The anticipation of welcoming a new child can be a very exciting time for a family. With months of planning leading to the delivery date, everyone hopes to leave the delivery room with a healthy baby. Unfortunately, for some mothers, delivery day can be traumatic. Childbirth is a very complex experience and every birthing experience has the potential for complications. Today, with the advancement of medicine and medical care, some serious birth complications may be entirely preventable. Patients expect their doctors to provide a high standard of care to deliver a healthy baby.
If your baby suffered a birth injury because of your doctor’s negligence, your child may be entitled to compensation. For more information about your rights and how a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer can help you, contact Youman & Caputo.
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Why Choose Our Injury Lawyers?
What is a Birth Injury?
Common Examples of Birth Injuries
Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence
Potential Lasting Effects of Birth Trauma
What Are the Differences Between Birth Injuries and Birth Defects?
Damages in Pennsylvania Birth Injury Cases
What Is the Process of a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
How Liability is Determined in a Birth Injury Case
How Do I Know if I Have a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
How to File a Birth Injury Claim in Philadelphia
Signs of a Birth Injury
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Why Hire an Injury Attorney?
What to Look for in a Birth Injury Attorney
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury
Birth Injury FAQs
Speak to a Lawyer Today
Call us today at (215) 302-1999 to schedule your free consultation with one of our Philadelphia birth injury lawyers.
A birth injury is any injury or trauma that a baby suffers during pregnancy, or from complications in the birthing process. These injuries can be caused by medical malpractice, difficult labor, or maternal illness. Some birth injuries can be temporary and resolve on their own. Others are permanent with more debilitating, long-term effects on the baby and the child’s family.
Three broad categories of birth injuries are:
There are different types of birth injuries that can be sustained either during pregnancy or during the labor and delivery process. The most common birth injuries include:
Many of these cases are caused by substandard care provided by a healthcare professional. Mistakes can include the failure to provide sufficient oxygen to the baby, the use of excessive force to remove the baby from the birth canal, or the failure to diagnose a complication during prenatal care. All of these have the potential to give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
There are different professionals involved in the prenatal care of a mother and the delivery of a baby. During the delivery, different medical professionals including the delivery physician, anesthesiologist, other attending physicians, nurses, and medical assistants may all share some responsibility for the care of the patient. They may all share some degree of responsibility for any birth injuries that occur while they are in charge. They may also try to deny responsibility for any injuries, which is why you need an aggressive birth injury lawyer to advocate for you and get the justice your baby deserves.
There are many different causes of birth injuries, but medical negligence is one potential cause.
Cerebral palsy – this can be caused by a temporary disruption of oxygen to the baby’s brain during delivery. This damages the brain and causes a permanent disability where the brain is unable to send normal signals to control the body’s movements and other functions. A cerebral palsy injury lawyer in Philadelphia can help you recover damages from this kind of incident.
Erb’s palsy and nerve injuries – this can be caused by the use of excessive force during the delivery process, which causes damage to the brachial plexus nerve channel. The brachial plexus nerve channel transmits brain signals to the arms and hands. Injury to this nerve channel can result in paralysis of the arms and/or hands. A Philadelphia Erb’s palsy injury attorney can help you fight for justice for your injured child.
Brain injury – this can be caused by a disruption of the blood and oxygen flow to the brain during childbirth. If the attending doctors do not respond to this disruption quickly it could lead to permanent damage of the baby’s brain.
Prenatal problems – there are several problems that can arise during the pregnancy period which can cause problems for the baby. Maternal infections, problems with the placenta, and premature delivery can all cause damage to the baby’s developing brain. Early diagnosis and treatment of these prenatal complications is critical to positive outcomes for the mother and baby.
Delivery complications – during the delivery process, there is always a possibility of unexpected complications. Mothers and babies must be closely monitored to quickly identify and handle any of such complications to avoid serious injury to the mother and baby.
In all these cases, harm can be avoided with close monitoring of the mother and baby. Substandard care during the prenatal and delivery periods can result in injury to both the mother and baby. A birth injury lawyer should be consulted if a mother or baby has suffered injury as a result of the care they received from their doctor.
Medical negligence refers to a health care provider violating the standards of care and causing patient harm. In Pennsylvania, the standard of care must be proven with expert testimony. Medical literature can also be important for establishing a professional duty. If a reasonable and prudent doctor would have done something differently in the same or similar circumstances, it may constitute medical negligence.
Common examples of medical negligence behind birth injuries include:
A doctor, nurse, obstetrician, gynecologist, neonatologist, surgeon, midwife, anesthesiologist, other medical personnel, or the birthing center or hospital itself can be guilty of medical negligence. If the equipment used during labor or delivery contained a dangerous defect, the manufacturer of the equipment may also be held responsible for a birth injury. An investigation is generally required to determine who or what caused your child to suffer a birth injury.
The day a child is born should be one of the happiest days of any parents’ lives. However, when an injury or trauma occurs during birth, the day can quickly turn catastrophic, as birth trauma leaves lasting effects on children and their parents. While the degree of these effects depends on the type and severity of birth trauma experienced, the following list contains a few examples of the potential lasting effects of birth trauma.
