Expecting parents rely on obstetricians and hospital labor and delivery teams to make the pregnancies and births go smoothly. When complications arise that may have caused harm to your baby, you need to know what to look for.
Some birth injuries are unavoidable, caused by a birth defect. Others, however, are caused by a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose, assess, or treat a medical condition, prescription drug errors during the mother’s pregnancy, or improper use of a medical device such as forceps or a vacuum during labor and delivery. If these mistakes could have been avoided, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Cerebral palsy affects muscle movement, but is caused by abnormal brain development or brain injury during pregnancy, childbirth, or even after birth, with most children showing the signs of CP by the age of three. It can be the result of exposure to infections or chemicals during pregnancy, trauma to the fetal head, insufficient oxygen during labor, or a difficult delivery.
The different types of CP include:
- Ataxia – the loss of use of limbs and body movement
- Spasticity – a dragging of the foot or leg while walking
- Athetosis – involving slow, involuntary, writhing movements
Although there is no cure for CP, medical treatment such as physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, medications, and assistive devices and equipment can improve a child’s capabilities.
Muscle, Bone, and Nerve Injuries
Childbirth can be a traumatic event depending on the size of the baby, prematurity, the size of the baby, the gestational age at birth, the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis, and duration of the delivery. Complications and medical mistakes can result in temporary or permanent physical disability and disfigurement related to:
- Erb’s Palsy and Brachial Plexus injuries from damage to nerves in the upper spine, clavicle, neck, upper arm, and hand
- Facial paralysis
- Spinal cord injuries that can cause paralysis or other motor weakness
Other Brain Injuries & Mental Impairments
Many symptoms of a birth injury are immediately apparent while others – particularly those from brain injuries – may not reveal themselves until later when infants, toddlers, and children miss developmental milestones.
Other injuries to the brain can manifest as:
- Decreased motor skills
- Speech problems
Death of the Mother or Child
In the most tragic circumstances, medical errors and professional negligence can cause the death of the mother or newborn. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the infant mortality rate in the United States is 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, and approximately 650 women die each year in this country from pregnancy or delivery complications.
The impact of such tragedies can be devastating, and wrongful death lawsuits enable the surviving family members to seek compensation for economic damages such as loss of income and medical expenses, and non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. In Michigan and other jurisdictions, state laws limit the amount of compensation you may recover, which makes consulting with an experienced birth injury and medical malpractice lawyer so important.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you suspect that problems in your child’s physical or mental development were caused by mistakes made before, at, or after birth, you should consult a physician to properly diagnose the issue and its origin. That information is critical to determining whether you have a right to and compensation for medical malpractice.
Some birth injuries are unavoidable, caused by a birth defect. Others, however, are caused by a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose, assess, or treat a medical condition, prescription drug errors during the mother’s pregnancy, failing to properly interpret fetal heart monitor tracings, or the improper use of forceps or a vacuum during labor and delivery. If these mistakes could have been avoided, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Bringing a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, or health care provider for injuries to your child can be a long and difficult process, and you need to choose wisely when selecting a lawyer and law firm to represent you, your child, and your family. That’s why you should choose Sommers Schwartz.