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Serious birth injuries happen far more frequently than many people realize. While some things are due to congenital defects and hereditary factors, other birth injuries are the result of negligent medical care. An experienced team of California birth injury lawyers can help you assess whether you and your child have been the victim of medical malpractice. For help with your case, call Arash Law to see if you have a case or schedule a free consultation today.
The Most Common Types of Birth Injuries
There are many ways that a baby or mother can be injured during labor. In particular, babies are highly susceptible to injury at critical points during delivery.
Here is a partial list of some of the more common types of birth injuries that babies can suffer:Forceps marks/bruises.
At times, it may be necessary to take quick measures to help a baby who’s in distress. If labor is not progressing and the baby has begun showing signs of distress, medical professionals may choose to use forceps to deliver the baby. These devices, when not used carefully, can bruise an infant, leaving serious lacerations and scars on the baby’s face, neck, and head. Likewise, pulling the baby out with these devices can lead to other injuries, discussed below.
Another mechanism used by some labor and delivery specialists is the vacuum. This type of device aids in helping the baby advance through the birthing canal in order to get delivered more quickly. It should be used very sparingly because a vacuum delivery can damage the baby’s skull, as well as complicate delivery.
Forceps and vacuums are just two ways that babies can suffer injuries during delivery. In extreme cases, the baby may suffer fractures to the neck, skull, or shoulder. In fact, broken collarbones (aka clavicles) are among the most common injuries seen in deliveries. This happens quite frequently, and in many cases, it heals easily with minimal pain to the infant. A small bump will show up on the collarbone. However, sometimes the injury is more serious.
Brachial plexus injuries
The brachial plexus refers to a network of nerve clusters that travel down the side of the neck and connect to the spinal cord. When damaged, they send shooting or stinging pain sensations down the neck, back, and shoulder. In minor cases, these resolve as the nerves heal. In more serious cases where the nerve group is severed, the injury can require surgery to treat. It can also lead to permanent paralysis of the limb, numbness to the arm and clavicle region, as well as limited range of motion. This type of injury is closely related to brachial palsy, which is a condition that occurs when the infant loses the natural ability to flex and bend the arm. As the range of motion is restricted, a careful assessment must be performed in order to determine what exercises to use in order to help in recovery.
Improper use of forceps and vacuum delivery can lead to paralysis in other places too, including the facial nerves. This type of injury may not manifest immediately, because infants cannot communicate their inability to feel sensations. However, there are signs to watch for. For instance, if by six to eight months a baby is showing a drooping smile or is unable to form facial expressions, it can be a sign of damage to the facial nerves.
Hypoxia and brain injury.
When a baby goes into distress during labor, it’s crucial for healthcare providers to take immediate action. Many babies suffer from cerebral palsy and brain injuries due to a temporary loss of oxygen during the birthing process. These injuries are among the worst because they can be permanent and lead to a lifetime of extremely costly medical care.
Some babies are injured during cesarean section procedures. There have been cases involving babies being cut by scalpels during the surgical procedure.
Other types of birth injuries.
There are myriads of complications and problems that can arise during surgery, c-sections or vaginal birth, so this list is not exhaustive. No matter what the injury, if you suspect your medical providers made critical errors leading to serious harm to you or your infant, you need to contact a California birth injury attorney right away. Time is limited for taking action, so call Arash Law today.
How California Birth Injury Lawyers Help You and Your Family
Remarkably, about seven in every 1,000 babies suffer preventable birth injuries. For the families, this can be traumatic, but it can also lead to expensive lifelong medical needs. A California birth injury lawyer may be able to help you evaluate the causes of the injuries and take action to recover compensation from negligent healthcare providers who caused them. Here are a few of the key ways that our attorneys help clients recover compensation for injuries during labor and delivery:
Evaluating the medicine. Step one is determining what really happened. Unlike a simple accident where the average person can easily see who was wrong and who was right, medical malpractice is all about understanding the science behind the error. Often, mistakes are due to misreading a fetal heart monitor or failing to identify a sign of distress. To the average person, a lot of the evidence is completely foreign. Therefore, our attorneys work closely with medical specialists who can draw out the issues and help to shine a light on the mistakes. This helps us evaluate whether the error was preventable or not and whether it qualifies as malpractice.
