A birth injury is a serious matter, and your San Diego birth injury attorney’s first priority should be to help you approach your case with greater confidence. Families that have experienced birth injuries typically feel a strong mix of frustration and grief when negligence has caused a serious injury to a newborn child and/or the child’s mother. Some birth injuries caused by medical malpractice can lead to substantial medical expenses, permanent disabilities, and even death. It’s vital to understand how birth injury cases work and what to expect from your birth injury case proceedings.
Commonly Asked Questions About Birth Injury Lawsuits
The team at Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates has extensive experience handling all types of birth injury cases for clients throughout the San Diego area, and we understand how difficult of an experience a birth injury can be for any family. Our goal is to provide prospective clients with a firmer understanding of their legal rights and options for recourse and offer compassionate legal representation that gets results.
We’ve compiled some of the questions we hear the most about birth injuries and the lawsuits that can arise from them. Consider the following questions and their answers if you are unsure whether you need to speak with a San Diego birth injury lawyer:
Q: What type of birth injury cases does your firm take?
A: Birth injuries take many forms. Over the years, Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates have handled birth injury cases of all kinds, including:
- Physical injury from misuse of surgical tools.
- Cerebral palsy, a condition that includes a vast spectrum of potential symptoms, long-term medical concerns, and developmental difficulties for children who develop it.
- Erb’s palsy resulting from excessive force during delivery.
- Injuries to the mother.
- Wrongful death claims for infants and mothers who do not survive childbirth due to medical negligence.
When we accept your birth injury lawsuit, we will fully assess the complete scope of your damages and listen to your story so we can understand your experiences.
Q: How do I prove fault for a birth injury?
A: Birth injury claims are medical malpractice lawsuits. Therefore, the plaintiff needs to recognize their burden of proof and gather as much evidence as they possibly can to support their claim. You and your San Diego birth injury attorney will need to establish the defendant’s liability for medical malpractice and your birth injury by proving they did not meet the reasonable standard of care for the birth in question. In a birth injury case, a breach of the standard of care could potentially lead to life-changing or fatal outcomes for the baby and their mother.
Q: Can I recover medical expenses with a medical malpractice lawsuit?
A: A birth injury could potentially impose long-term medical expenses on you and your family. California state law allows any personal injury or medical malpractice plaintiff to claim compensation for any medical expenses they incur as a result of a defendant’s negligence. This includes future medical costs as well. For example, if a newborn sustained a birth injury from negligence and develops any kind of permanent disability, the party responsible for the injury would be liable for the child’s present and future medical treatment until the child reaches maximum medical improvement.
Q: What if my child is permanently disabled and I must quit my job?
A: It’s not uncommon for parents of children who sustain birth injuries to quit working to provide necessary in-home care for their child. This is especially true of children who develop permanent disabilities like cerebral palsy from their birth injuries. If a parent must take time off from work to care for a mother and/or child affected by a birth injury, the family can claim this lost income in their lawsuit. If a child develops a permanent disability that will require constant supervision, a parent may be able to claim the income they would have reasonably expected to earn in the future had the injury not occurred and they were able to keep working.
Q: Can I receive pain and suffering compensation from a birth injury lawsuit?
A: Your San Diego birth injury attorney can provide you with advice specific to your situation and answers to the unique questions your case poses, and they can also help you know what to expect in terms of pain and suffering compensation. California state law allows medical malpractice plaintiffs to receive compensation for physical pain, mental distress, and emotional trauma resulting from medical negligence. A birth injury can devastate a family during what was supposed to be a happy occasion. A judge will recognize the emotional impact of the birth injury and also take the family’s economic losses into account when determining a reasonable amount of pain and suffering compensation for the plaintiff.
Q: What are the potential long-term outcomes from a birth injury?
A: When a birth injury results in any damage to a baby’s brain, the likelihood of developing medical conditions, like cerebral palsy, increases. There are innumerable possible outcomes for a child who suffers a birth injury. Some children suffer injuries to the soft tissues of their arms and collarbones, resulting in slowed development of an arm. However, they eventually recover most of their mobility and function and suffer no cognitive impairment. Other children born with cerebral palsy are entirely dependent on in-home medical care and constant supervision. Some children with cerebral palsy experience a blend of physical, cognitive, and developmental impairments.
Parents of children who develop cerebral palsy from a birth injury can potentially have their future medical and rehabilitative costs covered through a successful medical malpractice lawsuit for birth injury. It’s also possible to hold a defendant accountable for the parents’ lost earning potential and other long-term losses.
Q: How long will a birth injury lawsuit take?
