Medical Malpractice – Injuries or Death Occurring Before and During Birth

When given a diagnosis of cerebral palsy or other devastating disorder, parents often wonder how it happened.  The particular cause may not always be able to be determined, however it is always beneficial for the family to seek a medical legal review of the circumstances surrounding the cause of their child’s condition.  If the cause of a child’s cerebral palsy or other birth injury or medical disorder can be attributed to medical malpractice, the parents as well as the child may be entitled to pursue compensation for the injury.  These important, potentially life-changing benefits can include lifetime benefits.

Lifetime benefits can be substantial, depending on many factors.  Those who qualify are able to use these benefits to fund, among other things, the services their child needs and deserves.

Statutes of limitations, exist to delineate, specify and limit the time in which a family can timely pursue their claim through litigation.  Texas has a two year statute of limitations for some medical malpractice claims however, the child may have until their 18th birthday for some of the claims they may be able to bring.  Therefore, it is extremely important for the parents of a child injured before or during birth to speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Elements Required to Prove Medical Malpractice

The primary goal of medical malpractice litigation is obtain compensation for clients by demonstrating that a medical professional provided substandard care to a person he or she had an obligation to appropriately treat.  The specific result of this negligence is an injury, entitling the plaintiff to monetary damages.  Proving medical malpractice almost always involves expert medical testimony.

Here Are Some Terms Helpful to Understanding Medical Malpractice:

  • Statute of limitations – the “window of opportunity” a plaintiff has within which the law will allow them to file a complaint or lawsuit.
  • Plaintiff(s) – the person or persons filing the complaint or lawsuit.
  • Defendant(s) – the person, persons, or entity being sued
  • Duty – the defendant’s obligation to provide standard care to the plaintiff
  • Breach of duty (also called “negligence” and “violation of the standards of care”) – the defendant’s act of not meeting the standard of care for the patient
  • Causation – the defendant, through a breach of their duty to provide care within the standard, initiated or caused an injury
  • Damages – the amount of financial compensation the plaintiff should receive based upon the results of the injury

Improper Treatment During or After Birth

In order to obtain compensation, medical errors must cause harm, and it must be proven with evidence that the harm was a result of a breach of duty.

Improper treatment at or following birth may include:

  • Failure to assess or respond to complications or health conditions during pregnancy or the birth process
  • Failure to properly assess certain conditions or situations;
  • Failure to properly respond to various situations;
  • Failure to properly perform a procedure (surgery, medical, or treatment);
  • Failure to notice or respond to the fetal condition or fetal distress;
  • Failure to perform a timely cesarean section because of fetal distress;
  • Failure to perform a timely cesarean section because infection or extended labor;
  • Performing an unwarranted cesarean section;
  • Delayed treatment or avoidable delay in treatment or response;
  • Denial or delay of emergency treatment;
  • Failure to supply adequate oxygen to asphyxiated baby at birth;
  • Failure to monitor oxygen and respiratory treatment following birth;
  • Failure to properly treat a child suffering trauma during the labor process

Birth Injury

Birth injury negligence or malpractice occurs when an infant suffers harm, impairment or injury before, during or after the time of delivery due to physician or hospital error. The error can be intentional or accidental.

Infants are often very fragile and susceptible to a variety of problems, such as infections, trauma, distress, oxygen deprivation, and other birthing mistakes and complications.  A newborn’s body, including the brain and central nervous system, are still developing.  Delivery technique does much to improve the safety of both baby and mother, but some of the same techniques, if administered improperly, carelessly or without caution, can have devastating effects.  Any injury suffered early in brain formation, especially at birth, can permanently alter the child’s development.

Many birth injuries can cause damage and may result in long-lasting or permanent impairment, disability, or even death.  Asphyxia – when a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen – is one such condition and unfortunately occurs frequently.  Asphyxia can cause serious complications, including cerebral palsy.  The brain can sustain similar injury as a result of infection, physical damage or trauma to the infant during delivery.

Birth Injuries May Include:

  • Choosing inappropriate delivery method based upon the circumstances;
  • Failing to identify or properly treat umbilical cord complications;
  • Failure to notice or respond to a specific fetal condition;
  • Failure to notice and respond to maternal hypertension (high blood pressure) or toxemia (toxins in the blood);
  • Failure to notice and respond to toxemia (toxins in the blood);
  • Failure to recognize fetal distress or birth asphyxia as shown on a fetal monitor or heart monitor strip;
  • Failure to timely perform an emergency cesarean section;
  • Failure to assess or respond to complications or disorders during the birthing process;
  • Failure to properly identify and treat high risk pregnancy or delivery;
  • Failure to properly resuscitate a distressed baby after birth;
  • Failure to treat seizures, jaundice or meningitis;
  • Inappropriate delay in performing an emergency cesarean section, typically a delay exceeding 30 minutes and
  • Inappropriate, excessive or incorrect use of vacuum extraction devices or forceps, resulting in physical brain or spinal cord injury to the baby, or to the face, neck and shoulder of the child.

Verdicts and Settlements

Verdicts are the official outcome, or decision rendered at the end of a course of litigation.  Not all trials or cases end in a verdict, though.  Most are settled out-of-court prior to the conclusion of trial while other claims never result in a lawsuit being filed.  Claims that are settled without a trial are referred to as settlements. The size of these awards is a reflection of the extraordinary economic costs associated with caring for a child injured at or around the time of delivery, and the non-economic impact these injuries can have on the child and family.

Below Are Some Sample Cases Which Resulted in Large Verdicts or Settlement:

  • $35 million verdict – Nursing delay in calling the OB, Florida;
  • $32.9 million verdict – for an infant who suffered brain damage after an unnecessary premature delivery.
  • $22.6 million verdict – Improper management of labor, Ohio;
  • $21.5 million verdict – Improper monitoring by the OB and nursing staff, Illinois;
  • $19.6 million verdict – Improper use of forceps, New York;
  • $18.2 million settlement – Improper monitoring, delay in C-section, Wisconsin;
  • $18.0 million settlement – Improper monitoring by nursing staff and the OB, Illinois;
  • $13.5 million verdict – Improper monitoring; delay in C-section and
  • $12 million verdict  - delayed a cesarean section birth. The infant suffered meconium aspiration;
  • $10 million settlement – Improper monitoring by nursing staff, Ohio.

Note:

The results obtained in these cases are unique to the facts of that particular case.  Past successes by us or other lawyers or law firms of course cannot guaranty similar results in any other case or your case.  The facts of each of the above case may, or may not be similar to your case.  These cases represent sample verdicts or settlements obtained by lawyers and law firms other than The Law Offices of Adrian Crane and/or their affiliated law firms and are presented to show how large the financial impact birth injuries can have and the awards and settlements that are on occasion obtained.

Start Today with a Free No-Obligation Consultation 

If you or a loved one has suffered any kind of harm due to medical malpractice committed in connection with the birth of a child, you owe it to yourself and your family to hire an attorney who specializes only in representing injured victims.  Contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Adrian Crane by calling 972-325-0044 or by contacting us through the case evaluation form located on this website.

At our personal injury firm, you speak directly with an attorney, not just secretaries and paralegals.  A Spanish-speaking attorney and staff members are available for your assistance. Se habla Español.

Attorneys associated with The Law Offices of Adrian Crane handle cases across the state of Texas.  Our principal office in North Texas is in Dallas however we are happy to welcome cases from anywhere in Texas, regardless of where you live or where the accident took place.


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