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Laurel Birth Injury Attorney Serving All of Maryland

Birth injuries are among the most common types of medical malpractice cases that arise, and they can have a profound effect on your child’s life. Such injuries can require extensive surgeries, physical therapy, and long-term care. If your child has sustained a birth injury due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Laurel birth injury attorney at the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles, P.A. for a free consultation today. Our offices are in Laurel, Waldorf, and Leonardtown. 

Was Your Child Injured at Birth?

A birth injury occurs when the child is harmed when moving through the birth canal as a result of physical pressure caused during the birthing process. Some birth injuries are unavoidable and are the result of genetics, the baby’s position in the womb or other circumstances beyond your doctor’s control. However, birth injuries are often the result of medical malpractice on behalf of the doctor or other health care personnel. If you suspect that your child was injured during birth, one of our experienced attorneys can evaluate your case. 

Common Birth Injuries

Statistics regarding birth injuries are hard to come by, but some reports indicate as many as 7 birth injuries occur for every 1,000 live births in America. Regardless of the reliability of these statistics, birth injuries are, unfortunately, very real. Below are the most common birth injuries that can occur: 

Birth Asphyxia: This occurs when the baby is deprived of oxygen during labor and delivery, resulting in brain damage. 

Spinal Cord Injuries: Excessive force can result in injury to the baby’s spinal column, which can lead to paralysis. 

Facial Paralysis: Nerves in the baby’s face can also be damaged as a result of pressure, leading to paralysis of the facial muscles.

Bone Fractures: Due to difficulties in delivering the baby’s shoulder, fractures to the collarbone are common. 

Cephalohematoma: When blood vessels on the head of the baby are broken during birth, blood collects beneath the cranial bone.

Cerebral Palsy: Believed to be caused by the use of forceps during birth, this is the result of damage to the nervous system, affecting the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Cerebral palsy can be divided into three different types: 

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy results in a lack of depth perception, stability, and balance. 
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy affects muscle tone and development, causing uncontrolled or involuntary movements. 
  • Spastic cerebral palsy causes joint and muscle stiffness, resulting in restricted mobility. 

Shoulder dystocia: This occurs when the child’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal during delivery. Shoulder dystocia can cause serious injuries for both the child and the mother. Some of the most common shoulder dystocia injuries include the following: 

  • Erb’s Palsy: Weakness or shaking of the arm and/or hand can occur if the group of nerves in the shoulder are injured during birth. 
  • Klumpke’s paralysis: Paralysis of the fingers, hand, wrist, and forearm as a result of the brachial plexus nerves being stretched. This condition is often permanent. 
  • Hypoxia: shoulder dystocia can cause a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain that can result in brain damage and other serious injuries as well as death.

Wrongful birth: This is when a child is born with severe medical issues due to misdiagnosis or failure to disclose a known risk of birth defects. As a result, the parents of the child must incur significant medical expenses in order to provide the treatment their child needs. 

Paralysis or nerve damage: Delivery negligence can cause significant nerve damage to either the child or the mother or both. This can result in paralysis or other impairments. 

Brachial plexus injuries: The brachial plexus is the network of nerves in the child’s shoulder. It is vulnerable to injuries during birth if the doctor negligently pulls or otherwise exerts unnecessary force on the infant’s shoulder, causing damage to these nerves and resulting in paralysis, disfigurement, pain, or numbness in the affected arm. Brachial plexus injuries can include the following: 

  • Neurapraxia is caused by an overstretching of the shoulder during delivery. This is the least serious brachial plexus injury and can be healed if the child receives the medical treatment they need. 
  • A neuroma is scar tissue that forms on the damaged nerve fiber that presses on healthy nerves. While partial recovery is very likely, it is quite possible that the child will have a long-term partial disability. 
  • A nerve rupture is when the nerve is torn. Recovery may require extensive medical treatment, including surgery, and it is possible that the child may suffer a permanent disability regardless. 
  • An avulsion is where the nerve is severed from the spinal cord. A full recovery is unlikely, even after extensive surgery.

