A birth injury or death of an infant profoundly impacts any family. The loss of or harm to a child changes the way people live forever. When medical negligence is found to have caused harm, the feelings of sadness and anger can be overwhelming.
Our New York birth injury attorneys have handled these cases for decades, and are well-known for our sensitive and compassionate work with the families who have experienced these kinds of tragedies.
The birth of a baby is normally a joyous time in the life of a family, despite how hard it can be on the mother as well as the baby. Even though amazing medical advances have made childbirth a much safer process than it used to be, mothers and their partners understand that it still holds a small degree of risk.
However, they expect their doctors and other medical professionals present at the birth to act with the utmost professionalism to avoid errors that could have lifelong consequences for the mother and newborn.
When this does not happen and the medical providers display negligence instead, you as the parent or injured party may wish to consult with a birth injury law firm.
While it might seem like medical negligence in your situation should be obvious to everyone, that usually is not the case. You can also expect that those in attendance at the birth will try to claim that the complications were unavoidable.
Speaking to a New York birth injury lawyer as soon as possible after the act of malpractice helps you to understand your legal rights, as well as better, define how the behavior of your medical staff did not meet professional standards.
Common causes of birth injury
When you file a birth injury lawsuit, it is your responsibility to prove that the actions of the doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, or other medical personnel were negligent and fell below accepted standards of professional care.
The following are some of the most common reasons that a child may suffer a birth injury:
- Hypoxia: The term hypoxia means that the baby’s brain is not receiving enough oxygen during the birth process. Some of the typical causes of hypoxia include placenta damage, infection, or a tangled umbilical cord. It is up to the doctor to notice signs of hypoxia and take immediate steps to prevent it from causing lasting damage. If this does not happen, the newborn may suffer from long-term mental and physical handicaps.
- Improper use of forceps: Sometimes the baby is in an awkward position, gets stuck in the birth canal, or the mother’s cervix does not expand far enough for her to push the baby out unless a doctor intervenes and uses forceps. He or she must be very certain in this decision and use the forceps carefully to avoid damaging the baby’s nerves, head, or chest and causing a lifelong problem.
- Improper use of vacuum tools: This is a common way to help deliver a baby who has become stuck in the birth canal. The attending physician must place the vacuum extractor on a baby’s skull or shoulders and gently pull him or her through the birth canal of the mother. Severe injuries to the mother, baby, or both can occur when the doctor does not use the vacuum tool correctly.
- Unnecessary delay in performing a Cesarean section: If the baby is clearly in distress with a low heart rate or the mother’s blood pressure has gotten too high, the doctor attending the birth should stop all attempts at labor and deliver the baby surgically by Cesarean section instead. This is also true in the case of uterine rupture, placenta previa, slowed labor, or umbilical cord prolapse. Failing to recognize the need for an immediate Cesarean section can cause fetal death or severe issues with health and development.
Other Potential Acts Of Negligence During The Birth Process Include:
- Failing to notice that the condition of the baby has changed
- Failure to diagnose or treat premature uterine rupture, trapped umbilical cord, infections of mother or baby, placental previa, or placental abruption
- Lack of adequate prenatal testing
- Lack of communication with other doctors regarding concerns about the mother or baby
- Not performing specific tests during pregnancy that could have detected a potential problem earlier
- Not referring a high-risk mother to other medical specialists during her pregnancy
- Using Pitocin incorrectly, which is a drug that induces labor
- VBAC Delivery. Over the past decade, there’s been a notable rise in the number of caesarian sections due to severe obstetrical risks to the mother and her baby.
Whether you see the specific mistreatment your baby received here or not, you have 30 months from the date of the suspected malpractice to work with NYC birth injury lawyers and file a lawsuit.
Common types of birth injuries
Any type of preventable birth injury has the potential for devastating consequences, but those affecting the brain or muscles are especially heartbreaking.
That is because these injuries have the greatest potential to affect the child’s normal course of growth and development and to cause disabilities that remain throughout his or her life.
Oxygen deprivation via hypoxia is a common cause of brain damage at birth. It can also occur due to anoxia, birth asphyxia, or perinatal asphyxia. The medical name for brain deprivation at birth is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, which means the brain has experienced oxygen starvation for any of these reasons.
The human brain can respond to a lack of oxygen in several different ways. With brain ischemia, for example, the brain begins draining blood in response to oxygen deprivation.
During a brain hemorrhage, excessive blood flows into the brain and causes permanent loss of some of its functions. If your baby’s brain has an electrical response to the lack of oxygen, it can result in seizures or cerebral palsy.
Yet another common brain-related birth injury occurs when a newborn has jaundice, a common condition causing yellowing of the skin, and medical staff does not treat it promptly.
This can result in kernicterus, a condition that causes pigment from the liver called bilirubin to travel to the brain. It can also lead to meningitis, a serious health issue that causes miscommunication between the brain and spine.
Cerebral palsy birth injury
Of all possible brain injuries occurring at birth, cerebral palsy is the most common and potentially the most devastating. In addition to oxygen deprivation, an infant can develop cerebral palsy due to his or her own infection or stroke, or infection present in the mother. The most frustrating thing about cerebral palsy is that many instances of it could have been avoided with proper medical intervention.
The most common reasons for malpractice leading to cerebral palsy:
- Delay in performing a Cesarean section
- Failure to detect, monitor, and treat infections in the mother
- Failure to detect and promptly treat prolapse of the umbilical cord
- Failure to monitor signs of fetal distress and take appropriate actions
- Improper use of tools to facilitate the birth
It is common for doctors or parents to believe that the infant’s cerebral palsy is a muscle disease instead due to his or her displaying a complete loss of muscle control.
While it is understandable for you to come to this conclusion, it is not acceptable for a doctor to make this type of misdiagnosis.
