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Birth related injuries can be an unfortunate side effect of delivery room complications and medical conditions that weren’t appropriately diagnosed or treated during pregnancy. Not only can these issues cause a stressful and dangerous delivery, but that can affect you, your child, and your family for the rest of your lives.
If your child suffered a birth-related injury, you may be able to receive compensation to assist with your child’s impending medical expenses and costs. Unfortunately, figuring out whether you are eligible for compensation for your child’s birth injury can be hard. That’s why it’s a good idea to contact the birth injury attorneys at Colombo Law to learn if you have a case.
Birth Injury Statistics
Birth injuries are more common than you might think. In fact, 6 to 8 out of every 1,000 babies will be born with a birth injury. When you consider the population of the United States, that means that 1 out of every 9,714 people have been born with a birth injury.
Below are some additional facts on birth injuries in the U.S.:
- Every year, 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury
- That’s 2,333 birth injuries each month, 538 each week, 76 each day, and 3 every hour
- Historically, male babies are more likely to be born with birth injuries than female babies
- More birth injuries occur at non-profit hospitals than for-profit hospitals
- Birth injuries are more common in mothers between 25 and 34 years old who have to undergo a tool-assisted delivery
- For mothers who undergo a non-instrument assisted delivery, the greatest risk for birth injury occurs in those who are between 25 and 29 years old
Common Delivery Room Errors
In reality, delivery room errors occur all the time. Most are harmless, but some can cause life-threatening injuries or even death. Delivery room errors can be caused by almost any hospital staff member, including the obstetrician, nurses, or anesthesiologist, and may be the result of:
- Forced delivery
- Delayed delivery resulting in emergency c-section
- Improperly administered epidurals or drugs
- Failure to properly monitor vital signs for signs of fetal distress
- Incorrectly used instruments, forceps, or vacuum extractors
- Miscalculated contractions
- Failure to plan procedures necessary for the birth of a very large or very small baby
- Failure to stop excessive bleeding
- Failure to identify or fix umbilical cord entrapment
- Improper handling of the infant’s body or improper extraction
- Poor use of inducement drugs
What is Cerebral Palsy?
One of the most common birth-related injuries seen in the United States is cerebral palsy (CP). In fact, 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies will be born with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy can be best described as a birth-related condition that affects the brain’s (cerebral) ability to control the muscles, which results in weakness (palsy). The brain injury typically occurs during birth due to a delivery room error, and this causes the baby’s brain to develop abnormally. The extent to which cerebral palsy can affect the muscles includes the child’s ability to control movement, mobility, coordination, reflexes, posture, balance, and basic motor skills. It may also affect their ability to speak, see, and hear.
Though cerebral palsy is not life threatening, the expected life-span for a child with cerebral palsy is far below average and can range from as long as 70 years to as short as 30 years. CP is non-progressive and non-contagious, but it’s also an incurable and permanent impairment the child will live with for their entire life.Get Help NowNo Obligation - 100% Private
Signs of Cerebral Palsy
If your child has cerebral palsy, it may not be noticeable until months after they are born. According to the Centers for Diseases Control, if you believe there was a delivery room error during labor that may have caused cerebral palsy, you should look out for the following signs:
6 Months and Younger
- Underdeveloped neck muscles resulting in a floppy head
- Stiff muscles/body
- Rag doll feeling when picked up
- Overextension of the back muscles when being held
- Stiff, crossed or scissored legs
6 Months and Older
- Failure to roll over
- Failure to hold hands together
- Unable to bring the hands toward the mouth
- Reaching out with one open hand while keeping the other in a closed fist
- Crawling lopsidedly
- Scooting on bottom or hopping on knees while failing to crawl on all fours
Cerebral Palsy Side Effects
For the parents of a child with cerebral palsy, life will never be normal. Each day will be challenging and stressful, and involve far more care than a child without CP would require. While not every child with cerebral palsy experiences every side effect, many will have to deal with daily struggles like:
Some children with cerebral palsy can speak and others can’t. For those that have difficulty speaking, parents and therapists must figure out a solution so basic communication can be accomplished. This may come in the form of sign language or an electronic device the child can use to convey their thoughts.
Hygiene and Care
Mild cases of cerebral palsy may allow the child to grow up being able to take care of their own basic needs, like getting dressed or bathing. More severe cases however, mean that children will need help with all aspects of their daily care and hygiene routines, from brushing teeth and hair to using the bathroom.
Our lawyers work with experts to put together what is known as a “life care plan” to determine the total cost of the medical care and other items needed to care for a child with CP for their entire life. We then work to recover the cost of the life care plan from the person whose negligence caused the cerebral palsy.
Mobility and Walking
In milder cases, kids with cerebral palsy may be able to walk on their own or with the assistance of a walker, cane, or crutches, though they may still require assistance with uneven surfaces or obstacles like steps or ramps. Other children with CP may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.
Meals and Eating
Many kids with CP require special diets and help with eating. Drinking may also be difficult as some children with CP have difficulty controlling facial muscles or swallowing.
About half of all people with cerebral palsy have some kind of intellectual disability or learning disorder. This may mean they require special schooling or lessons taught at home in order to help them learn basic concepts and life skills.
