What Is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A birth injury lawsuit is a type of legal action where families can get money if their child was born with major health problems that could have been prevented with proper care. These lawsuits can be filed against negligent medical professionals or hospitals.
The money from these lawsuits can help pay for medical care and therapies, keeping children comfortable and healthy.
More specifically, compensation can help pay for:
- Adaptive equipment
- Occupational, speech, and physical therapies
- Nursing and special care
- Other medical and personal expenses
If you believe that mistakes made by a health care professional before, during, or shortly after your child’s birth caused them harm, your family may be eligible to file a birth injury lawsuit. The best way to do this is to work with an experienced birth injury lawyer who has handled similar cases in the past and can help you pursue the money you deserve.
Do you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by medical malpractice?
Why File a Lawsuit for Birth Injury Cases?
Filing a lawsuit can ease some of the burdens of caring for a disabled child and possibly protect other families from birth injuries. Learn about some of the most important reasons you should consider filing.
Cover Costs of Care
If your child has suffered a severe birth injury, their care requirements may be more costly than the average costs of raising a child.
The overall life care costs for a child with cerebral palsy are ten times higher than those without the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Financial compensation from a lawsuit can help you afford treatments to prevent your child’s condition from worsening or help them make a full recovery if possible.
Cerebral palsy and other conditions that stem from birth injuries can affect your child for the rest of their life. Depending on the diagnosis, your child may not be able to move, walk, talk, eat, or speak without help.
By filing a lawsuit, you can find justice knowing you don’t have to pay the medical costs for a disability that could have been avoided.
Help Other Families
Lawsuits can also help you raise awareness about a particular doctor or hospital.
While your child may have been harmed due to an unavoidable problem, it may also mean that the doctor should not be practicing. Through a lawsuit, your story can alert other families who could be at risk.
Filing a lawsuit may also encourage other families who suffered a birth injury to also take legal action and get the compensation they’re due.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Types
Birth injury lawsuits fall under two main types: medical malpractice and wrongful death. Learn more about each type below.
Medical Malpractice Cases
When doctors do not keep their patients safe or fail to provide needed treatments, they may have committed medical malpractice. Malpractice claims will try to prove that the child’s injury was caused by medical negligence or mistreatment.
Medical malpractice may cause the following birth injuries:
- Brain injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy or other brachial plexus injuries
- Newborn cephalohematoma
- Newborn jaundice and kernicterus
- Spinal cord injuries
- Other injuries affecting the brain, nerves, etc.
Wrongful Death Cases
Severe birth injuries can lead to death if a doctor does not quickly respond. If your child died as the result of a serious birth injury, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In 2020, a family filed a $10.5 million lawsuit against a doctor after their baby passed away just a few hours after birth. The lawsuit claims the obstetrician used vacuum extraction tools to help deliver the baby, which caused extreme harm.
Birth Injury Lawsuits and Breach of Duty of Care
As your case progresses, your lawyer will need to show how the doctor’s actions fell below the duty of care (the standard that all doctors must uphold).
Breaches in the duty of care may include:
- Failing to test for infections like meningitis
- Using too much force to pull a baby out of the womb
- Not promptly treating newborn jaundice or other conditions
Not every birth injury is the result of a doctor breaching the duty of care. For example, doctors can’t prevent genetic mutations that may lead to cerebral palsy.
If you suspect your child’s injury was preventable, however, a lawyer can help determine if a breach in the duty of care is to blame.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Process
Most birth injury lawsuits follow a similar process. After preliminary evidence is gathered, the lawsuit is filed. Lawyers will then either reach a legal agreement called a settlement or go to trial to resolve the case.
The first step to filing a lawsuit is to contact a lawyer with experience in birth injury cases. A lawyer can help you file your case on time, gather evidence you need, and pursue compensation.
Although every case is different, the general steps involved in filing a claim are detailed below.
1. Claim Investigation
Before filing a claim, your lawyer will need to determine the extent of treatment — and, in turn, compensation — your child will need. To do this, you and your attorney can create a Life Care Plan that documents how much your child’s medical needs will cost throughout their life.
Then, your lawyers can start the birth injury lawsuit process to get money for the expenses listed in the plan.
2. Gathering Evidence
Your lawyer will need to show how your child’s injuries or death stemmed from malpractice for the lawsuit to be successful. To do this, they will gather information and evidence from you to build a strong case.
This information may include:
- Any health problems you suffered during pregnancy
- The series of events before and after birth
- Health conditions your child now suffers from
You can jump-start this process by getting a free legal case review from our team.
3. Filing the Lawsuit
Your attorneys will draft and file the lawsuit against the defendants, who are typically the doctors and/or hospitals that may be responsible for your child’s injuries. The court will then issue a schedule for the case.
After the defendants respond to the complaint, your lawyer will gather more information to strengthen your case. This is known as the discovery process, and it takes place over a predetermined period as set by the court.
