A birth injury can affect both the mother and baby. Either party can suffer this physical injury during the birthing process. A serious injury like this is often attributable to the mom or baby receiving negligent medical care.
Birth injury risks babies face may include bruising, broken bones, nerve damage, cuts, and asphyxiation (deprivation of oxygen). The most common birth injuries moms may face include vaginal tears and hemorrhaging issues. Traumatic childbirth scenarios like these are unique in that they’re often preventable.
How Do Birth Defects and Birth Injuries Differ?
Environmental or genetic issues contribute to the emergence of physical or mental abnormalities referred to as birth defects. For example, a fetus’ exposure to contaminated water or prescription drugs through their mom’s consumption of them while pregnant could result in a baby being born with congenital disabilities. In such cases, the baby’s parents could potentially hold the party who unnecessarily exposed their child to harm responsible for a resulting birth defect.
While some birth defects result from toxic exposure issues described above, an overwhelming majority are genetic. Chromosomal issues, nutrient deficiencies, and infections during pregnancy often result in a birth defect. A birth defect like this often cannot be attributable to someone else’s negligence.
Birth injuries are a bit different from congenital defects in that they are almost always preventable and stem from a third party’s negligence (like the doctor’s). Inadequate prenatal monitoring is one of the leading causes of preventable birth injuries.
What Are Primary Causes of Birth Injuries?
The physical trauma that a baby or mother may suffer during pregnancy and childbirth often stems from the fetus’ position or size. Factors that may result in trauma to both include:
An overweight mother has a higher risk factor, resulting in gestational diabetes and thus a heavier than average fetus.
A Breech Birth
Doctors and other medical professionals should carefully review imaging reports to ensure the fetus is turned head-first. They should attempt to turn the baby or order a cesarean-section (C-section) instead.
Attempts at delivering a baby vaginally when a fetus’ body is breech (lined up to be delivered feet first) put both mom and the newborn’s health and safety at risk. Birth trauma, such as a baby’s legs becoming stuck in a mother’s pelvis, may result if doctors attempt a natural childbirth instead of a C-section.
This refers to a baby being over 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Much like breech fetuses, babies over a certain size risk not making it safely through the birth canal, and instead getting stuck. This can not only potentially lead to oxygen deprivation, but also result in physical injuries.
Houston, TX medical professionals have tools at their disposal to have a clearer understanding of a baby’s size before they’re born to minimize the chances of birth trauma like this. This is why a health care professional’s failure to recognize a baby’s high birth weight and require a mother to undergo a C-section in response is one of those scenarios that could rise to the level of medical malpractice.
This concept refers to a mother’s non-optimally shaped or sized pelvis for a vaginal birth. Imaging studies or a physical exam can reveal if this is the case. If so, then doctors must opt to perform a C-section to avoid the baby getting stuck in the womb during childbirth.
Much like failing to monitor a baby’s weight and thus allowing a natural birth to move forward instead of a C-section, a situation like this may rise to the level of medical malpractice if it results in you or your child’s injury.
A Premature Birth
A 36-week-old or younger fetus is more fragile, leaving it more vulnerable to suffering physical trauma during childbirth.
Improper Maternal Vital Signs Monitoring
Mothers with improperly monitored or treated blood pressure run the risk of developing preeclampsia at the 20-week or greater mark during pregnancy. High blood pressure can cause placental abruption, which is the separation of the placenta from the uterus.
Mom and baby can face adverse consequences when medical staff fail to treat such complications appropriately. It often results in pre-term labor and stillbirths. It can also cause a mom to suffer cerebral hemorrhage, resulting in a stroke, seizures, and other health declines.
Which Birth Injuries Most Commonly Affect Children?
While bruises, cuts, and fractures are all common injuries babies and mom suffer, they are recoverable within a few days or weeks of healing. Babies or mothers who suffer such injuries generally don’t experience any long-term ill effects associated with their injuries.
The same can’t be said about more serious birth injuries that babies and mothers can suffer during pregnancy and childbirth.
Common childbirth injuries that leave babies with lasting impairments include:
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
This brain injury can result from asphyxia or the lack of oxygen and blood to a baby’s brain during pregnancy or childbirth. HIE causes a baby’s brain tissue to quickly die off, resulting in death.
While there are various medical treatment options available to help manage HIE symptoms for those babies who end up being born with this type of brain injury, there currently aren’t any cures for it, so it can be seen as a permanent disability.
One reason doctors closely monitor the heart rates and other vital signs of mother and baby during the labor and delivery process is because they’re well aware of the dangers associated with any fetal distress. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that a fetus subjected to an abnormally low blood flow to the brain may suffer.
Children with CP may experience a lifetime of motor skills obstacles, muscle weakness, and spasms.
