The birth of a child is a cherished moment filled with hope and anticipation. However, sometimes complications during the delivery process can result in birth defects, physical injuries, and emotional distress for both the baby and their family.
Some of the most common types of birth injuries include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, brain damage, and stillbirth.
Understanding the causes and effects of these birth injuries is crucial for affected families. It allows them to make informed decisions about seeking legal recourse and obtaining the necessary support for their child’s well-being.
When medical professionals fail to meet the required standard of care resulting in birth injuries, it is essential to hold them accountable and ensure justice for the child and their affected family.
If you believe your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, consult with a reputable personal injury attorney experienced in birth injury cases. These attorneys can guide you through the legal process, advocating for your rights and seeking compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, rehabilitation, emotional distress, and other damages resulting from the birth injury.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that can impair muscle coordination and body movement and can result in paralysis as well as other disabilities, including cognitive and intellectual deficits. It often results from an injury to the brain that occurs during labor, during delivery, or shortly after birth. Factors such as oxygen deprivation, trauma, or infection can contribute to the development of cerebral palsy. While the exact causes may vary, it is often the result of medical negligence during the labor and delivery process.
Cerebral palsy can have a devastating impact on the child and family. Children afflicted with this condition can have extensive care requirements that can be costly and time-consuming. As children with cerebral palsy enter adulthood, the extraordinary needs required because of their disabilities can become more involved and complicated. The disabilities often result in a diminution in the person’s earning capacity or even a total loss of ability to work. The assistance and medical needs because of the disabilities can last for the person’s entire life and may warrant the expenditure of extensive resources. People who suffer such injuries commonly experience a profound loss of enjoyment of life as compared to what they would have had.
Nerve Injuries: Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are injuries that affect the nerves in a newborn’s upper arm, or entire arm and hand, causing weakness or permanent paralysis.
Erb’s palsy, also known as Erb-Duchenne palsy, is a condition characterized by brachial plexus nerve damage, which controls movement and sensation in the shoulder, arm, and hand. It often results from the failure of healthcare providers to properly respond to shoulder dystocia — when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal during delivery. The use of excessive force, traction or pressure in the face of shoulder dystocia or the failure to employ the proper maneuvers to free the shoulder with forceps or other tools can cause damage to the brachial plexus and permanent nerve damage.
Symptoms of Erb’s palsy may include:
- Weakness or paralysis in the affected arm
- Loss of sensation in the arm, hand, or fingers
- Lack of muscle control or coordination
- Limited range of motion in the shoulder or arm
Klumpke’s palsy, also known as Dejerine-Klumpke palsy, is a rarer form of brachial plexus injury that affects the nerves in the lower part of the brachial plexus. Like Erb’s palsy, it can occur when excessive force is applied to the baby’s head or neck, leading to nerve damage.
Symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy may include:
- Weakness or paralysis in the hand and forearm
- Claw-like hand deformity
- Difficulty with gripping objects
- Lack of muscle control in the affected hand
Stillbirth refers to the loss of a baby before birth, typically after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is a tragic event that can leave parents in deep grief and shock. The causes of stillbirth can vary and may include:
- Placental problems: Issues with the placenta, such as placental abruption or placental insufficiency, can restrict the baby’s oxygen and nutrient supply.
- Infections: Certain infections, such as bacterial infections or viral infections like cytomegalovirus (CMV) or toxoplasmosis, can increase the risk of stillbirth.
- Pregnancy complications: Conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or umbilical cord abnormalities can increase the likelihood of stillbirth.
Legal Options and Seeking Justice
When a birth injury or death occurs due to medical negligence or substandard care, families have the right to seek justice for their child’s suffering. Engaging the services of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at KDLM can help families understand their legal options as a result of any birth trauma suffered by the family.
Medical Negligence or Malpractice Claims
To establish a medical malpractice claim, the following elements need to be proven:
- Departure from the standards of care: The healthcare provider failed to render diagnosis, care and/or treatment in conformity with good and accepted medical practice standards.
- Causation: The healthcare provider’s departure from the standards of care was a substantial contributing factor to injury.
- Damages: The harm suffered by the newborn, which may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, psychological care and long-term care costs. The parent of the child can also seek damages for certain aspects of their own losses.
New York State Medical Indemnity Fund
In New York, children that sustain neurological injuries due to medical negligence around the time of their birth are entitled to have their future healthcare costs paid for by a fund that was created by the State of New York in 2011. Entry into the fund requires either a verdict or a settlement for birth-related neurologic injuries in favor of the child against a responsible healthcare provider. In addition to the healthcare costs covered by the fund, the healthcare provider may be required to provide compensation for the child’s physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as lost earnings.
Laws regarding medical malpractice vary by jurisdiction. Consult with one of our expert attorneys who can assess the details of your case and guide you as parents or guardians through the legal process. An attorney can help build a strong case on behalf of the newborn and his or her family, and pursue full compensation for the injuries sustained.