Rhode Island Birth Injury Lawyers
When a child suffers a birth injury, the parents have a right to know exactly how the injury occurred. It can be difficult to get answers to all of your questions, and if you suspect that malpractice may have been a factor in the injury, it can be even harder to learn all of the facts of the case on your own.
Medical providers can make mistakes that affect the baby’s or mother’s health during pregnancy, delivery, or post-natal care. A birth injury can affect the child’s health for life and, in some instances, require round-the-clock care and extensive financial resources.
When you’re grappling with the heartache of a birth injury, you shouldn’t have to face a complex legal battle on your own. At Crowe & Harris, LLP , we have in-depth experience handling birth injury cases for our clients in Rhode Island and throughout New England. We have the resources, knowledge, and skills to get all of your questions answered and to pursue the financial compensation you need.
When you hire us, we’ll create an effective plan to handle your case and determine the financial reward you need to provide your child with the medical treatment and quality of life they deserve. Our Rhode Island birth injury lawyers will remain by your side to provide support and guidance throughout the entire case.
Was My Birth Injury the Result of Medical Malpractice?
Many birth injuries happen due to an error made by a doctor, nurse, or another medical staff member. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem that could be avoided if medical professionals take necessary safety precautions and plan for adequate pre- and post-natal care. In the United States, 6 to 8 infants out of every 1,000 sustain a birth injury.
Common causes of birth injuries include:
- Failure to detect maternal or fetal distress
- Delay in performing emergency C-section
- Improper pulling or twisting of the infant during delivery
- Unnecessary use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Medication error
- Complications during a premature delivery
- Failure to diagnose genetic risks
- Inadequate prenatal care
- Misuse or overuse of labor-inducing drugs
An experienced Rhode Island birth injury lawyer from Crowe & Harris, LLP can help you determine the cause of your baby’s injuries and who the liable party is. Although the above causes are some of the most common, many others could lead to an injury or even death. It’s crucial that you ask for copies of the medical records and immediately consult with a lawyer if you suspect medical malpractice may have been a factor in the birth injury.
Injuries and Fatalities Caused by Defective Medical Equipment
When medical equipment becomes defective or damaged in some way, the doctor who’s using it could be held liable if they were aware of the problem but failed to address it. Additionally, the manufacturer could share blame for providing the facility with a defective product. Although not as common as the other causes mentioned earlier, defective medical equipment can cause birth injuries.
Common devices used the most during labor and delivery include:
- Extraction devices
- Masks, gloves, and other safety equipment
When a woman begins the birthing process, everything the medical professionals use must be sterile. If mishandled, it can become contaminated with bacteria. Contamination often leads to infections and can severely harm the baby and mother. Sometimes, the doctor doesn’t wash their hands or ensure the devices they’re using are clean. Other times, the manufacturer provides facilities with defective or contaminated products.
Products must follow certain specifications created during the design phase. They must be the right size, shape, and contain properly working parts. They also have to go through safety testing to ensure there are no hazards, and if there are, the product must include a warning label. During these stages, any issue can lead to a birth injury, and the manufacturer could be liable if they didn’t follow the correct procedures.
Warning Signs of a Birth Injury
Some injuries are easy to notice, especially in the days after giving birth. Others might not develop until years later when your child is supposed to reach certain developmental stages. The most common early warning signs include:
- Excessive drooling
- Sensitivity to light
- Blue or pale appearance
- Fussy for no reason
- Broken bone
- Difficulty breathing
- Bulges on head
- Trouble eating and swallowing
Unfortunately, parents often don’t realize medical malpractice occurred while they were giving birth until their child gets older. Warning signs may appear if there’s a delay in physical or mental development. Children are expected to reach various developmental stages based on their ability to perform activities such as sitting up, walking, talking, and grasping for objects. If they fail to get to that stage when they’re supposed to, it might signify an injury during birth.
Common symptoms children could develop later in life if they suffered a birth injury include:
- Trouble with speech
- Poor weight gain or growth
- Difficulty walking
- Hearing or vision problems
- Lack of balance or coordination
- Inability to eat or swallow
- Never smiles or laughs
- Poor reflexes
- Underdeveloped motor skills
- Inability to solve simple problems
You need to be your baby’s advocate and ensure their safety. If you notice that their behavior is abnormal or show visible signs of a birth injury, you should take immediate legal action. Hire an experienced Rhode Island birth injury lawyer and start working on your case to win the financial award you need to move forward.
Risk Factors for Birth Injuries
Although a birth injury could happen to anyone, some factors could increase the risk, especially when there’s medical malpractice involved. The most common risk factors for birth injuries include:
- Premature birth
- Large baby – over 8 pounds 13 ounces
- Overweight mother
- Labor lasts long or is difficult
- Required cesarean section delivery
- Use of forceps or vacuum
- Baby is breech
- Diagnosis of preeclampsia
- Vaginal birth is complicated by the size or shape of the mother’s birth canal or pelvis
During your pregnancy, you should discuss with your doctor whether there are any risk factors for a difficult delivery or distress to your baby. If you discover you or your baby has a risk factor that could lead to a birth injury, you must take the necessary steps to keep both of you safe. Your doctor should monitor your health and your baby’s health and discuss a birthing plan that might reduce harm.
Seeking Damages in an Insurance Claim
When you file a claim with the physician’s or facility’s medical malpractice insurance company, you can attempt to recover compensation for your damages. Damages are the total losses associated with an accident or injury. They fall under two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages refer to expenses, such as:
- Past and future medical costs
- Out of pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
Non-economic damages are physical and emotional losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
It can be a challenge determining a fair monetary value for non-economic damages. Insurance companies might look at the factors below to decide how much money the victim should receive:
- Type and severity of the birth injury
- Duration of required medical treatment
- Inability to return to job while caring for the child
- Total medical costs
- Sufficient evidence proving medical malpractice occurred
- Effect of the incident on daily life
- The estimated value of necessary medical care in the future
- Whether the baby made a full recovery or ended up with a permanent health condition, disfigurement, impairment, or disability
- Amount of liability insurance coverage available.
Seeking Damages in a Lawsuit
If you don’t want to file an insurance claim or can’t reach a favorable settlement agreement, you can file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault healthcare professional. You have to comply with a statute of limitations, a deadline for suing someone in the civil court system.
The statute of limitations in Rhode Island for medical malpractice is three years. That means you have three years from the date of the injury to pursue civil action against the liable party. If three years pass and you haven’t filed suit, you will lose your right to compensation in this legal matter.
There are some situations where you might not realize the doctor made an error that harmed your baby until years later. In that case, the discovery rule would apply. That means the three-year “clock” would not begin until the date you discover or should have discovered that an injury occurred.
We’ll Help You Fight for Justice
At Crowe & Harris, LLP , we care about our clients and work hard to fulfill their needs. When you hire us, we’ll begin by creating an individualized plan that reaches your legal goals. You can expect one-on-one attention from start to finish. We’ll make you a priority while we’re working on your case.
Our Rhode Island birth injury lawyers understand the devastation of discovering someone’s negligence harmed your baby or the mother. You won’t have to go through this traumatic experience alone. We’ll remain by your side and fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
If you or your child was the victim of a birth injury, call Crowe & Harris, LLP at (617) 404-3417. We’ll be happy to schedule your free consultation to discuss the details of your situation and determine the legal options available.