Children who experience birth trauma are often left with brain injuries that can have myriad effects on a child’s development, cognitive skills, and overall health. Some children experience mild developmental delays from which they are later able to recover, and other children are left with permanent damage, including reduced cognitive function, communication difficulties, personality disorders, and other lifelong disabilities of varying severity. Sometimes, brain injuries stemming from birth trauma do not manifest until years into a child’s life.
The nervous system connects the brain to the rest of the body. When nerve damage occurs, symptoms can manifest in various ways. One type of nerve damage is sensory disorder, which impacts a child’s ability to perceive the world around him or her, and affects how a child reacts to certain stimuli, such as tastes, smells, feels, or sounds. Sensory disorders are often difficult to diagnose, and many parents mistake sensory disorder symptoms for behavioral problems, as sensory disorders are often difficult for a child to explain. Additionally, nerve damage can affect motor skills and movement, as the nervous system assists the brain in telling the body how to move muscles. Motor skills deficiencies often are not noticed until children are toddlers and begin to move more independently. In some cases, motor skills deficiencies can be mitigated by occupational therapy, and in other cases, they are permanent.
Orthopedic damage is a more straightforward effect of birth trauma, as a baby’s bones can be broken or otherwise injured during birth. While broken bones sound routine, orthopedic injuries in newborns can be catastrophic, as these injuries can affect a baby’s lifelong potential for growth and development.
In addition to the physical trauma sustained by a baby during a birth trauma incident, it’s important to note that the parents who observe the birth trauma can carry psychological trauma for weeks, months, and years after the incident. These effects are equally as serious as effects suffered by the baby and shouldn’t be overlooked in a birth trauma case.
Birth injuries and birth defects are two different conditions. A birth injury describes physical trauma or bodily harm caused to an infant during labor and delivery or shortly after. A birth defect is a health condition caused by genetic or environmental factors that influenced the child while he or she was in the mother’s womb.
A birth injury often occurs during labor and delivery, but the symptoms may not be immediately apparent. It may take years to diagnose cerebral palsy caused by a brain injury during birth, for example. A birth defect, on the other hand, is present at birth and often diagnosed before or shortly after the birth of the child.
The specific amount of damages in a birth injury case can be difficult to calculate, as birth trauma can affect a child for the rest of his or her life. When evaluating your birth injury case, our team at Youman and Caputo will consider every type of damage and harm you and your family have sustained, to ensure that your injuries are fairly and fully compensated.
Among the types of damages we will consider are direct compensation for the baby’s injuries and associated medical costs, psychological damages for parents, potential punitive damages against the doctor and medical team, and costs associated with lost work time for parents. In severe cases involving long-term, permanent injuries, we will also consider pain and suffering, shortened life expectancy, loss of earning potential for the child, the costs of future medical care, and the costs of future treatment.
In total, our team will aggressively pursue your claim to compensate your family for its injuries to the fullest extent and the largest amount possible.
A birth injury lawsuit can be daunting. However, with an attorney’s assistance, your family can navigate the legal process required in Philadelphia smoothly and efficiently. While every case is unique, the following basic steps make up the standard process of a birth injury lawsuit:
Your Philadelphia birth injury lawyer can guide you through each step involved in the claims process. Meanwhile, your lawyer can help your family find the top doctors and pediatricians in the area for the best available medical care for your child. You can trust your attorney to look out for your best interests in and out of the courtroom.
Under Philadelphia medical malpractice laws, a birth injury lawsuit must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence on the part of the plaintiff. This means enough clear evidence is necessary to convince a judge or jury that a defendant is more likely than not responsible for a victim’s injury or damage. If your family files a birth injury lawsuit in Philadelphia, it will be up to you or your attorney to prove your case against a doctor or another defendant by establishing his or her liability.
Liability refers to legal and financial responsibility for a civil tort or wrongdoing. In a birth injury lawsuit, liability is determined after a careful investigation of the incident. This may involve interviewing eyewitnesses, obtaining the opinion of medical experts, carefully analyzing medical records and files, and taking other steps to fully understand the facts of the case. If it is determined that a medical professional fell short of his or her standards of care during pregnancy, labor or delivery, the individual practitioner may be found liable for the victim’s losses.
A doctor, surgeon or OBGYN may be held individually liable for a birth injury in Pennsylvania if he or she is an independent contractor and not an employee of the hospital or birthing center. If the practitioner who injured your child is an employee, however, you may have grounds to hold the health care facility vicariously liable. This can result in greater insurance coverage available for your losses. An attorney at Youman & Caputo can help you determine liability for your case.
You might have a birth injury lawsuit if your child is showing signs of an injury that occurred before, during or shortly after birth and if you believe that one of your health care practitioners caused or contributed to the injury through an act of medical negligence. Since it can be difficult to determine if you have a lawsuit on your own (unless you have a legal background), the best way to find out if your case has merit is by consulting with a birth injury attorney in Philadelphia. Youman & Caputo offers free, no-obligation initial consultations so that you can find out if you have a lawsuit at no risk. We will listen to your story and offer trustworthy legal advice.
