Houston Birth Injury Attorneys
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The U.S. has one of the world’s most advanced medical care systems. As technology and medicine advance, the rate of birth injuries and fatalities has declined, but they have not been eliminated. A birth injury is defined as an injury that occurs during the birthing process. Birth injuries occur in approximately 6-8 of every 1,000 births. With an average of 11,000 babies born in the U.S. each day, that amounts to 24,000 to 32,000 birth injuries every year. Birth injuries are sometimes unavoidable but may occur as a result of mistakes made by the delivering physician or nurse. In cases of medical malpractice such as this, the parents of the baby may be entitled to bring a suit against those who inflicted the injury.
Some common examples of birth injuries include the following:
- Bruising & Forceps Marks: If forceps or vacuum suction are used during delivery, it may cause temporary marks, bruising, or even lacerations. In extreme cases, the use of forceps may cause depressed skull fractures that may require surgery.
- Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: Bleeding beneath the eyes. This results in the appearance of a bright red band around the iris of one or both of the baby's eyes. Caused by broken blood vessels, the condition is harmless and will usually resolve on its own.
- Caput Succedaneum: Severe swelling of the baby's scalp, most likely to occur with vacuum extraction.
- Cephalohematoma: Bleeding that occurs between the bone and its fibrous covering; the affected bone is usually on the baby's head. This usually resolves within a few months, but if the injury is particularly bad, the baby may develop jaundice.
- Cerebral Palsy: Although this condition does not get worse over time, the symptoms can manifest themselves in different ways, which may appear as if the condition is progressing. Nerve damage most commonly causes it during pregnancy or traumatic childbirth. There is no cure, but those with cerebral palsy may benefit from lifelong therapy.
- Facial Paralysis: Pressure on the face during labor or birth, particularly in cases where forceps are used, may result in an injury to one or more of the baby's facial nerves. If the nerve is only bruised, the paralysis will resolve within a few weeks.
- Brachial Palsy Injuries: The brachial plexus is the group of nerves that control the movement of arms and hands. This usually results from deliveries where the baby's shoulder gets stuck or caught. When brachial nerves are injured, the baby is left unable to flex or rotate his or her arms. The condition often resolves on its own although physical therapy or surgery may be required.
- Fractured Bones: The most common fracture incurred during birth is that of the collarbone. This injury usually results from difficult births or breech deliveries. If the bone is properly immobilized, it usually heals quickly.
- Brain Injury: During birth, the baby may experience oxygen deprivation as a result of blood loss, compression and/or entanglement of the umbilical cord. If the baby's oxygen is cut off for too long, brain damage may occur, potentially resulting in the development of seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, or mental impairment.
Birth Defects vs. Preventable Birth Injuries
When it comes to newborn children and defects, it is important to understand the difference between natural birth defects and birth injuries that could have been entirely preventable had it not been for the negligence of a professional during your pregnancy or birthing process. A birth defect is something that occurs before a baby is born. Often, they begin developing during the time that the child's organs are forming.
There are a wide variety of causes that can lead to the defects of a newborn baby such as:
- Mothers with a history of smoking, drinking, or using other forms of drugs during the time of their pregnancy.
- Mothers with specific medical conditions can lead to a baby having a defect when born.
- Mothers who deal with diabetes and obesity are among some of the more common conditions.
A birth injury, on the other hand, is usually something that occurs during the mother's pregnancy (hurting the mother, the baby, or both) and can also take place during the birthing process or afterward. In many situations, these preventable birth injuries can be extremely minor and the child will recover quickly. In other situations, certain birth injuries can lead to severe suffering and life-altering illnesses and disabilities; at times, even death. These injuries can be caused by countless different situations, though it is often a direct result of the negligence or substandard care of the medical professional or healthcare provider during the pregnancy or birth.
Birth Injury FAQ
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can be caused by a number of different ways. One common cause is mechanical instruments such as vacuums, scalpels, or forceps. These types of instruments are often used during the delivery process and can lead to lacerations or abrasions if the surgeon does not use proper care. Depending on the size of the laceration or abrasion, the baby could require stitches to close the wound. Additionally, the wound could possibly become infected, which can be a severe danger to a young baby with an underdeveloped immune system.
How Do I Know if Malpractice Was Involved?
