A birth injury can be traumatic and catastrophic. You trust your care and the care of your newborn to medical professionals. When you or your defenseless baby is harmed by their negligence, it can permanently alter your child’s and family’s life. When a birth injury is caused by negligent medical care, you may have a right to pursue a birth injury lawsuit against the responsible parties for compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
At Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen, our lawyers recognize how heartbreaking it can be to learn that your child has sustained birth injuries. While we cannot change the devastating effects of a medical provider’s negligence, we may be able to aid you in recovering compensation in a birth injury lawsuit. Our attorneys specialize in serious injury cases, like birth injuries, and are passionate about holding medical professionals accountable for their negligent acts.
If you’re considering filing a birth injury lawsuit, you should know some important points about these cases upfront. Accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of five important things you should know about a birth injury lawsuit. For information specific to your situation, contact our experienced attorneys at 816-421-6868 today.
1. What Is a Birth Injury?
What is a birth injury? Generally, a birth injury is a physical injury that occurs during childbirth. A birth injury can happen to the baby, mother, or both. There are, unfortunately, multiple kinds of birth injuries. Common birth injuries include the following:
- Brachial palsy,
- Forceps marks,
- Facial paralysis, and
These are only a handful of examples of birth injuries for which you may be able to file a claim. One of our highly experienced attorneys can advise you of your potential claim with your specific circumstances.
2. You Have to Prove Medical Malpractice
You may wonder, Is birth injury preventable? Unfortunately, the answer is often yes. Individuals file a birth injury lawsuit due to an injury resulting from medical malpractice or, in other words, medical negligence. This means the medical professional could have done something differently to avoid this problem.
For a birth injury lawsuit, you generally must prove negligence. The four elements of negligence that you must prove are:
- Duty of care,
- Breach of the duty of care,
- Causation, and
We describe these elements in more detail below. As always, you should consult with an attorney to fully understand the legal standard applicable to your case.
Duty of Care
The first element of negligence that you must prove is the duty of care. The duty of care means that a medical professional must act as an ordinary, reasonable, and prudent medical professional under the same or similar circumstances. In most cases, proving that a medical professional owed you or your child a duty of care is relatively straightforward. You can prove that a provider owed you and your child a duty of care if there was a doctor-patient relationship.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty is the second element of negligence. A breach means that your healthcare provider failed to do what a reasonable medical provider would have done under the circumstances. For example, if a physician or other medical professional improperly used a vacuum extractor, they may have breached their duty of care.
The element of causation means that the defendant’s breach must have caused the injuries. In other words, if it weren’t for the breach by the defendant, the injuries would not have occurred. For example, your child would not have been injured during childbirth if it were not for the physician improperly using a vacuum extractor.
The fourth and final element of negligence you must prove is that you or your child suffered damages. There must be some kind of damage, harm, or injury, or there can be no viable negligence claim. Examples of damages in a birth injury lawsuit include medical bills and the parents’ lost wages. They can also have less tangible damages like pain and suffering.
3. You Can Recover Various Types of Damages
There are multiple kinds of damages you may be able to recover in a birth injury claim. These damages include both non-economic and economic damages.
Economic damages are quantitative. Therefore, they are relatively straightforward to calculate. A few types of economic damages you may be eligible for include:
- Medical expenses,
- Prescription drug costs, and
- Lost past and future wages due to being unable to work.
These damages are based on your quantifiable financial losses. Contact our experienced attorneys for assistance in understanding your potential economic damages.
Non-economic damages are another possible category of damages in a birth injury claim. These are more subjective than economic damages and more challenging to calculate. Some types of non-economic damages in Missouri are:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment, and
- Loss of consortium.
Pain and suffering can include physical pain as well as mental anguish.
These are all categories of damages that are difficult to quantify, and they are very specific to the facts of each case. If your child has suffered a significant birth injury, this has certainly impacted your and your child’s emotional well-being. We are here to help you understand the non-economic compensation you may deserve.
Missouri law permits injured parties to obtain punitive damages against a healthcare provider if the provider intentionally harmed you or your child or demonstrated “malicious misconduct.”
Punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party. Missouri’s punitive damages law is relatively strict. Nonetheless, our attorneys are very experienced in fighting and winning punitive damages awards.
4. Multiple Parties May Be Liable in a Birth Injury Lawsuit
There may be more than one party responsible for a birth injury. Multiple parties besides the physician involved could share liability for you or your child’s injuries. Some potentially liable parties include the following:
- The hospital,
- Other medical professionals, or
- Medical equipment manufacturers.
A qualified attorney can help you investigate further. At Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen, we investigate every case thoroughly to ascertain who may be responsible in each case. Call our accomplished lawyers today for a free consultation.
5. You Must File Suit Before the Deadline Passes
You must file a birth injury claim before the legal deadline for filing, otherwise called the statute of limitations. Under Missouri law, people over 18 have two years to file suit from when the medical error occurred. However, minors have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit for a birth injury.
Do not delay. Contact our knowledgeable team as early as possible for help filing your claim on time.
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
So, how common are birth injuries? Serious birth injuries are less common than in prior decades due to advances in medical practice. Nonetheless, knowing that a birth injury is less common does not help you if you or your child experienced one at the hands of a negligent medical professional. We understand how painful this situation can be and are here to help you.
How Our Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help You
If your child has sustained a serious or catastrophic birth injury because of a medical provider’s actions, we understand that you and your family must be overwhelmed. Fortunately, the client-centered attorney at Dempsey Kingsland & Osteen can fight for you and your family.
We can thoroughly investigate a medical malpractice claim with our full-time medical team. We are ready to fight for you. Contact us today.