Not all birth injuries occur due to medical malpractice, but unfortunately many do. The positive side of this is that quite a few are preventable with competent medical care. That’s little solace if you and your child are the victims of malpractice, though, and while some birth injuries resolve on their own, others can leave a child debilitated or disabled for life – or even result in death.
If your child has suffered from a preventable birth injury, a medical malpractice suit may appropriate. This can provide compensation for high medical bills that often result from birth injuries. Also, if your child is left permanently debilitated or disabled, a birth injury suit can ensure her long term financial security.
Common Birth Injuries
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control evaluated the most common birth injuries affecting US newborns. These are some of the most common injuries that lead to medical malpractice suits, but any form of injury to the mother or child that could have been prevented by competent medical care may be grounds for malpractice.
Caput succedaneum is marked by intense swelling of a newborn’s scalp, and generally occurs as the baby’s head passes through the birth canal. It is most common during long or hard deliveries, especially those aided by vacuum suction. If left untreated, caput succedaneum can result in kernicterus, which may cause auditory disability, dental problems, and athetoid cerebral palsy.
Cephalohematoma is a serious injury marked by bleeding underneath the cranium, usually under a cranial bone. The use of tools, especially improper use, during delivery, may increase the risk of cephalohematoma. Fortunately, cephalohematoma usually resolves within a few months, but it does carry an increased risk of jaundice, anemia, hypotension, and meningitis.
Pressure to the newborn’s face during delivery may damage facial nerves, resulting in facial paralysis. Facial paralysis is more common during long or difficult deliveries, especially if vacuum extraction is used. Common symptoms include the inability to close the eye on the affected side, and complete lack of movement on the side of the face on the injured side. Mild facial paralysis injuries may resolve within a few weeks, but in severe cases can result in permanent damage.
Brain injuries are some of the most severe birth injuries, and commonly occur due to lack of oxygen during delivery. Brain injuries during delivery can cause a host of medical problems or even result in the death of the infant. Some of the most common resultant disorders are cerebral palsy and chronic seizures.
Oxygen deprivation can occur when the physician or midwife does not correctly monitor the infant after birth, from prolapsed umbilical cords, or from allowing the baby to remain in the birth canal for too long.
Filing a Birth Injury Malpractice Claim
Filing a birth injury lawsuit may be important both to your child’s future, and to
your family’s continued financial security. If your child has been injured during birth, it is imperative to reach out to a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate whether you have grounds for a medical malpractice suit.
In Florida, the statute of limitations dictates that a birth injury case must be filed within two years of the injury’s occurrence, or within two years of the time the injury should have been discovered. Under Florida’s discovery rule, an injury suit must be filed within four years of birth no matter what, and a wrongful death suit within two years of the death. However, filing as early as possible will aid in the investigation and increase the chance of a favorable outcome.
Bottom line: do not delay. The sooner you get in contact, the sooner we can help.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.