Can You Sue for a Birth Injury?

Fact-Checked and Medically Reviewed by:
Katie Lavender, RN Registered Nurse
Quick Answer

If your child was injured just before, during, or shortly after delivery due to a health care provider’s missteps or negligence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim for a birth injury. A birth injury lawsuit can award parents compensation for medical bills, treatment, and more. Learn how an experienced lawyer can help you sue for your child’s birth injury.

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Suing Health Care Providers for Birth Injuries

A birth injury lawyer speaks with two parentsA birth injury is damage that occurs when a baby or mother is harmed or left untreated for illness before, during, or just after delivery.

Birth injuries may occur due to mistakes made by health care professionals in some cases. Severe birth injuries may result in lifelong disabilities and require ongoing medical treatment.

Thankfully, it may be possible to sue doctors or hospitals for birth injuries and get financial compensation for your child’s suffering. Learn more by connecting with a member of our team at (855) 939-1882.

How Common Are Birth Injuries?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7 in 1,000 children are born with a birth injury. Head injury is the most common birth-related injury.

Babies who are born with moderate to severe brain injuries may have permanent signs of damage, including delayed development and uncontrolled muscle movement.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

There are many types of birth injuries, and each type of injury can range in severity.

Common types of birth injuries include:

  • Brain injury

    Brain injury

    Brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Brain injury at birth can cause cerebral palsy, which is the most common childhood motor disability and occurs in up to 4 in every 1,000 births.

  • Internal bleeding

    Internal bleeding

    Hematomas like cephalohematoma occur when blood pools under the baby’s skin. They often happen when the baby’s head is compressed by the birth canal.

  • Fractures or breaks

    Fractures or breaks

    Bone injuries like fractures or breaks may happen during delivery. Clavicle (collarbone) fractures are the most common.

  • Nerve damage

    Nerve damage

    Damage to the nerves can lead to conditions like facial paralysis or Klumpke’s palsy.

  • Oxygen deprivation

    Oxygen deprivation

    Lack of oxygen (hypoxia) can cause problems like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE. The extent of the damage depends on the length of time the baby was without oxygen.

  • Jaundice and kernicterus

    Jaundice and kernicterus

    Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) is common in newborns, but severe cases that are left untreated can cause a type of permanent brain damage called kernicterus.

  • Spinal cord injury

    Spinal cord injury

    Damage to the spinal cord tends to be more severe and common in the neck (cervical injury) and can lead to paralysis from the neck down (quadriplegia).

  • Shoulder dystocia

    Shoulder dystocia

    This is when the baby’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone after the head is already delivered, which can cause brachial plexus injuries like Erb’s palsy and oxygen deprivation (hypoxia).

Who Can Sue for a Birth Injury?

Your health care professionals are responsible for guiding you through your pregnancy and alerting you to any potential complications that may arise along the way.

If your baby was injured due to a health care provider’s negligence or medical mistake — whether it took place before, during, or shortly after delivery — you may be able to sue for a birth injury.

Many birth injuries lead to permanent complications that require expensive treatments and special accommodations, which can put financial strain on the child’s family.

If you believe that your child’s birth injury was the result of negligent medical care, talk to one of our registered nurses to learn more about your next steps.

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Can You Sue a Doctor for a Birth Injury?

In some cases, yes. If your child suffered an avoidable injury during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit against the doctors and other health care providers you relied on.

Each health care professional involved in your pregnancy — such as your primary doctor, nurse, obstetrician, and anesthesiologist — is responsible for meeting the necessary standard of care for their patients.

If one of these health care professionals is found responsible for a birth injury, they may have committed medical malpractice.

Can You Sue a Hospital for Birth Injury?

Parents with an injured child meet with a legal professionalPotentially, yes. Doctors are individually responsible for diagnosing and treating pregnancy complications and communicating with the child’s parents, but the hospital itself may also be liable.

It is the duty of the health care facility to hire competent, licensed professionals who can be trusted to properly care for their patients. If a birth injury occurs due to medical mistakes made by their staff, the hospital may be found guilty of medical malpractice as well.

Whether it was the doctor and/or the hospital that were responsible for your child’s birth injury, you may be able to take legal action.

If your lawyer successfully proves that these providers and/or facilities could have prevented your child from being injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today to see what steps you can take.

Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice

We trust our health care providers with our well-being, but some medical professionals fail to uphold the high standard of care.

When health care professionals or the institutions they work for cause a patient harm through negligence, inappropriate action, or inadequate treatment, they may have committed medical malpractice.

Examples of medical malpractice that could lead to a birth injury include:

  • Applying excessive force to the baby during delivery
  • Failing to clear the baby’s airways (nose and mouth) of fluid after birth
  • Failing to detect and correctly respond to fetal distress
  • Failing to inform a patient of complications (like illness) during pregnancy
  • Failing to recognize symptoms of illness or injury
  • Improperly administering medication or anesthesia
  • Neglecting to monitor the baby’s heartbeat
  • Performing a vaginal delivery when a C-section is necessary

Medical malpractice is a serious violation and may call for a birth injury lawsuit. Get your case reviewed for free right now.