Lawsuits unfortunately have deadlines which require cases to be filed in certain amounts of time after a claim arises. In birth injury cases, the deadline for filing a birth trauma claim in Pennsylvania is two years within the date of injury (which is usually the date of birth), or two years from the date an injury is discovered — whichever is later. The second deadline is usually applicable in cases where a birth trauma may not be discovered until years into a child’s life, when developmental delays or motor skills difficulties may be found as a child grows. But regardless of when a birth injury is discovered, it must be filed before an injured person’s 27th birthday.
After a birth injury claim is discovered and a lawsuit is filed, Pennsylvania law requires that an additional affidavit supporting the claim is filed within 60 days. This affidavit generally requires the signature of an attorney and a statement from an expert, such as a medical doctor, supporting the claim. Our team at Youman and Caputo is ready to assist you with this process.
Some birth injuries are immediately noticeable, such as physical signs of injuries like lacerations or bruising on your newborn. Other birth injuries can cause delayed symptoms that might not be recognizable for months or even years later. Below are some possible signs that your child has a birth injury:
If you notice anything amiss with your newborn or toddler, consult with your pediatrician about a potential injury diagnosis. If your child gets diagnosed with a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy from brain trauma, contact a birth injury lawyer in Philadelphia right away for a consultation about your family’s legal options.
Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible for an assessment of your case. Time may be running out. In Pennsylvania, there is a law known as a statute of limitations that places a strict deadline on your ability to file a birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. Section 1303.513 of the Pennsylvania Statutes states that when medical malpractice injures a minor, no claim may be commenced after seven years from the date of the alleged tort or after the minor reaches the age of 20 – whichever is later.
While some birth injury claims may be filed as late as the child’s twentieth birthday, other claims may have to be filed within two years of the child’s birth. Missing your deadline almost always guarantees that the courts will refuse to hear your case – barring your family from recovering anything for a devastating birth injury. You should always contact an attorney right away. Your lawyer needs time to investigate your case and put together a strong case to protect your interests.
The labor and delivery process is stressful without any complications. If your baby has been injured during the birthing process, it may have a permanent impact on your family’s life. Your baby will have many needs to support their life and, if medical negligence is the cause of their injuries, they deserve justice for the harm done to them. The doctors and medical facility nearly always deny responsibility for the birth injury, which is why you need aggressive representation to get the full and fair compensation your child deserves.
Choosing the right birth injury attorney in Philadelphia is important, as not all are equal in terms of skill or ability. Your family needs to find a lawyer with experience in this specific practice area for the best possible case results. Birth injury and other medical malpractice cases are complicated and require specialized knowledge. Look for a lawyer with years of experience handling your type of case.
Ask about prior case results; while no lawyer should guarantee a positive case outcome, a history of success at the law firm can give you more confidence in your lawyer’s capabilities. Reading a law firm’s client testimonials can also give you an idea of what to expect from the attorney in terms of client care and personalized attention.
Ask a potential attorney about the outlook for your case. He or she should be able to provide general information about how your case might unfold, using similarities with past cases that the law firm has handled. Make sure the lawyer you are talking to will be the one handling your case, not a paralegal or associate. Finally, make sure that the law firm is paid on a contingent fee basis – in other words, you will not owe your lawyer anything unless there is a recovery on your child’s behalf.
The first step to take if your baby has been injured is to seek medical care. You may wish to seek a second opinion from a different doctor or a doctor at a different health care center than the facility where the injury occurred. Document what happened by writing down a detailed description right away, as well as speaking to witnesses and requesting copies of medical records. Then, contact a birth injury attorney near you as soon as possible. A deadline to file applies to your case; the sooner you consult with an attorney, the better.
The following is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about birth injuries and birth trauma, but if you have a question that isn’t listed here, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team as soon as possible.
If you suspect that your child has a birth injury, taking care of his or her medical needs should be your first priority. Take your child to a doctor, and if necessary, to an emergency room. After you have a good idea of what’s going on, you should talk to a lawyer to see if you have a birth injury case. Our team at Youman and Caputo offers free consultations to prospective clients, and we’re ready to assist you and your family.
After a birth injury or birth trauma occurs, it’s possible that the hospital or its insurance company will reach out to you to talk about the event. It’s important that you avoid speaking to anyone until you speak to your lawyer, as hospitals can use things you say against you to later avoid liability. After you inform a hospital or insurance company that you are represented by a lawyer, their representatives are ethically obligated to avoid speaking to you directly, and instead communicate with you through your lawyer.
You should never accept an initial offer to settle a case, even if it’s not presented to you as a settlement. Sometimes, hospitals and insurance companies will offer “compensation packages” which require you to sign away your rights to sue before you accept the money. By retaining an attorney, you empower yourself to negotiate and ensure that you’re fully and fairly compensated. Our team is ready to assist you in pursuing compensation. Contact us today.
If you are looking for an experienced birth injury lawyer in Philadelphia, call Youman & Caputo at (215) 302-1999. Our attorneys have obtained numerous seven and eight figure verdicts and settlements in birth injury cases. Your initial case consultation is free, and you will pay no fee or costs unless and until we win your case.
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