What is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Birth injuries are unfortunately not uncommon. Many types of injuries can occur during or shortly after a baby is born. These include brain damage that leads to permanent disabilities, skull and other bone fractures, nerve damage, and more.
In some cases, a birth injury occurs even when doctors and nurses do everything possible to protect you and your baby. In other cases, the injury results from a medical professional’s failure to take those necessary steps.
If a doctor, nurse, or other caregiver is negligent in your baby’s injury, a lawsuit is a legal action that aims to prove it. If successful, the lawsuit will hold the negligent individuals or groups responsible and lead to compensation for your baby’s medical care and other expenses.
How is a Lawsuit Different from a Settlement?
With the right lawyer, you may be able to get an appropriate settlement amount from the doctor’s insurance company without ever filing a lawsuit. If the insurance company is not willing to provide compensation, a lawsuit may be necessary. Even after filing, you may get a settlement through negotiation without ever going to trial.
When Do I Need to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Knowing when to take this formal legal action is not always easy. The most critical element in making this choice is the right lawyer. Work with a personal injury lawyer experienced in birth injury cases. They can give you a free evaluation of your case to help you decide if filing a lawsuit is the right choice.
In general, if your child suffered injuries during or after birth, and you believe the doctors or nurses did something wrong, you need to take action. When settlements fail, and you cannot get the compensation your child needs, it’s time to file a lawsuit.
How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence?
Winning a birth injury lawsuit depends on being able to prove a medical professional or hospital was negligent.
Proving negligence in medical malpractice cases like these requires four stages:
- You must show there was a medical-patient relationship existed between you and your baby and the person you believe to be negligent. This may include more than one person or even the hospital or medical center.
- The medical professional or organization must have breached an accepted standard of care. The standard of care is agreed upon by a majority of medical professionals. Your lawyer will show that your doctor acted differently from how another professional in the same situation would have.
- You will have to show that this breach caused the injury in your baby.
- You also must show that the injury led to significant damages, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Yes, all states have a statute of limitations that applies to personal injury cases. It is different for every state, so be sure you understand the laws and do not miss the opportunity to file a lawsuit and recover damages. It’s also important to be aware that statutes of limitations often have exceptions for minors that may apply for your child.
How Much Can I Recover in Damages?
This is an important question for your lawyer, although no one can guarantee an outcome. Your lawyer should be experienced in these cases and be able to give you a reasonable estimate. Several factors determine compensation your child may receive:
- The severity of their injuries
- The extent of disabilities and their permanence
- Past and future expected medical bills
- Estimated costs of ongoing healthcare services, such as therapy or home healthcare and educational interventions
- Lost parental wages
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
- Loss of ability to live independently or work and earn a living
Your state’s laws will also have an impact on damages. Some states have laws limiting how much you can recover for non-economic costs, such as pain and suffering. Your lawyer can explain these laws and how they will affect your case.
What Should I Do Next to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
If you think you may need to file a lawsuit on behalf of your child, the first step is to find the right lawyer. Look for someone with experience settling and litigating these kinds of cases, with the resources to prove your case, and with the time to devote to it.
Once you start working with a lawyer to file, a birth injury lawsuit will go through several steps:
Your lawyer makes the lawsuit official by filing the complaint. This document notifies the defendants of your allegations and provides a basic outline of why you believe they can be proven negligent. They may respond by offering to settle or denying any negligence or compensation.
Unless the insurance company that backs the medical professionals is willing to settle right away, the complaint triggers a discovery period. Over a few months, both sides investigate the situation, collect evidence, talk to witnesses, and work with medical experts. They build the case to prove or disprove negligence.
Most insurance companies, at this point, will agree to a pre-trial settlement negotiation. Using the evidence from the discovery period, your lawyer argues on your behalf for a fair amount of compensation for your child.
You may choose to take the defendants to trial if the negotiations fail to produce enough compensation. During the trial, your legal team presents evidence and witnesses and argues on your behalf to prove negligence. The jury decides if negligence occurred, and if so, how much to award your child in damages.
Even if the trial goes in your favor, there may be more steps to complete. The defendants may appeal to get the decision overturned. You also have the option to appeal if the verdict does not result in negligence and damages.
A birth injury lawsuit is a big step to take, but it may be necessary if your child has suffered serious harm and resulting expenses. If the other side is unwilling to compensate you, talk to a birth injury lawyer about taking legal actions.
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