Birth Injury Legal Statistics

Quick Answer

Birth injury legal statistics help show the most common birth injuries, their causes, and the average payouts from birth injury lawsuits. While birth injury legal statistics can help attorneys build a strong case for medical negligence, they can also be useful for affected families. Learn some of the most important birth injury legal statistics now.

Get a Free Case Review

Fast Facts About Birth Injuries

A mother holding a baby kisses their forehead.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), birth injuries occur in about 7 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States.
  • The most common form of birth injury is brain damage from a lack of oxygen (asphyxiation).
  • Birth trauma occurs most often in rural areas.
  • Babies who are oversized, born prematurely, and part of multiple births are at a greater risk of a birth injury.
  • Women between the ages of 25 and 34 are at the highest risk for birth injuries caused by assistive delivery tools (like forceps or vacuum extraction complications).
  • Mothers aged 15-17 are at the highest risk for birth injuries when no assistive delivery tools are used during a vaginal delivery.

Learning about birth injury statistics can be helpful for families who are affected. Understanding what caused your child’s condition can play a big part in managing their care. You could even have financial options that you may not be aware of.

If your child’s birth injury happened due to a medical professional’s negligence, you may be able to seek financial compensation. Contact our team now to discuss your legal options.

Understanding Birth Trauma

Birth injuries (or birth trauma) can have devastating effects, leading to lifelong disabilities and even death for the infant or mother.

Birth trauma leads to death in about 3 out of every 10,000 live births in the U.S. The main cause of death involves birth asphyxia (or a lack of oxygen).

In many cases, birth trauma is avoidable. In one study, some mothers reported that if their health care provider had listened and explained procedures better, the birth trauma might have been avoided.

Did you know

About 55% of labor and delivery staff have witnessed a health care provider perform a medical procedure that the mother said she did not want.

If a health care provider did not get your consent for a procedure that led to a birth injury, it could be considered medical malpractice.

Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Statistics

Birth injury medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes injury through negligence or providing poor treatment that doesn’t meet the acceptable standard of care.

If a patient suffers an injury that could have been avoided, medical malpractice may be the cause. When a newborn is injured during childbirth, the family may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit on behalf of their child.

A study that looked at birth injuries in a single year (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project) found almost 157,700 potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and newborns.

Another study on birth injury legal statistics found that out of all medical malpractice claims paid between 2009 and 2014, about 25% were related to obstetrics and gynecology.

Medical errors are a leading cause of accidental death in the United States. They account for between 251,000 and 440,000 deaths each year, according to findings from different studies.

Experiencing medical malpractice can be traumatizing, and it may require expensive and ongoing treatment. If you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by medical negligence, talk to one of our registered nurses now to learn how we can help.

Nurse Beth Carter

Talk to A Nurse Now

Call or chat with a caring, experienced nurse right now — we’re standing by to get you help and answers.

Birth Injury Legal Statistics: Liability Claims

A recent study geared toward understanding birth injury legal statistics by Coverys, a Boston-based liability insurer, found that many liability claims involving pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care involve severe injury.

Coverys analyzed 472 claims from 2013-17. The study discovered that 80% of cases were of high clinical severity. In fact, the mother and/or infant died in 24% of the cases analyzed.

For cases involving infant claims, birth injuries are typically categorized into the following groups:*
  • Neurological or brain damage (41% of claims)
  • Shoulder injuries (37% of claims)
  • Death or stillbirth (34% of claims)

*Claims involving multiple injuries can fit more than one category.

Birth injuries can affect a child’s quality of life and may require ongoing treatment. Compensation from a birth injury liability claim can help families pay for their child’s care and other expenses like medication and special equipment.

Birth Injury Legal Statistics: Causes of Birth Injury Malpractice

The causes of birth injury malpractice are not always straightforward. Labor and delivery teams are trained to handle a wide range of situations that may arise during childbirth.

