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One of the most devastating types of injuries a family can face is a birth injury. A birth injury can occur during labor or delivery that results in lifelong trauma or even death. Healthcare providers may also make a mistake that harms the fetus during pregnancy. If your child was the victim of a birth injury, Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC can help you pursue the compensation you need to obtain comprehensive medical care and move forward.
We understand the devastation you’re feeling. You trusted your team of doctors and nurses to deliver your baby safely. Unfortunately, their negligent actions resulted in injuries requiring expensive medical treatment. You have a right to be compensated for the suffering you and your baby had to endure. Our Lake Charles birth injury lawyers will fight vigorously and effectively for the justice you deserve.
Discuss your case as soon as possible with an experienced, compassionate attorney. Call us today at 337-800-8800.
Why Do Birth Injuries Occur?
It’s estimated that around 30% of injuries that happen during the birthing process can be prevented. The most common reason for severe injuries is communication errors between the birthing medical care providers. Other common causes include:
- Misuse or overuse of labor-inducing drugs
- Failure to notice fetal distress
- Poor resuscitation technique
- Delayed Cesarean section (C-section)
- Using forceps or vacuum extraction unnecessarily
- Performing a procedure that harms the fetus
- Failure to diagnose genetic risks to the parents
- Twisting or pulling the infant improperly
- Inadequate monitoring during the pregnancy
How Defective Medical Equipment Could Lead to Injuries and Fatalities
Although not as common as the causes listed above, use of defective medical devices could result in a birth injury. If a device contains a defect or becomes damaged, the doctor who used it or the medical facility where it was used might be liable if they knew about the issue and failed to fix it. However, there are times when medical equipment contains hazards right out of the factory. When that happens, the manufacturer could be held financially responsible for the harm caused by such a device.
Devices most commonly used during the birthing process include:
- Protective gear, such as gloves and masks
- Extraction devices
Everything a doctor uses while a woman is in labor must be sterile. Sometimes devices become contaminated by bacteria if handled improperly. The items get packaged or shipped to the hospital, and then medical staff uses the harmful device on patients. Contamination from any stage during manufacture, transport, or use could lead to infections and other serious injuries, not just to the baby but also to the mother.
Devices used during the birthing process can also contain a design error. If they’re made in a way that has a defect that increases the risk of physical harm, the manufacturer could be liable if injuries occur. Sometimes, the design is flawless, but there’s a manufacturing problem that causes the finished device to malfunction.
Most Common Birth Injuries
There are a number of different types of injuries that could occur during the delivery or birth of a child, or during the pregnancy itself. Some of these injuries will heal on their own, but some may require care for life. Some injuries may even be fatal.
Some of the injuries that occur during pregnancy and birth include:
- Shoulder dystocia
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Breech birth injuries
- Oxygen deprivation
- Broken bones
- Infant skull fracture
- Brain damage
- Spina bifida
- Cystic fibrosis
- Damaged blood vessels
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Horner’s syndrome
- Facial paralysis
- Placental abruption
How Do I Know if My Baby Sustained a Birth Injury?
Various symptoms could indicate that an error occurred during the pregnancy, labor, delivery, or neonatal care. More obvious symptoms include:
- Seizures due to a fractured skull
- Paralysis of muscles in the neck, face, hands, or arms
- Broken bones
- Head dent or lump indicating head trauma
- Breathing issues
- Dislocated shoulder
- Vision or hearing loss
- Hemorrhaging in the eyes
If you believe your newborn suffered harm while in your doctor’s care, it’s crucial that you seek immediate medical treatment to evaluate the problem. The provider will perform a physical exam and review all associated symptoms to determine the diagnosis. Medical records are essential in any birth injury case. If there’s solid evidence that the birthing team was negligent, you’re more likely to recover compensation for your losses.
