Pregnancy, labor and delivery can be challenging even in the best of circumstances. When health workers err in providing care to the mother or baby, devastating birth injuries can result.
Death and brain injury are the worst outcomes. Our Fort Lauderdale birth injury lawyers are also familiar with cases wherein infants have suffered paralysis, palsy (cerebral or brachial), fractures and lacerations.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our dedicated injury attorneys fight for accountability, as well as compensation for what can be lifelong disabilities. Children who suffer from birth injuries may need long-term medical care and assistance. We help families struggling to pay medical bills, attain appropriate therapies and secure necessary services.
Families sometimes feel they are all alone in coping with their losses and difficulties. The reality is that, according to federal data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 28,000 children are born every year with a birth injury. That’s 2,333 every single month, 538 every week, 76 every day and 3 every hour.
Of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., between 6 to 8 of them will suffer some type of birth injury.
Birth injuries are most common in baby boys, but baby girls certainly aren’t immune. They also tend to be more commonly seen in public hospitals and in rural regions.Types of Birth Injuries
A birth injury occurs when some type of damage is sustained during the birthing process, usually during labor or the actual delivery process. Poor or substandard prenatal care can also contribute to complications at birth.
The fact that a child is born with a disability or suffers a birth injury doesn’t necessarily mean the doctor or other health care workers are liable. The question will be whether the doctor, nurse or other health care workers deviated from the applicable standard of care in the course of pregnancy, labor, deliver and post-delivery.
The most common types of birth injury are:
- Brachial Plexus Injuries. This type of injury happens as a baby is delivered and the shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal. If the physician pulls too hard on the child’s neck, it can result in damage to the brachial plexus cluster of nerves. If they stretch, tear or severe completely, it could cause varying degrees of paralysis.
- Broken/ Fractured Bones. Collar bones are particularly vulnerable to fractures during the delivery process.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. Spinal cord injuries during birth can occur when there is either some kind of trauma to the spinal cord or rotational force being exerted on a child’s underdeveloped spine.
- Cephalohematoma. This occurs when a pool of blood develops under the skin and on the membrane surrounding the skull.
- Facial Paralysis. This condition may occur when, during labor or birth, pressure is put on the baby’s face to cause the facial nerves to be injured. Use of forceps has been associated with facial paralysis injuries.
- Cerebral Palsy. This condition, which impairs motor function, results typically from a lack of oxygen at birth, or possibly head trauma or an infection.
Additionally, parents may want to look out for signs of ill effects of medications taken during pregnancy.Statute of Limitations
In many cases, parents may not realize a condition or injury was the direct result of medical negligence until years later.
While Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits per F.S. 95.11, there is a four-year statute of repose for medical negligence that is not immediately discoverable. That extends to seven years if there is evidence of fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation by health care providers.
Further, there is an exception when claimant is a minor under age eight. In those cases, the seven-year period doesn’t prohibit a civil action brought on behalf of a child on or before the child’s eighth birthday.Who is Responsible?
There are a number of entities that may be liable following a birth injury. Medical malpractice claims might pertain not just to the conduct of doctors, but also:
- Lab Technicians
- Health Care Facilities (Hospitals, Nursing Homes, etc.)
The common theme is that these are all individuals or entities that owed a duty to provide a certain standard of health care services.
Hospitals and nursing homes, whether private or public entities, can be held either directly liable for their own negligence, or they can be vicariously liable for the negligence of employees. Vicarious liability is asserted through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “let the master answer.”
Contact Fort Lauderdale Birth Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm by calling toll-free (888) 267-2728.