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Birth Injury Lawsuit Process

Although every case is different, the birth injury lawsuit process generally follows the same steps. A skilled birth injury lawyer can walk you through the process and help maximize your chances of getting the best possible outcome.

The typical birth injury lawsuit steps include:

  1. Free case review: The first step is to find out if you have a case. You will start by discussing your situation with a birth injury lawyer, who will decide if you have the grounds for a lawsuit.
  2. Gathering evidence: If your attorney determines that you have a strong enough claim for a birth injury lawsuit, they will begin gathering and examining evidence to build your case. Your lawyer may want to look at all relevant images and medical records related to your pregnancy and delivery.
  3. Filing the lawsuit: Once all of the needed documents have been examined and evaluated, your lawyer will file a complaint. The complaint officially requests financial compensation for your child’s injuries. The defendants (the doctors and/or hospital) have 30 days to respond to the complaint.
  4. Discovery: During the discovery phase, lawyers from both sides collect additional evidence, such as testimonies from medical experts, to build the strongest possible case.
  5. Settlement: Most lawsuits end in a settlement — a legal agreement to conclude the case. If the defendants agree to pay the settlement, the case ends and your legal team receives compensation on your behalf. The amount received will be worked out by both sides. If the defendants deny responsibility for the birth injury, the case will go to trial.
  6. Trial: If the legal teams can’t reach a settlement, then they will argue their case to a judge or jury. The judge or jury will then decide who wins the lawsuit. However, the two sides can still reach a settlement during a trial or after a verdict has been reached.

The first step of every birth injury lawsuit is a conversation with a lawyer. Contact us to find out if you may be entitled to compensation.

When Can You Sue for Birth Injury?

If your child has shown signs of a birth injury, you might be able to sue now.

Your doctor is required to notify you of any illnesses, abnormalities, or complications that arise during your pregnancy as well as labor and delivery.

If you notice potential problems with your child, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Hold Negligent Providers Accountable

About 85,000 medical malpractice cases are filed each year in the United States, with the average case paying $1 million for a child less than 1 month old.

There is nothing wrong with holding negligent health care providers accountable for their mistakes, especially when those mistakes may have harmed your child.

With the help of a qualified birth injury lawyer, you can seek the maximum amount of compensation possible.

Birth injury compensation can help you pay for:

  • Accommodations and adaptive equipment
  • Mobility aids
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medication
  • Speech therapy
  • Surgery

These are just a few of the birth injury medical expenses you may face as a result of medical negligence or wrongful action.

Get your free case review to learn more about accessing financial compensation to help pay for your child’s birth injury care and treatment.

Suing for a Birth Injury FAQs

What are considered birth injuries?

Birth injury (sometimes referred to as birth trauma) is a specific category of harm that occurs just before, during, or after childbirth. These types of injuries sometimes happen as a result of medical professionals failing to provide proper care.

Birth injuries are not the same as birth defects, however, which often develop earlier on in the pregnancy and are typically unrelated to the birthing process. Birth defects are not usually the doctor’s fault and are less likely to qualify as medical malpractice.

It costs you nothing to find out if you have a birth injury case, but the results could be life-changing. Contact us for a free case review to get started.

What is the greatest risk factor for birth injuries?

There are many risk factors that doctors and mothers alike should be aware of. Conditions that can cause birth injuries may be related to the mother, the infant’s size and position at birth, or external factors like physical trauma to the baby during delivery.

When a doctor or hospital fails to recognize or properly respond to any of these risk factors, it puts your child at a higher risk of suffering a birth injury.

If you believe your child was injured due to medical negligence, call (855) 940-2324 for a free legal consultation.

How far back can you claim medical negligence?

The amount of time you have to file a medical negligence claim depends on a few different factors. Each state has statutes of limitations that identify how long you have to file a birth injury claim.

In cases of birth injuries, the time limit could range from 1-5 years after the discovery of the injury — not necessarily the time of birth. Birth injuries can take months or even years to diagnose, so the statute of limitation starts when you recognize the issue.

How long does a medical negligence claim take?

The timeline for a medical negligence claim is different for each case. However, the experienced birth injury attorneys in our network will work to help you secure the compensation your family needs as quickly as possible.

In addition, factors like cooperation from your doctor and/or hospital, whether you receive a birth injury settlement or go to trial, and when you notice your child may have been injured can all affect how long it takes for your claim to be resolved.

Contact our experienced team for a free case review and get started now.

Birth Injury Support Team
Reviewed by:Katie Lavender, RN

Registered Nurse

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Katie Lavender has over 8 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in postpartum mother/baby care. With hands-on experience in Labor and Delivery and a role as a Community Educator for newborn care, Katie is a staunch advocate for patient rights and education. As a Medical Reviewer, she is committed to ensuring accurate and trustworthy patient information.

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

View Sources
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