Serving Families in Columbus and All of Ohio Whose Children Suffered Birth-Related Trauma
Children are precious. Every expectant parent looks forward to the day when a new addition to the family is born and they can begin their lives together.
The majority of births occur without complications, resulting in healthy children. Unfortunately, errors committed by medical professionals before, during, and after a baby is born can have lifelong consequences for children and their families.
If your child suffered injury during birth or displays signs of development deficiency, the negligence of one or more medical providers may have been a factor. The birth injury lawyers at Colombo Law can fully investigate and pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.
Please call (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Our Columbus birth injury attorneys serve clients throughout Ohio.
What Is a Birth Injury?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) defines a birth injury as “an impairment of the neonate’s body function or structure due to an adverse event that occurred at birth.” NCBI statistics report that the birth injury rate in the United States is 1.9 per 1,000 live births.
Birth injuries can have a variety of different causes. Although not all of these injuries occur due to negligence on the part of a healthcare practitioner, it is important to consider the potential impact of these errors on the health and well-being of your child.
The Columbus birth injury lawyers at Colombo Law can investigate to determine if a preventable error harmed your child. Our Ohio law office is committed to pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of clients in medical malpractice claims.
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What Causes Birth Injuries?
Multiple medical professionals are involved in caring for patients through pregnancy and labor. When practitioners maintain the standard of care, both mother and baby tend to enjoy positive outcomes. However, substandard care increases the risk of injury for both patients.
Some of the most common causes of birth injuries include:
- Errors in prenatal care, including undiagnosed maternal infection, negligent care of gestational diabetes, etc.
- Overlooking factors contributing to a high-risk pregnancy and delivery, such as maternal obesity, the size of the baby, the position of the baby in the womb, multiple fetuses, etc.
- Prolonged labor
- Errors in monitoring the vital signs of mother and baby, resulting in failure to detect fetal distress and/or maternal conditions
- Failure to rotate the baby during labor to alleviate abnormal birthing presentation
- Misuse of forceps and vacuum extraction devices
- Failure to order a cesarean section when it is medically necessary
- Mismanagement of the umbilical cord (babies sometimes get tangled in the umbilical cord, a condition known as nuchal cord)
- Medication errors, including misuse of pitocin, anesthesia, etc.
- Negligent care of the mother and/or the baby after delivery
Each of these issues is often the result of negligence on the part of one or more healthcare providers. If birthing negligence was a factor in the injury you and/or your child suffered during or after pregnancy and delivery, you may have a malpractice claim.
Who Is At Fault for a Birth Injury?
Multiple medical practitioners may be liable in birth injury claims. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the care mothers and babies receive to determine if preventable errors occurred.
Parties that may be liable for a birth injury include:
- OB/GYNs: Obstetrics is the medical specialty devoted to pregnancy and labor. Many doctors have a dual specialty in obstetrics and gynecology (the medical specialty focused on women’s reproductive health). An OB or OB/GYN is responsible for keeping you and your baby healthy and safe through pregnancy and during delivery and labor. Unfortunately, obstetrical negligence is a common factor in birth injury claims.
- Anesthesiologists: An anesthesiologist is the doctor who assists with pain management during labor. In addition to administering anesthesia, the anesthesiologist is responsible for monitoring how mother and baby tolerate the anesthesia. Adverse reactions must be caught quickly and anesthesia adjusted to reduce the risk of serious injury.
- Other doctors and medical staff: A number of individuals may be involved in providing prenatal care, assisting with labor and delivery, and caring for the baby and the mother after delivery. Errors on the part of any providers – from emergency room doctors to nurses, physician assistants to midwives and doulas – that cause you and/or your baby harm may be grounds for a birth injury lawsuit.
Individual healthcare providers are not the only parties that may be liable in a birth injury claim. The hospital or medical facility may be liable for the negligence of its employees, or due to institutional negligence (such as retaining a member of staff with a history of malpractice).
What Are Common Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries vary in seriousness. Some injuries resolve on their own with little to no intervention, while others can impact a child for the rest of his or her life.
One of the most difficult aspects of birth injuries is how long it can take for the full extent of the injury to be apparent. Many parents don’t realize that their child is suffering from a birth-related injury until they begin missing developmental milestones or struggling with basic tasks.
Some common birth injuries that all parents should be aware of include:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 out of every 345 children born in the United States is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Though it is not the most common birth injury, it is one of the most well-known and among the most serious.
Most cases of cerebral palsy occur when a child suffers injury to the brain prior to, during, or shortly after birth. Trauma to the developing brain can have a wide range of adverse effects, with some of the most significant relating to:
- Mobility: Children who have cerebral palsy may have difficulty crawling, rolling over, and walking. These mobility issues may result in limited walking ability later in life. Some patients suffer lifetime paralysis.
- Muscle tone: Abnormalities in muscle tone are among the most recognizable early signs of cerebral palsy. Your baby’s muscles may feel overly rigid and/or loose and floppy, particularly when he or she is picked up and held.
- Coordination: In early life, babies with cerebral palsy may struggle to bring their hands together, move their hands toward their mouths, and clench one hand while opening up and holding out the other hand. They may also favor one side of the body over another. As they grow older, children and even adults who have cerebral palsy may experience difficulty holding objects; feeding, dressing, and caring for themselves; and more.
- Vision and hearing: People with cerebral palsy may experience full or partial loss of vision and/or hearing.
- Speech: The ability to speak is a complex physical and cognitive process. People with cerebral palsy may struggle with one or both aspects of speech, resulting in communication difficulties.
