What You Need to Know about Birth Injury
What Is a Birth Injury?
While the birth of a baby is generally the cause of great celebration, it can be marred by instances of birth injuries. These could occur for a range of reasons, from a mistake made out of carelessness or incompetence, or due to pure medical negligence.
We understand the gravity of such a situation, and the various financial, physical and emotional costs involved. With our extensive experience, our New Jersey birth injury attorneys can help you understand the legal rights you have to hold the concerned professional responsible, and help you prove your case and ultimately get the birth injury lawsuit settlement that you are entitled to.
What Are the Birth Injury Statistics in the United States?
For every 1,000 births that take place in the United States, there are about seven birth injuries; with the numbers coming up to one in 9,714 people in total — approximately 0.01 percent of the population.
Unfortunately, the incidences and frequency of almost all types of birth injuries seem to have risen since 1989. The most common type of birth injury that has been diagnosed is cerebral palsy, with about 4 out of every 1,000 babies born suffering from the condition.
How Does a Birth Injury Malpractice Typically Occur?
Birth injuries have been observed to occur when a medical professional is incompetent in possessing and successfully implementing the medical skill required to deliver a baby and this medical-related malpractice could take place either while performing a C-section or while delivering a baby through the birth canal.
The doctor, nurse or member of the medical team also need to be adequately equipped to deal with unforeseen complications that might take place during the procedure, failing which, they can legally be held responsible for the malpractice.
There are various types of birth injuries including brain injuries, cerebral palsy, the possibility of cognitive or intellectual disabilities, Erb’s palsy, infections and even cases of death.
These injuries are naturally tragic and can cause a huge strain on the unsuspecting family in many ways.
Medical negligence during childbirth is a serious issue, and our experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers have a track record and years of experience in handling birth injury cases so that your family receives the money it deserves.
What Is the Birth Injury Statute of Limitations for New Jersey?
The birth injury statute of limitations for malpractice in New Jersey is two years.
Like several other states in the United States, New Jersey, too, has a time limit during which an individual can file a lawsuit for this form of medical malpractice against the responsible party.
When it comes to birth injuries, though, things do work a little differently. Since the results of a birth injury can manifest years after the birth of the baby, the family can bring forth a suit until the time the child turns 13 years of age.
If the lawsuit has not been initiated by the parents or family by the time the child is 12, he or she can file a lawsuit themselves; the minor also has the option to request the court to appoint them a “guardian ad litem”, who can then take things forward on their behalf.
How Do You Identify a Birth Injury?
While some injuries are easily noticeable and are exhibited at the time of the birth, others might have occurred before or at the time of birth. Congenital injuries, which occurred before the birth, have nothing to do with the medical professional’s performance or skill set.
Here are some of the reasons that birth injuries could take place.
Types of Birth Injuries
Improper Use of Forceps
Forceps are generally used by a physician if the baby’s position in the womb is problematic, or when a mother is having issues with the delivery.
It is integral that forceps are used carefully and properly. When they are, this can hugely cut down on chances of fetal distress or deprivation of oxygen, which have both been found to be connected to cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
If used without caution, however, the baby stands the risk of suffering nerve damage in the chest or neck, and other head injuries.
An unfortunate incident of this type took place in Texas, in 2014, where a baby girl, Olivia Marie, was laid to rest a painfully-short five days after her delivery by forceps.
The mother was apprehensive about the delivery to begin with, due to her own petite figure and the size of the baby at delivery, but the doctor refused to perform a C-section since it would result in a scar. During the grueling 18 hour-delivery, baby Olivia’s heart rate shot up, and the doctor informed Rachel that the infant was positioned upside-down in the vagina.
When trying to reposition her failed, he attempted at delivering her with forceps, that resulted in the head of the baby to crack, and caused her spine to break. By the time the order for an emergency Cesarean was given, Olivia had suffered multiple fractures, and it was too late to save her.
Her parents, Rachel Melancon and Allen Coats, have sued the responsible medical professional, Dr. George T. Backardjiev of the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.
Improper Use of Vacuum
A vacuum might be required to help the delivery along, in case the mother is unable to completely push out the baby. These can be attached to the shoulder or skull of the baby, and are used to help expel the baby.
If this vacuum is not used with appropriate caution and skill, the professional responsible could cause grave injuries to both the baby as well as the mother.
An instance of this malpractice in New Jersey we witnessed in 2016 resulted in the tragic death of a newborn twin, due to gross medical negligence.
A medical malpractice suit has been filed against Capital Health Medical Center — Hopewell, for negligence during the delivery of the second their twins, which took place on August 21, 2014. The father described being “shocked by the critical condition of (the child) at birth,” according to the lawsuit, and that he recognized it as medical malpractice right away.
The family, the Freemans, have alleged that the slow heart of the infant during the delivery of the second child was not noticed in a timely manner, with the medical professionals performing the delivery unable to slow down heart rate alarms, after which they unsuccessfully attempted a vacuum delivery.
After spending some time post-delivery in a neonatal intensive care unit, the infant was diagnosed with perinatal asphyxia, which occurs due to a lack of oxygen, and decreased blood flow to the brain. He was then on life support for two days, until the assisted breathing was stopped; the baby passed away less than six hours later.
The Freemans are now seeking monetary compensation under New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Statute.
A Delay in Ordering a Cesarean Section
Fetal distress, occurring when the heart rate of the newborn slows down because of bleeding from the abruption of the placenta, or sudden decrease in the mother’s blood pressure, is one of the cases in which an emergency C-section is ordered by the medical professional.
Other conditions would include slowed labor, the placenta covering the cervix, uterine ruptures or cord prolapses.
If the team that is delivering the newborn does not recognize the need for a Cesarean section or does not order it in a timely manner, their lack of skills or prowess can be held responsible, and legal and financial compensation can be sought by the family.
A lawsuit that was filed against Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and a Springfield obstetrician resulted in the Middlesex County family that had initiated it receiving $18.5 million, as ruled by an Essex County jury.
The doctors acted too slowly in performing an emergency Cesarean or C-section back in 1998, at the time of Darius Morgan’s birth, which was consequently delayed and resulted in him suffering from cerebral palsy. The family of the 12-year-old received justice from the jury after a mere two-day deliberation on their part, a judgment which gives hope to other similar lawsuits.
What Are Some of the Most Common Birth Injuries?
There are a number of birth injuries that occur most commonly:
- Infant brain damage
- Erb’s palsy, a form of brachial plexus, also known as shoulder dystocia
- Facial Paralysis
- Bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Perinatal Asphyxia
- Caput Succedaneum
- Fetal lacerations
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Wrongful death
We hope our breakdown of birth injury malpractice, and what it constitutes of, has clarified any queries you might have had regarding the finer details of the matter.
This is a medical-related malpractice that could possibly have long-lasting implications, and if you feel that you deserve compensation for any medical negligence or mistake that has occurred during or after delivery, you should not hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers, who can help you get the settlement you rightfully deserve.