What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury refers to any type of damage or harm that occurs to a baby during the process of childbirth. These injuries can range from minor bruises or cuts to more severe injuries such as nerve damage, fractures, or brain damage. Birth injuries occur due to various mechanical forces during labor and delivery and can be caused by a difficult birth, the baby’s size, or the position of the baby during delivery.
Such injuries can happen before, during, or after delivery and may result from various factors, such as complications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Birth injuries can range from mild and temporary conditions to severe and permanent disabilities. Not all birth injuries are preventable, as childbirth can involve unforeseen complications. However, in some cases, birth injuries may be the result of medical negligence or improper care provided by healthcare professionals.
Birth Injury Statistics, California
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7 out of every 1,000 babies are born with birth injuries in the United States. Birth injuries account for 20% of all infant fatalities, making birth injury the fourth leading cause of infant death in the US. In terms of infant mortality rates, the US had 5.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020. In terms of infant mortality rates, the US had 5.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in California in 2020:
- The fertility rate was 52.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years old.
- The teen birth rate was 9.9 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years old.
- The infant mortality rate was 3.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
A Los Angeles birth injury lawyer can provide legal guidance and support throughout the process. They can investigate the circumstances surrounding the birth injury, gather evidence, work with medical experts, and help you pursue a legal claim to seek compensation for damages and losses.
Common Types of Birth Injuries in Los Angeles, CA
While minor trauma is often inevitable during natural childbirth, there are certain situations stemming from medical malpractice or negligence that may cause serious birth injuries to occur. A birth injury may affect a child for life, leading to an inability to lead a normal life and provide for oneself. The most common types of birth injuries include:
- Brachial plexus injuries: The brachial plexus is a nerve that runs from the spine to the neck and can become the source of severe injury during a difficult childbirth. Should this become torn or stretched, it can lead to partial or total paralysis or severe weakness in the arm. This can lead to the need for lifelong medical attention and support. These occur when the nerves in the baby’s upper arm are damaged, often due to excessive force or stretching during delivery. It can result in conditions like Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, which may lead to weakness or paralysis in the affected arm.
- Cerebral palsy: This refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle coordination and body movement. One of the most severe forms of birth injury is known as Cerebral palsy, which is actually an umbrella term discussing a group of disorders targeting the brain and nervous system. Cerebral palsy causes can range from brain infection to jaundice with symptoms that include tremors, floppy muscles, and weakness. It can be caused by brain damage or abnormal brain development, often occurring before or during birth. It may result in lifelong physical and cognitive impairments.
- Fractures: Bones can sometimes break during the birthing process, particularly the collarbone (clavicle) or the long bones in the arms or legs. These fractures generally heal with time and proper medical care. Femur fractures (broken thigh bone) can also occur if the leg is awkwardly twisted during delivery
- Perinatal asphyxia: This occurs when the baby experiences a lack of oxygen supply to the brain either before, during, or immediately after birth. It can lead to brain damage and various complications, ranging from mild to severe. If the symptoms of this condition are not properly diagnosed and immediately treated, it can lead to permanent damage.
- Brain hemorrhage: Bleeding in the baby’s brain can occur due to trauma during delivery or as a result of oxygen deprivation. Brain hemorrhages can have different levels of severity, and their impact depends on the extent and location of the bleeding.
- Facial nerve injuries: These injuries can happen when the baby’s facial nerve, responsible for controlling facial expressions, is damaged during delivery. It may result in temporary or permanent facial weakness or paralysis.
- Spinal cord injuries: In rare cases, spinal cord injuries can occur during childbirth, leading to impaired motor or sensory functions below the site of injury.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): This is a type of brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow to the baby’s brain. HIE can have long-term consequences on the baby’s neurodevelopment and may result in cognitive, motor, or sensory impairments.
- Brachial palsy: This occurs when the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands (brachial plexus) is injured. It’s most common when there is trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. The baby loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm.
- Cephalohematoma: This is a blood collection under the baby’s scalp that occurs due to pressure during delivery. It usually goes away on its own within a few weeks.
