birth Injuries and Birth Defects

Birth injuries occur during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth, usually due to trauma or complications like fractures or nerve injuries. They are observable and may be preventable with proper medical care. Families suspecting medical negligence can pursue legal action for compensation.

Birth defects, on the other hand, arise before or during pregnancy, often influenced by genetic or environmental factors. These defects may not be immediately visible, involving structural or functional abnormalities. Unlike birth injuries, they are generally not preventable, and legal action is uncommon unless a clear connection to specific factors, like exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy, is evident.

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Prevalence of Birth Injury in the United States

Birth injuries sadly, impact many newborns in the United States each year. Approximately 30,000 babies are born with a birth injury annually, translating to one every 20 minutes. These injuries are more frequent in males, often due to their size. Shockingly, birth injuries contribute to 20% of the roughly 20,000 infant deaths each year, making them the 4th leading cause of infant mortality. The occurrence rate is up to 7 in every 1,000 live births in the country, with a consistent increase noted over recent decades.

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Types of Birth Injuries

Here are the common types of birth injuries that families may encounter on this unexpected journey:

  • Bleeding beneath the scalp or inside the skull: Internal bleeding from delivery trauma, needing swift medical attention. 
  • Bone fractures: Fractures, often indicating severe trauma, may happen in the collarbone or limbs during difficult births. 
  • Brachial plexus injury: Stretching, pulling, or tearing of nerves during delivery, leading to weakness, immobility, commonly seen in shoulder dystocia. 
  • Caput succedaneum: Scalp swelling, resembling a “conehead,” may occur, resolving on its own but untreated cases can cause complications. 
  • Cephalohematoma: Excessive pressure during challenging deliveries may rupture blood vessels, leading to pooling between the skull and skin. Recovery is possible, but risks include seizures and pain. 
  • Cerebral palsy: A complex set of neurological conditions affecting a child’s movement and coordination. 
  • Excessive bleeding: Uncontrolled bleeding during or after birth, posing serious health risks. 
  • Facial paralysis: Impaired facial muscle movement due to pressure during delivery. 
  • Head injuries: Injuries from forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery, varying in severity. 
  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Insufficient oxygen or blood flow during birth, potentially causing long-term neurological issues. 
  • Hypoxia: Oxygen deprivation during birth, leading to various complications. 
  • Infections: Newborn infections, often linked to unhygienic birthing conditions. 
  • Meconium aspiration: Inhalation of the baby’s first stool into the lungs, causing respiratory issues. 
  • Paralysis: Loss of muscle function, often associated with nerve damage during birth. 
  • Shoulder dystocia: Baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the pubic bone during delivery, posing potential complications. 
  • Skull fractures: Fractures in the skull bones due to numerous factors during childbirth. 
  • Soft tissue injuries: Damage to the baby’s soft tissues, like muscles or ligaments, during birth. 
  • Stillbirth: The heartbreaking event of a baby being born without signs of life. 
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage: Rupture of blood vessels below the infant’s eyes during strenuous births, resulting in red spots that may clear or lead to complications. 
  • Wrongful death: Sadly, some birth injuries may lead to the untimely and tragic loss of the infant’s life. 

Common Causes of Birth Defects

Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice and negligence can deeply impact both the baby and their family. Understanding these causes is crucial for promoting empathy and raising awareness. Here are some common factors:

  • Delayed C-section: In cases where a timely C-section could prevent birth injuries, delays can lead to complications, including brain damage. 
  • Failure to diagnose and treat maternal health conditions: Maternal health conditions like diabetes and preeclampsia increase the risk of birth injuries. Failure to identify and manage these conditions can result in delivery complications. 
  • Failure to monitor fetal distress: Healthcare professionals must monitor vital signs during labor. Failing to detect signs of fetal distress, such as abnormal heart rates, can lead to brain damage and other birth injuries. 
  • Failure to recognize and respond to complications during delivery: Timely recognition and response to delivery complications are crucial. Neglecting this duty can result in birth injuries. 
  • Improper use of delivery tools: Incorrect use of forceps or vacuum extraction can cause severe injuries, including skull fractures, brain hemorrhages, and nerve damage. 
  • Inadequate prenatal care: Lack of proper prenatal care can lead to undiagnosed health conditions and other risk factors contributing to birth injuries. 
  • Medication errors: Administering the wrong medication or incorrect dosage during delivery can lead to birth injuries. 