A lawyer at a desk with a laptop and scales of justice reviews birth injury legal statistics.Often, lightning-fast decisions must be made to protect the safety of a mother and baby. However, sometimes, these decisions are inappropriate and may be considered medical malpractice.

In its analysis, Coverys identified these top issues surrounding care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Inexperienced Midwives

Midwives may have vastly different levels of clinical experience because licensing requirements vary by state.


Many women have certain expectations about the care they and their baby will receive before, during, and following birth. Health care providers need to address these expectations ahead of time to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Poor Management of Labor and Delivery

Coverys found that 40% of birth injury liability claims involved poor management of labor and delivery. Most of these claims were made after a vaginal delivery proved to be the more dangerous delivery option for the mother and baby.

Medical providers should know when to perform a cesarean section (C-section) instead of a vaginal birth. They should also know how to prevent common types of birth injuries to reduce the risks for the mother and infant.

Poor Monitoring of Fetal Heart Patterns

It is essential for fetal heart monitoring to be included in ongoing training and skill checks. That way, health care professionals know what to look for when monitoring a baby’s heartbeat before, during, and after delivery.

If you think one of these issues caused or contributed to your child’s birth injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Contact us today for a free case review.

Birth Injury Legal Statistics: Lawsuits

Health care professionals and facilities are responsible for providing an acceptable level of care. Medical staff may be held accountable for medical negligence when they make poor decisions — or even fail to make the same ones others in their field would make.

Birth injury lawsuits help the families of children who were harmed by negligent health care providers get compensation to pay for medical expenses.

Did you know?

The average payout for a lawsuit involving children under 1-month-old is $1 million, according to a study by The Doctors Company.

Here are some additional birth injury legal statistics:

  • 48% of lawsuits on behalf of newborn babies involve injury to the brain
  • 19% of birth injury lawsuits involve harm to the baby’s arm(s)
  • About 95% of personal injury lawsuits settle outside of court

Birth injury legal statistics show that families generally don’t have to go through lengthy court trials when they file a medical malpractice claim.

A qualified birth injury attorney will do everything possible to guide you through the legal process as quickly as possible and fight for maximum compensation in a birth injury settlement.

Birth Injury Legal Statistics: Settlements and Verdicts

Birth injuries and the conditions they cause may require lifelong treatment, which can burden the child’s family financially. This is why the Birth Injury Justice Center has partnered with some of the best birth injury law firms in the country.

The lawyers in our network have a history of representing families in birth injury cases stemming from medical negligence and improper care.

Together they have recovered $862 million for families affected by birth injury medical malpractice.

Birth Injury Lawsuit Compensation

The most common form of birth injury is brain damage, which can cause conditions such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and bleeding inside and around the brain (hematoma).

Several other types of birth injuries include shoulder dystocia, bone fractures, and untreated jaundice that leads to kernicterus.

Caring for a child with these conditions can mean expensive treatments and specialized care. However, birth injury lawsuit settlements and verdicts can help.

Some birth injury lawsuit payouts secured by our partner law firms include:
  • Over $13 million for the mother of a child born with premature retinopathy (damage to the eye retina)
  • $8 million for a child who suffered an injury from a vacuum-assisted delivery
  • $6 million on behalf of a child with undetected jaundice
  • $5.97 million recovered for a child who suffered oxygen deprivation at birth due to delayed medical care
  • $5.1 million for a child who suffered birth asphyxia

Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Compensation

Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition that may occur when an infant’s brain is damaged before or during childbirth. Treatments can be expensive, but the best birth injury lawyers can help get families compensation to offset the costs.

Here are just a few of the successful cerebral palsy cases our team has handled:
  • Over $10 million for the family of a child affected by cerebral palsy
  • $9 million for the family of a 5-year-old with cerebral palsy
  • $8.9 million for the family of a child with cerebral palsy
  • $5.8 million for a 1-year-old girl with cerebral palsy
  • Over $4 million for the family of a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Compensation

Erb’s palsy is a brachial plexus injury caused by nerve damage in the shoulder, arm, and/or hand. Although Erb’s palsy is usually not permanent, the costs to treat it can add up quickly.

