A birth injury attorney can assist in cases that occur due to the negligence of a medical professional, typically the physician, nurse or hospital. In these situations, the baby is harmed in a birth related incident, whether it is while in the womb, during delivery, or in the neonatal period.
Delivery is a traumatic experience and birth injuries are common. They can range from minor physical harm, like bruising, to much more severe complications, like broken limbs or permanent brain damage. Some of the most common serious complications that result in this type of lawsuit are Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy has several possible causes, such as umbilical cord compression, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or improper use of a labor-inducing drugs or a vacuum extractor. HIE is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain while the infant is being born. Cerebral palsy may manifest itself in a number of ways. Delayed development, decreased muscle tone and poor coordination are all possible symptoms. In mild cases, the child might not be diagnosed for a few years.
Shoulder dystocia occurs when an infant’s shoulders can become stuck behind the pubic bone because they are too broad. Either from shoulder dystocia itself, or while being dislodged from the obstruction, permanent nerve damage is a common result of this type of injury. It manifests itself in the form of numbness and a loss of muscle tone. This is one of the causes of Erb’s palsy. Cases that may require a birth injury attorney are those where the harm was avoidable if the medical professionals had responded appropriately.
When selecting a birth injury attorney, you will first need to set up an initial consultation. Sometimes the first interview has a fee associated with it, other practices offer free consultations. To prepare for the meeting, write down a detailed account of what happened. Try to consolidate any relevant medical records resulting from the incident and bring them along. If there were any witnesses, put together a list of their names and contact information. It is a good idea to bring questions about fees, the lawyer’s experience, and possible outcomes.
A birth injury, as an attorney or doctor would explain, is common and may not necessarily be the result of negligence. For a malpractice case to exist, the harm to the infant would result from negligent substandard care that is expected from the health care professionals given their training and level of experience. A qualified birth injury attorney will have previous experience with cases of this sort, and will be very knowledgeable about medicine, which is required to adequately assess if malpractice occurred. If they believe there is a case, they will conduct a preliminary investigation by going through all the medical records and consulting with experts. If negligence is apparent, a notice of claim can be filed. At this point, active litigation of the suit has begun and the involved parties enter the discovery phase where relevant case details are exchanged and interviews are conducted. Next, either a settlement is reached, or the case goes to trial. Most cases do not make it to trial because if the lawyers have been thorough, malpractice will be clear and the settlement is preferable. This legal process typically takes between a year and a half and two years.