Litigating the case. The vast majority of civil claims for injuries are never resolved through litigation. In fact, most are handled through out-of-court negotiations, arbitrations, mediations, and similar alternative dispute methods. However, when it comes to high-stakes cases like birth injury cases, a lawsuit is generally required. Our team has decades of experience filing lawsuits and navigating the civil court system in California in order to recover maximum compensation for our clients.
Understanding liens. An often-overlooked element of any injury claim is what happens once money is recovered. After all, many birth injuries result in large medical bills, hospital liens, and health insurance reimbursement liens. Our attorneys will work to resolve these liens in order to help you keep as much of your money as possible. This includes dealing with Medicaid, private health insurance companies, and the medical providers who offered treatment for the injuries.
Leading Birth Injury Causes
Some injuries are more common than others. When it comes to birth injuries, here is a list of some of the more common examples of things that can lead to serious or permanent injuries:
- Head traumas during a vaginal birth
- Forced deliveries
- The use of forceps
- The use of vacuums
- Reduced oxygen during birth
- A provider’s misdiagnosis of a condition
- Failing to identify signs of fetal distress
- Failing to identify complications
- Waiting too long for a C-section when one is needed
- Not taking actions to deal with umbilical cord issues
- Not identifying or treating placental abruption
- Dosing errors (i.e. Pitocin)
- Missing signs of infection
- Failing to monitor fetal heart signs
How Long Do You Have to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in California?
Medical malpractice cases have strict time limits in California. Section §340.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure limits the time you have to bring a lawsuit. If the child is under age six at the time of the injury, the case must be filed within three years or prior to the child turning eight (whichever is longer). Therefore, for an infant’s injuries, you have until the child’s eighth birthday. There is a specific “birth injury” limitation period, but the general limitation period under Section 340.5 remains applicable to birth injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Birth Injuries
How Long Do Birth Injury Cases Take?
Every case is entirely different, so it can be difficult to provide a universal estimate. Nevertheless, California law does require that cases move forward in a timely fashion. Cases brought in the Superior Courts are handled on a “fast track,” which means the judges must keep them moving. At least 80 percent of all cases in this division must be resolved within a year. All cases must be resolved within no longer than 24 months. However, it’s not all about how long the case takes once filed. Keep in mind that once you hire an attorney to investigate, there will be a lot of time spent obtaining medical records, consulting with medical experts, and preparing the case for litigation. Given how quickly cases move, it’s crucial to build your case before filing. Likewise, it’s impossible to fully assess the long-term impact of an infant’s injury until the child is about three or four years of age. Until then, it’s hard to determine a child’s neurological deficits, cognitive abilities, or long-term needs. Thus, from the time you approach an attorney until your case is tried before a jury or settled, it can be anywhere from about a year up to about five or six years before there is a final resolution.
Will I have to testify?
Maybe. It all depends on how your case is resolved. If your case has to go to trial, it is likely that any witnesses, including the baby’s parents, will likely need to testify in order to establish the facts. Also, most cases will also involve a number of depositions. You may need to give a formal sworn statement in a deposition. But remember that when you work with Arash Law, you will be represented by an experienced litigation attorney at each and every step in the process.
What Happens to Money Recovered for a Child?
When you recover compensation for a minor, the money must be protected for the child’s use. But it depends on the type of compensation and how compensation is apportioned. Money paid to reimburse the cost of medical care may be payable to the parent or guardian, whereas funds recovered for pain and suffering and other non-economic injuries must be placed in a guardianship account to be managed by the parent or guardian until the child reaches adulthood.