Our partner law firms have won millions of dollars for families affected by Erb’s palsy:
  • $4.5 million for the family of a child who has Erb’s palsy
  • $2.75 million to the family of a child with Erb’s palsy
  • $975,000 for a 6-year-old boy who has Erb’s palsy
  • $950,000 to the family of a 5-year-old girl with Erb’s palsy
  • $940,000 for a woman who lost her child to Erb’s palsy complications

Get a free consultation now to find out if we can help your family as well.

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

Working With a Birth Injury Attorney

Many birth injuries happen because of medical mistakes by hospital staff. If a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional does not provide proper care and your baby was injured, you may be able to file a lawsuit and pursue settlement money.

Birth injury legal statistics shed light on how often these preventable situations occur and the pain and suffering they can cause children and their families.

Our network of experienced birth injury attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the harm done to your child.

Get a free case review now to find out if you have a claim.

Birth Injury Legal Statistics FAQs

Can I claim compensation for traumatic birth?

Yes, if doctors and other health care professionals failed to keep you or your child safe during the birthing process, you may be able to access financial compensation.

Many families with children who suffered preventable injuries during the birthing process file birth injury lawsuits.

These lawsuits involve errors made during delivery or before or shortly after a baby is born. Common mistakes include improper use of assistive delivery tools (such as forceps or vacuum extractors) and failure to treat infant or maternal infections.

What are the statistics for childbirth injuries?

Here are some key birth injury statistics:

  • Birth injuries occur in up to 7 of every 1,000 live births in the United States.
  • Birth trauma results in up to 3 deaths for every 10,000 live births.
  • Birth injuries are most common in rural areas (places that are far from large cities).
  • Birth injury risk factors include larger than average babies, premature birth, use of assistive devices, and multiple pregnancies (such as twins or triplets).

Which birth injury is more common?

The most common form of birth injury is brain damage, which is often caused by asphyxiation (lack of oxygen). In severe cases, babies may experience hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or even end up with cerebral palsy.

Some other common types of birth injuries include:

  • Brachial palsy
  • Caput succedaneum
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fractures (to the clavicle or skull)
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage

What is the prognosis of birth injury?

The prognosis of a birth injury depends upon the severity. Fortunately, many birth injuries are minor and resolve within days. However, some more severe forms of birth trauma, especially those in which the baby suffered brain damage, can lead to lifelong disabilities.

Birth Injury Support Team

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
  1. Anderson, J. G., & Abrahamson, K. (2017). Your Health Care May Kill You: Medical Errors. Studies in health technology and informatics, 234, 13–17. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  2. Balest, A. L. (2022, July 20). Birth injuries in newborns – children’s health issues. Merck Manuals Consumer Version. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  3. Beck, C. T., Watson, S., & Gable, R. K. (2018). Traumatic Childbirth and Its Aftermath: Is There Anything Positive?. The Journal of perinatal education, 27(3), 175–184. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  4. Buckfire, L. J. (2022, April 27). Birth injury lawsuits. The National Law Review. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May 14). Pregnancy-related deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  6. Eisenberg, Theodore and Lanvers, Charlotte, “What is the Settlement Rate and Why Should We Care?” (2009). Cornell Law Faculty Publications. Paper 203. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  7. Hanscom, R., Small, M., Hoppe, K., & Icenhower, M. (2019, March 18). A dose of insight – maternal/fetal risks: Using claims analysis to improve outcomes. Pregnancy And Maternal/Fetal Risks. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  8. March of Dimes. (March 2020). Postpartum hemorrhage. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from,to%205%20percent)
  9. Maternal and Child Health Care: Person-Centered Care & Patient Safety. (June 2018). Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from
  10. Michael, S. J., & Landsman, S. (2021, August 04). Use systems redesign and the law to prevent medical errors and accidents. STAT. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from