A: California offers a generous statute of limitations for birth injuries that affect newborns. Typically, parents have until a child’s eighth birthday to take legal action for any birth injuries the child suffered at birth. The standard statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in California is two years from the date of the incident in question or the date the plaintiff discovered harm. In any birth injury case, the proceedings may take several months or even several years before they reach a conclusion. Depending on the severity of the plaintiff’s damages and the clearness of liability, it may require extensive litigation before a birth injury case is resolved.
Q: What are the first signs of a birth injury?
A: Birth injuries happen for many different reasons, and sometimes they are immediately obvious during childbirth. There are a number of steps a delivery team must complete during a childbirth procedure. This review process is designed to ensure the health of the baby and mother and determine any medical risks or injuries either may face. If the parents notice a birth injury immediately, they can start taking legal action as soon as they have addressed their immediate medical concerns.
In other cases, a birth injury isn’t immediately noticeable. For example, some newborns suffer injuries to the brachial plexus, a cluster of nerves that joins the spinal cord to the nerves of the arm. Newborns do not move very much for the first few days of their lives, but they become increasingly active very quickly. Parents may not notice an impaired limb for the first several weeks or months of a baby’s life. In these situations, the “date of discovery,” or the date the parents noticed the birth injury, would become the start date for the statute of limitations in California.
Q: Who could be liable for my birth injury?
A: Depending on the type of birth injury you experienced, one or more parties may bear liability for the resulting damages. If a doctor used excessive force while extracting your child from the birth canal and caused an injury, the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. A doctor may also be liable for an injury caused by improper use of surgical devices like extraction tubes and forceps. If a member of the delivery team responsible for monitoring patient vital signs fails to address any change in the baby’s or the mother’s vital signs, this may also lead to liability for a birth injury. Your San Diego birth injury lawyer will review the details of your case and check hospital records to determine liability for your damages.
Q: How will an attorney win my case?
A: In most medical malpractice cases, the determining factor between winning and losing a lawsuit comes down to proving the defendant violated the standard of care for the patient in question. Childbirth is a complex and risky procedure, and every member of the delivery team needs to understand the rules and procedures of childbirth and follow them carefully.
Your San Diego birth injury attorney may coordinate expert witness testimony from professionals in the medical industry to support your claims and help you maximize the compensation your medical malpractice lawsuit yields. These expert witnesses can verify whether a defendant failed to meet the standard of care and provide the court with a firmer understanding of your circumstances. Your attorney can also communicate with insurance carriers on your behalf as necessary and handle your legal proceedings so you and your family can focus on your recovery.
In addition to expert witness testimony, your San Diego birth injury lawyer will use the evidence in your case to establish that the defendant had a professional duty to you as a medical professional and an obligation to uphold the standard of care for your condition. Next, they must establish that the defendant breached or violated this standard of care and subsequently caused the birth injury in question.
Q: Will I settle or litigate my birth injury case?
A: Many civil cases, including some medical malpractice lawsuits, settle outside of court. This saves both defendants and plaintiffs significant legal expenses and allows them to negotiate the matter privately. However, some birth injury cases involve substantial damages, unclear liability, or even implications of criminal charges for the defendant. Many medical malpractices will proceed to the litigation process, typically preceded by a formal review from a medical board. Once the review board determines that medical negligence has likely occurred, they will allow the plaintiff to proceed with their legal action.
Your San Diego birth injury attorney will help you build a strong case to send before a medical board for review. Expert witnesses could play roles in various stages of your case, from offering consulting expert opinions on specific details of your case to testifying in court to explain your damages or experiences from an expert’s perspective.
Q: Do I really need a medical malpractice attorney?
A: Even if the birth injury you experienced is immediately apparent and liability seems clear, there are countless possible complications and procedural hurdles you will face on the route to compensation for your losses. A San Diego birth injury attorney can handle legal proceedings on your behalf so you and your family can focus on your recovery. This is much better than attempting to handle the stress and demand of a lawsuit unassisted while managing your household affairs and the aftermath of your birth injury.
Investing in reliable legal representation means peace of mind with your medical malpractice lawsuit. Once your legal interests are in capable hands, you and your family can focus on recovering from your experience and forming a plan for the future.
Find Legal Representation Now
The sooner you secure legal counsel from an experienced San Diego birth injury lawyer, the sooner you and your family can start working toward recovery from the birth injury you have experienced. The right attorney will carefully examine your claim and help you determine your best route to recovering the compensation your family needs to move forward with your lives and manage the results of the birth injury you experienced.
It’s natural to feel uncertain about your legal options after experiencing any kind of birth injury, and our firm is here to help. If you would like specific answers about your situation and discuss your birth injury claim with a San Diego birth injury attorney, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to arrange a free consultation.