Advocacy & Support to Seek Justice & Compensation for Infant Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can cause a lifetime of suffering. They can also burden victims and their families with crippling medical bills and profound psychological pain. When those birth injuries could have been avoided, there may be various options for pursuing justice and recovering damages.
No matter what type of birth injuries your infant has sustained, you can start getting essential answers and information about your rights and legal options here. You can also talk to an experienced Texas birth injury attorney for more insights about a potential claim and how to move forward.
What Is the Difference Between a Birth Injury & a Birth Defect?
A birth injury refers to trauma newborns suffer during the labor and/or birthing process. In contrast, a birth defect is a physical or biochemical anomaly that typically develops during pregnancy due to genetic and/or environmental factors.
The distinction between the two means that:
- While birth defects are often detectable before a baby is born, birth injuries are discovered after.
- Birth defects can happen even when mothers and medical professionals are taking the utmost care. In contrast, birth injuries tend to occur when doctors, nurses, and/or others are not as careful or responsible as they should be.
What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can come in many forms, depending on how the trauma occurred. Generally, the most common types of birth injuries include (and are not limited to):
- Brachial plexus injury: This describes trauma to the nerves connecting the hands, arms, and shoulders to the spinal cord. Marked by bruising, numbness, and weakness, brachial plexus injury can require surgery and long-term therapy. When the upper nerves are damaged, the condition is referred to as Erb’s palsy. Brachial plexus injury is diagnosed in about 3 in every 1,000 births, and it can cause lasting pain and irreversible impacts in the most severe cases.
- Forceps or vacuum extraction injuries: Improper use of forceps can cause facial or scalp bruising, as well as facial paralysis, cranial bleeding, and even brain damage. Similarly, using vacuum extraction to deliver infants can cause complications like cuts, scalp swelling, and brain bleeding. In some cases, vacuum extraction may also cause skull fractures, Erb’s palsy, or life-threatening bleeding within the skull.
- Cerebral palsy (CP): Describing a category of disorders, rather than a specific condition, cerebral palsy is a form of brain damage that is primarily marked by balance, posture, and movement difficulties. While those with CP can face challenges getting around for the rest of their lives, this birth injury may also be associated with intellectual disabilities, speech difficulties, vision and hearing impairments, and skeletal issues. CP occurs in roughly 3 out of every 1,000 births, and about 1 in 345 kids is currently living with cerebral palsy.
- Fractures: Fetal collarbone fractures can occur when infants are in a breech position or they’re struggling during labor and birth. Skull fractures can also occur, especially when medical instruments like forceps are negligently used. Though painful, fractures at birth can heal. Still, the most severe bone fractures can leave newborns with lasting physical damage.
- Fatal injury: Severe trauma during labor and birth can cause injuries that are just too much for infants to withstand. That can occur with undiagnosed and untreated conditions affecting the mother and/or fetus. Deadly birth injuries can also happen when medical professionals act carelessly or when they fail to take action as mothers go into labor and give birth.
In many cases, diagnosing birth injuries is a complicated process, often taking months or longer. Additionally, some infants may suffer multiple injuries, depending on the mistakes that were made in labor, birth, or after. That’s why birth injury diagnoses tend to require a battery of medical tests. It’s also why medical records tend to be crucial evidence in birth injury claims.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Many birth injuries are caused by the negligence, oversights, and errors of medical professionals. Specifically, those errors can include (and are not limited to) the:
- Failure to notice and address fetal oxygen deprivation: This can occur with umbilical prolapse (when the umbilical cord passes through the birth canal before a baby is born), as well as and nuchal cord (when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck in utero).
- Failure to detect and/or treat maternal infection: A mother’s viral and/or bacterial infections can result in fetal birth injuries when those infections go undiagnosed or untreated.
- Failure to perform prompt C-sections when necessary: Emergency C-sections can be critical when it’s obvious babies or mothers are in distress. Signs of fetal and maternal distress can include (and are not limited to) dangerously high blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, and decreased movement of the baby in utero. Additionally, it may also be necessary to perform an emergency C-section during delayed births, meaning labor lasts longer than 18 hours. Failures to do so can end up severely injuring newborns.
- Failure to properly use birthing tools: Misuse of forceps and/or vacuum extraction during the birthing process can cause a range of serious birth injuries.
With everything that happens during labor and birth, you may not immediately know whether negligence has harmed your infant.
That’s why it’s vital to consult a Texas birth injury lawyer, share your story, and get professional advice about your legal options. You could have various avenues for pursuing justice, and an attorney can advise and guide you, helping you determine liability and hold the negligent parties accountable for the harm they’ve done to your baby and your family.
What Are the Risk Factors for Birth Injuries?
Some infants have a greater chance of sustaining birth injuries than others. Factors that can sharply increase the risk of birth injury include maternal obesity, premature birth, and breech birth. Other birth injury risk factors include (and are not limited to):
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD): With this condition, the baby’s head is too big, or the mother’s pelvis is too small for the infant to be safely delivered via the birth canal.
- Fetal macrosomia: This occurs when a baby grows excessively large in utero. Usually affecting males, fetal macrosomia describes a fetus weighing at least 9 pounds (lbs.).
- Gestational diabetes: This describes high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. It can cause all sorts of risks and health complications, like premature birth, infant hypoglycemia, and even infant seizures.
- Preeclampsia: Typically developing after 20 weeks of pregnancy, preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure. While it can cause liver and kidney damage in pregnant mothers, this condition can also lead to premature birth and other complications for infants.
- Difficult or prolonged labor: Awkward fetal positions and/or the shape of a mother’s pelvis can complicate birth, causing babies to struggle and/or lose their oxygen supply.
These and other risk factors for birth injuries can be mitigated with proper prenatal care, as well as the right medical attention during pregnancy, labor, birth, and after. When risk factors are ignored or they aren’t properly addressed, birth injuries can and do happen.
Who Is Liable for Birth Injuries?
Any party whose negligence contributed to an infant’s birth injuries can be liable for the suffering, harm, and losses those injuries have caused. In general, those who tend to be liable for birth injuries include (and are not limited to):
- Medical professionals, like OB-GYNs, anesthesiologists, surgeons, doctors, nurses, and/or others
- Facilities, like hospitals and/or birthing centers
- Others, like drugmakers and/or medical equipment manufacturers
With birth injury liability, it’s also critical to understand that:
- Individuals, facilities, and companies can all share liability for the injuries one infant has sustained.
- Figuring out which parties are liable for birth injuries usually necessitates a careful, comprehensive investigation of what happened. That can mean digging into medical records, interviewing medical professionals, retaining expert witnesses, and a whole lot more.
- An experienced birth injury lawyer will know the red flags of negligence, exactly what to look for, and how to prove liability in these cases.
What Type of Compensation Is Available for Texas Birth Injury Claims?
Successful birth injury cases can result in all sorts of damages for victims and their families. These damages are directly tied to the injuries, losses, and harm suffered.
The table below shares an overview of the types of damages that are typically available for Texas birth claims.
|Economic Damages||Non-Economic Damages|
|Hospital & doctor bills(past & future)||Pain & suffering|
|Therapy expenses||Impacts to quality of life|
|Loss of (future) earnings||Inability to live independently(in the future)|
To find out what damages may be available for your potential birth injury claim, simply contact an attorney.