During this time, your lawyers may request additional medical records and other documents related to your child’s birth to provide more in-depth information. You, your loved ones, and expert witnesses may also have to give statements or answer questions under oath during this time.
In addition, the defendant’s legal team will build its case by collecting their own information.
Most birth injury lawsuits reach settlements before going to trial. To reach a birth injury settlement, your lawyers and the defendant’s lawyers will negotiate a payment for you.
It’s often in your best interest to settle the case because you can get money faster. Your other option is going to trial, which will take longer, adds legal expenses to your case, and does not come with a guarantee of more money.
If a settlement is not a viable option, the case will go to court and a judge or jury will decide on the outcome. Only a small percent of lawsuits make it to the trial stage because they are extremely risky. Even if you have very strong evidence that a doctor harmed your child, there’s no way to know for sure if a jury will award you with compensation.
7. Verdict and Reward
Once all evidence has been heard, each side will give their closing arguments. The judge or jury will then determine if they believe the defendants are responsible for your child’s injuries and, if so, how much they will need to pay in damages.
If the judge or jury sides with your case, you will be awarded compensation. If they side with the defendants, however, you may get no money at all, or you may have to undergo a lengthy and stressful appeal process. Again, the added risks, costs, and time are why most people choose to settle their case and avoid the courtroom altogether.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Case Values
A case value is how much money your lawsuit is worth. Birth injury lawsuit case values vary, with some families receiving millions of dollars and others getting more or less. Examples of recent birth injury payouts are below.
This amount was awarded as part of a birth injury settlement in 2020. The family sued a hospital and its staff after their baby suffered brain damage at birth and later developed hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid in the cavities of the brain).
In 2017, an obstetrician was required to pay this amount after using too much force when delivering a baby who was stuck in the birth canal. The doctor’s excessive force damaged nerves in the baby’s shoulder.
In 2020, a jury awarded this amount to a family after their newborn suffered from blood loss and oxygen deprivation to the brain (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy). To this day, her condition prevents her from eating or getting dressed without help.
Factors Impacting Settlement and Verdict Awards
It is important to understand how much your case is worth. However, it is tough to predict this until all of the information regarding your case has been collected, as there are several factors that may impact its value.
Factors that affect compensation amounts include:
- The cost of your child’s medical bills
- Lost income/wages as a result of the child’s injury
- Whether the injuries are permanent and will require lifelong care
- State limits on compensation amounts
Your lawyers’ fees will also be deducted from the overall total, including any out-of-pocket expenses and other costs associated with the claim. The remaining balance will be given to you as a check, usually in a lump sum, from your attorney’s office.
Birth Injury Lawsuit FAQs
It’s natural to have questions about birth injury and medical malpractice lawsuits. Our team has compiled answers to some of the most common questions we get below.
Was my child’s birth injury preventable?
This depends on the type of injury your child suffered from and what actions a doctor took during the delivery process.
While evaluating your birth injury case, your lawyer will explore what measures your doctor could have taken to keep your baby safe.
Do you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by medical malpractice?
How long does a birth injury lawsuit take?
The amount of time it may take for birth injury lawsuits to reach a conclusion depends on a few different factors. One of the most influential factors is whether your lawsuit reaches a settlement or goes to trial. As previously mentioned, trials take longer on average to award compensation.
Your lawyer can give you a better idea of when you will get money from your birth injury lawsuit as the case progresses.
When should I file a birth injury lawsuit?
You should file a birth injury lawsuit as soon as your child is diagnosed with a serious birth injury. Conditions like cerebral palsy often have a better prognosis (outlook) the sooner treatments start, and money from a successful case can help you afford these treatments.
You should also file a lawsuit sooner rather than later because certain laws prevent you from filing a case if you wait too long.
What is the statute of limitations for birth injury cases?
Statutes of limitations are laws that cap your ability to take legal action after a certain date. Birth injury lawsuits can often be filed within 2 or 3 years after the injury has been discovered. However, statutes of limitations are constantly changing. Some states may also have longer or shorter statutes than this average.
The best way to know how statutes of limitations may affect your case is to work with a lawyer. An experienced lawyer will understand all of the legal requirements and statutes of limitations involved in birth injury cases in your state.
Begin Seeking Financial Compensation Today
If your child has suffered a birth injury, consider seeking help from a dedicated birth injury law firm. Medical malpractice attorneys at these specialized firms understand the fear and concerns that come with an injury at birth. They will serve as your guide throughout the legal process and make your child’s needs their top priority.
By working with a trusted legal team to pursue birth injury lawsuit compensation, you can make sure your child will get the best treatments and therapies after their diagnosis. What’s more, you may not have to pay for these medical expenses in full or out of your own pocket.
If you’re interested in seeking compensation to help pay for your child’s costs of care, get a free case review today.