A small portion of kids with cerebral palsy have difficulty hearing or are deaf. This is a challenge that can be overcome by using sign language or by exploring the possibility of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
While most kids with CP can see, there are a small portion that are blind. Those who are not may experience vision impairment, gaze issues, and persistent squinting, amongst other things.
Chronic pain is part of daily life for people with cerebral palsy. It can stem from skin issues, scoliosis, or abnormalities in the spine and hips. While pain can be mitigated through therapy and medication, it will always affect the individual’s ability to do certain tasks or activities.
The brain injuries and intellectual disabilities that often accompany CP can cause serious behavior or emotional issues. This can make those with cerebral palsy depressed, anxious, hyperactive, and dependent.
Epilepsy and Seizures
Around 25 percent of people with CP have epilepsy or seizures. This is an unfortunate side effect that causes speech, mental ability, and physical abilities to deteriorate over time, often in an irreversible manner.
CP can affect the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that the body produces in order to be able to sleep. Epilepsy and muscle spasms can also make it difficult for kids with cerebral palsy to sleep properly.
Bladder control and constipation are very common in kids with cerebral palsy and, because many have trouble with mobility, communication, and eating, bowel issues can be hard for the child’s parents to handle.
The Cost of Cerebral Palsy
The CDC produces a publication called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In this publication, we can find information on how much it costs to care for a child with cerebral palsy:
- The average lifetime cost for someone with cerebral palsy is $921,000
- 80 percent, or $742,326, of these causes are indirect or related to the inability to work
- 2 percent, of $93,942, are direct medical expenses for things like doctor’s visits, medication, therapy, and medical devices
- 2 percent, of $84,732, are direct non-medical costs for things like education, and home and vehicle modifications
If your child suffers from Cerebral palsy caused by the negligence of another, Colombo Law will work with experts to determine the cost of cerebral palsy as it specifically relates to you and your child, including health care, physical and environmental adaptations, loss of earning capacity, and other costs.
Additional Birth-Related Injuries
Cerebral palsy isn’t the only delayed birth injury that can be caused by a delivery room error. Below are some of the additional injuries a baby can suffer after a negligent delivery:
The amount of time that a baby spends in the birth canal has a huge influence on whether they will be born with a birth injury. If too much time is spent in the birth canal, or the baby is in a breech position during a vaginal delivery, they could suffer asphyxiation or umbilical cord entanglement. Both of these conditions result in the baby not getting enough oxygen and that can cause permanent paralysis.
In rare cases, the baby’s shoulder and/or head can get caught behind the mother’s pelvic bone. Being stuck in the birth canal this way can do serious harm to the baby and its mother. The baby could suffer a fracture, be born with a disability, or die in the process of extraction. The mother could hemorrhage or experience a life-threatening uterine rupture.
Another variety of palsy that can occur in conjunction with shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy can result in partial or complete, temporary or permanent paralysis of one or both of the baby’s arms.
Much like Erb’s palsy, brachial palsy (an injury to the brachial plexus) is caused when the baby’s brachial nerves are damaged during delivery. This typically affects the upper part of the baby’s arm and can cause limited mobility, decreased ability to grip, and burning sensations.
This is another form of brachial plexus injury where the lower portion of the baby’s arm, including their wrists and fingers, are damaged. This can cause complete paralysis of the affected area and can cause the hand to curl up into a claw or club.
In addition to the above conditions, babies who experience trauma during labor may suffer cuts, bruising, broken bones, skull deformation, high blood pressure, and hypertension.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive for Birth Injuries?
Most birth injury claims or lawsuits are brought against either the doctor that was treating you or the hospital where you were giving birth. To have a valid case, you and your birth injury attorney must be able to establish the following:
- There was an established doctor/patient relationship at the time the injury occurred;
- The doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, etc was medically negligent, i.e., their treatment fell below the acceptable standard of care;
- And that negligence was the cause of the birth-related injury.
If the above or all true, you could file a claim or lawsuit for economic and non -economic damages like:
- Medical expenses (medication, doctor’s visits, equipment, etc.)
- Therapy costs
- Time away from work
- Home or vehicle modifications
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional trauma
- Special educational or counseling
- Wrongful death
Should I Hire a Birth Injury Lawyer?
If your child suffered an injury during birth, it can be easy to feel like there is something you could have done to prevent it. Remember: this is not your fault. You and your child do not deserve to struggle financially because of the negligence of a doctor. Medical professionals carry insurance coverage specifically to cover situations like these. When your life has been forever changed by cerebral palsy or a birth-related injury, it’s time to get in touch with a birth injury lawyer.
At Colombo Law, we realize what an incredibly stressful and emotional time this must be for you and your family. We know it may be hard to imagine how you will ever move on or cope with all of this, but with our help, you may be able to get help in the form of financial compensation from the doctor or hospital who injured your baby.
Our cerebral palsy and birth injury lawyers are here to help you get started with a free consultation and will handle your case without charging you a dime until we reach a successful outcome. Contact us or call us to get help today, at 888-860-1414.