Medical malpractice may have occurred if a doctor:
- Fails to respond to bleeding
- Fails to observe and respond to fetal distress
- Delays a necessary cesarean section
- Inappropriately administers drugs during labor
- Provides any other form of inadequate or poor caring during labor, delivery or aftermath
- Fails to anticipate birth complications related to the baby's size or the mother's health
What Are the Effects of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can have serious and life-altering effects for both the child and the parents. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the baby could require lifelong medical care that can put the family in devastating economic hardship. In addition to the physical challenges from the injury, children who suffered birth injuries often face emotional and cognitive challenges as well.
Important Birth Injury Terms to Know
This is a colored substance formed when a baby's red blood cells break down. High levels are associated with jaundice.
High levels of bilirubin in the blood can cause jaundice. Common indicators of jaundice are yellow tinting of the skin and yellow in the portion of the eye that is typically white.
This word is commonly used in the medical field to describe a difficult birth. For example, "Shoulder dystocia is caused when the infant cannot easily pass through the birth canal."
An antigen is a substance that a body produces to produce more antibodies. Antibodies will fight off infection. An antigen is actually what determines blood type (A, B, AB or O).
When childbirth becomes difficult, prolonged, or the mother becomes too weak, a doctor may induce a woman's labor. This can be done a number of different ways, such as medication.
This surgical procedure is performed on women who could not give birth safely vaginally. In this operation, a surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen to extract the infant directly through the uterus.
Assess the Lifetime Costs of a Birth Injury as You Litigate
While most injuries come with a short recovery period, babies who were harmed by a birth injury may spend their entire life dealing with the results of the doctor or nurse's mistake in the birth room. This is why it is important that you litigate for a settlement that can cover the future expenses of medical care for your child when you enter into a birth injury lawsuit.
You should look at the different expenses that will become a part of your life and factor these future costs into your lawsuit.
Consider the potential for long-term medical care:
- Will your child need continuous doctor's appointments or periods of hospitalization?
- Will your child need subsequent surgeries which will cost you money?
- Will your child need to take expensive medications for years into the future?
All of these concerns should influence the settlement that you seek in a lawsuit.
You will also want to look at the potential for physical, vocational, psychological, speech, and occupational therapies. Often, these therapy treatments can help an individual to gain a better social outlook and eventually develop better habits and function well in society. Still, this often takes many different therapy sessions that can come at a price. If you believe that your child will need to attend any of these therapy sessions in the future, you should not hesitate to seek compensation for this future cost when you go about your birth injury lawsuit.
You should also consider whether or not your child will need personal care attendants. If your young one is physically or mentally disabled, you may need to hire a nurse to care for your loved one for the years to come. As you child transfers into adulthood, you may choose to pay a nurse to give your child full-time care so that you will be able to continue at your job and your child will have some degree of independence from his or her parents. This can cost a lot of money and should also be included in the expenses that you litigate for in your case.
Your loved one may also need adaptive devices, which can cost a pretty penny. Will your child need a motorized wheelchair, an artificial limb, or expensive braces? If so, then you need to include these expenses in your lawsuit. Sometimes these wheelchairs, braces, and limbs can cost thousands of dollars and may seem impossible to afford unless you have assistance from the party at fault for the accident.
Additionally, you will want to factor in the expense of hiring handicap accessible vans to pick up and transport your child if the need arises. Many disabled individuals have to hire a van service to pick them up and drop them off at all necessary locations. Finally, if you need to make repairs to your home to make it wheelchair accessible or easier for your child to navigate, these expenses can be included in your lawsuit.
Don't hesitate to add all expenses so you can gather the finances you need for a comfortable future.
Your child's future depends on the results of this lawsuit. That's why you need to hire a hardworking lawyer to stand by your side. With the dedicated team there to advocate for you and explain the lifetime and future costs that you will need to satisfy, you may be able to gain a bigger settlement than you ever thought possible.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation: (888) 493-1629
Many factors may contribute to a birth injury, including the baby's size, the mother's anatomy, prolonged labor, and the baby's position. If you or a loved one has been affected by a child's birth injury, and you suspect medical malpractice was involved, you may be entitled to compensation. A birth injury lawyer at our firm can help you pursue justice for your baby's pain.
If you would like to take the first step in your case, contact us for a free consultation.