If you suspect that your child has suffered any of these injuries during birth, the best thing you can do is contact a Laurel birth injury attorney as soon as possible. 

Birth Injuries Include Injuries to the Mother 

It is important to remember that labor and delivery can be a traumatic experience for both the child and the mother. Mothers can suffer serious injuries as the result of medical malpractice during the birthing process that can require extensive and expensive medical treatment and significantly impact their daily lives. Some of the most common birth injuries that mothers suffer as a result of medical malpractice include the following:

  • A perineal tear is caused by a negligently performed episiotomy. While superficial tears are relatively minor injuries, a third or fourth-degree perineal tear can cause severe muscle and nerve damage. This can lead to numbness, pain, incontinence, and sexual dysfunction. 
  • Damage to the pelvic floor is caused by a usually large baby or when the birth canal is smaller than average. Damage caused in these situations is often caused by the doctor’s failure to perform a C-section and typically results in urinary incontinence or genital prolapse.
  • Lumbosacral plexus injuries are where the nerves that control the movement of the legs are damaged by the improper insertion of an epidural. This can cause shooting or stabbing pain in the legs as well as weakness and a loss of sensation. 
  • Femoral nerve dysfunction is caused by prolonged and unnecessary pressure on the femoral nerve during delivery. Damage to the femoral nerve can cause difficulty in walking, requiring women to use a walker or even a wheelchair for weeks or months after the birth of their child.

Whether you or your child suffered an injury during birth, these cases are incredibly complex to prove. Your best chance of getting the compensation you need is to work with an experienced Laurel birth injury attorney.     

Were the Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence or Malpractice?

As noted above, many birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice that stems from when doctors or other medical staff members are negligent. In the context of medical malpractice, negligence occurs when health care professionals fail to act in accordance with accepted standards of practice for labor and delivery, or they otherwise fail to act with due care. Most birth injuries that are caused by malpractice are the result of the following: 

  • Failing to adequately monitor the child’s or the mother’s vital signs during labor and delivery or failing to recognize signs of fetal distress
  • Allowing labor and delivery to continue for an excessive period of time
  • Improper use of forceps, vacuum extractors, or other birthing devices
  • Pulling too hard on the child’s shoulders

One of the most common causes of birth injuries is the failure to recommend or perform a cesarean section when it is appropriate. A timely C-section can prevent many common birth injuries, such as brain damage, cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries, and shoulder dystocia injuries.  

The birth injuries that follow these causes occur during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, many birth injuries are caused long before the delivery room. Failure to provide adequate prenatal care is another common form of medical malpractice that can lead to birth injuries. Physicians have a legal obligation to monitor their patients up to the day of delivery to address any potential issues and ensure the best chances of a normal delivery. Conditions that warrant careful monitoring include the following: 

  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies, including iron or folic acid deficiencies
  • High or low blood pressure

Failure to monitor these or other conditions can result in complications during delivery. These conditions are often treatable and with the proper medical care, are typically a non-issue. If you have suffered a birth injury due to one of these conditions, you may be entitled to compensation.  

Unfortunately, birth injury cases are very difficult for non-lawyers to pursue. However, a skilled Laurel birth injury attorney can demonstrate that the hospital or doctor failed to meet the applicable standard of care that directly caused your child’s birth injury. 

The Damages Available in Maryland Birth Injury Cases

One of the things that makes birth injuries so worrisome for parents is that their children face a very strong likelihood of life-long health problems and permanent disabilities. Brain injuries and conditions such as cerebral palsy can make it difficult for your child to work, care for themselves, or simply live a normal life even when they reach adulthood. 

