Giving birth and welcoming a child into the world should be a joyous experience. Unfortunately, medical professionals can make mistakes or act negligently, which can cause birth injuries. Research suggests that 28,000 infants per year are born with a birth injury, and approximately 3 infants are born with a birth injury per hour. The ten most common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injury (or Erb's palsy)
- Broken bones
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIF)
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Caput succedaneum
- Periventricular leukomalacia
Common Causes of Birth Injuries | Medical Malpractice
Oftentimes, birth injuries are the result of errors made by doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals during the labor or delivery process. Medical negligence that could cause birth injuries includes:
- Failing to offer mothers quality prenatal care, which can lead to infections or illnesses or complications within mothers or their children being left untreated. Certain infections are known causes of birth injuries.
- Not performing a C-section (at all or promptly), which can compromise the safety of mothers and children when a vaginal delivery is unsafe.
- Overusing drugs to induce labor, which can cause fetal distress, contractions that are more forceful than natural contractions, and a loss of oxygen (for the infant) during delivery.
- Failing to use tools safely or accurately during birth, which can cause head traumas for infants.
- Failing to monitor mother and child during labor and after delivery, which can lead to issues with fetal heartrate or complications with mother or child being missed.
- Not managing any other pregnancy or delivery situations properly, which can cause a host of issues for mother and child.
Birth injuries may be a result of natural issues, such as an infant having a large head or a mother having a small pelvis. However, even in these instances, doctors should make the necessary accommodations for mother and child so that the delivery is safe; if complications arise because of either of these issues, you may be able to file a claim if you were not made aware of risk factors (like irregular pelvis shape or size, heavier infant, breech birth position, etc.).
Signs of Birth Injuries
While you may not notice that your child has a birth injury or developmental issue caused by a birth injury, you may recognize the following signs or behaviors soon after their birth.
- Abnormal reflexes (such as failure to respond to loud noises or an inability to grasp objects)
- Difficulty suckling or swallowing
- Excessive drooling
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Low heart rate or oxygen levels
- Organ problems
- Pale or blue skin
- Stiff or loose muscles
Most birth injuries are discovered well after a child’s birth. The following symptoms can be indicative of a birth injury.
- Cerebral palsy
- Difficulty walking, crawling, eating, drinking, or grasping objects
- Learning disabilities or behavioral issues
- Muscle spasms or tremors
- Seizure-related disorders
- Sensory processing disorders
- Speech or motor impediments
- Vision or hearing impairments
What Kind of Damages Can Birth Injury Victims Seek?
Children who have suffered birth injuries may have development conditions or life-long health concerns or battles, and they may need long-term care, special education, expensive equipment, or costly medical treatment. In cases where negligence or recklessness caused a child’s birth injuries, families should not be expected to handle the financial strain of these expenses. You can receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Lost wages (current and wages)
- Home health aide costs
- Counseling and special education costs
- Healthcare expenses, including hospital fees, costs of surgery, long-term care resources, rehab, etc.
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Housing modifications, equipment, and/or accommodations
In Connecticut, there is not a cap placed on the non-economic damages that you can receive; however, under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-228c, if a jury awards non-economic damages for over $1 million, a judge will have to review the award to ensure it is not excessive.
How Do You Prove Negligence Resulted in a Birth Injury?
You have two years from the date of injury, date of discovery of the injury, or date of death to file a claim, and there is an absolute deadline of 3 years imposed for medical malpractice claims (see Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-584). In medical malpractice claims, you will need to prove that you suffered damages and:
- The liable party owed you (and the child) a duty of care.
- The liable party breached that duty of care by acting recklessly or in a way that another person would not have.
- Their breach of duty of care caused the birth injury.
You can submit evidence to substantiate your claim, including:
- Testimonies from witnesses or other medical professionals
- Medical records
- Healthcare-related bills
- Hospital and medical procedures and policies
- Emails or other forms of communication between hospital staff
Get Legal Help
At Zayas Law Firm, our attorneys have nearly 45 years of collective experience, and we are here to help families pursue compensation in birth injury claims. We understand how procedurally complex these cases can be and can help alleviate some of your stress by handling the case legalities. Once you retain our firm, we can work with you to:
- Determine the causation of your child’s injuries by investigating the circumstances of their birth
- Establish liability
- Gather evidence
- Calculate the damages (economic and non-economic) that you are owed
- Retain the services of experts who can help your case
- Achieve the best possible results (whether you negotiate a settlement or go to trial)