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Sandy Springs Birth Injury Attorney
The birth of a child can be a miraculous moment for both the child and the person giving birth, but birth injuries can cause that moment to feel less than perfect. Birth injuries can cause harm to newborn infants that may lead to lifelong issues such as Cerebral Palsy.
If your child suffered from birth injuries due to a medical professional’s negligence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for the damages caused. The Sandy Springs birth injury attorneys at Ashenden & Associates, P.C., will help gather medical records and statements to ensure your case holds up in court. Call us at (770) 394-8909 and receive a free consultation on your child’s birth injury case.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is an injury that occurs during the birthing process and can result in minor birth injuries, like bruising, or even serious birth injuries, like permanent brain damage from oxygen deprivation. A birth injury differs from a birth defect: birth defects are congenital diseases or disorders the baby develops in the womb.
Birth injuries can be caused by delivery assistance instruments, such as forceps or vacuum devices, that are used to guide the child through the birth canal. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to use these instruments correctly or does not properly monitor the fetus before birth, they may be liable for any preventable birth injury caused. If your child’s injury resulted from medical malpractice during birth, contact us online so a Sandy Springs birth injury attorney can reach out about your case.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Several different kinds of birth injuries can occur during delivery. A birth injury diagnosis can range in severity, and not every birth injury leads to lifelong symptoms. Some birth injuries, however, can cause brain damage, especially those that involve oxygen deprivation. Below are some of the most common birth injuries.
Many birth injury claims involve cases of Cerebral Palsy, which is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move, balance, and maintain posture. It can also affect a person’s ability to see or hear and may cause them to experience intellectual impairment and/or seizures. There are four different kinds of Cerebral Palsy:
- Spasticity, which involves stiff muscles;
- Dyskinesia, which involves uncontrollable movements;
- Ataxia, which involves poor balance; and
- Mixed presentation, which is when someone displays symptoms from one or more of the above types.
While Cerebral Palsy is mostly congenital, it can be developed due to birth trauma or caused by an injury before birth or shortly after birth. This is one of the more serious injuries medical professionals can cause during birth. If your child’s brain injury resulted from medical negligence, you may be able to take legal action against the medical team involved in your child’s birth.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
Another type of birth injury that a child may experience is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is a type of brain damage that can be caused by a lack of oxygen before or shortly after birth. It affects the child’s nervous system and can cause them to experience neurological and developmental disorders. These brain injuries are normally diagnosed through blood tests, umbilical cord or placenta tests, electroencephalography (EKG), brain MRI, and more.
HIE can cause a child to experience learning problems, epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, and other developmental disorders. Many birth injury lawyers will review the circumstances under which the birth injury occurred to evaluate whether or not medical professionals caused it.
Infant Skull Fractures
Infant skull fractures are another birth injury that medical errors can cause. They can occur due to extreme pressure during birth but are most often caused by medical negligence. If a medical professional improperly uses forceps or a birthing vacuum to guide the child through the birth canal, the instruments could fracture the child’s skull.
There are a few different kinds of skull fractures, including linear fractures or simple line fractures, depressed skull fractures, and diastatic skull fractures. Sandy Springs birth injury attorneys at Ashenden & Associates are prepared to help you recover damages for your child’s birth injury, including any additional medical bills incurred due to medical errors.
Cephalohematoma occurs when a baby is placed under intense pressure during birth, and the blood vessels under the skin rupture or become otherwise damaged. The broken blood vessels cause blood to pool under the scalp or outside of the skull. The chances of developing this kind of birth injury are increased if a doctor uses assistive birthing tools during delivery.
This kind of injury can cause a child to develop a soft bulge on the head, which can seem scary. Luckily, this kind of injury normally heals itself, but may require surgery in rare circumstances. Some of the symptoms of cephalohematoma include infection, jaundice or yellowing of the skin, and anemia.
Caput Succedaneum is a minor birth injury that involves swelling of the scalp. This normally occurs during long and difficult deliveries, and medical experts usually won’t suggest treatment unless there is bruising. While it’s similar to cephalohematoma, caput succedaneum will not look like a bruise. It will look like there are clear or yellow fluids built up under the skin of the scalp.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial Plexus palsy, also known as Erb’s palsy, is a birth injury involving stretched, compressed, or torn nerves. More specifically, it involves damage to the brachial plexus nerves, which run through your arms, hands, and fingers. This kind of injury can occur in both infants and adults, with the most common cause of brachial plexus injuries being traumatic car accidents. This normally occurs in infants due to medical malpractice if a medical professional misuses forceps or a birthing vacuum during birth.
