Mothers and fathers have an expectation that the birth of their child will be smooth and memorable. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Mistakes can be made in the delivery room and birth injuries do happen. If your child is harmed during delivery, you should know how to respond.
What is a Birth Injury?
Despite the fact that many people use the terms interchangeably, birth defects and birth injuries aren’t the same. According to Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, “A birth defect is something that you child would have been born with according to DNA or medical predisposition, such as a family medical history. A birth injury, however, is damage that an infant sustains during the birthing process (or just before or just after).”
In other words, a birth injury is something that occurs as a direct result of a mistake or problem during the delivery of the child. Common examples include:
- Bone fractures
- Strangulation by the umbilical cord
- Brain injury (possibly leading to Cerebral Palsy)
- Excessive bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries
- Excessive bruising
- Untreated jaundice
Birth injuries are rarely caused by intentional or egregious action. They almost always stem from unusual circumstances and/or negligence. However, they can lead to serious consequences over both the short- and long-term.
4 Steps You Need to Take
As shocking, frustrating, and scary as a birth injury can be, it’s imperative that you respond swiftly and appropriately. Here are four specific steps to take:
- Seek Medical Care
The first priority will always be your baby. The doctors, nurses, and delivery staff are trained to recognize the signs of birth injury and can usually tell within seconds if anything is wrong. If they notice something alarming, they will whisk the baby away immediately for treatment. There are, however, always exceptions. If you believe something is wrong and the medical staff isn’t doing anything about it, speak up. Many birth injuries worsen the longer they’re left untreated. Time is of the essence.
- Seek Legal Assistance
If there is in fact a birth injury, it’s imperative that you act swiftly and seek immediate legal assistance. A simple call to a birth injury lawyer will get the ball rolling.
Even if you know that something happened during the birthing process, you rarely understand the context or the extent of what transpired and how it will impact your child’s health (now and in the future). A birth injury lawyer, on the other hand, understands how these cases work and can immediately begin processing what happened, who was involved, and what sort of claim can be brought against the healthcare provider.
- Gather Evidence
There’s a lot that goes into building a claim against a healthcare provider in a birth injury case. You and your attorney will work together to compile the right evidence in support of your situation.
Examples of evidence commonly gathered by birth injury attorneys include: medical records (from prenatal care up through delivery), ultrasounds, laboratory testing, fetal monitoring strips, interviews with physicians and nurses;, work schedules of physicians and nurses, medical evaluations, and any other relevant reports or documentation.
- Pursue Legal Action
The final step is to pursue legal action against the healthcare provider. Your attorney will work with you to decide what the best course of action is, but this will generally involve a process that looks something like this:
- File a claim with the healthcare provider’s insurance
- Negotiate a settlement claim (back and forth)
- Either agree upon a settlement OR take the healthcare provider to court
Very rarely are birth injury cases resolved quickly and cleanly. There can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars on the table. Expect the process to be long and drawn out. Try your best not to spend all of your energy focusing on the case. Instead, make time for other things and learn to embrace your new normal.
Embrace Parenting Responsibilities
No matter what happens during delivery, you have a responsibility to be the best parent you can be. Embrace your child and do your best to provide for them, no matter how difficult or unexpected. You are your child’s advocate. Be proactive in how you care for their health needs.