Michigan Medical Malpractice Law Firm Represents Families After Maternal Birth Injuries and Death

When we think of “birth injuries,” we usually think of the harm to a baby that can happen during labor and delivery. But childbirth poses risks for the mother as well. Life-threatening complications for expectant and new moms can arise during pregnancy and in the delivery room. If a mother’s physicians and other health care providers fail to discover and address these problems immediately and adequately, the consequences can be tragic, including the death of a new mother. 

The injury or death of a mother during childbirth is always devastating. It is even more so if doctors and other healthcare professionals could have prevented the injury or had they done their jobs correctly. At the Michigan medical malpractice law firm of Sommers Schwartz, we use our decades of birth injury experience and a passion for justice to fight for compensation on behalf of families dealing with the aftermath of a mother’s injury or death during childbirth.

Maternal Death in America and Michigan

Each year, almost 700 American women die due to pregnancy complications. Public health experts refer to this number as maternal mortality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maternal death occurs anytime a woman passes away during pregnancy, delivery, or soon after. 

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2018:

  • 658 American women died of maternal complications.
  • The maternal mortality rate was 17.4 deaths per every 100,000 live births.
  • The maternal mortality rate goes up with each older age group of mothers; for women aged 40 or older, the rate is 81.9 deaths per 100,000 births, meaning women in this age group are 7.7 times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared to women 25-years-old and younger.
  • There are significant disparities in the maternal death rate among different ethnicities. The death rate for Black women was more than double that of white women and was also more than three times higher than the rate for Hispanic women.

Michigan has been tracking maternal deaths since 1950, but not until 2017 did the state pass a law requiring doctors to report every maternal death.

Between 2012 and 2016, an average of about 113,000 children was born in the state per year. The maternal death rate was 19.4 per 100,000. According to one study, Michigan ranked 25th in maternal deaths.

Causes of Maternal Injuries and Death During Pregnancy

There are many injuries a mother can suffer during labor and delivery, but some of the most common complications are:


According to the CDC, preeclampsia develops during one out of every 25 pregnancies in the United States. Generally, preeclampsia involves high blood pressure in an expectant mother. In turn, this elevated blood pressure can be a sign that some of her vital organs, such as her kidneys or liver, may not be functioning as needed. 

Preeclampsia is typically diagnosed after the 20th week of pregnancy and can remain a risk to the mother’s health for days or weeks after delivery. Preeclampsia can develop even in women who had no history of high blood pressure before their pregnancies. The risks for preeclampsia are higher for women during their first pregnancies, teen pregnancies, and women over 40.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • A headache that will not go away
  • Changes in vision, including blurry vision, seeing spots or having changes in eyesight
  • Pain in the upper stomach area
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling of the face or hands
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Trouble breathing

Doctors and staff need to detect and identify these signs as soon as possible because failure to treat the condition can lead to kidney, liver, or brain damage in the mother. Sometimes, the lack of proper treatment for preeclampsia can leave the mother vulnerable to eclampsia, an even more serious complication that can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

Cesarean Section Complications

The conditions that lead to the consideration of an emergency C-section can appear suddenly and unexpectedly, requiring quick decisions and actions by delivery room personnel. However, a C-section can cause severe injuries to nearby organs, including the bladder and bowel. Additionally, there is an increased risk of developing a potentially life-threatening blood clot after a C-section.

Uterine Rupture 

Sometimes, when drugs such as Pitocin are used to induce labor, violent contractions caused by an inappropriate dose can cause the mother’s uterus to rupture, which can be life-threatening for both the mother and the child.  

Vaginal Tears

When a baby’s head is too large or is in a breech position, or if the mother has trouble controlling her pushes, vaginal delivery may cause vaginal tears in the area between the anus and the vagina. Depending on the severity of the tear, complications can include incontinence and pain during sex and may require surgery to repair.


An episiotomy is a surgical incision into the perineum made during delivery to prevent excessive vaginal tearing or if the baby needs to be delivered quickly. However, if the procedure is performed or repaired improperly, infections and dangerously excessive bleeding can result.

Compensation Available in Maternal Death and Injury Cases

If a physician’s or other healthcare provider’s negligence injures or causes the death of an expectant or new mother, they can and should be held accountable. Injured mothers or the families of those mourning the loss of a loved one during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can seek compensation for such avoidable tragedies. Damages recoverable in such cases include:   

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability
  • Funeral expenses 
  • Loss of consortium

Sommers Schwartz: Michigan Maternal Injury Malpractice Attorneys 

Since the firm was founded in the 1970s, Sommers Schwartz has stood out as a pioneer in medical negligence, fighting for the rights of injured individuals and their families. Our team of experienced attorneys handles all types of medical malpractice cases – including those involving maternal birth injuries and deaths – in Detroit, across Michigan, and in other states.  

We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your ordeal and learn more about the circumstances of your injuries and losses. If they resulted from an act of medical malpractice, we will relentlessly pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to help you recover and move forward with your life. Please call us today at 866-753-7774 to schedule a free consultation.

A Trusted Authority

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Kenneth Watkins is very knowledgeable.

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I was and still am satisfied with your firm.

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Ken Watkins and the lawyers at Sommers Schwartz did an excellent job.

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