Preventing Birth Injuries

Birth injuries, often preventable, can be avoided with thoughtful steps taken by healthcare professionals and expectant parents. Here is a caring guide to key measures:

  • Attending regular check-ups: Essential prenatal care ensures the health of both mother and baby, addressing emerging concerns promptly. 
  • Avoiding harmful substances: Steering clear of medications, alcohol, and other harmful substances safeguards the developing fetus. 
  • Monitoring weight gain: Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery. 
  • Prioritizing sleep and nutrition: Expectant mothers should ensure sufficient rest and a balanced diet rich in protein, calcium, and folic acid. 
  • Providing proper prenatal care: Regular check-ups with a qualified obstetrician ensure close monitoring of the baby’s development, addressing potential risk factors for birth injuries. 
  • Recognizing and mitigating risk factors: Identifying and managing risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and an incompetent cervix can prevent premature birth and related complications. 
  • Recognizing signs of fetal distress: Healthcare professionals vigilantly monitor for signs such as decreased fetal movement, abnormal heart rate, and amniotic fluid issues. 
  • Reassessing medication use: Expectant mothers should consult their doctor about the safety of their medications during pregnancy.

By embracing these considerations and collaborating closely with healthcare professionals, expectant parents can significantly reduce the risk of birth injuries for their precious babies. 

Understanding Birth Injury Lawsuit

A birth injury lawsuit is a legal avenue for parents seeking financial compensation when their infant experiences injuries during birth. These legal actions typically target healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, who may be held accountable for the child’s injuries. Birth injury lawsuits often revolve around two key concepts: medical mistakes and medical negligence.

  • Medical mistakes: Medical mistakes, while less severe than malpractice, encompass errors that a competent provider might make in a given situation, leading to unnecessary consequences or harm. Not all mistakes incur liability, and the distinction can be subtle, underscoring the importance of seeking legal advice. 
  • Medical negligence: Medical negligence occurs when healthcare professionals deviate from expected medical care standards, resulting in injury or death. The medical field upholds high care, requiring professionals to exercise caution, consideration, and good judgment like their competent peers.

The primary objectives of a birth injury lawsuit include:

  • Accountability for medical malpractice: Holding the delivering doctors accountable for harm caused, especially in cases of medical malpractice. 
  • Closure and justice for the family: Providing emotional closure and a sense of justice for the affected family. 
  • Financial compensation: Seeking financial redress to cover the costs of birth injury treatments, encompassing surgery, medications, therapy, and other care expenses. 
  • Raising awareness: Promoting awareness and enhancing future maternal and infant safety by holding negligent healthcare professionals accountable.

Navigating a birth injury lawsuit requires legal expertise. Consulting with an attorney can provide essential guidance and support. 

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Types of Birth Injury Lawsuits

Causes of action for birth injuries primarily fall into two categories: medical malpractice or wrongful death, depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

  • Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice occurs when doctors and other medical professionals neglect to ensure the safety of both the pregnant person and the baby during birth, adhering to a higher standard of care than generally applied in negligence cases.

This category includes negligence and errors, with actionable mistakes in the delivery room such as:

  • Applying excessive force during delivery. 
  • Failing to clear the baby’s airways (nose and mouth) after birth. 
  • Failing to detect fetal distress. 
  • Failing to inform parents of complications during pregnancy. 
  • Failing to order an emergency C-section. 
  • Failing to recognize symptoms of illness or injury. 
  • Failing to treat infant jaundice or other conditions. 
  • Misusing vacuum extractors or forceps. 
  • Neglecting to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. 
  • Not treating maternal infections, like meningitis. 
  • Overlooking fetal distress, including a low heart rate. 
  • Using improper force during delivery. 
  • Improperly administering medication or anesthesia.

Specific types or categories of medical malpractice in the labor and delivery room that commonly result in birth injuries include:

  • C-section malpractice: Unreasonably delaying or failing to perform a timely emergency C-section, a crucial intervention to prevent harm to the baby. 
  • Failure to monitor: Neglecting the proper use or monitoring of fetal monitoring devices to identify signs of distress, leading to various birth injury cases. 
  • Forceps malpractice: Mishandling obstetrical forceps, a tool used to grip a baby’s head during delivery, requires a high level of skill. Errors in forceps usage often lead to birth injury cases. 
  • Vacuum extractor malpractice: Improper use or excessive force with the vacuum extractor, another device used to grip and move the baby through the birth canal, resulting in avoidable birth injuries.
  • Wrongful death: Some medical malpractice errors unfortunately lead to infant or mother death. A wrongful death lawsuit is applicable when an infant is stillborn or dies after birth due to a preventable mistake by a healthcare professional.

