Birth Injury Lawyers Helping Families in New York
Having a baby is one of the most exciting moments of any parent's life, and many spend precious time preparing for the arrival of their baby girl or boy. The last thing anyone expects is a doctor's negligence that affects their child's health. If your child suffered injuries due to a medical professional's negligence or mistreatment during prenatal treatment, labor, or delivery, you may be eligible to file a birth injury claim. Our team of attorneys at Leav & Steinberg LLP can break down the different aspects of these unfortunate cases and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Birth Injuries Vs. Birth Defects
There's a clear difference between a genetic birth defect and harm that was caused by a medical professional during delivery. Prenatal testing allows doctors to detect most birth defects before a baby is born. Common birth defects include a cleft lip/palate, Down syndrome, and heart defects. Your doctor will discuss these issues with you during pregnancy, and you should know about them several months before your baby is due.
Birth injuries typically occur during the delivery of a baby and are caused by the negligence of medical providers. These injuries can affect a baby's brain function and their ability to move normally. The following is a list of common birth injuries:
- Erb's palsy
- Cerebral palsy
- Bell's palsy
- Skull fracture or head trauma
- Broken bones and bruising
- Oxygen deprivation (anoxia)
- Caput succedaneum (swelling on the scalp)
- Perinatal asphyxia (oxygen deprivation)
- Hemorrhages (internal bleeding)
Several factors affect a baby's risk of being injured during birth. Sometimes, when labor takes longer than expected, doctors will use forceps to assist with delivery. Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that using forceps and other vaginal delivery instruments can increase the chances of birth injury.
What Causes a Birth Injury?
As mentioned above, using forceps can increase the likelihood of a birth injury because they apply pressure on a baby's head. Babies that are born prematurely may have breathing problems that cause their doctor to place them on a ventilator. Though these machines are generally safe, they may cause overventilation, which can harm an infant and cause other complications. Negligence by medical professionals during pregnancy, delivery, and neonatal care can also cause birth injuries. Examples of medical negligence include:
- Not ordering a C-section in a timely manner
- Improper use of forceps and other medical instruments
- Not monitoring the fetus and preparing for potential complications
- Not diagnosing or treating a birth injury when symptoms are present
- Not following proper procedure when a baby is born in an irregular position (breech, etc.)
- Not noticing if the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
According to information from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, birth injuries affect about 7% of live births in the United States. Birth injuries occur at about the same rate regardless of a family's level of income, but they are less likely to happen in hospitals that are located in cities. Cerebral palsy is the most commonly diagnosed birth injury in the U.S. and is slightly more common in male children than in females.
How Is Medical Malpractice Determined? And Who Is Liable?
Health professionals must treat all patients according to the medical standard of care. That means they must give the mother and child the same level of care and attentiveness that any other qualified professional would have provided. Your obstetrician is a specialist and will be held to a higher standard of care than a nurse.
If your child suffered a birth injury and your doctor or their staff members committed one of the examples of negligence listed above, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Filing a lawsuit can help you receive compensation to cover additional medical expenses and emotional damages that were caused by your child's injuries. Determining who is liable will depend on the specifics of your case, but getting a record of who treated you can help clarify what each medical provider was responsible for.
Filing a Birth Injury Claim
In New York State, the statute of limitations for a general malpractice claim is 30 months (two and a half years). There are exceptions for cases involving children that extend the statute of limitations to ten years. Also, when filing your claim, your lawyer must include a certificate of merit showing that a licensed medical professional was consulted when reviewing the details of your case.
Why Choose Leav & Steinberg for Your Case?
At Leav & Steinberg, our attorneys have decades of experience handling a variety of medical malpractice cases, including birth injuries, cerebral palsy, and more. We've won multi-million dollar settlements to help our clients cover the costs of their medical bills as well as emotional pain and suffering. If you think your child may have been hurt by the negligence of a medical professional, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling 212-766-5222.