Birth Injury

A birth injury is any injury in a newborn resulting from labor and delivery. Birth injuries can be mild or severe and debilitating, and they sometimes result from negligence. If your child suffered injuries during birth, contact a personal injury lawyer for advice about what to do next.

Types and Causes of Birth Injuries

Labor and delivery can be complicated, and accidents may happen that harm the mother or baby. When the baby suffers some type of physical harm during delivery or shortly after being born, it is known as a birth injury. Some examples of birth injuries include:[1]

  • Brain damage
  • Skull fracture
  • Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bone fractures
  • Wrongful death

The causes of birth injuries are numerous. It is not always possible to determine the cause, but some of the possibilities are:

  • Excessive force during labor, such as pulling on the baby too hard or using forceps with too much pressure on the skull
  • Oxygen deprivation, or asphyxiation, caused by difficult labor or complications such as the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck
  • Failure to monitor a developing fetus or the baby during childbirth, resulting in a failure to address complications
  • Failure to perform a cesarean section during a difficult, complicated delivery
  • Failure to monitor the mother’s health and catch illnesses that affect the baby

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when the negligence of a medical professional harms a patient. This could be a physician or specialist, but also a nurse, technician, or other licensed healthcare workers. Negligence in this kind of case means an act or an omission that caused a patient harm. In legal terms, medical malpractice is a type of personal injury.[2]

How Do I Know if a Birth Injury is Medical Malpractice?

The best way to determine if your child’s injury resulted from negligence is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. To prove negligence and malpractice, you must show that:

  • The doctor or other worker had a medical, professional relationship with you and your baby.
  • The individual violated the accepted standard of care. In other words, they acted differently from how other medical professionals in the same situation would have acted.
  • The negligent act, the breach in the standard of care, caused your child’s injury.
  • The injury resulted in damages, such as additional medical expenses or pain and suffering.

Do I Need a Birth Injury Lawyer?

If you are at all uncertain about whether or not someone acted negligently in the case of your child’s birth injury, you need a lawyer. They can help you understand the laws and advise you as to what steps to take next.

Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of the law, even though it falls under the category of personal injury. In addition to seeking a personal injury lawyer, look for an attorney with experience working on medical malpractice cases and specifically birth injury cases.

What is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

A birth injury lawsuit is a type of personal injury lawsuit. You file a complaint naming the defendant, a doctor or hospital, and why you believe they negligently harmed your baby. Your lawyer will try to negotiate, usually with the doctor’s insurance company, to get a fair settlement. If that fails, you may go to trial to make your case and seek damages through a jury verdict.

What Can I Recover in Damages for a Birth Injury?

Medical malpractice and birth injury cases can be expensive. Depending on the severity of your child’s injuries, you could be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in medical bills. The amount you can recover if you take legal action depends on many factors, but usually includes two types of damages:

  • Economic damages. These are the monetary costs of your baby’s injury, including past and future medical bills, travel for medical care, therapy, home healthcare, and lost wages if you must stay home to care for your child.
  • Non-economic damages. You may also be able to collect damages for things like pain and suffering on your child’s behalf. If your child is living with a permanent disability, they can be compensated for the limitations it will cause.

Damages also depend on laws in each state. Some states cap non-economic damages, for instance. Economic damages are generally unlimited and depend on the exact amount you have to spend due to the injury.

What Should I Do After a Birth Injury?

If your child suffered a birth injury, no matter how minor, immediately seek evaluation and treatment. Get a second opinion if necessary. Some birth injuries can cause lifelong disabilities, but a quick intervention may reduce the damage. Once you have your baby’s medical care under control, take these steps:

  1. Contact a birth injury lawyer
  2. Take notes on what happened leading up to the injury while still fresh in your mind
  3. Get notes from any family you had in the delivery room
  4. Keep careful records of your medical care and your child’s
  5. Keep all bills for expenses related to your child’s injury

Your child’s medical care is the priority, but providing an experienced lawyer with all of this information will help you make a case if you file a lawsuit.

A birth injury can be a traumatic experience, and your child may live with the repercussions for life. If negligence caused or contributed to the injury, you have a right to take legal action and to seek damages for your child’s care. 

  1. Laroia, N. (2015, February 2). Birth Trauma. Medscape.
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  2. American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. (n.d.). What is Medical Malpractice?
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