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit: Requirements

To pursue a birth injury lawsuit, certain essential requirements must be met. These requirements may depend on jurisdiction, but common elements typically include:

  • Adhering to the statute of limitations: Birth injury lawsuits must be filed within the specified timeframe. This timeframe varies by jurisdiction and starts either from the date of injury discovery or the date it should have been reasonably discovered. 
  • Documenting damages: Collecting evidence of the damages resulting from the birth injury is crucial. This includes medical bills and other related expenses, along with illustrating the emotional and physical toll on the child and family. 
  • Establishing a doctor-patient relationship: To begin, there should be a documented relationship between the healthcare professional and the pregnant person. This relationship establishes a sense of care and responsibility. 
  • Establishing causation: A critical aspect is demonstrating a direct link between the healthcare professional’s actions and the birth injury. This connection must be clear and compelling. 
  • Expert testimony: In many cases, expert testimony from qualified medical professionals is necessary. This helps establish the standard of care, breach, causation, and damages. 
  • Filing in the right court: Ensure the lawsuit is filed in the appropriate court and jurisdiction, following local legal procedures and requirements. 
  • Getting legal support: Seek guidance from an experienced birth injury attorney. They can assess your case, gather evidence, and navigate the legal processes involved. 
  • Proving a breach of care: It is essential to show that the healthcare professional did not meet the expected standard of care. This means their actions deviated from what a skilled and competent provider would do. 
  • Wrongful death criteria (if applicable): If the birth injury leads to the infant’s death, additional criteria for wrongful death claims may apply. This involves proving that the death resulted directly from the healthcare professional’s negligence.

Understanding these aspects is crucial when considering a birth injury lawsuit. A compassionate birth injury lawyer can provide personalized guidance, supporting you through this challenging process.

Who Can File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Filing a birth injury claim typically involves specific criteria, and those with the legal standing to file a claim may include:

  • Injured child: Once the child reaches the age of majority, they can file independently. This is applicable if birth injury effects become apparent later in life. 
  • Parents or legal guardians: Typically, both parents or legal guardians have the primary right to file. Legal guardians appointed by the court also qualify. 
  • Representatives in case of death: Parents or legal representatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit if the infant passes away to seek compensation for loss and associated damages.

Consulting a birth injury attorney is crucial for eligibility assessment and legal guidance.

Who Can Be Sued for a Birth Injury?

Several parties may be held liable in a birth injury lawsuit, depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury. Those who could be sued for a birth injury include:

Healthcare professionals.

  • Obstetricians and gynecologists: The primary caregivers during pregnancy and childbirth. 
  • Nurses: Those involved in labor and delivery care. 
  • Anesthesiologists: If anesthesia-related complications contribute to the birth injury.
  • Hospitals and healthcare institutions: The medical facility where the childbirth occurred may be responsible for its staff’s actions. 
  • Medical staff and support personnel: Other medical professionals involved in the delivery, such as midwives, medical assistants, or technicians. 
  • Manufacturers of medical devices: If a birth injury is linked to a defect in medical equipment or devices used during childbirth, the manufacturer may be sued. 
  • Pharmaceutical companies: If medications administered during pregnancy or childbirth contribute to the birth injury, pharmaceutical companies may be held accountable. 
  • Third parties: Contractors or entities responsible for the maintenance of medical equipment or facilities may be implicated if negligence in their duties contributes to the birth injury.

The specific circumstances of the birth injury will determine which parties can be sued. In some cases, multiple parties may share liability, and a thorough investigation is often necessary to identify the responsible entities accurately. Consulting with a birth injury lawyer experienced in birth injury cases is crucial for determining the appropriate parties to include in a lawsuit.

Statutes of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases

The time limit for filing a birth injury lawsuit varies by state, typically ranging from two to three years. Exceptions and variations exist based on the case’s circumstances and the state’s laws. The countdown may start from the injury date or its discovery, whichever is later. Distinct limits apply to parents’ and the injured child’s claims. The child’s claims often have a longer duration, starting when they reach the age of majority, usually 18 years old.

If a birth injury lawsuit surpasses the statute of limitations, the court is likely to dismiss it, even with a strong basis. Some exceptions, like the discovery rule, may extend the deadline if the injury is not immediately apparent. However, these exceptions vary by state.

Consulting a birth injury lawyer is crucial to ensure compliance with your state’s timeframe and understanding specific rules and exceptions for your case.

birth injury lawsuit

Simplified Guide to Filing a Birth Injury Case

Filing a birth injury lawsuit involves several steps, which can vary based on the case particulars and the state’s legal nuances. Here is an overview of the general steps:

  • Consult with a birth injury attorney: Start by consulting with a seasoned birth injury lawyer. They will assess the case, determining if there is a valid claim for medical malpractice or negligence. 
  • Gather evidence: The attorney collects essential evidence supporting the claim. This includes medical records, expert testimonies, and relevant information. 
  • File the lawsuit: If a valid claim is identified, the attorney files the lawsuit in the appropriate court. This typically occurs in the county where the birth injury occurred. 
  • Negotiate and settle: Both parties may engage in negotiations to reach a settlement before the trial. 
  • Proceed to trial: If no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial. Birth injury lawyers present arguments and testimonies, leading to a verdict. 
  • Receive compensation: A successful case may result in financial compensation for the family. This compensation aims to cover the child’s treatment costs and related expenses.

