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birth injury

Fairfax Birth Injury Lawyers


Having a baby should be a joyful experience for the whole family. Expecting parents spend ample time preparing for arrival, taking precautions throughout pregnancy to ensure the safe delivery of a healthy newborn. The majority of deliveries occur without complications, but in some instances, medical professionals commit errors that cause birth injuries.

Birth injuries typically occur during the birthing process as the infant passes through the birth canal. Some birth injuries are common due to the natural forces of labor and delivery. Most are temporary and do not require treatment, such as swelling or minor bruising.

More serious injuries usually occur during difficult deliveries and are often caused by careless medical professionals. Birth injuries can cause physical and neurological damage and developmental delays that permanently alter the child’s life. Birth injuries usually come at a tremendous emotional and financial cost to the whole family.

What Are Serious Types of Birth Injuries?

There are many different ways infants can be injured during pregnancy and childbirth, including stillbirth or death soon after delivery. Some of the more serious and common types of birth injuries include:

  • Bell’s palsy: Bell’s palsy occurs when an infant’s facial nerves are damaged by too much pressure when passing through the birth canal during delivery, either naturally or through the misuse of forceps. It causes weakness and drooping on one side of the face.
  • Birth asphyxia: Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or birth asphyxia, occurs when an infant experiences a lack of oxygen or blood flow during delivery, which can result in permanent mild to severe physical and mental disabilities.
  • Brachial plexus: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends signals from the spinal cord to the shoulders, hands, and arms. Brachial plexus injuries occur when nerves are stretched, compressed, or torn from the spinal cord and can result in Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.
  • Brain hemorrhage: Bleeding that reduces oxygen or creates extra pressure on the brain, killing brain cells and causing severe brain damage or fatality.
  • Cerebral palsy: Cerebral palsy is a group of conditions affecting movement and muscle tone caused by damage to a developing brain before birth. Symptoms differ depending on which area of the brain is affected.
  • Erb’s palsy: Caused by damage to the brachial plexus, babies with Erb’s palsy cannot flex their arms. It is usually temporary but can be permanent if nerves are torn.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage: At birth, a newborn’s skull is not entirely developed and is very fragile. Without extreme care during the birthing process, physicians can cause bleeding in the skull, which creates an intracranial hemorrhage, leading to damage.
  • Neonatal stroke: Neonatal strokes occur when an injury causes blood clots or bleeding on the brain that disrupts blood flow to the brain or spinal cord and typically occurs within the first 28 days of life.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Incorrect rotating, pulling, or overstretching of an infant during delivery can cause injuries to the spinal cord, resulting in permanent medical conditions.

What Are Common Birth Injury Symptoms?

There are numerous types of birth injuries, ranging in severity and symptoms, particularly between physical or neurological injuries, such as:

  • Asymmetrical facial movements
  • Broken bones
  • Chronic pain
  • Constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • Coughing or wheezing or other breathing issues
  • Deafness or diminished hearing
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Excessive drooling
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fractured collarbone
  • Seizures
  • Severe breathing problems requiring a respirator
  • Shoulder Dystocia
  • Skull fracture
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage (burst blood vessels in the eye)
  • Uncontrollable crying with an arched back
  • Unnatural eye movements, which could be a symptom of seizures
  • Vision loss
  • Weak or paralyzed limbs

Neurological birth injuries frequently have delayed onset of symptoms and include mental and developmental delays preventing the mastering of certain skills expected with growth.

How Are Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Every birth is unique and involves different circumstances. Negligent medical errors can occur at any point during pregnancy or delivery by doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, hospitals, and healthcare facilities. Medical professionals are expected to provide reasonable standards of care. Actions violating those standards are considered negligent and can occur in many forms, such as:

  • Applying excessive force during assisted delivery
  • Delayed order or failure to perform a C-section
  • Dropping a newborn after birth
  • Failure to monitor fetal health
  • Failure to notice clear signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to prepare for large infant delivery
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum
  • Improperly sterilized medical equipment
  • Inflicting infant injury during C-section
  • Lack of fetal heart monitoring
  • Lack of preparation for an emergency C-section
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis early in the pregnancy
  • Mishandling or roughness removing the baby from the birth canal
  • Misuse of Pitocin
  • Prescribing pregnancy drugs negatively impact fetal development

Defective Equipment Medical

Defective equipment is a significant cause of medical malpractice. Dozens of medical devices are used during childbirth, from gloves to high-tech surgical equipment. More equipment is required during C-section deliveries. Any device can be defective, break during a procedure, or be ineffective. Types of defects typically include:

  • Design defects arise when products are inherently dangerous due to their defective design. Manufacturing defects occur when a device is improperly fabricated or damaged during manufacturing.
  • Packaging is often as important as the device itself and is often considered a component or accessory due to its critical role in providing a sterile barrier. Packaging defects can damage, contaminate, or alter the device’s function.

What Compensation Can I Seek for Birth Injuries?

If your newborn suffered birth injuries from medical malpractice, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Compensation is typically based on economic damages, such as medical expenses, and non-economic damages, which are intangible losses due to the injury. Compensation may include but is not limited to:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional and physical trauma
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income and future earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering

Infant Wrongful Death Cases

Negligent physicians can create medical emergencies resulting in stillbirth or a severe and fatal birth injury, the most common being hypoxia, reduced blood flow, and traumatic injuries. In Virginia, birth injuries resulting in the death of a fetus or newborn fall under three classifications of wrongful death:

  • The birth injury occurred before the child’s viability, causing a stillbirth.
  • The injury occurred after viability, causing a stillbirth.
  • The infant was born alive but succumbed to birth injuries soon after.

Fetal stillbirth or the death of a newborn due to medical negligence are grounds for holding a physician accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit. Unlike most states, however, only the natural mother carrying or delivering the child can file, not both parents.

Unborn child protections are more expansive, which is significant in stillbirths. Stillbirths do not have to be viable when the birth injury occurs. Wrongful death claims can be made for fetal death at any point during the pregnancy, including recent conception.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?

When a claim involves a child, such as in cases of birth injuries, the statute of limitations is prolonged if the child was under 8 years old when the injury occurred. In such instances, the child is allowed until their 10th birthday to initiate a claim for medical malpractice.

Our Fairfax Birth Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates Advocate for Victims of Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can be severe and life-altering, impacting entire families emotionally and financially. If your baby was harmed during pregnancy or delivery, our Fairfax birth injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates can hold the negligent healthcare professionals accountable. Call us today at 202-223-4488 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., we serve clients in the surrounding areas, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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