- Erb’s Palsy: Condition of Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves in the upper arm are injured. This can lead to paralysis of one arm or just general weakness. In some mild versions, this can heal on its own, however, should it be a more severe injury, it may require extensive physical therapy and even surgery.
- Microcephaly: In some cases, an injury to the child during pregnancy or childbirth can stunt or even permanently stop the growth of the brain. When this occurs, a child can have a brain that is two standard deviations smaller than normal, resulting in severe consequences, such as mental retardation, hyperactivity, and seizures.
The severity and long-term effects of birth injuries can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances and individual cases. Prompt medical attention and appropriate care following a birth injury can significantly impact the baby’s prognosis and potential for recovery.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries in Los Angeles,CA
Pregnancy and the birthing process are supposed to be one of the most joyous celebrations of life that a family can go through. Should this not go according to plan, especially should a medical professional be negligent or careless in any way, it can be anything from inconvenient to terrifying or even tragic. There are several common causes of birth injuries. These can occur due to various factors and circumstances during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Some of the common causes include:
- Prolonged or difficult labor: If labor becomes prolonged or there are complications during delivery, the baby may be at an increased risk of birth injury. Prolonged labor can lead to oxygen deprivation or excessive pressure on the baby’s head or body, potentially resulting in injuries.
- Large birth weight: Babies with a higher birth weight, often associated with maternal gestational diabetes or other factors, may face an increased risk of birth injuries. The size of the baby relative to the mother’s pelvis can make delivery more challenging, potentially leading to injuries.
- Abnormal presentation or positioning: If the baby is not in the optimal position for delivery, such as a breech position (feet or buttocks first) or shoulder dystocia (shoulder lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone), it can increase the likelihood of birth injuries.
- Incorrect use of delivery instruments: In cases where assisted delivery is necessary, the improper use of instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors can result in birth injuries. Misapplication or excessive force during their use can cause trauma to the baby’s head or body.
- Umbilical cord complications: Issues such as a prolapsed umbilical cord (when the cord exits the birth canal before the baby) or a compressed cord during delivery can restrict oxygen flow to the baby, potentially leading to birth injuries.
- Maternal health conditions: Certain maternal health conditions, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or infections during pregnancy, can increase the risk of birth injuries. These conditions may affect the baby’s development or increase the likelihood of complications during delivery.
- Medical negligence or improper care: In some cases, birth injuries may occur due to medical negligence or improper care provided by healthcare professionals. Failure to adequately monitor and respond to complications during childbirth can contribute to birth injuries.
Not all birth injuries are preventable, as some are due to factors beyond anyone’s control. However, medical professionals have a responsibility to provide appropriate care and take necessary precautions to minimize the risk of birth injuries. At our firm, we are here to help represent the interests of the victims of these types of birth injuries and will go above and beyond in our efforts to ensure that justice is demanded on their behalf.
How Birth Injuries Change the Lives of Babies and Their Families?
Birth injuries can have various harmful effects on the affected baby, including:
- Physical disabilities: Depending on the type and severity of the birth injury, physical disabilities can occur. These may include motor impairments, such as difficulty with movement, coordination, or muscle control. For example, conditions like cerebral palsy or brachial plexus injuries can lead to physical limitations and challenges.
- Cognitive impairments: Some birth injuries, particularly those affecting the brain, can result in cognitive impairments. These may manifest as learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities, problems with memory or attention, and delays in reaching developmental milestones.
- Sensory impairments: Birth injuries can lead to sensory impairments, such as vision or hearing loss. Damage to the optic nerves or structures of the ear during birth can cause partial or complete loss of these senses.
- Emotional and psychological impact: Living with a birth injury can have emotional and psychological effects on the child and their family. It may lead to feelings of frustration, low self-esteem, social challenges, and increased stress levels. Parents and caregivers may also experience emotional distress due to the child’s condition and the challenges associated with it.
- Financial and caregiving burden: Birth injuries often require long-term medical care, therapy, and support services, which can impose a significant financial burden on families. The need for ongoing medical treatments, assistive devices, specialized education, and accessibility modifications can add to the financial strain.