- Cognitive ability: The brain damage associated with cerebral palsy can also cause intellectual disabilities. Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty learning how to read, paying attention, and retaining information, as well as struggle with communication.
- Mental health: Children and adults with cerebral palsy are more prone to issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and more.
- Seizures: According to the Epilepsy Foundation, up to 50 percent of patients with cerebral palsy also suffer from epileptic seizures. Seizures may begin in the early years of life for a child with cerebral palsy. Unmanaged seizures can result in physical injury, additional trauma, and may prove to be life-threatening.
Children with cerebral palsy may suffer difficulties and deficits in multiple areas of their lives. Significant, ongoing treatments and therapies may be necessary to help your child manage and overcome the impairments they may face.
Shoulder dystocia is the medical term for when a baby’s shoulder becomes trapped against the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. If not managed properly, the baby may suffer fracture of the clavicle (also known as the collarbone), oxygen deprivation, nerve damage, and more.
Multiple factors can increase the risk of birth injury-related paralysis. One of the most significant risk factors is prolonged labor, during which the baby may suffer injury to nerves in the face, head, neck, shoulders, and other parts of the body.
Nerve damage from a prolonged or difficult birth may resolve over time with treatment. In extreme cases, however, the paralysis may be permanent. One major example of birth-related paralysis is brachial plexus injury, or significant trauma to the nerves that control the shoulder and arm.
One possible outcome of a brachial plexus injury is Erb’s palsy. Children with Erb’s palsy may have a limited ability to raise the affected arm, as well as loss of sensation. Partial or complete paralysis of the arm is possible as well.
Another brachial plexus injury that can affect your child long-term is Klumpke’s palsy. Klumpke’s palsy is paralysis of the hand, wrist, and forearm. It occurs when the nerves responsible for feeling and movement in the affected limb are damaged – most commonly as a result of birth-related trauma.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Birth Injury Claim?
Birth injury claims are complex. Parents of children who suffer injuries related to birth often struggle to get the answers they deserve. For this reason, it is in your best interest to contact a birth injury attorney in Columbus as soon as possible for assistance with your claim.
The lawyers at Colombo Law will assist you at every stage of building your case against those responsible for the harm you and your child have suffered. We provide qualified legal guidance as well as emotional support in your family’s time of need.
Proving a Birth Injury Claim
The first step of building a birth injury claim is establishing why the injury occurred. Our lawyers will obtain and fully evaluate the medical records for mother and baby to identify potential errors on the part of one or more healthcare providers. We often enlist medical experts to review the records and provide opinions concerning the standard of care (i.e., the level of treatment a competent practitioner is expected to provide) and any lapses that led to the injury.
It is important to understand that a simple mistake does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. To recover damages on your behalf in a birth injury claim, our lawyers must prove that the injury you or your child suffered occurred as a result of a breach of the duty your doctor or another provider owed to you. Testimony from medical experts can help establish what the standard of care is and how the negligence of the defendant(s) violated your rights.
Another key aspect of building a claim for birth injury is fully accounting for all of your current and future losses. Our experienced attorneys and hired experts can assess the severity of your child’s injury and the prognosis as he or she gets older. By understanding the seriousness of the birth injury, our team can determine the overall financial and other impacts you and your family may face.
Recovering Compensation for a Birth Injury
The lifetime costs of cerebral palsy or another birth injury can be enormous. You and your family may be entitled to compensation for the following losses:
- Medical expenses (both current and in the future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- The cost of assistive devices (such as crutches, a wheelchair, etc.)
- The cost of modifying your home and/or your vehicle to accommodate your child
- Payments for home-based services
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
Calculating the economic damages your family may sustain as a result of a birth injury (as well as the emotional toll of such a diagnosis) can be overwhelming. Our attorneys will enlist medical experts and other expert witnesses to calculate the damages in your case. This is known as a “life care plan,” and it is designed to account for all of the specific losses you and your family are likely to face due to your child’s birth injury.
The life care plan will encompass the totality of the economic damages and non-economic in your birth injury claim. Should your case proceed to trial, our attorneys can also argue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are an additional form of compensation that are intended to make an example of a defendant who engaged in extremely careless or malicious conduct.
In the worst-case scenario, our lawyers also pursue compensation on behalf of families who lose a child due to birth injury. Although no compensation can make up for such a tragedy, recovering damages in a wrongful death claim can help you and your loved ones overcome the financial hardships you face and heal from the loss.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for a Birth Injury?
Ohio law generally allows very little time to file a medical malpractice claim. Those who have been injured by medical negligence have only one year to pursue compensation.
However, the statute of limitations is tolled (i.e., suspended) when the claimant is a minor. If your child’s birth injury is discovered before he or she reaches the age of 18, you may have additional time to file a claim.
It is important to begin working with an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you believe your child suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of a medical provider. The birth injury lawyers at Colombo Law will investigate your case thoroughly and adhere to all filing deadlines.
Contact Our Columbus Birth Injury Lawyers Today
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been assisting clients and their families with complex personal injury cases. We understand the devastating impact medical negligence can have on children and their loved ones, and we are committed to pursuing fair compensation for you and your family.
Birth injury claims are complicated. You should not have to worry about collecting evidence, calculating damages, negotiating a fair settlement, and taking the case to trial. The attorneys at Colombo Law perform these crucial tasks on your behalf. By doing so, we give our clients the opportunity to heal and rebuild their lives while we focus on pursuing fair compensation.
Please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Our Columbus birth injury attorneys serve clients throughout Ohio.