If you are a new parent, you understand. All of your hopes and dreams for the birth of your child and new family can change in an instant if a doctor, nurse, another medical professional or hospital acted with negligence causing injury to either your newborn baby or the mother. A birth injury is considered a form of medical malpractice and unfortunately, 27 out of every 1,000 births result in some form of birth injury to the mother or child.
The medical professionals responsible for the delivery and care of newborn babies and their mothers have a professional responsibility to do no harm to their patients, adhere to the standard of care appropriate for each patient’s situation, and execute their duties efficiently and with the best judgment possible.
Sadly, not every healthcare professional will meet these obligations during the care of a pregnant woman or during her delivery. Some birth injuries result in permanent, life-changing damage. A San Diego, CA birth injury attorney can be an invaluable resource if you or your family recently experienced any type of birth injury due to the questionable actions of a medical professional. Meeting with an attorney sooner than later enables you and your loved ones to determine if medical negligence or medical malpractice took place and to start building a claim to recover your damages.
Defining and Understanding Birth Injury Cases
A birth injury is any physical injury that occurs during pregnancy or delivery to the mother and/or the child she is carrying or delivering. When birth injuries result from accidents, violence, or other external variables, the matter may evolve into a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. If a medical mistake results in a birth injury, the medical provider responsible for the mistake or any other negligence in treatment is liable for medical negligence.
Proving negligence in a birth injury lawsuit means the plaintiff and their San Diego, CA birth injury lawyer must prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the plaintiff and the alleged defendant. This means the defendant formally agreed to provide treatment to the plaintiff but failed to meet the appropriate standard of care for the given situation. If this failure to meet the standard of care resulted in a birth injury, the defendant is liable for all of the damages associated with the birth injury.
Common Causes of Medical Negligence Related to a Birth Injury
Some of the most commonly seen examples of medical negligence take place during childbirth procedures. Medical professionals who use too much physical force to conduct a delivery, improperly use surgical instruments, or who fail to recognize the need for specific courses of treatment despite apparent signs are responsible for the injuries they cause.
Any medical practitioner involved in the delivery of a baby and who acts with negligence resulting in a birth injury, may be held legally liable for those injuries and losses. Some of the common causes of medical negligence related to a birth injury include the following:
- Failure or delay to make the medical decision to perform a Cesarean section (C-section). Traditional childbirth is not always advisable or possible depending on the medical status of the mother, and there are certain situations in which performing a C-section is the safest treatment option available for both the mother and her infant. Doctors must know how to identify the signs that a C-section is necessary and must take swift action to complete these procedures safely and effectively.
- Misuse of medical devices, such as a vacuum extractor or forceps. Surgical instruments may assist in the childbirth process, but doctors should only use them when absolutely necessary, and they must use them as carefully as possible. Some surgical instruments are capable of causing grave wounds to an infant during delivery.
- Failure to either recognize or treat an infection in either the child or the mother. Infections can progress rapidly, and symptoms can be severe for both a mother prior to, during, or following delivery as well as her infant. A birth injury case can arise if a mother or her child contracts an infection that goes unchecked by their attending medical team for too long. Some infections can progress to life-threatening stages very rapidly.
- Entrapment or wrapping of the umbilical cord around the child. An umbilical cord can become tangled. Attending delivery doctors must know how to identify the signs of an infant in distress as soon as possible. Some birth injury cases have arisen from doctors either using inappropriate force and causing umbilical cord entanglement or failing to correct it appropriately. A tangled umbilical cord can cause oxygen deprivation, which results in brain damage.
- Any failure to recognize or treat any bleeding, deprivation of oxygen, or physical distress in either the child or the mother. The medical professionals attending a childbirth procedure must know how to identify the warning signs of a medical emergency during treatment. This means consistently monitoring vital signs of both the mother and the infant, addressing sudden changes in their conditions swiftly and accurately, and making calculated decisions based on the individual needs of their patient.
It’s vital to remember that birth injury cases may also arise from prenatal medical care, such as failing to account for the mother’s medical history when prescribing a specific treatment or birth procedure that results in serious personal injury to the patient or her child. However a birth injury comes about, a San Diego, CA birth injury attorney is the ideal resource for anyone with specific questions about a recent birth injury in their family.
Sometimes the evidence of medical negligence isn’t always immediately apparent, or medical personnel may attempt to conceal evidence of medical negligence. Working with an experienced lawyer means you can start examining the facts of your case and comparing them to the standard of care you should have received under the guidance of a skilled legal representative.
What to Do if Medical Negligence Caused a Birth Injury
If you believe that medical negligence on the part of any medical professional resulted in either injuries or losses to the mother or child immediately prior to, during, or after the birth of a child, you should gather as much documentation regarding witnesses and medical reports as possible. Keep all evidence and contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help ensure the mother and child receive justice and compensation for any injuries that resulted.
Birth injuries to infants can cause lifelong medical complications like cerebral palsy, and mothers may face critical medical complications from negligent birth treatment. Your San Diego, CA birth injury attorney will help you gather the evidence and documentation you will need to prove the full extent of your losses. They will also help with the future medical expenses you are likely to incur as a result of the medical negligence you experienced. In the development of your case, your lawyer may coordinate with professional medical experts. They can testify on your behalf as to whether the defendant named in your claim met the appropriate standard of care for the situation in question.
The “standard of care” refers to the appropriate level and method of medical treatment a patient should receive when they display a certain set of symptoms. Physicians must identify patients’ symptoms and use a logical process of elimination to diagnose the patient. The standard of care informs the physician how to proceed once a diagnosis is reached, and the physician may not stray from the standard of care without solid justification, such as the presence of a unique medical issue within a patient that contradicts the typical course of treatment.
Your San Diego, CA birth injury lawyer can help you build a case that establishes the defendant’s negligence and support it with documented medical data. Expert witness testimony concerning the standard of care in your birth injury claim will also be a central topic of your legal proceedings. The right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of these proceedings and help you maximize your recovery. It’s best to secure legal representation as soon as possible when you face a complex lawsuit like a medical malpractice claim for a birth injury.
Deadline to File a Claim
Each state has its own statute of limitations. In California, for children under the age of eight, the statute of limitations runs one day before their eighth birthday. For all other minors, the statute of limitations runs three years from the date of injury. For adults, the statute of limitations runs three years after the date of injury or one year after the victim discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.
For claims against local, state, or federal government defendants, specific time limits for bringing clams apply, which may be shorter than the statutes of limitation for non-government defendants. While this may seem like a long time, a great deal of investigation must occur to file a strong medical malpractice claim and receive compensation for injuries. If you fail to file within this time frame established by the State of California, you will lose your right to file a claim for your child’s injuries.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer in San Diego, CA Today
There are few practicing medical malpractice lawyers who are also medical doctors. Ken Sigelman, J.D., M.D., is a doctor who is licensed to practice law in California and Florida, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. For more than 20 years, Dr. Sigelman, an award-winning trial lawyer, has had an exceptional record of verdicts, settlements and arbitration awards. If you suffered any injuries as a result of medical negligence, contact our experienced and compassionate attorneys at 866-971-8956 or online today for a free consultation.