What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries?

April 4, 2024 |
What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries, including cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy, can lead to significant financial costs and Permanent medical complications. These injuries often result from negligence by medical providers and medical facilities.

If your child suffered a birth injury that you suspect resulted from medical malpractice, speak with a skilled birth injury attorney in your area right away. Your attorney can gather the related evidence, investigate the circumstances, and take legal steps on your behalf.

Birth Injury Categories

Birth injuries can be devastating for both infants and their families, often resulting from medical negligence or errors during the labor and delivery process. Some of the most common categories of birth injuries that can occur due to a medical provider or facility's negligence include the following:

  • Cerebral Palsy — Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement, muscle tone, and posture. It can result from brain damage or abnormal development in the womb, during childbirth, or shortly after birth. Medical negligence, such as oxygen deprivation during delivery or failure to monitor fetal distress, can increase the risk of cerebral palsy.
  • Erb’s Palsy — Erb's palsy, also known as brachial plexus injury, occurs when the nerves in the baby's upper arm are damaged during childbirth. This can result from excessive pulling or stretching of the baby's shoulder during delivery, often due to medical intervention or improper delivery techniques.
  • Shoulder Dystocia — Shoulder dystocia is a childbirth complication that occurs when the baby's shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother's pubic bone during delivery. This can lead to nerve damage, fractures, or other injuries to the baby's shoulder or arm. Medical negligence, such as failure to properly manage and address shoulder dystocia, can increase the risk of injury.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) — HIE is a type of brain injury from oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow to the baby's brain during childbirth. This can result from complications such as placental abruption, umbilical cord compression, or prolonged labor. Medical negligence, such as failure to monitor fetal distress or perform timely interventions, can contribute to HIE.
  • Facial Nerve Injuries — Excessive pressure on the baby's face or head can result in facial paralysis or weakness, difficulty closing the eyes or mouth, and other facial abnormalities. Medical negligence, such as the improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery, can increase the risk of facial nerve injuries.
  • Bone FracturesBone fractures, such as fractures of the clavicle (collarbone) or long bones, can occur during childbirth due to excessive force or trauma. This can result from medical interventions, such as the improper use of forceps or excessive pulling during delivery, or from complications like shoulder dystocia.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage — Intracranial hemorrhage is bleeding inside the baby's skull, which can lead to brain damage and neurological impairments. This can occur due to trauma during delivery, oxygen deprivation, or other complications. Medical negligence, such as improper use of delivery instruments or failure to monitor fetal distress, can increase the risk of intracranial hemorrhage.

Understanding the common categories of birth injuries resulting from medical negligence can help families recognize the signs and seek appropriate medical and legal assistance if their child has sustained a birth injury. Prompt intervention and advocacy can help families obtain the support they need to address their child's injuries and ensure their well-being.

Further, families can consult a birth injury attorney to determine whether they have legal rights regarding their child’s condition and future.

How Do Birth Injuries Happen?

A somber and despondent mother sits beside her newborn baby in the hospital, just a day after enduring the trials of natural childbirth.

Various types of medical provider and facility negligence can contribute to birth injuries, affecting both infants and mothers. Some common forms of negligence that may lead to birth injuries include:

  • Failure To Monitor Fetal Distress — During labor and delivery, medical providers are responsible for monitoring the baby's heart rate and other vital signs for signs of distress. Failure to recognize and respond to fetal distress promptly can lead to oxygen deprivation, brain damage, and other birth injuries.
  • Improper Use of Assisted Delivery Tools— Medical providers may use assisted delivery tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors to assist with childbirth. However, improper use of these tools, such as excessive force or incorrect positioning, can cause trauma to the baby's head, neck, or shoulders, leading to birth injuries such as skull fractures or nerve damage.
  • Failure to Perform Timely Cesarean Section (C-section) — In cases of fetal distress, placental abruption, or other complications, a timely cesarean section may be necessary to prevent birth injuries. Failure to perform a C-section when indicated can result in oxygen deprivation, brain damage, and other serious complications for the baby.
  • Medication Errors — Medication errors during labor and delivery, such as administering the wrong medication or incorrect dosage, can have serious consequences for both the mother and baby. For example, administering too much medication may lead to respiratory depression in the baby. At the same time, inadequate pain relief for the mother can result in prolonged labor and an increased risk of birth injuries.
  • Inadequate Staffing or Training — In some cases, birth injuries may occur due to inadequate staffing levels or insufficient training of medical staff. For example, a lack of experienced personnel may lead to delays in recognizing and addressing complications during labor and delivery, increasing the risk of adverse outcomes for mother and baby.
  • Failure To Obtain Informed Consent — Medical providers have a duty to obtain informed consent from patients before performing any medical interventions or procedures. Failure to adequately inform patients of the risks and benefits of interventions, as well as alternative options, can constitute negligence and may lead to birth injuries resulting from unnecessary or poorly executed procedures.
  • Failure To Follow Standard Protocols and Guidelines — Hospitals and medical facilities must adhere to established protocols and guidelines for prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postnatal care. Deviating from these standards of care without a valid medical reason can constitute negligence and may result in preventable birth injuries.

Medical negligence can have serious consequences for mothers and babies during childbirth. Identifying instances of negligence and holding responsible parties accountable can help prevent future birth injuries and ensure families receive the support and compensation they need to cope with the consequences of medical errors. If you are in this position, always have a trusted birth injury lawyer on your side.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim Involving a Birth Injury

A gavel rests beside a clipboard adorned with documents pertaining to medical malpractice, suggesting legal implications in healthcare.

Proving a birth injury claim or lawsuit alleging medical malpractice involves establishing several legal elements to demonstrate that the medical provider or facility was negligent and responsible for the harm the mother or baby suffered. Successfully proving the key elements of a birth injury claim requires the following:

  • The first step in proving a birth injury claim is to establish that the medical provider or facility owed a duty of care to the mother and baby. This duty of care requires healthcare professionals to provide competent and reasonable medical treatment during pregnancy, labor, and delivery to ensure the safety and well-being of both patients.
  • The next step is to show that the medical provider or facility breached that duty by failing to provide the standard of care expected in similar circumstances. This may involve demonstrating that the healthcare provider's actions or omissions fell below the accepted medical standards, harming the mother or baby.
  • To succeed in a birth injury claim, the claimant must show that the medical provider's breach of duty was the direct cause of the injuries the mother or baby sustained. This requires establishing a causal link between the healthcare provider's negligence and the resulting harm, such as demonstrating that a delay in performing a cesarean section led to oxygen deprivation and brain damage in the baby.
  • Finally, the victim must prove they suffered injuries and damages due to the medical provider's negligence. This can include physical injuries, such as birth trauma, brain damage, or nerve injuries, as well as emotional distress, medical expenses, and long-term disabilities. The attorney for the injured party may use medical records, expert testimony, and other evidence to document the extent of the injuries and damages suffered.

To prove these legal elements in a birth injury claim or lawsuit, gathering and presenting compelling evidence, such as medical records, expert opinions, witness testimony, and documentation of the injuries and damages suffered is essential.

Consulting experienced medical malpractice attorneys and obtaining expert medical opinions can provide valuable guidance and support in building a strong case and pursuing fair compensation for the harm medical negligence during childbirth caused. By holding negligent medical providers accountable, victims of birth injuries can seek justice and ensure their rights.

Settling or Litigating a Birth Injury Case

Settling or litigating a birth injury case involves several steps, and having a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney by your side can greatly assist in navigating this complex legal process.

