New York Birth Injury Lawyers

When an injury occurs during a difficult labor and delivery, it has the potential to result in lifelong disabilities, debilitating health conditions or even death. A number of these birth injuries are preventable with diligent prenatal care and fetal monitoring before and during the baby’s birth. There are a number of indicators and symptoms that may be present and even appear in an ultrasound exam that signal potential complications. There are also several risk factors that competent medical professionals should be able to spot during the pregnancy and be able to anticipate potential issues that may arise during labor and delivery, which may lead to birth injuries.

If your child has suffered birth injuries and/or debilitating health complications as a result of medical malpractice, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit against the at-fault parties. Birth injury lawsuits, however, are complex actions that require the counsel and guidance of an experienced New York birth injury lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases. Injured victims and their families may be eligible to receive significant and large compensation for the damages and losses they have suffered as a result of the medical negligence.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

There are several different types of birth injuries that may occur during a difficult labor and delivery. These are some of the most common and devastating types of birth injuries that our New York City medical malpractice lawyers have seen that may lead to lifelong problems and disabilities for children.birth injury

Cerebral palsy: Two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are affected by this condition, which is characterized by muscle spasms, weakness and lack of motor skills. Cerebral palsy is a condition that doesn’t have a cure. It is caused by damage to the developing brain before or during birth. Cerebral palsy may be caused by a number of risk factors such as loss of oxygen or lack of blood flow to the baby’s brain, untreated maternal infections, high blood pressure in the mother, placental complications, inadequate prenatal care, etc. Cerebral palsy is a condition that may require lifelong therapy, treatment and care. The cost of caring for a child with cerebral palsy may run into millions of dollars depending on the level of impairment.

Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury: Brachial plexus injuries are those that occur to the group of nerves originating from the upper spine and go through the hand, shoulder, arm and neck. There is a significant risk of damage to the nerves of the brachial plexus during a difficult labor and delivery. When the doctor delivering the baby puts too much pressure or pulls the infant with excessive force, the nerves of the brachial plexus may get torn or ruptured. The extent of the damage depends on the degree of the rupture or damage to the nerves. When the nerves are completely dislodged from the spine, the child’s arm may be totally paralyzed.

Brain damage due to asphyxia: When the infant does not receive enough oxygen during birth, asphyxia or inability to breathe may occur. This situation may lead to breathing difficulties, paleness, seizures and/or even result in coma. If the child lacks sufficient oxygen for an extended period of time, he or she may suffer permanent and irreversible brain damage. There are a number of reasons why oxygen deprivation may occur during labor and delivery. Some of these causes include preeclampsia (high blood pressure in the mother), maternal diabetes, umbilical cord complications, prolonged labor, abnormal fetal position such as breech position (feet first), maternal infections, brain or skull trauma due to improper use of birth assistive tools and larger than average size of the baby, etc.

Facial paralysis: When an obstetrician puts too much pressure on an infant’s face during delivery, the facial nerve may become damaged. This is unfortunately common in cases where forceps or a vacuum device is used to get the child out of the birth canal. Symptoms of facial paralysis may include inability to close the eye on the affected side of the face. In some instances the facial paralysis may lead to permanent damage where the child is unable to control the facial muscles or may even experience total paralysis on one side of the face.

Caput Succedaneum: This refers to the swelling of the scalp in a newborn where a part of the scalp may seem bruised or discolored. This is often caused by pressure from the uterus or vaginal wall in a head-first delivery. Vacuum extraction during a difficult birth may also increase the chances of this type of injury to the baby. The injury tends to occur from an early rupture of membranes and/or when the baby does not have enough amniotic fluid to cushion his or her head. This condition may be detected with a prenatal ultrasound even before labor or delivery begins and injuries may be prevented.

What Damages Can You Receive?

An infant who suffers injuries at birth is likely to need extensive medical care soon after birth. He or she might also require rehabilitation and therapy for the rest of his or her lifetime. It is fairly common for parents of children with birth injuries to incur debt while trying to pay for all of the necessary treatments. The costs add up very quickly and not all of it may be covered by health insurance.

Here are some of the damages you may be able to claim as part of a birth injury lawsuit:

Immediate medical costs: If your child’s injuries occurred at the time of birth at a hospital or clinic, all those bills relating to care should be part of your claim. These expenses may involve additional days in the hospital, surgery, treatment and other therapies. It may also include tests that may be required to properly diagnose your child’s condition.