As a result, families, and children facing birth injuries have expenses that many other medical malpractice or injury victims simply do not have. And if you choose to pursue a claim related to your child’s birth injury, you have only one opportunity to get all of the compensation your child will need for the rest of their life. Getting the right help is critical to the success of your case and the future of your child. An experienced Laurel birth injury attorney can ensure that your claim includes all of the damages that you are entitled to so that your child can get the compensation they deserve. 

If your child has suffered a birth injury as a result of medical malpractice, you may be able to seek damages for the following: 

  • Immediate and future medical care, including treatment to reverse the effects of the injury 
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • The cost of assistive devices such as wheelchairs and needed modifications to your home
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity if your child will be unable to work when they are an adult
  • Your child’s pain and suffering, including mental and emotional distress

Calculating these losses is not easy and may require the help of various financial and economic experts. A Laurel birth injury attorney will know how to get the help you need so that your child can get the care they deserve, both now and in years to come. 

A Laurel Birth Injury Attorney Who Can Answer Your Frequently Asked Questions

How long do birth injury lawsuits take?

The length of time that a case can take will vary widely based on factors. These factors can include whether important facts are in dispute or whether the case presents complex legal issues. Cases, where it is obvious that there was negligence, may settle comparatively quickly, in as little as 4 to 8 months. Other cases may take considerably longer. If your case is not able to settle and you must go to trial, your case could take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years to be fully resolved. 

What is the first step in a birth injury lawsuit? 

Before doing anything, the very first step you should take is to consult with a Laurel birth injury attorney. They can review your case, candidly assess whether you may have a claim, and help you understand your options. Proceeding with your lawsuit without consulting an attorney could jeopardize your rights and do irreparable harm to your case. 

What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

A birth injury is an injury suffered by the baby due to something that happened during labor and delivery. If the cause of the injury was medical malpractice, then you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for your child’s birth injury. 

Birth defects, on the other hand, are the result of genetics. And while there may be a legal claim arising from a birth defect, those claims are very different from a birth injury claim and cannot be pursued as a birth injury claim. 

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish between a birth defect and a birth injury. For example, cerebral palsy can be genetic or caused by negligence during birth. A Laurel birth injury will be able to distinguish between a birth injury and a birth defect so that you can decide whether or not to pursue a claim. 

Identifying Who Is At Fault in Your Child’s Birth Injury Case

The first step in a potential birth injury case is identifying who may have caused your child’s injury as a result of their negligence. If you cannot identify the at-fault party, you will not be able to proceed with your claim. In other words, the fact that your child suffered a birth injury is, by itself, not enough to successfully pursue a claim. 

The challenge in identifying who may be at fault is that pregnant mothers see a variety of healthcare professionals during pregnancy and labor, and delivery. From your OBYN to the labor and delivery nurses to an anesthesiologist, there are many different people whose mistakes could have led to your child’s birth injury. 

In other situations, the hospital or medical facility may itself be at fault. They can be held liable if your child’s birth injury was the result of the following: 

  • Faulty or broken equipment
  • Lack of sterilization
  • Negligent hiring practices
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Inadequate emergency protocols

To further complicate matters, your child’s birth injury may be the result of mistakes made on multiple levels. For example, the injury may be the result of the doctor’s negligence, but they were inexperienced and unsupervised due to the hospital’s negligence. In situations such as these, you may need to pursue multiple parties simultaneously. 

We should also emphasize that failing to pursue the correct party could result in losing your rights. Valuable time could be lost pursuing the wrong party. The good news is that you do not need to figure out who might be at fault on your own. A Laurel birth injury attorney can review your case, determine whether you may have a claim, and then identify the party or parties you should pursue. This means that your case can move forward without delay so that you can get the compensation you deserve sooner rather than later. 

Contact a Laurel Birth Injury Attorney Today

If you suspect that your child has been injured as the result of a birth injury, you should speak with an experienced birth injury lawyer right away. At the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles, P.A., we provide our clients with tireless and aggressive legal representation to get them the compensation they need. Call us at 301-705-5006 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.