Dearborn Birth Injury Lawyers
Dearborn is home to several hospitals that offer prenatal care and labor and delivery services. Providers at these hospitals must meet a certain standard of care when helping a parent deliver a newborn. When physicians, hospital teams, and other providers fail to meet the standard of care, serious harm can result.
Due to medical negligence, a child can suffer from serious injuries and medical challenges, some requiring lifelong care and support. If your child was injured and you suspect medical negligence is to blame, talk to the experienced Dearborn birth injury attorneys at Sommers Schwartz P.C. today.
Types of Birth Injuries
Research shows that birth injuries occur in about 7 of every 1,000 live births. Birth injuries may occur for myriad reasons, but some are more common than others.
Trauma to a baby’s brain is a common but serious birth injury. Brain injuries during birth may result from several causes, including:
- Lack of oxygen to the brain during birth.
- Bleeding inside the brain.
- Swelling or pressure on the brain from fluids trapped within the skull.
- Physical or mechanical damage, such as injury from a vacuum extractor or forceps.
For a newborn, brain damage can lead to lifelong medical issues. Cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other chronic disabilities may result from brain injuries during the birth process.
Even if the infant’s brain is not damaged, nerve injuries during birth can lead to lifelong impairments. Common types of birth-related nerve injuries include:
- Bell’s palsy, which affects the nerves of the face.
- Brachial plexus palsy, where the nerves that pass from the neck through the shoulder are damaged during birth.
Some nerve injuries resolve on their own. Others can be addressed with physical therapy and rehabilitative treatments. In severe cases, however, a birth injury may leave a child with permanent nerve damage.
About 1 in 1,000 babies suffer a bone injury during birth. Just under half (47 percent) of those injuries are fractures to the collarbone. Bone injuries, such as a broken collarbone, are more likely if the baby is pulled through the birth canal with excessive force.
Other types of injuries may also occur during birth. An experienced and compassionate Dearborn birth injury lawyer can help you gather the information needed to determine the next steps.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Medical providers must adhere to standards of care during the birth process. These standards of care are intended to address and mitigate problems that could lead to a birth injury.
Common causes of birth injuries linked to a failure to meet the standard of care include:
- Delayed birth or prolonged labor: The longer a parent is in labor, the more likely the child will face oxygen deprivation, muscle damage, or nerve damage. Monitoring the parent’s progress is necessary to maximize the chances of a healthy delivery.
- Oxygen deprivation: Oxygen deprivation during birth can damage the infant’s brain and other tissues, leading to lifelong issues.
- Monitoring and delivery mistakes: Issues like oxygen deprivation can often be identified by monitoring the child and parent during labor and delivery. If medical providers don’t use or check equipment properly, doctors and nurses may miss signs of distress – resulting in serious injuries.
- Misuse of delivery tools: Tools like forceps or a vacuum extractor can be valuable during labor and delivery. If these tools aren’t used properly, they may cause serious injuries, such as bleeding in the brain.
Medical Malpractice and Birth Injury Claims in Michigan
When a medical error or professional negligence causes a birth injury, it can give rise to a medical malpractice claim. To bring a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Dearborn and throughout Michigan, the law requires the plaintiff to prove the following:
- The defendant doctor, nurse, hospital, or healthcare provider owed the mother or child a duty of care;
- The defendant breached that duty by not acting within the accepted standards of care;
- The breach of duty proximately caused the claimed injuries; and
- The plaintiff sustained damages due to the defendant’s error or negligence.
Time Limits in Dearborn Birth Injury Claims
Michigan law gives an injured person or their legal representative a short window to file a birth injury claim. This period is called the “statutes of limitations.”
Generally, a person injured by medical negligence in Michigan has two years from the date of the injury to begin the medical malpractice claim process or six months from the date that the existence of a claim was discovered, whichever date is later. No matter when an injury is discovered, most medical malpractice claims must be filed within six years of the date of the injury. This rule is known as the “statute of repose.”
For minors under the age of 8, the limitation period is 2 years or until the child’s 10th birthday, whichever date is later.
Notice of Intent
Michigan has a specific Notice of Intent (NOI) requirement that affects the statute of limitations. At least 182 days before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Michigan, an injured plaintiff must send a Notice of Intent to each party they intend to name in the lawsuit. The NOI must be sent in writing and contain the following information:
- The facts on which the claim is based.
- The standard of care that applies to the case.
- How parties failed to meet the standard of care.
- What the parties should have done instead to meet the standard of care.
- How failing to meet the standard of care caused the injuries.
- The names of all the parties the injured person intends to notify via the NOI.
A Notice of Intent that meets all these requirements “tolls,” or pauses the running of the statute of limitations for 182 days.
Damages in Birth Injury Claims
Birth injuries transform a newborn’s entire life, often from the moment the child takes their first breath. Therefore, calculating and proving damages in birth injury claims is essential to ensuring that an injured newborn receives the lifelong support and care they need.
In a birth injury claim, damages fall into two categories:
Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, the costs of health aides or attendants, and other losses with a known or easily calculated dollar amount.
In a birth injury case, some economic damages focus on money the parents have already spent or owe, such as medical bills. Other economic damages, however, focus on future costs, such as ongoing medical care, medical equipment, or specialized schooling for the child. It is essential to consult an experienced attorney who understands how to secure compensation for these future expenses.
Non-economic damages include real and devastating losses that don’t come with a bill or receipt attached. Common non-economic damages compensate for emotional pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Michigan law “caps” or limits non-economic damages in medical negligence cases. These caps are adjusted each year for inflation by the Michigan Department of Treasury. An experienced attorney can help you understand how the caps apply to your child’s case and how to argue for the full economic and non-economic compensation your child deserves.
Talk to an Experienced Dearborn Birth Injury Lawyer Today
A birth injury doesn’t change how deeply you love your child. Yet it does change how you think about and plan for the future. Will your child have the resources they need to receive the best possible care so they can live a happy, comfortable life?
When medical negligence causes a birth injury, you and your child have rights. Talk to the experienced Dearborn birth injury attorneys at Sommers Schwartz P.C. today. Our legal team understands the hardships you face as we fight for the compensation you and your child deserve. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.