Rehabilitation costs: Birth injury cases tend to be worth millions of dollars because the victims may end up living with their disabilities and injuries for the rest of their lives. Victims need continuous physical, psychological, occupational and other therapies to help them cope with their condition. All these past and future rehabilitation costs can and should be included in a birth injury claim. Special education courses or training that children may need also fall under this category. Your child may need to enroll in a special school or in an after-school program to help learn additional skills and develop his or her cognitive abilities.

Lost wages or in-home care: Parents often have to stay with their children round the clock to make sure they are safe, comfortable and get the care they need during this time when they are extremely vulnerable. As a result, working parents may need to take time off or even quit their jobs to care for their children. When parents return to work, they may need to hire an in-home care nurse or nanny to care for the child. These types of lost wages and in-home care expenses should also be included in your birth injury claim.

Permanent injuries and disabilities: Birth injuries that lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy may cause victims to be disabled and injured for life. This means that they may not be able to perform certain jobs or earn a future livelihood. Also, even if they are able to work, they still may not be able to earn to their full potential. As part of the birth injury lawsuit, you may claim lost future income and the cost of living with a permanent injury and/or disability and disfigurement.

Past and future pain and suffering: While this type of an injury is immediately apparent in the physical pain and discomfort caused, it is also important to remember that there is much emotional pain that is suffered. A birth injury affects not just the child, but also his or her parents as well as other family members.

Holding At-Fault Parties Accountable

In a birth injury case, a number of parties may be held accountable including, but not limited to, the obstetrician, the doctor who delivers the baby (if different), the hospital or clinic where the birth occurred, nurses, technicians who may have misread or misinterpreted test results, etc. Often, one or more parties may be held accountable. Your New York birth injury lawyer will be able to determine who the responsible parties are and who should be named in the birth injury lawsuit.

In order to be successful, a plaintiff in a birth injury case must prove several elements including the existence of a doctor-patient relationship; that harm was done due to the medical professional’s negligence, incompetence or wrongdoing; that the child suffered injuries as the direct result of such negligence; and that monetary damages were or will be incurred as a result of the damage that was done. It is the responsibility of medical professionals to evaluate the mother and fetus prior to birth for all potential risk factors. If risk factors do exist, it may be best to schedule a Cesarean section or C-section instead of a vaginal birth, which may result in prolonged labor and increase the risk of birth injury.

Our Birth Injury Case Results

  • $43,940,000: Verdict secured for family whose child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The hospital failed to diagnose fetal distress, which led to brain damage and cerebral palsy from lack of oxygen supply to the brain. The delay in diagnosing the fetal distress and ordering a C-section delivery caused the child’s condition. Defense attorneys argued that the child’s injuries were caused by premature birth and that the obstetrical care was appropriate. The $43,940,000 verdict was eventually reduced on appeal because the verdict was so huge.
  • $23,500,000: In this case, doctors departed from proper medical procedures in allowing a resident to handle the birth of the child. They also failed to inform the mother of a urinary tract infection for which they had tested her weeks earlier. The mother went into premature labor, but wasn’t treated for the infection. The resident who handled the emergency C-section was said to have applied too much pressure on the infant’s head causing trauma to the head and bleeding in the brain. As a result, the child was born with severe mental retardation and cerebral palsy. The $23,500,000 verdict was reduced on appeal, again because the verdict was so huge.
  • $4,500,000: This was a case where a doctor negligently used forceps to deliver a baby cutting oxygen supply to the baby’s brain. The child suffered from cerebral palsy as a result. We were able to prove that a C-section should have been performed, which may have prevented the cerebral palsy from occurring.
  • 2,850,000: Verdict for one of our Erb’s palsy clients that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,850,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts for many, many years.
  • $1,175,000: Settlement in an Erb’s palsy case.
  • $1,400,000: We recovered this amount for a newborn, who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. As a result, the child now suffers from Erb’s palsy.
  • $1,000,000: We recovered this amount for a baby who suffered from Erb’s palsy after doctors were negligent during the delivery. The child for whom we recovered this money is now a fully functional teenager.
  • $850,000: Settlement reached in Erb’s palsy case.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If your child has suffered a birth injury as the result of medical negligence, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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