There are likely to be a number of concerns as a mother’s due date approaches. While those worries should only have to revolve around purchasing the proper car seat and ensuring there’s a stockpile of diapers, birth injuries are a possibility. When a negligent physician or medical facility makes a careless mistake that harms you or your child, our Baltimore birth injury lawyers are prepared to use the law to hold them accountable for what they’ve put you through.
At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we understand how devastating the consequences of a birth injury can be. The physical, financial, and emotional ramifications are often complex and always unwelcome. As such, we’re dedicated to helping families recover from instances of negligent injury with the help of the justice system. In order to take action and understand what you’re up against, we’ll make sure you understand everything about your claim.
How Often Do Birth Injuries Occur?
The number of birth injuries that happens every year may surprise you. Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence. There are approximately four million babies born in the United States annually. According to the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR), six to eight of every 1,000 babies born is injured. That means that approximately 28,000 newborns suffer from preventable injuries on an annual basis.
The report also broke the incidents down. More male infants were harmed than female, by nearly 15 percent. In addition to that, 6.11 of every 1,000 birth injuries occurred in a public hospital, 5.53 out of 1,000 happened in hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, and 5.45 birth injuries of 1,000 occurred at hospitals with 100 to 200 beds. Also, more infants were injured at public, non-profit hospitals than at for-profit private hospitals.
Children are not the only victims of birth mistakes. It’s also possible for the mother to be harmed. Mothers in instrument-assisted vaginal births experience a 30 percent higher injury rate than those with non-instrumental-assisted vaginal births. Mothers with Medicaid or uninsured patients are also less likely to experience injuries compared to mothers with private insurance.
Understanding the statistics behind birth injuries can help you generate questions to ask your doctor and make informed decisions when deciding where to have your baby.
Understanding the Difference: Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Understanding terminology is a crucial part of ensuring your claim is strong. Often times, you may hear the terms birth injuries and birth defects used interchangeably; however, the terms imply very different sets of circumstances.
As with birth injuries, birth defects are common and can be incredibly tragic. Defects, however, occur prior to the baby’s birth. The nervous system is generally affected as the baby is developing in the womb. While a genetic mutation is a type of defect that is often unavoidable, there are defects that are the result of medications or toxins ingested by the mother. A third party can still be found at fault for a birth defect.
A birth injury, on the other hand, occurs during or right after labor and delivery. Nerve damage, brain damage, and broken bones are common. In most cases, unless the baby’s position is challenging during the delivery process, injuries are entirely preventable and the result of a medical provider’s breach of duty.
Preventable Birth Injuries
If a physician or nurse fails to monitor a mother or child properly during pregnancy or delivery for signs of distress, prescribes dangerous medications, or inflicts physical harm, it’s very probable a labor and delivery error will occur. While some of the injuries are easily recovered from, others will impact a child’s entire life.
The most common neonatal injuries affect the head, neck, and shoulders; however, any part of the body can be damaged. The reason the top of the body is more likely to be injured is because most babies are born in the head-first position. The top ten birth injuries include bone fractures, caput succedaneum, intracranial hemorrhage, cephalohematoma, cerebral palsy, perinatal asphyxia, subconjunctival hemorrhage, facial paralysis, Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy), and spinal cord injuries.
Many of the injuries above are the result of improper use of delivery devices like vacuums and forceps. When the extraction is assisted, it’s crucial for the labor and delivery team to be delicate and efficient. Too much force can bruise the child. While bruising may seem minor initially, many of the top ten conditions start from excess pressure.
When birth injuries are catastrophic, the infant may suffer from cognitive or mental delays or disabilities. Limited mobility and lack of speech could be permanent in some scenarios, especially when the spinal cord is damaged, or the brain goes without oxygen for an extended period of time.
No matter what injury your child has sustained, our Baltimore birth injury lawyers are prepared to investigate your claim and help you seek the compensation you need to provide your child with the highest quality of life possible.
As discussed above, birth errors also affect mothers. The injuries can be physical or mental. Physical injuries are generally easy to identify. When a doctor or other medical professional makes a mistake and leaves visible harm on the mother’s body, it easy to see that something went wrong. Common physical injuries include fissures, infections, broken bones, bruising, abnormal uterine bleeding, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, vaginal tears or lacerations, uterine hyperstimulation, or wrongful death.