Like spinal cord injuries, this kind of nerve damage can cause an infant to lose muscle function in the arms or even cause paralysis of the arms. If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury during birth, call an experienced birth injury lawyer to help you file a successful birth injury claim.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
A mother may also file a birth injury lawsuit if their child suffers from meconium aspiration syndrome. Meconium is the first bowel movement of an infant, so meconium aspiration is when meconium makes its way into the lungs of an unborn infant. If the fetus releases meconium into the amniotic fluid surrounding them in utero, they may breathe it in before birth.
Meconium aspiration syndrome can be diagnosed before birth by using a fetal monitor, or after birth by examining the baby’s appearance after delivery. If the baby is born blue or limp, they may be experiencing meconium aspiration. It normally occurs in stressful births or in births where the baby is overdue. It can also be prevented by c-section.
Meconium aspiration is normally treated by mouth suction or tapping on the chest to help loosen or remove secretions in the infant’s lungs. The child may also be placed on antibiotics if they develop an infection, and doctors may use a warmer to help the infant maintain the correct body temperature. The mother may also become infected and require treatment.
The lack of oxygen from meconium aspiration may lead to brain damage or permanent lung damage, but these are rare occurrences. Regardless, a birth injury lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation for any maternal or fetal distress if meconium aspiration syndrome occurred as a result of medical malpractice.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
A child may suffer from a birth injury before, during, and after delivery, which can be caused by maternal and infant conditions. Sometimes, however, a child’s injuries may result from the improper use of instruments like forceps, which can help guide the child through the birth canal.
Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice are preventable, which can often make the situation more upsetting. An experienced medical malpractice attorney at Ashenden & Associates can help the child’s family receive financial assistance for any injuries caused by negligence.
Can I Sue for a Birth Injury?
Yes, you can sue for a birth injury in Georgia. Like personal injury lawsuits and medical malpractice lawsuits, birth injury lawsuits aim to hold negligent parties responsible for their actions. If a medical professional acts negligently when assisting in a child’s delivery, or fails to properly monitor the fetus before birth, they may be liable for any damages caused. Birth injury lawyers can help families financially recover after a serious birth injury, so they can focus on taking care of their newborn and/or recovering from giving birth.
Proving Negligence in a Birth Injury Lawsuit
It’s not just enough to prove that an infant suffered birth injuries before, during, or after birth.
To file a birth injury lawsuit, the person suing, or the “plaintiff,” must be able to prove that the mother’s or child’s injury was caused by birth-related medical malpractice. A birth injury lawyer will gather evidence, including medical records and photos of the injuries, to prove that they were caused by negligence.
To prove negligence, birth injury lawyers must present evidence that proves the 4 elements of negligence were present. These elements include:
- Duty of Care, which is the requirement of consideration people must have for others;
- Breach of Care, which occurs when someone acts without consideration for others;
- Causation, which means someone’s careless actions caused another person’s injury; and
- Damages, which are the things someone loses as a result of being injured.
Our Georgia birth injury law firm is prepared to help you file your birth injury claim, help prove your child’s injury was a direct result of medical negligence, and help you recover financial compensation for damages.
Possible Liable Parties in a Birth Injury Lawsuit
If a doctor fails to detect complications or acts in a way that doesn’t align with the medical standard of care, they may be liable for financial damages. Additional liable parties in a birth injury claim can include other medical professionals involved in the injured child’s birth. Basically, any healthcare provider who breaches their duty of care to their patients may be liable for any preventable birth injuries they cause.
Birth Injury Damages
If a child suffers from a birth injury or birth defect, their family may face financial–and even emotional–hardship from treating their injured child. However, if a child’s birth injury resulted from medical errors, the child’s family may receive financial compensation in a personal injury suit.
Damages can help families recover compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Physical therapy for conditions like Cerebral Palsy;
- Special education services;
- Adaptive technology;
- Home and vehicle modifications; and
- Pain and suffering.
How much compensation plaintiffs receive in birth injury cases depends on the severity of the birth injury or injuries, and how much the child has suffered or will suffer due to their injuries. For example, a child missing developmental milestones due to a birth injury could cause them to need special education services, which may cause their family financial and emotional stress.
With experience trying other birth injury cases similar to yours, Sandy Springs birth injury attorneys at Ashenden & Associates know how to navigate the Georgia legal system and can provide clients with experienced legal counsel. Our birth injury lawyers work hard to ensure you’ll receive the best outcome for your specific case.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries
Like any medical malpractice claim, a birth injury claim has a statute of limitations, which is the window of time in which someone must file legal action. According to Georgia Code § 9-3-71, the statute of limitations on birth trauma cases is 2 years from when the negligence occurs.