How Much Does a Birth Injury Lawyer Cost?
A serious injury can leave an entire family devastated, trying to pay bills, and searching for money to cover expenses. At Arash Law, we don’t believe in charging our clients upfront fees, especially at this critical time in their lives. Therefore, we use a contingent fee model of billing, which means we are paid a set percentage of the total amount that we recover for the birth injury. For this reason, the fee will usually be different in each case. We even advance all of the necessary costs of pursuing justice, such as court filing fees, court reporters, experts, and more. If we can’t recover compensation, you owe us nothing.
What are the top 5 Types of Traumatic Birth Injuries?
Brain injury, Peripheral nerve birth injury, Cranial nerve and spinal cord birth injury, Bone birth injury, and Intra-abdominal birth injury.
What Type of Compensation Is Available for Birth Injury Accidents in California?
California recognizes several types of damages for which you can seek compensation. These are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages – These are losses that you and your family have incurred due to the birth injury. Generally, they are things that can be calculated numerically, such as medical bills, lost earnings, and future medical expenses.
Non-economic damages – These might be better described as the human toll of an injury. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost enjoyment of life, anguish, and so forth.
Punitive damages – Under Section 3294 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, injury victims can seek punitive damages in certain types of cases. Unlike many states, California does not arbitrarily limit these, but they are rarely granted. Punitive damages are used for two primary purposes: to deter bad conduct and to punish extremely reckless, intentional, malicious, or wanton behavior. It is rare to find this level of conduct in a medical malpractice case, but it does indeed happen sometimes.
Wrongful Death Birth Injuries
There is nothing worse than losing a child, and this can be especially painful when an infant dies during delivery. This anguish is only compounded when you discover that the death may have been preventable, had the provider used better diagnostics or labor and delivery techniques. In California, you have a right to hold negligent medical professionals accountable when they cause the preventable death of a child. But a wrongful death case can be extremely complicated. The stakes are very high for both you and the doctor or hospital responsible. Therefore, you should expect a fight.
Who Brings a Wrongful Death Case?
Generally, this type of lawsuit is brought by a parent. Since there is no will, the probate laws of California will set forth many of the guidelines for who can act. If no parent is available, the lawsuit may be brought by certain other heirs who can act as the administrator of the deceased child’s estate.
Who Is Compensated for Wrongful Death?
Again, it is usually the parents who will receive compensation, but there are times when a sibling or grandparent may have rights as well, such as when the parents are no longer living. This is very rare.
What Compensation Is Available for Wrongful Death?
The parents of a child killed during labor may seek money to compensate for mental health counseling, grief counseling, emotional distress, burial and funeral expenses, and other types of compensation to help them through the process of losing a child.
Hire a California Birth Injury Lawyer With a Reputation You Can Trust
If your family has been rocked by a terrible birth injury, you should not have to go through it alone. Sometimes it helps to get answers and understand why and how the injury occurred. Arash Law provides free initial case consultations, during which you can get answers to some of your more complex legal questions. Our trained birth injury lawyers can walk you through the events step-by-step and help you understand your legal options.
If we decide to investigate further, we will consult with highly-skilled medical specialists and gather all of the pertinent medical records. During our investigation, we may talk to witnesses, look for incident reports, and try to get to the bottom of the events. This can take some time, but our ultimate goal is to find out if the injuries were preventable through appropriate medical care. If so, and a physician or other health provider simply failed to meet the applicable standard of care, we may be able to help you seek compensation.
Many clients report finding closure through these types of investigations because health providers are often very reluctant to be open and forthcoming about mistakes. Thus, a family may go years wondering about the true causes of an injury. Through a thorough and careful investigation, our office is often able to help families finally get the answers they deserve. Whether you choose to pursue compensation or not, this can be a healing and helpful process.
To start an investigation or to discuss your case with an experienced birth injury lawyer near you,
Call Arash Law today.Consultations are free, and we only get paid if you do.