- Impact on family dynamics: Birth injuries can affect the entire family unit. The additional responsibilities and demands of caring for a child with special needs may impact relationships, parental roles, and the overall family dynamic. Siblings may also experience adjustments and may require additional support.
It’s important to remember that each birth injury case is unique, and the extent and long-term impact of the injury can vary. Early intervention, appropriate medical care, rehabilitation services, and emotional support can significantly improve the child’s quality of life and mitigate the negative effects of birth injuries.
If you and your child went through a complicated delivery and birth injury resulted, please do not hesitate to contact a Los Angeles birth injury lawyer at Pacific Attorney Group. You may have the right to take legal action against the doctor or other medical professional responsible for your child’s injuries, but you have limited time to do so. Our firm offers a free initial case review, and we will be happy to talk to you in order to determine exactly how we can help. Call us today if your child has suffered from a birth injury.
What Compensation Can I Recover in a Birth Injury Case in Los Angeles, CA?
In California, compensation for birth injury cases can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Typically, compensation may include medical expenses, ongoing care, and other damages related to the child’s birth injury. Under the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), there is a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, including birth injury cases. As of 2021, the cap is set at $250,000. However, there is no cap on economic damages, which can include medical expenses, lost income, and other financial losses.
The amount of compensation awarded in a birth injury case will depend on factors such as the severity of the injury, the long-term impact on the child’s health, and the extent of the medical expenses and other damages incurred. In a birth injury case, the type and amount of compensation that can be recovered will depend on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the severity of the birth injury, and the laws of the jurisdiction where the case is filed. While I can provide general information, it’s important to consult with a birth injury lawyer in Los Angeles who can evaluate your case and provide personalized advice.
Compensation in birth injury cases typically aims to cover various damages and losses, which may include:
- Medical expenses: This includes past, current, and future medical expenses related to the birth injury, such as hospital bills, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation therapies, assistive devices, and ongoing medical care.
- Lost wages: If the birth injury requires parents or caregivers to take time off work to care for the injured child, compensation may be sought for the wages lost during that period. In cases where the child grows up with a disability that affects their ability to work in the future, compensation for diminished earning capacity may also be pursued.
- Pain and suffering: Compensation may be awarded for the physical and emotional pain and suffering endured by the injured child. This includes the pain associated with the birth injury itself, as well as any ongoing pain or discomfort resulting from the injury.
- Disability and impairment: If the birth injury leads to long-term or permanent disabilities or impairments, compensation may be sought for the impact on the child’s quality of life, loss of enjoyment, and the need for ongoing care and support.
- Rehabilitation and therapy: The costs associated with rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other necessary therapies, may be included in the compensation.
- Assistive devices and accommodations: Compensation may cover the expenses of assistive devices, home modifications, specialized equipment, and any necessary accommodations to help the injured child function and live as independently as possible.
- Emotional distress and mental anguish: Compensation may be awarded for the emotional distress experienced by both the child and their family members as a result of the birth injury.
- Punitive damages: In cases where the birth injury was caused by willful misconduct or gross negligence, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter similar actions in the future. However, punitive damages are not typically awarded in all birth injury cases and depend on the specific circumstances.
It’s important to consult with a Los Angeles birth injury attorney who can assess the details of your case and provide guidance on the potential compensation that may be available to you based on the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. If you are considering pursuing compensation for a birth injury in Los Angeles, California it is important to work with an experienced birth injury attorney in LA who can help you navigate the legal system and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Are Birth Injuries Preventable?
While not all birth injuries can be prevented, many can be avoided with appropriate medical care and proactive measures. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to provide high-quality prenatal care, monitor the health of both the mother and the baby during pregnancy, and take necessary precautions during labor and delivery to minimize the risk of birth injuries. Some steps that can help prevent birth injuries include:
- Adequate prenatal care: Regular prenatal check-ups, screenings, and tests can help identify and manage any potential risk factors or complications during pregnancy.
