Many people consider the birth of a child to be one of the most momentous and joyous events in their lives. In most instances, the birth of a child can occur without complications or incident. However, if a medical professional (doctor, nurse, another health-care provider or a medical facility) commits medical malpractice during pregnancy, labor or delivery, a number of different injuries can happen to both the mother and the baby. Negative effects can include nerve injuries, brain injury, sterility, soft-tissue tears, and even death.
Some examples of injury-causing medical malpractice include:
- A baby experiencing a lack of oxygen during delivery
- A failure to recognize that a baby is in distress during pregnancy, labor or delivery
- A Cesarean section that does not happen in a timely manner
- Using excessive force during labor or when delivering the baby
- Failing to diagnose a problem during labor
No matter whether the injury occurs during pregnancy, labor or delivery, if you believe it was the result of medical negligence, it’s important to contact experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers as soon as possible to protect you or your child’s right to compensation.
Prenatal Medical Malpractice
Obstetrical and fetal medical specialists exist to make sure that every patient has a healthy and safe pregnancy. This typically includes providing care that prevents or decreases the incidence of injury or death to the child and mother. Unfortunately, injuries, including fatal injuries, can happen. Sometimes, these negative outcomes are the result of a doctor’s failure to provide appropriate care, and in these instances, the patient may have a claim for medical malpractice.
During a woman’s pregnancy, medical providers are responsible for:
- Learning about and keeping a record of the patient’s medical history
- Assessing the patient based on medical history, physical exam, and lifestyle
- Assessing risks to determine whether there might be any complications during the pregnancy
- Conducting regular and thorough examinations, including non-stress tests and ultrasounds
- Treating and supervising complications that might arise
- Educating patients on proper lifestyle and nutrition as well as any possible dangers or hazards
- Providing adequate warning of specific complications and risks
If a physician or other health-care provider fails to adhere to these guidelines and others that exist to preserve the health and safety of the baby and mother and a complication or injury occurs as a result, there may be a reason to discuss a medical malpractice claim with an experienced New Jersey birth injury attorney at Parker Waichman LLP.
Malpractice During Labor and Delivery
Standards in the obstetric community require doctors to monitor a mother and baby adequately during labor and delivery so that the health and safety of both mother and baby are not compromised. Failing to monitor them properly and failing to recognize the signs and symptoms that either could be in distress can result in a medical malpractice claim, particularly if the negligent actions cause injury to either the mother or the baby. Correctly interpreting information and properly monitoring the mother and baby are crucial for the doctor or other care provider making decisions about treatment, including whether the baby will need to be delivered via C-section.
Medical standards must also be adhered to during the delivery of the baby. If the doctor or other care provider does not follow these standards, then there may be grounds for a malpractice claim if the mother or baby was injured. For instance, if excessive force is applied to the neck and head of the baby during delivery, then the baby’s hand and arm can sustain a permanent nerve injury.
Complications that can occur during childbirth and result in a serious injury include:
- Umbilical Cord Prolapse: This situation occurs when the umbilical cord drops down through the mother’s cervix during delivery, either next to or ahead of the baby. This can create a risk of compression of the umbilical cord, which prevents nutrients and oxygen from reaching the baby and can cause fetal distress. This complication is fairly common, so doctors need to be on the lookout so that they can respond appropriately.
- Shoulder Dystocia: Shoulder dystocia happens when the baby’s head has been delivered but the shoulders are stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. Although this complication is not particularly common, the consequences can be serious. At this point, the baby may be considered stuck, and in many instances, a C-section is not an option. If the baby cannot receive enough oxygen, the results can be fatal. There is also a risk that the mother can suffer from excessive bleeding or uterine rupture.
- Placental Abruption: This typically occurs during the third trimester, and it’s when the placenta separates prematurely from the uterine lining. Doctors and other care providers need to watch for warning signs such as excessive bleeding and should use an ultrasound to determine whether an abruption is happening. When a placental abruption occurs, the baby’s supply of nutrients and oxygen may be cut off, which can lead to brain damage.
- Nuchal Cord: This means that the baby’s umbilical cord is wrapped around their neck during delivery. If it’s handled in an appropriate manner, there are usually no adverse consequences. But doctors and care providers must take steps to ensure that the baby’s oxygen and blood supply are not diminished or else serious injuries can occur.
- Uterine Rupture: This complication is more common for women who previously had a C-section. In these situations, there is a risk that the uterus will tear at the location of the C-section scar, particularly if labor-inducing drugs like Pitocin are used. Care providers must be aware of a patient’s medical history in order to appropriately prepare for a situation like this.
- Extraction Injuries: In some cases, vacuum extraction or forceps must be used to help deliver the baby. But these types of procedures must be performed by those who are trained to do so. Not all doctors or care providers have the experience or knowledge to properly execute a vacuum or forceps delivery. Those who fail to perform these procedures properly can cause serious injuries to both the mother and the baby.
