WHAT KINDS OF BIRTH INJURY CAN A LAWYER POSSIBLY HELP WITH?
The vast majority of pregnancies end with a healthy baby, and this is a testament to the hard work and expertise demonstrated by doctors around the country. However, about five out of every 1,000 babies are hurt during delivery, and a large number of these incidents are preventable.
There is a difference between a birth injury and defect. The former occurs during delivery or while the child is under postnatal care. Defects occur while the baby is still in the womb and can be caused by a number of things, including unforeseen environmental or genetic factors. If a child is hurt during or immediately following delivery, it may be due to negligent or improper medical treatment.
For example, an obstetrician may not notice on ultrasounds that the child is not facing the right way prior to delivery. The doctor may also use poor technique during delivery or use tools (like forceps) in a dangerous way. Finally, drugs administered to an infant or mother during delivery can also cause severe health complications.
WHEN A BIRTH INJURY OCCURS, WHY IS LAWYER ASSISTANCE SO IMPORTANT?
Children are extremely vulnerable in the hours following delivery. Any careless mistakes on the part of the obstetrician or practicing nurse can result in permanent problems for the child. A common, but severe, complication resulting from medical mistakes is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may be caused by a lack of oxygen or head trauma during delivery. It can have profound effects on a child’s brain function, coordination, and balance, and these effects are usually permanent.
The financial and emotional cost of a hurt child can be devastating, to both the victim and the family. Medical costs may be ongoing as well, so the victim’s family may need a settlement to help provide for the child’s unique needs.
WHAT DOES THE VICTIM TYPICALLY HAVE TO PROVE TO WIN A SETTLEMENT IN THIS TYPE OF CASE?
The attorney will have to demonstrate that the doctor owed an adequate standard of care to the victim and their family, that the doctor failed in providing this care, and that the breach of duty resulted in harm. In short, the attorney will have to show that the doctor deviated from an accepted level of care, a legal hurdle that can pose a significant challenge.
HOW WILL A BIRTH INJURY LAWYER PUT TOGETHER AND MANAGE THE CASE?
Demonstrating medical malpractice can be difficult because there are usually technical factors present. Because explaining these to the court can bog a case down, an attorney will normally bring in one or more expert witnesses to explain why the defendant’s actions were dangerous and unnecessary. Expert witnesses, who normally consist of other doctors in the defendant’s field, will also be able to explain what the expected level of care is in a given situation so that it is completely clear. An attorney will use this witness testimony in tandem with medical records and prior case histories to build a cohesive, effective case.