For approximately every 1,000 babies born in the United States, six will come into the world with an injury. The severity of these injuries, as well as the long term impacts, will vary.
However, every parent will wonder what went wrong in the gestation and birthing process, what could have prevented such an injury from occurring, and what they can do, if anything, to make it right. That last question usually leads us straight to the issue of birth injury lawsuits.
- What constitutes birth injury?
First it’s important not to mix up birth defects with injuries. Defects can arise due to genetics, the environment, or even medications taken while pregnant. Birth injuries are sustained during the birthing process. The key word is “process”, as the baby can be injured directly before, during, or after exiting the womb.
- Is my child’s birth injury common?
The following conditions are commonly the result of being injured during childbirth. Brain injuries occur due to a lack of oxygen, nerve damage, or hemorrhage. Cerebral palsy is a prime example of a brain-associated birth injury.
Muscle injuries can range from simple cuts, bruises, and broken bones to nerve damage that ends in a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy. Finally, it is not uncommon for the injury to actually be the result of a obstetrician failing to diagnose a pregnant mother’s illness or infection.
- How can we prevent injuries from happening?
In some cases, a birth injury happens when a physician is doing everything they can to prevent a more devastating outcome. Still, the biggest factors in preventing injury at birth are diligence and strong communication among medical professionals, making it something most parents – let alone a woman in labor – can’t really control.
The best course of action for parents is to choose their physicians wisely at the start, ask many questions, and make every appointment to minimize the chances of a sudden, injury-causing event.
- How do birth injuries usually happen?
While there are a wide range of circumstances that lead to injury, forceps, vacuum extraction, and a labor that goes on for too long are three top examples. The suction from a vacuum can cause swelling or hemorrhage. Forceps, when used incorrectly, can cause all sorts of injuries, from bruises to permanent nerve damage. Both tools are usually resorted to when labor has gone on too long, although babies in the birth canal too long without use of these tools can still be injured from the pressure.
- How soon should I proceed with my lawsuit?
Unfortunately, many parents don’t have a clue their child has sustained a birth injury until years after the fact. This is why it’s essential to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. In some areas, you can file a lawsuit two years following discovery of the injury. In others, your only opportunity is up to two years following the birth.
No matter the circumstances or extent of disability, you don’t have to manage this alone. An attorney can help get to the bottom of why your child is physically or developmentally impaired. Get the answers you need today, and you may open the door to a settlement that can help your child get a better start in life after birth injury.