Malpractice During Neonatal Care
In some instances, after a baby is born, they may need an increased level of care as a result of some problem or condition. This level of care might be rendered by a pediatrician or neonatologist, typically assisted by nurses in the nursery or neonatal intensive care unit. When doctors or other care providers do not adhere to accepted standards of treatment and injury results, then the injured baby may be entitled to damages from a medical malpractice claim. For example, if a care provider fails to diagnose and treat jaundice promptly, a baby can sustain a brain injury. And if a care provider does not recognize that a baby needs respiratory support or fails to provide it promptly, the baby can suffer from a lack of oxygen that may cause brain damage.
How a Birth Injury Might Influence Your Child’s Life
Babies who sustain injuries before, during or after birth often need extensive and expensive medical treatment for the rest of their lives. For new parents, the medical expenses associated with this ongoing treatment and care can be overwhelming. If the birth injury was caused as a result of medical malpractice, it’s possible that a birth injury attorney in New Jersey will be able to file a claim for damages against the responsible individual or entity. Some types of compensation that an injury victim may be able to recover through birth injury lawsuits in New Jersey include:
- Medical expenses, including costs for treatment, doctor visits, hospital stays, and medication
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Other rehabilitative therapies
- Equipment needs and home accommodations
- Psychological and counseling services
- Special needs education
- Pain and suffering
Frequently Asked Questions of Birth Injury Attorneys in New Jersey
What Are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries and Trauma?
Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:
- Brachial plexus injuries such as Erb’s palsy
- Cerebral palsy
- C-section puncture wounds
- Deficiencies that result from improper or inadequate prenatal or postnatal care
- Permanent injuries to the child or the mother caused by forceps
- Post-delivery infections
- Complications arising from vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
- Complications arising from undiagnosed gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
If I Believe That My Child Has Sustained a Birth Injury, What Steps Should I Take?
If you think that your baby has sustained a birth injury, it’s imperative that you seek medical treatment right away to protect your baby’s health and preserve your legal claim for damages. After you’ve sought appropriate treatment, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyer who can assist you with your case and help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
How Can I Determine Whether the Birth Injury Was the Result of Medical Negligence or a Natural Occurrence?
In most instances, you likely will not know right away whether the facts and circumstances of your child’s injury will give rise to a valid negligence or medical malpractice claim. But a skilled birth injury lawyer in New Jersey can review your case to help you determine whether you have a claim for damages. Physicians and medical facilities must adhere to certain professional standards of conduct during the prenatal, delivery, and postnatal stages of pregnancy and birth. When medical professionals do not follow these accepted standards and procedures and an injury occurs as a result, then they can be held liable for medical malpractice.
How Long Do I Have to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey?
In most cases, New Jersey’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years, which means you have two years from the date of the injury or two years from when you discover the injury to file a lawsuit. However, statutes of limitations can vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your specific case, so it’s crucial to consult with an experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyer who can accurately calculate the deadline for your case and preserve your right to compensation.
What Should I Expect to Happen During My Birth Injury Lawsuit, and How Long Might a Birth Injury Lawsuit Take?
Every birth injury case has its own set of unique facts and circumstances, so it’s impossible to predict exactly how any one case will proceed or how long it will take. When you speak with one of our New Jersey birth injury lawyers, we can review your case and help you to understand the legal process and the outcomes you might expect. How long the case will take will depend on whether you reach a settlement with the responsible party’s insurance company or go to trial, how crowded the court calendar is, and other factors.
How Much Will it Cost Me to Hire a Lawyer and File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey?
Our New Jersey birth injury lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that you will pay nothing out of your pocket for our services. Your attorney will not be paid unless they secure a settlement or jury award for you. In most cases, the attorney will receive a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount as their fee. If you do not obtain a settlement or jury award, then your lawyer will not get paid.
Speak With a Birth Injury Attorney in New Jersey for Free
At Parker Waichman, our lawyers have extensive experience helping individuals and families who have experienced the devastating effects of birth injuries and medical malpractice. Birth injury cases can be particularly complicated because there may be multiple causes or a number of parties may be responsible for the injuries and other damages. But the dedicated and compassionate lawyers at Parker Waichman have extensive experienced successfully assisting birth injury victims in getting the compensation they need and deserve.
Parker Waichman has earned a reputation for excellence in the legal field, securing more than $2 billion in compensation for our clients. Along the way, we’ve also received numerous accolades, including an AVVO rating of 9.8 out of 10 and Lawdragon’s highest peer-review rating of “5 Dragons.” When you work with our experienced attorneys, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.
If you or your child were harmed as a result of negligence or malpractice, our birth injury attorneys in New Jersey are here to help. Call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today to get a free consultation with a skilled New Jersey birth injury lawyer and protect your legal rights.
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