Any reduction in blood flow between the mother and fetus during the childbirth process can cause the baby’s brain tissue to die off, resulting in a stroke. Strokes can cause an infant to suffer brain damage that impairs their ability to live a problem-free life as their parents would have anticipated.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
A series of nerves travel from the brain down the spine and diverge at various points to service our hands, arms, and shoulders. The shoulders of a fetus that is too large or turned incorrectly may easily become stuck in the mother’s pelvis, causing the previously described nerve system to become stretched and frayed.
Babies who suffer stretched brachial plexus nerves may be left with functional impairments that resolve in time with rest. The fraying of such nerves may be able to be repaired with surgery to restore functionality in affected body parts and limbs. There are some rare instances in which this series of nerves detach themselves completely from a baby’s spinal cord, resulting in paralysis.
Erb’s palsy is a condition babies are often diagnosed with after suffering a brachial plexus injury. Not only will a child struggle with muscle weakness along their shoulder area and into their arm as a result of this condition, but they may also experience other types of personal injury that affect their quality of life.
Hypoxia or Perinatal Asphyxia
A situation in which a baby suffers oxygen deprivation pre, during, or post-childbirth can potentially leave the fetus or newborn with irreversible brain damage. The severity of the damage is largely contingent upon how long the baby suffered oxygen deprivation before receiving adequate amounts of it.
What Are Signs and Symptoms Associated With Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are often evident during childbirth. Even when they’re not, they quickly become in clearer focus soon thereafter.
One of the earliest indicators that a child may have suffered a birth injury is if they appear to struggle with basic motor skills. Another early sign of a birth injury or defect is if your child has delayed development. These may include delays in turning over on their tummies, crawling, lifting up, standing, or walking.
Children tend to experience more marked functional impairments leading to permanent disabilities as they age. Learning disabilities may also become more pronounced as a child begins attending school and starts work later in life.
How To Tell If You Qualify to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit
When you see personal injury attorneys’ commercials on television, you will often hear them say to reach out to them for a free case evaluation. Those birth injury lawyers and other types of attorneys never flat out say they can take on your medical malpractice case. Why is that? you may ask.
Houston birth injury lawyers have to first vet the merits of your case to ensure its liability can be proven as required under Texas law. And, it’s important, to note that you will often hear an injury lawyer say that proving liability isn’t easy.
There are many elements that go into proving liability, which can vary by case type, as outlined in Texas state law.
As with most any medical malpractice cases, a plaintiff must prove that:
- A physician-patient relationship existed
- A doctor engaged in some type of medical negligence
- There’s a direct correlation between the serious injuries suffered and resulting negligence
Many individuals like to think that medical errors of any type always rise to the level of medical negligence per Texas law. That’s not the case, though.
What Type of Compensation Can You Recover in a Birth Injury Case?
Should you meet the requirements to file a claim or lawsuit, you can expect your Houston birth injury lawyer to spell out the damages you can recover in your case. Texas law generally allows birth injury victims to recover both economic and noneconomic damages, including:
These include any verifiable monetary losses, which may include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Existing and future lost earnings
Texas law sees a plaintiff’s recovery of economic damages as a way to restore them to their original financial position from before the incident occurred.
Noneconomic damages can be requested for most intangible impacts an accident left behind, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or mental anguish
Factors such as the severity of the injury, how long it lasted, and the long-term impact the injury will have on your life all impact calculations of noneconomic damages.
There are some instances in which plaintiffs may request punitive damages in personal injury lawsuit cases. This generally occurs to send a message to plaintiffs that their actions were particularly egregious in an effort to deter them (and others) from repeating a similar offense.
Can I Afford the Services of a Birth Injury Lawyer?
Many parents hesitate to file a birth injury lawsuit after a mom or baby gets hurt during labor or delivery. They do so because they worry that they will have to put out so much in Texas attorney fees and legal costs without any guarantee of success.
Birth Injury Attorneys Like Ours Work on a Contingency Basis
Our Houston birth injury attorneys here at the Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm regularly take on personal injury cases like yours on a contingency basis. This means you owe us nothing if your case does not have a successful outcome.
It’s important to move quickly when preserving evidence in Houston, TX birth injury cases. Doing so ensures your birth injury lawyer can gain access to the right medical records, photographs of evidentiary value, and witness accounts when the incident is freshest in their minds.
Our medical malpractice lawyers also quickly compile your medical bills and otherwise build your birth injury case before the statute of limitations tolls. Compiling evidence of medical expenses and other injury-related costs and submitting a claim early guarantees you the best outcome in your case.
Why Should I Let Birth Injury Lawyers From Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm Handle My Case?
The birth injury lawyer you meet with should have extensive experience pursuing birth injury lawsuits necessary to advise you on the best course of action to pursue. We’re confident in our ability to point you in the direction of the right legal forms you will want to complete if you have a valid claim and how to build a solid case.
Reach out to us at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our Houston birth injury attorneys. Meeting with a birth injury lawyer will ensure you and your child receive the best possible compensation necessary to receive optimal care in the future.