Steps to Take After Discovering a Birth Injury
In the immediate aftermath of an injury, what you do next could impact the outcome of your legal case. You should follow the steps below to protect your rights and ensure that you’re able to seek justice for the suffering your baby endured:
- Seek treatment. Bring your baby to a doctor for treatment of their injuries or diagnosis of unusual symptoms. They might recommend follow-up appointments or refer you to other medical providers for ongoing care. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- List all healthcare professionals. Make a list of every doctor, nurse, and facility involved in treating or delivering your child. Be sure to include your OB/GYN and anyone that provided pre- and post-natal care.
- Write a timeline of events. Write down specific dates of your appointments, procedures performed, and when your baby’s symptoms began. Include the treatment, prescriptions, and other details about the treatment for their injury.
- Prescriptions. If your doctor prescribed medications while you were pregnant, write them down, along with the pharmacy contact information.
- Hire a lawyer. Seek legal representation from an experienced Lake Charles birth injury attorney. We’ll help you build a strong case and obtain evidence that the injury resulted from someone’s careless mistake.
Compensable Damages Available in an Insurance Claim
Healthcare professionals and medical facilities typically carry medical malpractice insurance to cover an injured victim’s losses when an accident or error occurs. If you think your child’s injuries were the result of someone’s careless actions, you could file an insurance claim to seek compensation for your damages.
Damages are all the losses associated with an accident or injury. They fall under two main categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are actual expenses resulting from the injury, while non-economic damages are intangible losses.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Cost of necessary future treatment
- Medical equipment expenses
- Prescription coverage
- Lost wages
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Disfigurement or disability
- Loss of consortium
Since non-economic damages are difficult to calculate, insurance companies might use the following factors to come up with a fair settlement amount:
- Type and severity of the injury
- Duration of necessary medical treatment
- Length of the recovery period
- Total economic damages incurred
- Impact on quality of life
- Inability to work while caring for the baby
- Cost of medical devices, home care, and other expenses related to the injury
- Availability of relevant evidence proving fault
- Impairment or disability that resulted from the injury
- The estimated value of future required medical care
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit After A Birth Injury
Besides filing an insurance claim, there’s another legal option you could pursue. You can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the liable medical provider. The legal theory of negligence is common in these types of cases. To base your case on negligence, you must show the following elements existed at the time of the injury:
- Duty: The healthcare professional owed you and your baby a duty of care that a reasonable person would provide under similar circumstances;
- Breach of duty: They failed to perform that duty;
- Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their action or inaction, your baby wouldn’t have suffered harm;
- Proximate cause: Their breach was the direct cause of the injury; and
- Damages: You incurred damages as a result.
There’s a deadline called a statute of limitations you must comply with if you want to file a lawsuit for compensation. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is one year. That means you have one year from the injury date to pursue legal action. After one year passes, you could lose your right to seek damages through the courts.
A possible exception to this strict deadline is known as the discovery rule. Some injuries aren’t easily noticed. It could take time for the symptoms of some medical issues to develop. Under this rule, you would have one year from the date you discovered the injury to file a lawsuit.
Besides economic and non-economic damages, there are also punitive damages you might be eligible to recover. Punitive damages aren’t intended to compensate medical malpractice victims for their losses. Instead, it punishes the individual liable for causing harm and aims to deter similar behavior in the future. Juries will only award this form of compensation if you can prove with clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party’s actions were wanton, willful, malicious, reckless, or negligent.
Speak With a Dedicated Lake Charles Birth Injury Attorney Today
At Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC, we care about the clients who hire us. We know how difficult it is to watch your baby suffer due to the actions of a medical provider you thought you could trust. It’s an emotionally overwhelming experience and can create financial struggles. When you’re paying expensive medical bills to help your baby recover from their injuries, the last thing you want to do is deal with a legal case. When you hire us, we’ll relieve your burden and handle every aspect for you.
Our Lake Charles birth injury attorneys will fight hard for the justice you and your child deserve. You can depend on us to remain by your side to provide guidance and support throughout your entire case.
If your baby sustained birth injuries caused by a negligent healthcare professional, call the Lake Charles medical malpractice lawyers with Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC today at 337-800-8800. We’ll schedule your free consultation and help you move forward with your life.