The physical injuries listed above are likely to result in medications, therapies, and surgeries. Those things can cost a family a significant amount of money and put stress on a new mother when trying to nurse and care for her newborn.
The psychological trauma of a birth injury can be just as difficult to recover from as a physical injury, if not harder. Mothers are likely to struggle with severe stress, postpartum depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Therapy and medication may be needed to move on from the traumatic experience.
Bringing a Birth Injury Claim Forward with an Attorney in Maryland
A birth injury claim falls under medical malpractice litigation. This area of law is incredibly complex and requires experience in order to reach a successful outcome. Our birth injury lawyers in Baltimore can guide you through the claims process and ensure every step is completed accurately.
After your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury and you’ve filed your claim, a hospital or insurance representative may reach out to you. It’s critical to be careful of what you say, as those parties are working on behalf of the doctor or hospital to avoid a legal battle. The insurance company could offer you a settlement that appears sufficient; however, your lawyer may be able to raise that number through negotiations.
Be sure to provide your attorney with all the documents and evidence you think may be relevant to your case. This will include medical records, hospital documents, witness statements, and more. After the claim has been filed, be sure to keep track of the expenses related to you or your baby’s medical care, as this information will be needed to establish costs and future expenses.
The Statute of Limitations and How It Applies to Your Claim
In order for your claim to be considered, your lawyer will need to make sure it is filed within the appropriate amount of time. The state establishes statutes of limitations for injury cases, including those involving birth injuries. The statute of limitations for birth injuries is longer than the time limits for medical malpractice, which is only five years in Maryland. Instead, you have to take legal action by the time your child reaches 11 years of age.
There are, however, two exceptions to that time frame. If the injury involved the child’s reproductive system or if a foreign body was left inside the child, you and your lawyer will have until the child’s 16th birthday.
Compensation for Birth Injuries
The types of damages a family can receive for a negligent birth injury depend on a number of factors. In most cases, however, compensation for all necessary medical expenses related to the birth injury should be available. Out-of-pocket expenses, like special medical devices or equipment and travel expenses, might also be included depending on the circumstances. If a child will need ongoing care, the costs of future medical expenses can also be calculated and included. In the event one or both parents lost income because they took off work to care for their child, this may be reimbursed as well.
The financial losses are only part of the recoverable damages a family can seek. Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering are also a possibility. Compensation for permanent impairments or disabilities, emotional suffering, and physical pain may be available. While those damages can be difficult to calculate, your attorney can evaluate your claim and situation and come up with a figure that seems fair and reasonable. It’s important to be aware, however, that noneconomic damages may be capped at a certain amount.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer in Baltimore
If your child was injured during birth, you may think that taking legal action is fruitless because of the power the physician holds. We’re here to tell you that no one is above the law. Taking on a doctor or hospital may be challenging, but desired outcomes can be reached with the right legal team.
While there are a number of ways to go about hiring a Baltimore birth injury attorney, it’s most common to find one by going online. With the readily-available areas of practice, testimonies, and reviews, consulting a phone book is a thing of the past. Once you’ve found a lawyer you’re comfortable with, they’ll be able to help you build a strong claim in a number of ways.
When you schedule your first consultation with a lawyer, they will review your claim to determine the validity of it. They will explain your rights to you, including the right to deny initial settlement offers, refuse to speak to an adjuster, or pursue a lawsuit. They will also explain the laws your claim will be working under, so crucial deadlines are not missed. If you decide to continue at this stage, they will begin helping you build your case.
Your lawyer will investigate your claim and gather evidence from a variety of sources for support. They may speak with individuals who were present during the birth and obtain the medical records for you and the child. Bringing in a medical expert can also strengthen your claim because you’ll have an official opinion on how the labor and delivery should have happened. With the evidence, your attorney will be able to calculate the total damages you suffered, so you know what you are owed.
As discussed above, you may be eligible for compensation in a number of areas. Negotiating is key at this point, and a skilled lawyer will be able to get you what you deserve. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you can pursue the next level of litigation with the continued guidance of your legal representation.
If you know your family has been wronged by a negligent doctor, our Baltimore birth injury lawyers are ready to take on your claim and help you restore order in your life. While birth injury claims are often complex, the lawyers at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC have the experience needed to pursue a successful claim. To learn more about your right and options, contact our firm today.