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Birth Injury Lawsuit Settlements Overview

Expectant mothers are very vulnerable during active labor and childbirth. Complications during birth can lead to birth injuries to both the mother and the child. This article will focus on birth injuries to the child.

Even with the highest level of care, some birth injuries are unavoidable. If your child suffered a brain injury, brain damage, or any other injury during birth, you may have a birth injury case. 

Who is responsible for the injury? The following medical professionals may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Doctor
  • Obstetrician
  • Registered nurse
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospital
  • Birthing center

Most defendants choose to settle medical malpractice cases out of court. Settlements minimize publicity and avoid costly, time-consuming trials. As a parent, you may prefer to settle a birth injury claim than litigate in court depending on the circumstances.

Before accepting a settlement offer, it is crucial to understand the cost of:

  • Physical therapy
  • Specialized equipment
  • In-home care
  • Lost wages
  • Other financial hardships related to the injury

This article discusses types of injuries, standard of care, birth injury lawsuit settlements, and how to get started with your child's birth injury claim.

Birth Injury Claims

Birth injuries occur during childbirth and should not be confused with birth defects. Birth defects are irregularities that happen prior to birth, often during or before pregnancy.

In order to prove a birth injury claim, the plaintiff must show that the doctor or healthcare professional committed medical negligence. The plaintiff will need to prove that the doctor breached a legal duty of care. In other words, the doctor acted or failed to act as a reasonably competent doctor in a similar situation, and the doctor's breach injured the child.

The hospital or birthing center is occasionally the primary defendant in such a claim under the doctrine of respondeat superior. However, individual providers are typically sued instead. Here are a few examples of different types of birth injuries:

  • Inadequate oxygen to the baby's brain can cause damage, including cerebral palsy
  • Nerve damage from using too much force during delivery (Erb's palsy)
  • Injuries resulting from the baby's shoulder getting stuck during delivery (shoulder dystocia)

The first step is to file a lawsuit. Next, make sure you thoroughly research the costs you likely will incur as a result of the injury. This includes medical bills, lost wages from time off work, lifetime medical expenses for special care, and ongoing medical needs.

Determining a Settlement Amount: The Life Care Plan

If your child has suffered a birth injury, you may be offered a settlement amount by a hospital representative early in the process. It may seem like a lot of money, but you need to do your homework, preferably with the help of legal counsel, to accurately calculate your current and future monetary losses.

birth injury attorney can help you craft a detailed life care plan to account for these costs. Having a life care plan will help you understand the total cost of the personal injury and anticipated future costs before agreeing to any amount offered by your health care provider.

There are several factors that comprise a life care plan for a child with a birth injury. These factors may include:

  • Daily child's care in a specialized facility
  • Ongoing medical evaluations and therapies
  • Special equipment or modifications to aid with independent living
  • Other expenses

In addition, a parent who stays home to care for the child may claim lost wages.

The total costs calculated in your life care plan will make up the bulk of your settlement amount, but you also may seek compensation for non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. Keep in mind that most states have limits on medical malpractice damages. Settlements also have limitations but may be adjusted to reflect inflation and other cost increases.

Each case will vary depending on the needs of your child and the willingness of the defendant(s) to reach a settlement. If you believe the amount offered is inadequate, you may decide to pursue a trial instead.

Speak With an Attorney About Your Birth Injury Claim

Adjusting to life with a newborn is difficult, particularly if your child has suffered a serious birth injury and has disabilities.

If you believe the personal injury is the result of negligence by healthcare providers during medical treatment, you should speak to an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible. Medical malpractice claims have a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys can provide a case review (many will do so for free) and help you determine if it is in your best interest to take legal action or accept a settlement offer. If medical care led to an injury or wrongful death, speaking to an attorney can help you decide what to do next.

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