Medical Malpractice

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

When errors during childbirth are made, the results can be catastrophic. If your baby was harmed by a health care professional’s negligence, it may be considered medical malpractice. The average medical malpractice payout for children under 1 month is nearly $1 million. Learn more about birth injury medical malpractice and whether you could be owed financial compensation.

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What is Medical Malpractice?

Closeup of a gavel and stethoscope symbolizing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or health care professional causes harm to a patient through an act of negligence.

Health care providers are responsible for the proper care of their patients. A failure to uphold this duty may be considered medical malpractice.

In 2022, medical malpractice payouts totaled over $4 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Like many others across the country, your family may also qualify for financial aid if your child developed a birth injury due to medical malpractice.

Get a free case review now for more details.

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A free case review is the first step in pursuing compensation for you and your family.

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Birth Injury Malpractice Cases

Birth injury medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider or facility’s medical error before, during, or shortly after childbirth causes harm to the mother or baby.

Birth injury medical malpractice is one of the most common forms of medical negligence claims.

Sadly, just one mistake during the birthing process can cause a child to develop cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and many other health conditions.

Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice

Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder often caused by brain damage before, during, or shortly after childbirth. When a health care provider makes mistakes that lead to brain damage, cerebral palsy medical malpractice could be at play.

Examples of medical malpractice causing cerebral palsy include:
  • Excessive pulling on the baby’s head during a prolonged delivery
  • Failure to detect or treat fetal distress
  • Failure to detect or treat maternal infections
  • Improper use of delivery tools, causing forceps or vacuum extraction complications

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, and depending on the severity, children may have lifelong physical and intellectual disabilities.

Did you know

Children with cerebral palsy receive $22,383 worth of medical care each year vs. $1,358 for children without cerebral palsy, according to a 2019 study on Medicaid claims published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

Erb’s Palsy Medical Malpractice

Erb’s palsy is a condition that is caused by damage to the brachial plexus, which is the network of nerves from the neck to the shoulder that connects nerves from the spine to the arms. When these nerves are injured, muscle weakness or paralysis can occur.

While the condition can be unavoidable, it is sometimes the result of Erb’s palsy medical malpractice.

Examples of Erb’s palsy caused by medical malpractice include:
  • Applying too much pressure while pulling on a baby’s shoulders during a vaginal delivery
  • Pulling a baby’s head and neck sideways as they come out of the birth canal
  • Using too much force to pull on a baby’s feet during a breech (feet-first) delivery

Most babies with Erb’s palsy make a full recovery with proper treatment. However, time-consuming physical or occupational therapy may be needed. As a result, parents may find themselves facing unplanned medical expenses and taking time off from work to care for their child.

Other Conditions Caused by Birth Injury Medical Malpractice

Health care professionals trained in labor and delivery are legally responsible for keeping their patients safe. When they fail to do so, the babies they help deliver can be seriously injured.

Examples of other conditions that can be caused by birth injury medical malpractice include:

Additionally, obstetricians may decide to use assistive delivery tools when labor is prolonged. While these tools are usually safe, improper use can lead to vacuum extraction or forceps delivery complications.

If your child suffered from any of these conditions, you probably have questions. Talk with our labor and delivery nurses now to get the answers you need.

Nurse Beth Carter

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Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If your child’s condition was caused by negligence during the birthing process, you may be able to sue for a birth injury and access financial compensation.

In order to get compensation, your legal team will need to prove that medical professionals committed birth injury malpractice and harmed your child.

A successful medical negligence lawsuit must show:
  • Damages resulting from the injury (such as medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering)
  • How the medical care provided by the doctor or nurse in question was substandard
  • How the health care professional’s medical negligence harmed your child

Skilled birth injury attorneys can gather evidence, such as medical records and witness statements, to strengthen and support your claim.

Additionally, they can get testimonies from medical experts to show that a health care professional did not provide proper care.

See if you can work with a top birth injury law firm by getting a free consultation.

Get a Free Case Review

A free case review is the first step in pursuing compensation for you and your family.

Get a Free Case Review

Labor and Delivery Medical Malpractice Settlements & Verdicts

The Birth Injury Justice Center partners with some of the best personal injury lawyers in the country.

Our national network of top medical malpractice law firms has helped families recover more than $917 million for preventable birth injuries.

Did you know

The average malpractice claim payout for children under 1 month old is $1 million.

Each birth injury case is different, so it’s difficult to predict how much you could recover from a birth injury settlement or verdict. However, learning about the results of other cases can help you decide if you want to take legal action on behalf of your child.

Notable birth injury awards recovered by our legal partners include:
  • $16 million cerebral palsy settlement in Illinois
  • $10.4 million cerebral palsy award for a Pennsylvania family
  • $8 million for vacuum extraction complications in New York
  • $6 million award in New York for untreated jaundice
  • Over $5.97 million for oxygen deprivation in Texas
  • $1.3 million award for an Erb’s palsy lawsuit in South Carolina

If you think you may be entitled to compensation for a birth injury medical malpractice case, it is critical to find legal help right away.

Each state has laws called statutes of limitations that place a strict deadline on how long you have to take legal action. Don’t wait — take action today by calling our birth injury case managers at (800) 914-1562.

Find Out if You Have a Case

If you believe your child was harmed during the birthing process, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation from a birth injury lawsuit.

Filing a lawsuit can hold the health care professionals that harmed your child responsible for their negligence and prevent them from harming another infant.

Damage awards from a lawsuit can help your family pay for surgery, other medical procedures, medication, therapy, and more.

Get a free case review now to see if you can file a birth injury claim.

Birth Injury Medical Malpractice FAQs

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to follow the standard of care and causes an injury or some form of harm to a patient.

What are birth injuries caused by medical malpractice?

Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice include brain damage, cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and spinal cord injuries.

Some of the most common causes of birth injuries include improper use of assistive delivery tools and failure to diagnose serious medical conditions in the mother or baby.

Can you sue a hospital for traumatic birth?

Yes, you may be able to sue a hospital for traumatic birth. The medical professional who caused the harm may be primarily responsible. However, the hospital may also be at fault if they did not properly train their employee or did not have adequate hiring practices.

Can you sue if your child has cerebral palsy?

Yes, you may be able to sue if your child’s cerebral palsy could have been prevented with proper care. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain, which often occurs during the birthing process.

Sometimes, damage to a baby’s brain is unavoidable, but in cases of cerebral palsy medical malpractice, the condition could have been prevented with proper care and attention.

How much are cerebral palsy lawsuit settlements?

On average, cerebral palsy lawsuits settle for $1 million. However, depending on the specifics of the case, cerebral palsy settlements sometimes provide families with far larger payouts.

For example, in a record-breaking 2023 case, a Philadelphia jury awarded $183 million to the family of a boy whose cerebral palsy was caused by the hospital’s failure to perform an emergency cesarean section (C-section).

Is the doctors fault for Erb's palsy?

Sometimes. Erb’s palsy is caused by damage to the brachial plexus, the network of nerves connecting the spine to the arms and hands.

When doctors use too much force while delivering a baby, especially during prolonged delivery, the pressure can cause damage to the brachial plexus, leading to Erb’s palsy.

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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