Legal Guide: Traumatic Birth Injury

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Birth Trauma: Causes and Risk Factors

According to Cerebral Palsy Guide, approximately 30,000 infants are born each year with some type of birth injury. Birth injuries are the fourth leading cause of infant mortality.

The likelihood of experiencing a traumatic birth injury increase when certain risk factors are present, including:

  • Baby’s size. When an infant weighs over 8 pounds 13 ounces at birth.
  • Prematurity. When an infant does not make it to term and is born before 37 weeks of gestation.
  • Dystocia. A difficult birth caused by an awkwardly positioned baby, a small maternal pelvis, or failure of the uterus and cervix to expand.
  • Prolonged labor. When labor lasts 20 hours or more for a first-time mother and 14 hours or more with subsequent births.
    Breech presentation. When the infant is born buttocks or feet first.
  • Maternal obesity. When a mother has a body mass index of 30 or higher it increases the risk of complications during childbirth.
  • Medical negligence. When a healthcare provider misuses birth-assisting tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors.

Types of Traumatic Birth Injuries

The most common types of traumatic birth injuries include:

  • Brachial plexus injuries. An injury to the nerves that send signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Symptoms include the inability to control the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand, a limp arm, or severe pain in the shoulder or arm.
  • Fractures. A fractured collarbone is the most common fracture during birth. A fussy or crying baby who appears to be in pain when moving their arm may indicate a fractured collarbone.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage. Bleeding inside the infant’s skull ranging from bleeding between the brain and surrounding membrane to bleeding into the brain’s ventricular system. Symptoms include apnea (paused breathing), bradycardia (slow heart rate), cyanosis (blue skin color), lack of sucking instinct, a cry that is high pitched, seizure, lethargy, coma, or swelling of the fontanelles (soft spot on the baby’s head.)
  • Facial paralysis. Facial paralysis can be the result of pressure on the baby’s face during delivery or nerve injury due to the use of forceps. Symptoms include noticeable facial drooping, asymmetrical facial expressions, drooling, and feeding difficulties.
  • Spinal cord injuries. These can result from a traumatic extraction or hyperextension of the baby’s head and neck. Decreased or absent movement, poor reflexes, apnea, or lack of response to painful stimuli could indicate a spinal cord injury.
  • Cerebral palsy. A physical disability affecting movement and posture sometimes caused by lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery. Symptoms include the baby’s inability to lift their head, heavy or floppy arms and legs, stiff joints or muscles, or uncontrolled arm and leg movements.
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during childbirth and often leading to cerebral palsy. An infant with poor sucking or grasping reflexes, lethargy, muscle weakness, apnea or seizures may indicate a hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy injury has occurred.

Legal Considerations: Hiring a Birth Injury Lawyer

If your child suffered a traumatic birth injury due to medical negligence, you may want to consult with a birth injury lawyer. They can file a birth injury lawsuit on behalf of your child to ensure that your child’s medical, physical, and educational needs are met over the course of their lifetime.

A birth injury lawyer will assess your case and advise you on moving forward with a birth injury lawsuit. If they do recommend proceeding, they will gather evidence, including all medical records, and consult with a medical expert. They will then file a claim with the court and the defendant will be notified that they are being sued. At that time, both attorneys will request and receive information regarding the case, which is the discovery phase. Finally, the birth injury attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement. Should that not succeed, your case would go to trial and be decided by a judge and jury.

Compensation and Damages Awarded for Birth Injury

The amount of a traumatic birth injury settlement needs to take into account several factors, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Special education needs
  • Assistive technologies and home modifications
  • Caregiver expenses
  • Lost wages and earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Your birth injury attorney may consult with a life care planner to determine a just amount of compensation for your child’s needs.

A Pintas & Mullins Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help

With decades of experience pursuing traumatic birth injury claims, Pintas & Mullins birth injury lawyers will fight for justice for your family and your child. We accept cases nationwide and will provide a free assessment of your case, Call or text 800-934-6555 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form online to move forward today.

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Yes. Please have an attorney, paralegal, or staff member from Pintas & Mullins law firm or their co-counsel contact me as soon as possible to discuss my questions. They may contact me by email or telephone (including phone calls, text messages, autodialed / auto-selected or pre-recorded calls). I understand that message and data rates may apply and that consent to such contact is not required for use of these services. I also agree to the Privacy Policy, Anti Fraud Policy and online Terms, including its mandatory arbitration provision.
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