For many parents-to-be, the day their child is born is one of the best days of their lives. For others, it is one of the most devastating.
Sadly, despite otherwise healthy pregnancies, too many newborns suffer birth injuries that often result in lifelong complications and reduced quality of life. Many of these injuries are preventable and are the result of medical malpractice.
If you recently gave birth, and if your little one sustained a preventable birth injury that irreparably altered their future and yours, the law entitles you to compensation via a birth injury lawsuit. Any compensation you receive via a jury award or settlement can help you cover the cost of everything from past and future medical expenses to emotional duress.
Because medical malpractice cases are often complex, and because they have far stricter requirements than other types of personal injury cases, you should not attempt to pursue one on your own. Partner with a Utah birth injury lawyer who is familiar with state laws and requirements and who can help you navigate the legal process in the most stress-free and successful manner possible.
Quick Birth Injury Facts
Birth injuries are not as uncommon as most people might think. In fact, despite modern medicine, birth injuries occur at alarming rates. Below are a few fast facts regarding birth injuries across the U.S.:
- Six to eight of every 1,000 infants born in the U.S. sustains an injury during the birthing process.
- Every year, approximately 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury.
- Every month, 2,333 infants come into this world with a birth injury; 538 infants per week; 76 infants per day; and three infants per minute.
- Approximately one in 1,000 infants sustain a bone injury during birth, with as many as 47% of those injuries involving fractured clavicles.
- As many as 45% of new mothers experience trauma during the birthing process.
- Birth asphyxia, birth defects and infections are the leading cause of neonatal mortality in the U.S.
- Of the 2.4 million infants who die within the first 28 days of birth, most die because of diseases or complications that are the direct result of a lack of quality care at or immediately after birth.
What is most alarming about these statistics is the fact that most birth injuries are preventable. The birthing process should not be injurious, and it certainly should not be fatal. If your little one sustained a severe injury at birth — or if the worst-case scenario happened to your family — consult with a skilled and compassionate Utah birth injury lawyer regarding your rights and legal options right away.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is a physical injury that an infant sustains during the labor and delivery process. A birth injury is not the same as a birth defect, which is an abnormality that forms while the infant is still in the womb and because of genetics or a congenital issue.
Birth injuries range in severity. More minor birth injuries heal on their own with little medical intervention. More severe injuries, however, can have life-long repercussions for the child and his or her family. The most serious birth injuries are fatal. Below are examples of more severe birth injuries that could warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Brachial palsy occurs when the group of nerves that supply blood to the hands and arms sustains injury during the birthing process and is often the result of a difficult labor in which the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal. Due to the pressure, the baby may sustain bruising and swelling around the nerves and become unable to rotate and flex the arm. In the best-case scenario, the infant will regain his or her ability to move the arm within a few months. In the worst-case scenario, the child may go on to live with lasting nerve damage.
Bone fractures — particularly those that affect the clavicle — are not uncommon during labor. Fractures often occur during difficult deliveries and when the baby is in breech position. Though alarming, newborn fractures are rarely severe and heal on their own within 10 days to two weeks of birth.
When the birthing process puts so much pressure on the baby’s face, the facial nerves may become paralyzed. It can also occur when doctors use forceps during delivery. The injury is most apparent when the baby cries, as the side of the face with the injury will remain motionless. In many cases, facial paralysis resolves on its own. In worst-case scenarios, however, the torn nerve may require surgery.
Brain damage at birth can occur for one of a few reasons, including too strong of contractions due to Pitocin overdose, asphyxiation during delivery, untreated infections in the mother, untreated preeclampsia in the mother and prolonged labor. Signs of brain damage at birth may not be immediately apparent. However, immediate treatment is often necessary to prevent further damage and possibly undo existing harm. With immediate treatment, infants who develop mild forms of brain damage at birth recover well with minimal to no complications.
Intrauterine Fetal Demise
Otherwise known as stillbirth, intrauterine fetal demise occurs when a fetus dies before the mother can birth it. Sadly, stillbirth affects approximately one in 160 mothers each year.
Why Do Birth Injuries Occur?
Birth injuries can occur for any number of reasons. In some situations, health care teams cannot control the factors that contribute to birth injuries. In others, however, they can. Below are a few common risk factors that result in birth injuries:
- Delayed birth
- Oxygen deprivation
- Untreated viral infections in the mother
- Untreated medical conditions in the mother
- Drug overdose
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Abnormal fetus position
- Abnormally large fetus
- Maternal obesity
When a Birth Injury is the Result of Medical Negligence
While some risk factors may seem uncontrollable to you, the truth is that medical teams have both the resources and a responsibility to identify any and all risk factors that may contribute to a difficult labor and possible birth injuries. Failure to use said resources and uphold said responsibility may constitute medical malpractice. Types of medical negligence that occur during the birthing process and that result in injuries are as follows:
- Failure to diagnose and treat evident health conditions in either the mother or the fetus
- Failure to act quickly and appropriately in urgent situations, such as ordering a C-section during a prolonged birth (approximately 40% of birth injury claims cite poor management of labor and delivery)
- Failure to monitor the mother and fetus or the mother and infant during or after childbirth
- Use of unnecessary force during the labor and delivery process
- Misuse of tools, such as the vacuum extractor or forceps, during the birthing process
- Miscommunication between medical teams and parents-to-be
- Inexperienced birthing teams
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you believe your family is the victim of medical malpractice, consult with a Utah birth injury lawyer regarding a possible birth injury case.
Get the Help Your Family Needs and Deserves
A birth injury can turn what should be one of the happiest days of your life into one of the most devastating. If your little one now lives with a permanent and disabling injury – if the months following your labor were spent attending doctor appointment after doctor appointment – or if you lost your child before you had a chance to get to know him or her, know that you do have rights. Get help exercising those rights. Schedule a free consultation with the birth injury lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen today.
Finding the Right Utah Birth Injury Attorney
Count on Siegfried and Jensen’s experienced birth injury and medical malpractice lawyers to fight for you.
If your child was injured during delivery (e.g., brachial palsy, cerebral palsy, or brain damage), you should talk to a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Medical malpractice cases can be very complex, and it takes specialized legal and medical expertise to prove liability on the part of the healthcare provider.
When you work with our experienced birth injury attorneys, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure that everybody plays by the rules and treats you and your child fairly.
- We’ll help you get what you and your child need to move forward and create a good life.
Contact Siegfried and Jensen today for a free, no-pressure consultation or for more information.