- Monitoring fetal well-being: Regular monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and movement during pregnancy and labor can help detect any signs of distress or oxygen deprivation.
- Prompt management of high-risk situations: If risk factors are present, such as maternal health conditions or abnormal fetal positioning, healthcare providers should take appropriate measures to manage these situations and minimize the risk of birth injuries.
- Proper use of delivery techniques and instruments: When assisted delivery techniques such as forceps or vacuum extractors are used, it is crucial for healthcare providers to receive appropriate training, use the instruments correctly, and apply the necessary amount of force to minimize the risk of birth injuries.
- Timely response to complications: Healthcare providers should promptly recognize and respond to complications during labor and delivery, such as umbilical cord issues or fetal distress, to prevent or minimize potential harm to the baby.
Each birth is unique, and there can be unexpected circumstances that increase the risk of birth injuries despite appropriate care. However, proactive and attentive medical care can significantly reduce the likelihood of preventable birth injuries.
Why Should I Hire a Los Angeles Birth Injury Lawyer?
There are several reasons why it may be beneficial to hire a Los Angeles birth injury lawyer if you suspect that your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice or negligence. Here are some of the main reasons:
- Expertise in birth injury cases: Birth injury lawyers have specialized knowledge and experience in handling cases related to childbirth injuries. They understand the medical and legal complexities involved in these cases and can help you navigate the legal system.
- Access to medical experts: Birth injury lawyers often work with medical experts who can provide testimony and analysis to support your case. These experts can help determine the cause of your child’s injury and assess the long-term impact of the injury on your child’s health and well-being.
- Compensation for damages: If your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, and other damages. A birth injury lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
- Statute of limitations: Each state has a statute of limitations, which is the time limit for filing a lawsuit. Birth injury cases can be complex and may take time to investigate, so it’s important to work with a lawyer who can ensure that your case is filed within the statute of limitations.
- Peace of mind: Hiring a birth injury lawyer in Los Angeles can provide peace of mind during a difficult and emotional time. A lawyer can handle the legal aspects of your case, allowing you to focus on your child’s health and well-being.
If you believe that your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence or improper care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, you may consider hiring a Los Angeles birth injury lawyer to help you navigate the legal process.
Legal Action for a Birth Injury in Los Angeles, California
There are numerous types of birth injuries that may range in severity. At times, minor birth injuries or trauma will heal on their own. Other birth injuries are non-progressive but are currently untreatable. Regardless, however, you can trust that our firm will stop at nothing in our efforts to protect your rights. The attorneys at our law offices handle all types of birth injury claims, including those stemming from:
- Medication error
- Delayed c-section
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum
- Partial or total paralysis
- Brain damage
- Developmental delays
- Mental retardation
If you believe that your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice or negligence, you may want to consider taking legal action. Here are some steps to consider:
- Consult with a medical malpractice attorney: A medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your legal options and assess the strength of your case. They can also advise you on the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in your state.
- Gather medical records and other evidence: Your attorney will need to review medical records and other evidence related to your child’s birth injury. You should gather any relevant documents, including medical records, test results, and doctor’s notes.
- Consider getting a second opinion: It may be helpful to get a second opinion from another medical professional to confirm the cause of your child’s birth injury.
- File a lawsuit: If you and your attorney decide to move forward with legal action, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. The lawsuit will typically seek compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, and other damages related to your child’s birth injury.
It is important to note that birth injury cases can be complex and may take several years to resolve. It is important to work with an experienced birth injury attorney who can guide you through the process and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Pacific Attorney Group for Los Angeles Birth Injury Lawyer
Consult with Pacific Attorney Group, if you or your child experienced avoidable birth injuries as a result of negligence during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Birth injury cases involve complex legal issues and medical intricacies. Our Los Angeles birth injury lawyer has the expertise and knowledge of medical malpractice and personal injury laws relevant to birth injuries. Our attorneys will assess the strength of your claim and advise you on the legal options available to pursue compensation.
Call us today and get a free initial consultation. Also, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you have to pay nothing unless we win.