Farmington Hills Birth Injury Attorneys
Renowned Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving Clients Throughout Oakland County
Too often, a simple and preventable mistake at the hands of a healthcare provider can permanently alter the course of a newborn or unborn child’s life. Recovering from these injuries can be emotionally, physically, and financially difficult for every family member.
At the Farmington Hills personal injury law firm, Sommers Schwartz, our compassionate team of birth injury attorneys represents families as they deal with the aftermath of medical malpractice. We help them recover meaningful compensation that can offset the financial and non-economic impact of negligent medical care.
We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, where we will answer your questions, explain the recovery process, and ensure that you have all the information to make the best decision on behalf of your family.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
Birth injuries are one of the most tragic types of personal injury cases because they involve a newborn or unborn baby suffering serious, often irreversible injuries. Parents have little choice but to place immense trust in healthcare providers, including doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other hospital staff. Assessing a provider’s track record is often difficult, as these statistics are generally kept out of the public eye. While in most cases, trust is well-placed, healthcare professionals can make mistakes. Medical facilities may fail to take appropriate steps to mitigate risk and ensure safety.
When a medical provider’s negligence causes a birth injury, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Birth injury lawsuits are a type of medical malpractice claim brought by parents against medical providers and facilities for their child’s preventable injuries or death. This type of lawsuit allows parents to recover financial compensation for their medical bills, expenses, and the emotional damage they have endured.
The Farmington Hills birth injury lawyers at Sommers Schwartz have a long history of helping families understand their options and effectively pursue compensation for the impact a healthcare provider’s negligence had on their family.
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are more common than most people realize. According to recent data, seven out of every 1,000 babies suffer birth injuries. This amounts to about one injured child out of every 9,700 children. Many of these injuries could have been prevented.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
There are dozens of different types of birth injuries that a newborn baby may experience. However, some birth injuries are much more common than others. Some of the most common birth injuries are as follows.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a nerve cluster extending from the neck, across the chest, to the arm. This bundle of nerves controls movement in the arms and hands. During a difficult delivery, the baby’s brachial plexus may be stretched, compressed, or torn, causing loss of feeling, muscle function, and even paralysis. Two of the most common brachial plexus injuries are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Brachial plexus injuries occur in about 2.5 out of every 1,000 births.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a type of brain injury resulting from decreased oxygen or umbilical cord blood flow. HIE can occur during any stage of the labor and delivery process. A child who suffers from HIE can experience a range of injuries, from very minor to severe disability, depending on the length of time their brain was deprived of oxygen or blood.
Broken bones are most likely to occur along a baby’s clavicle (collarbone), as this bone experiences the most stress during difficult deliveries. Babies who suffer from a fractured collarbone often heal in a few weeks with little to no long-term symptoms. However, other bone breaks can be much more severe. If an infant’s facial bones are fractured during birth, nerve damage can occur, which may result in long-term symptoms.
Facial Nerve Damage
The facial nerve is the most common nerve injury in newborn babies, affecting as many as one in 100 births. Facial nerve damage often occurs due to improper use of forceps, but there are other causes. Babies who suffer from a facial nerve injury may develop a form of palsy, causing their face to be asymmetrical; this may or may not improve over time.
Cephalohematoma is a condition that occurs when pressure applied to a baby’s head ruptures small blood vessels. Usually, this happens when an infant’s head is compressed against the mother’s pelvis during labor. It can also be caused by assistive tools such as forceps or a vacuum extractor. Recent studies suggest that cephalohematoma occurs in approximately 2.5 percent of all deliveries.
Caput Succedaneum, or swelling of the baby’s scalp, is most often caused by the pressure applied to a baby’s head from the mother’s uterus or vaginal wall. It is more likely to occur in difficult births or those involving larger babies.
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of similar disorders affecting a child’s movement, balance, and posture. In less common cases, they can also affect a child’s vision, hearing, and sense of touch.
- A noticeable decrease in muscle coordination.
- A delay in speech development.
- Delays in reaching certain milestones involving motor skills.
- Difficulty walking on their own.