  • Case Evaluation — The first step is for the attorney to evaluate the case thoroughly. This involves reviewing medical records, consulting medical experts, and assessing the extent of the injuries and damages the mother or baby suffered during childbirth.
  • Investigation — The attorney will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the birth injury. This may include obtaining witness statements, collecting relevant documents and evidence, and identifying potential sources of negligence, such as medical providers or healthcare facilities.
  • Legal Strategy — Based on the investigation findings, the attorney will develop a strategic legal plan for pursuing the case. This may involve determining whether to pursue settlement negotiations or proceed to litigation in the court system, as well as identifying the best approach for maximizing compensation for the client.
  • Settlement Negotiations — If the attorney determines that settlement negotiations are appropriate, they will engage in discussions with the opposing party or their insurance company to seek a fair and just settlement on behalf of the client. The attorney will leverage their knowledge of the law, evidence, and medical issues to negotiate for optimal compensation for the birth injury.
  • Litigation — If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, or if the attorney for the injured party deems litigation necessary from the beginning, the attorney will file a lawsuit on behalf of the client and proceed with the legal process. This involves drafting legal documents, such as the complaint and other pleadings, and representing the client in court proceedings.
  • Discovery — During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence relevant to the case. This may include depositions, interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, and expert witness testimony. The attorney will carefully review and analyze the evidence to strengthen the client's case.
  • Trial Representation — If the case proceeds to trial, the attorney will provide skilled and aggressive representation in court. This includes presenting evidence, examining witnesses, making legal arguments, and advocating for the client's rights and interests before the judge or jury.

While settling or litigating a birth injury case, a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney will provide invaluable guidance, support, and advocacy and work to maximize the compensation that the client ultimately recovers.

Recovering Financial Compensation for a Birth Injury

A pregnant woman visits a gynecologist at a hospital. The doctor conducts a thorough examination of the pregnant belly to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby.

In a birth injury claim or lawsuit, individuals may be eligible to receive compensation to address the injuries and damages the mother or baby suffered during childbirth. The following are the types of compensation that may be recoverable as part of a birth injury claim:

  • Medical Expenses — Birth injuries often result in substantial medical expenses for both immediate and long-term care. Compensation may cover costs such as hospital bills, surgeries, medications, therapy sessions, assistive devices, and ongoing medical treatments needed to address the injuries and disabilities resulting from the birth injury.
  • Lost Income — If a parent or caregiver cannot work due to caring for an injured child, they may be entitled to compensation for lost income. This can include past lost earnings and future lost earning capacity if the injuries result in a permanent disability that affects the individual's ability to work and earn a living.
  • Pain and Suffering — Birth injuries can cause significant physical pain and emotional suffering for both the affected individual and their family members. Compensation may cover the pain, discomfort, mental anguish, and emotional distress endured as a result of the birth injury, as well as the impact on the individual's quality of life.
  • Loss of Consortium — In cases where a birth injury affects the relationship between spouses or family members, compensation may be available for loss of consortium. This includes the loss of companionship, support, and affection that the injured individual would have provided if not for the birth injury.
  • Rehabilitation and Therapy Costs — Birth injuries often require extensive rehabilitation and therapy to help the affected individual recover and regain function. Compensation may cover the costs of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other forms of rehabilitative treatment needed to improve the individual's quality of life and maximize their potential for recovery.
  • Special Education and Disability Services — If a child sustains a birth injury resulting in developmental delays or disabilities, they may receive compensation to cover the costs of special education services, tutoring, adaptive equipment, and other accommodations necessary to meet the child's unique needs and support their educational and developmental goals.
  • Future Medical Expenses — Birth injuries may require ongoing medical care and treatment throughout the individual's life. A victim may pursue compensation to cover the anticipated costs of future medical expenses, including surgeries, medications, therapy, and other necessary medical interventions to address the long-term effects of the birth injury.

By seeking compensation for these types of damages as part of a birth injury claim or lawsuit, individuals and their families can obtain the financial resources necessary to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial challenges they may face.

Consult an Experienced Birth Injury Lawyer in Your Area Today

Andrew L. Hope, Personal Injury Lawyer
Andrew L. Hope, Birth Injury Lawyer

Birth injuries that result from medical malpractice can lead to significant expenses and lifetime complications. If your child suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area right away. Your lawyer can review your available legal options and determine the best course of action for your case.