San Bernardino Birth Injury Attorney
We put a lot of trust into instructions when we trust them to deliver our babies safely. These doctors, nurses, and facilities are genuinely trying to do that. However, mistakes happen. Errors or neglecting to monitor something properly can lead to real harm to babies at times in San Bernardino, CA. These are tragic circumstances and not ones where the parents’ first instinct is to turn to money. However, it’s important to recognize that these injuries can have a significant financial, emotional, and psychological burden associated with them. It’s important that those responsible for the injury cover those costs as they are legally required to. Unfortunately, the insurance companies who pay the claims aren’t usually willing to hurt their bottom line without being pushed. So, at Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates, we help parents who find themselves in such a tragic situation to get the help they need. We fight for them while understanding the sympathy and compassion that these situations require.
How Birth Injuries Happen
Birth can be an incredibly complex and strenuous process for both the mother and baby. The biological strain on the baby can sometimes lead to birth injuries that might be considered to be a “natural” part of the process. Other birth injuries, though, can be caused by neglect or error on the part of the medical staff involved. One of the things a lawyer will need to do is investigate the injury and determine whether there was liability involved. A variety of mistakes during labor, delivery, or just after could lead to a birth injury. Some of the more common ones include:
- Errors with medication
- Improper monitoring
- Failure to recognize and address fetal distress, umbilical cord issues, infection, placental abruption, or other complications
- Head trauma, possibly caused by the use of forceps or vacuums
- Not performing a C-section soon enough
With so many parties necessary to assist with the birth process, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which parties may be liable. Part of the investigation we undertake is meant to understand who may have prevented the birth injury because that is where the liability is typically found. Some of the parties that could be found liable are:
- Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff
- Drug companies or pharmacists
- The hospital
Proving Birth Injury Liability
Birth injury claims, in almost every situation, are going to be a kind of medical malpractice claim. These are also a subcategory of personal injury claims. Personal injury claims hinge upon proving what is called “negligence” on the part of the defendant. In birth injury claims, the same general process is followed, with a bent toward medical circumstances. There are four things that need to be proven to win a medical malpractice case:
- A Duty – A duty to provide a certain level of care on the part of the defendant must be shown. In cases of a medical situation, such as with a birth, the duty is typically to meet whatever the standard of care is at the time of the delivery. This is often demonstrated through the testimony of people in similar positions who would understand the standards.
- A Breach of Duty – Following establishing the duty owed, it needs to be shown that the duty was not met. For a birth, this means showing that the care that was given was not something that met the standards for the delivery of a baby.
- Cause of Injury – One of the most challenging parts of the case is establishing that the breach of duty was the specific cause of the injury. A common defense is that even though a breach occurred, it was not actually responsible for the injury. This can be a valid defense because the complexity of birth carries some inherent risk of injury. It takes a skilled attorney, like someone with Kenneth M. Sigelman’s qualifications as both a doctor and a lawyer, to demonstrate the causal link between the breach and injury.
- Damages – The final element that needs to be established is the costs associated with the injury. Each cost that damages are being sought to cover must be shown to have a direct link with the injury in question.
When the birth injury results in death, there are additional costs that are involved, such as funeral costs. A wrongful death claim can be appropriate for these kinds of situations.
Birth Injury Lawyers FAQs
Q: Is a Birth Injury the Same Thing as a Birth Defect?
A: A birth injury and a birth defect are two different things. A birth defect is something that occurs prior to the beginning of the labor or birth process. While the baby is still in the womb, a defect could occur from a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Potentially even some anatomical issues with the uterus could be the cause of the problem. A birth injury is an injury that is specifically sustained during the birth process. This includes the labor, delivery, and the immediate aftermath of delivery. The birth injury could be a product of neglect or an error on the part of someone involved in the birthing process. However, it’s also important to recognize that birth is an extremely complex process that puts a lot of biological strain on both mother and baby. So it’s possible that the birth injury may be a natural occurrence.
Q: How Soon Do I Have to Bring a Claim for a Birth Injury?
A: How quickly you are able to bring a complaint against some party for a birth injury is set by the statute of limitations. Unfortunately, that timing is not always clear. Generally, you have eight years to bring a claim in the case of a birth injury. However, there is a statute of limitations for bringing a claim against a public entity of only six months. So if the injury occurs at something like a state-run or county-run hospital, the claim must be brought within six months. We understand how difficult and emotionally draining having a child recently suffer a birth injury can be. Often, money is not the first or tenth thing on people’s minds. However, because of the government’s strict limitations, you should act quickly if a birth injury occurs.
Q: Are the Doctors Always Responsible for a Birth Injury?
A: Doctors may not always be liable for a birth injury. Firstly, it’s not a guarantee that anyone will be liable. Some birth injuries are merely a product of the difficult and biological turmoil that comes with giving birth. The process can be a tremendous strain on the bodies of both the mother and the baby, leading to a “natural” injury. Many injuries, though, are a product of an error or neglect by a party involved with the birth process. One of the most important elements a lawyer brings to handling a birth injury case is the ability to investigate the situation and discover where there is potential liability. It could be an issue with the birth process, in which case a doctor, nurse, or other staff member who was either negligent in their duty or made a mistake may be liable. It could also have been a medication issue that could be the fault of the drug manufacturer or a pharmacist. It could even be the hospital or medical institution itself if there was a policy issue or something else that failed to live up to the standard.
Q: What Kinds of Things Can Lead to Birth Injuries?
A: Birth is an incredibly complex process, which means there are many different points at which something could go wrong. In some cases, there are “natural” problems that arise from the complexity of birth. However, there are also many ways in which the team helping to deliver a baby may end up providing substandard care. Some of these include:
- Head traumas from a vaginal birth, the use of forceps, or the use of vacuums
- Failing to quickly address umbilical issues
- Misdiagnosis of a problem
- Medication problems
- Delaying a necessary C-section for too long
- Improperly monitoring the vital information needed during birth
- Not recognizing complications or signs of fetal distress
We’re Here to Help
At Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates, we understand that at times like when you have had a child suffer a birth injury, money isn’t going to be at the forefront of your mind. We realize that something like filing a claim against those responsible for the injury and collecting damages from that claim might even feel like more stress than it may be worth. Our goal is to make the process as little of a burden for you as possible.
The financial benefit will help you deal with the medical costs and other issues that arise from the injury. However, it’s important to remember also that holding liable parties responsible is something that helps reduce the risk of something similar happening to another baby. Businesses are motivated by costs, and allowing them to feel the financial cost of their error will be what motivates many institutions to change their standards and best practices in a way that hopefully reduces the risk of the same kind of birth injury occurring again. If you’re ready for some help with your case, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today.