- Frequent, excessive drooling due to difficulties related to swallowing.
Causes of Farmington Hills Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are not well understood by the medical community, and even the most seasoned medical experts can disagree on their causes. This makes pursuing birth injury cases especially challenging.
When discussing the causes of birth injuries, it is important to distinguish between a “risk factor” and a cause. A risk factor increases the chances a baby will be born with a birth injury. For example, the following risk factors could increase the likelihood of a birth injury:
- Type of Delivery – Babies born through a C-section are likelier to experience a birth injury. This is especially the case with unplanned C-sections.
- Infections – Babies who develop a neonatal infection may be slower to develop and have a higher chance of suffering a birth injury.
- Jaundice – Infants born with excess bilirubin in their blood may develop jaundice: if untreated, this can result in kernicterus, a type of brain damage.
- Size – Larger babies have a harder time traveling through the birth canal and may become “stuck,” increasing their risk of oxygen deprivation. Delivering larger babies may require forceps, which can increase the chance of facial fractures and other serious injuries.
- Multiple Births – Many complications can arise when a mother carries more than one baby, so healthcare professionals must pay close attention to any abnormal or concerning signs.
- Premature Birth – Infants born before full term face a significantly increased risk of birth injury for several reasons. Premature labor may indicate something went wrong during the pregnancy. Premature babies are not fully developed, which can increase their risk of other health complications.
If an infant has any of these characteristics, they are more likely to suffer from a birth injury; however, that doesn’t mean they will.
The causes of birth injuries are related to risk factors but can also be independent of any risk factor. The most common causes of birth injuries are:
- Poor prenatal care.
- Negligent use of forceps or other assistive tools during the delivery process.
- Reduced blood flow or oxygen flow because of medical negligence.
Who Is Liable in a Farmington Hills Birth Injury Claim?
As a general rule, all doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers have a duty to provide a certain level of care to their patients. This duty doesn’t require them to be perfect, but they must provide care at or above the acceptable standard for their profession. If a medical provider fails to act with the appropriate level of care and causes a birth injury, they may be liable in a birth injury lawsuit.
Not all adverse outcomes mean a doctor or provider committed malpractice. Birth injury lawsuits require a family to prove the following elements to establish negligence:
- Duty: The existence of a doctor-patient relationship.
- Breach: The care provided by the healthcare professional fell below the degree of diligence and skill ordinarily possessed by the average member of the profession in similar localities.
- Causation: The provider’s care harmed the mother or child.
- Damages: The mother or child suffered economic or non-economic damages.
If all of these elements are established, the healthcare provider may be liable for any damages a family sustained due to the provider’s negligence. In addition to the providers, a hospital or birthing facility where the error occurred may also be legally and financially liable.
Damages in a Farmington Hills Birth Injury Claim
Parents who succeed in bringing a birth injury lawsuit can recover monetary compensation for their child’s injuries. While every case differs, Michigan courts permit plaintiffs to recover for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the out-of-pocket expenses a family must pay due to the birth injury. Common economic damages include medical expenses resulting from emergency care and follow-up treatments. Economic damages might also include expenses related to a child’s ongoing and future care.
Non-economic damages compensate families for the emotional and psychological impact of a child’s injury on their lives. They include any pain and suffering you or your child has and will experience for the rest of your lives. Non-economic damages can provide meaningful compensation if a child has a life-long disability because of a doctor’s error.
Has Your Child’s Life Been Forever Impacted by Negligent Healthcare Providers?
If your child suffered a birth injury and you believe one or more medical professionals may be responsible, contact the dedicated Farmington Hills birth injury lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. We have the resources to investigate and evaluate birth injury claims of all types. We can help you understand your options and protect your family’s future.
At Sommers Schwartz, we have 45 years of hands-on experience handling some of the most complex and high-stakes birth injury cases in Michigan and beyond. We’ve recovered over $1 billion on behalf of our clients over the years, and we look forward to helping your family recover the compensation you deserve. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a Sommers Schwartz birth injury attorney, call (800) 783-0989 or fill out our online contact form.