Although cerebral palsy affects body movements, the disorder originates in the brain.
It is critical that you know your child has cerebral palsy as soon as possible so you can obtain the proper medical and educational services. New York birth injury lawyers can assist you if you feel that doctors first harmed your child during birth and then did not diagnose the problem correctly.
Injuries related to your child’s muscles are typically easier to diagnose than cerebral palsy or another brain-based disorder. Unfortunately, some damage to the muscles of newborns comes from acts of malpractice that result in broken bones, bruises, and lacerations. A skull fracture or bruising of the brain may also occur, leading to the diagnosis of a muscle disorder.
Below are the most common types of muscle disorders caused by birth injuries:
Brachial Plexus: This condition occurs when the upper extremity of your baby’s arm sustains an injury during delivery. As your child grows, you will likely notice that he or she displays weakness in the affected arm and lacks the ability to use certain muscles of the arm at all. Once verbal, your child may complain of a burning sensation or a feeling of electric shock down the arm.
Erb’s Palsy: This is a sub-type of brachial plexus. The main characteristic is an injury to the nerves of your child’s upper arm. Your child will likely have weakness and loss of sensation in that arm throughout life. Sadly, severe cases of Erb’s Palsy can cause total paralysis of the affected arm.
Klumpke’s Palsy: This is a second sub-type of brachial plexus. Children with this condition sustain damage to the nerves in their lower arm during delivery. This typically affects the fingers and wrists in addition to the arm. Due to total paralysis, the hand of a person with Klumpke’s Palsy may take on the permanent shape of a claw.
Shoulder Dystocia: This birth injury occurs when the shoulders and head of the infant become lodged behind the pelvic bone of the mother. It happens in approximately one percent of all deliveries and can lead to severe complications. For the mother, these can include uterine rupture and hemorrhaging. For the baby, potential complications include brachial plexus fracture, breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, collarbone fracture, and even death.
These are severe and tragic outcomes of what most likely would have been a normal birth experience. The birth injury lawyers in New York from our law firm are available to help you fight for financial compensation as a form of justice and accountability for any one of these acts of medical negligence.
How will I know if my baby was injured due to medical malpractice?
While you may suspect that medical malpractice is the cause of your baby’s injuries, it can be impossible to determine this on your own.
This is the reason that contacting a birth injury attorney in New York as soon as possible after your baby’s birth is so important.
As a client of our law firm, we will access several pieces of key information to help determine if medical malpractice took place.
Some of these include:
- Diagnostic test results
- Electronic records of fetal monitoring
- Flowsheets covering the entire timeframe of your baby’s delivery
- Notes from the doctors you or your partner saw during pregnancy
- Record of birthing tools used by the attending physicians such as forceps or a vacuum extractor
In addition to having the expertise of our New York City birth injury lawyers, you will benefit from medical experts who will also carefully examine records from the pregnancy, your baby’s birth, and any medical treatment your baby has received for the birth-related trauma. The opinion of the medical experts is critical in determining whether medical malpractice is partly or fully to blame for the injuries your baby suffered and may struggle with throughout his or her life.
Our New York birth injury law firm will consider the input of the medical experts when deciding whether you have a legitimate case of medical malpractice. If you decide to move forward with your case and have a successful outcome, you may receive payment for the child’s current and future medical expenses, wages you had to forfeit to care for your child, emotional distress, and several other areas of potential compensation.
While a winning lawsuit cannot undo the damage done by negligent medical staff, it can provide your family with the necessary resources to provide your child with what he or she needs due to the injury.
Compensation And Closure For Families
We can help families determine whether negligence has occurred by an OB-GYN or other medical professionals. If it is likely that the hospital or health care provider is at fault, we can bring a lawsuit to obtain proper compensation. That compensation can cover the cost of future medical care and account for pain and suffering and other losses and damages. And it can help the family members begin to find closure on a painful chapter in their lives.
Our Experienced NYC Birth Injury Lawyers Will Help You Address:
- Problems associated with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, Erb’s palsy, and brachial plexus trauma
- Problems associated with premature birth, including retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), patent ductus arteriosis (PDA), and congenital conditions such as gastroschisis
- Questions about fetal heart rate monitoring
- The timing of emergency C-sections
Problems associated with vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC)
- OB-GYN malpractice
- Access to the New York State Medical Indemnity Fund, which is money set aside by the state of New York for the future cost of care for injured infants
We cannot promise a particular result, but we can promise that we will listen to and understand all of the issues regarding your loved one’s medical care — and help you make choices that are in your family’s best interest.
How Our New York Birth Injury Attorneys Can Help Your Family
Newborns can experience a wide variety of medical problems, many of which happen for reasons we simply don’t understand. Other neonatal conditions are known to occur because of medical negligence.
If your family is feeling the huge impact of a serious birth injury or a medical problem affecting your baby, we understand the emotions that can accompany this difficult time. We understand that you may have questions that need to be answered.
Our attorneys have a long history of success in holding parties accountable for malpractice and in obtaining maximum compensation for families who do the hard work of caring for children with medical problems.
We handle cases involving significant challenges like
- Cerebral palsy and brain injury
- Erb’s palsy
- Labor-inducing or labor-augmenting drugs and their side effects
- Insufficient fetal monitoring
- Post-birth injury
- The high cost of long-term care
- Injuries to infants can be highly complicated. Every situation is different. Get the advice you need to make informed decisions about your case.
Request A Free Consultation Today
Our attorneys handle birth injury lawsuits in New York City and all of New York State, Connecticut, and New Jersey. We charge no fees until we recover compensation for your family.
To discuss your concerns with an experience New York birth injury attorney at our firm, call 212-869-3500 or complete the online consultation today.
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