Given that the specific steps can vary by state, consulting with a birth injury lawyer is essential to grasp the legal requirements and available options in a particular jurisdiction. 

Compensation in Birth Injury Cases

Compensation is a crucial aspect of birth injury lawsuits, aiming to address the multifaceted impact on families stemming from a newborn’s injury during childbirth. The sought compensation typically covers:

  • Economic damages: Tangible financial losses, including medical expenses, ongoing care costs, rehabilitation expenses, and other direct out-of-pocket birth injury-related costs. Documented and straightforward to prove, economic damages encompass various aspects:
  • Care costs, including home medical equipment. 
  • Equipment expenses. 
  • Future medical costs. 
  • Home and car modifications. 
  • Lost future earning capacity for parents. 
  • Lost wages of parents. 
  • Rehabilitation and therapy expenses. 
  • Special education costs.
  • Non-economic damages: More subjective losses addressing pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and the overall impact on the child and family. Subjective and challenging to prove, non-economic damages focus on the emotional and mental toll of the birth injury:
  • Mental anguish from living with a disability. 
  • Parents’ mental distress and trauma. 
  • Physical pain and suffering for the child. 
  • Reduced quality of life.
  • Punitive damages: Awarded in extreme cases to punish defendants for severe negligence or disregard. Less common but sought in birth injury cases, especially those involving wrongful death.

Navigating the compensation landscape in birth injury cases involves considering both tangible and intangible losses, emphasizing the holistic impact on the child and their family. 

Factors Affecting Compensation

The compensation awarded in a birth injury lawsuit is influenced by various factors, each playing a crucial role in the outcome. Considerations include:

  • Defendant’s liability: The degree of responsibility attributed to the healthcare provider affects the compensation. 
  • Economic damages: Tangible financial losses, like medical bills and therapy costs, contribute to determining compensation. 
  • Evidence and documentation: The strength of presented evidence, including medical records and expert testimonies, impacts the compensation awarded. 
  • Legal representation: The expertise of birth injury lawyers plays a role, with experienced lawyers often securing higher compensation. 
  • Long-term consequences: Ongoing disabilities or medical needs may result in higher compensation for long-term care. 
  • Negotiation skills: Effective negotiation during settlement discussions can impact the final compensation amount. 
  • Non-economic damages: Emotional distress and the overall impact on the child and family influence non-economic damages, affecting compensation. 
  • Punitive damages: Extreme negligence may lead to seeking punitive damages, impacting overall compensation. 
  • Severity of the injury: The impact of the birth injury on the child’s health significantly affects the compensation amount. 
  • State laws: Legal frameworks and damage caps vary by state, influencing the maximum compensation allowed. 

Average Birth Injury Settlement Amount

The average settlement for birth injuries is approximately $1 million, though some can reach into the millions. Settlement amounts consider factors like injury severity, medical costs, impact on the child’s life, and ongoing care expenses. The unique details of each case, including the level of medical negligence and the strength of the evidence, also impact the final settlement. Birth injury settlements vary widely, emphasizing the need to consult an empathetic birth injury attorney to grasp the potential value of a specific case.

Birth Injury Assistance Funds

Certain states offer indemnity funds to financially aid families dealing with birth injuries. Though different from lawsuit compensation, these funds can assist with specific birth injury-related expenses. Collaborating with skilled birth injury attorneys is essential. They evaluate the case’s specifics, calculate suitable compensation, and advocate for the child and family’s best interests. In birth injury cases, compensation’s objective is to offer crucial financial support, ensuring the child receives the necessary care and resources for a fulfilling life despite the injury’s challenges.

Choosing Ethen Ostroff Law as Your Birth Injury Lawyer

Selecting the right legal representation is crucial in birth injury cases. Here’s why Ethen Ostroff Law is the right choice:

  • Advocacy for families: Beyond legal representation, we advocate for your family’s well-being, ensuring the best possible outcome for your child’s future. 
  • Compassionate approach: We understand the emotional challenges families face. Our empathetic team provides support with a compassionate approach throughout the legal process. 
  • Expertise: Specializing in birth injury cases, we bring extensive experience and knowledge to navigate these legal matters. 
  • Guidance at every step: From initial consultations to final resolutions, we offer comprehensive guidance. Our team keeps you informed, addresses concerns, and guides you through every legal step. 
  • Personalized attention: Your case is unique. We provide personalized attention, tailoring our legal strategies to meet your specific needs and circumstances. 
  • Proven success: Ethen Ostroff Law has a track record of securing favorable outcomes in birth injury cases, ensuring families receive the compensation they deserve.

Choosing Ethen Ostroff Law means selecting a dedicated and experienced partner for your birth injury lawsuit, committed to securing justice and compensation for your family. Contact us today at 610-510-8883 for a free consultation.

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