A birth injury is an injury that occurs before, during, or immediately after birth due to trauma. Birth injuries can affect unborn babies, infants, and mothers and may have significant consequences, ranging from catastrophic injuries to lifelong disabilities to death.
Some of the most common birth injuries to infants include:
- Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that affects motor skill development, muscle development, coordination, and balance. Technically a group of disorders, CP can result in an array of symptoms, depending on the type. CP is frequently caused by a lack of oxygen, leading to brain damage, during birth.
- Brain Damage: In infants, brain damage is commonly the result of oxygen deprivation (anoxia, hypoxia, or asphyxia) during birth. When a baby’s oxygen supply is cut off, he or she can suffer significant traumatic brain injuries, including permanent and irreversible brain damage.
- Cephalohematoma: Cephalohematoma is a birth injury characterized by bleeding beneath the cranial bone. Often, this results in a visible raised bump on the child’s head. Although cephalohematoma can heal on its own, it may lead to serious complications, such as meningitis, jaundice, hypotension, or anemia.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries: Brachial plexus injuries affect the bundle of nerves located near the shoulder/neck (brachial plexus nerves). This can lead to issues with sensation and movement in the affected side, including partial or total paralysis. Brachial plexus injuries can also lead to Erb’s palsy, a condition in which the infant experiences pronounced weakness in the affected arm.
- Broken Bones: Sometimes, when doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals try to forcefully remove a baby from the birth canal, they can fracture the infant’s clavicle, femur, or other bones. Broken bones are among the most common types of birth injuries and can also occur with improper use of forceps and other assistive birthing devices.
- Caput Succedaneum: Caput succedaneum is characterized by swelling of the scalp, bruising, and discoloration. Often, this is caused by excessive pressure on the baby’s scalp, sometimes as a result of forceps or other assistive birthing devices. It can cause jaundice and other issues but is generally a benign condition.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of acute or subacute brain injury caused by lack of oxygen or reduced cerebral blood flow before, during, or after birth.
Additionally, some of the most common birth injuries affecting mothers include:
- Perineal Tears: Perineal tears are a type of perineal trauma involving tearing of the area between the vagina and anus. These occur in approximately three in four women who give birth.
- Hemorrhaging and Internal Bleeding: Certain complications during birth can lead to internal bleeding and/or hemorrhaging, which can be serious and even life-threatening.
- Nerve Damage: During birth, mothers can sometimes experience nerve damage in the perineal area, leading to various complications including a condition known as pudendal neuralgia.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: When pelvic muscles are weakened or damaged, organs located in the pelvis area can drop down, leading to various bowel and bladder issues.
- Uterine Rupture: When strain from childbirth causes a scar from a past cesarean section (C-section) to tear, it is known as uterine rupture.
- Retained Placenta: Shortly after the baby is delivered, the placenta is delivered. Care must be taken to ensure it is completely removed and intact. If a portion of the placenta is left in the maternal uterus, hemorrhaging can occur, which can be life threatening.
These and other maternal birth injuries can have serious or even deadly complications. Sadly, they affect far too many families every year. If you or someone you love sustained a birth injury due to the carelessness or wrongful conduct of a trusted medical professional, you deserve justice.
How Do Birth Injuries Happen?
In most cases, birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice. When doctors, nurses, obstetricians, midwives, and other medical professionals fail to provide patients with an acceptable level of care, innocent children and mothers can be catastrophically injured.
Some of the most common causes of birth injuries include:
- Failure to monitor for signs of fetal distress
- Failure to properly react to signs of fetal distress
- Failure to monitor the mother’s vital signs
- Oxygen deprivation
- Delayed birth
- Failure to order a timely C-section/emergency C-section
- Failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner
- Excessive force during delivery
- Failure to diagnose/treat maternal infections/conditions
- Inadequate maternal care during pregnancy
- Improper use of forceps and other assistive birthing devices
At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we know how to investigate claims to determine how a birth injury occurred and, most importantly, who is responsible. Our Bronx birth injury lawyers are committed to holding negligent and reckless medical professionals accountable and are prepared to seek the maximum compensation you and your family are owed.
Who Is Liable for a Birth Injury?
Often, doctors and other medical providers who negligently cause birth injuries can be held directly responsible for victims’ damages. In some cases, however, it may be possible to bring a case against a hospital or another entity that employed the medical provider.
Some potentially liable parties in a given birth injury case include:
- Nurse practitioners
- Certified registered nurses
- Physician assistants
- Nurse anesthetists
- Medical staff
- Emergency rooms
- Hospital staff
Any person or party that failed to uphold the standard of acceptable care, resulting in a birth injury, could be legally responsible for your damages, including your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Damages can be sought on behalf of affected children; affected children can also file claims themselves.
At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we represent victims of all types of birth injuries. Many of our clients are those with limited income and resources who are struggling to manage unexpected physical, emotional, and financial costs related to birth injuries. We recognize just how difficult this time is in your life, which is why we provide compassionate, client-focused representation every step of the way.
How Long Do You Have to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
The standard statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in New York is two years and six months (30 months in total) from the date on which the underlying act of malpractice or negligence occurred. For individuals bringing claims for injuries that occurred during childhood, the statute of limitations is deferred until the child’s 18th birthday. This means the clock does not begin running until the affected infant turns 18. The claims of a parent are not extended by the child’s infancy, so a derivative claim—a claim that a parent would assert for themselves in a case of their child’s injuries—is not extended by the child’s age/infancy.
We encourage you to reach out to our birth injury attorneys in the Bronx as soon as possible if you or your child suffered a birth injury. The sooner we can begin investigating your claim, gathering applicable evidence, and building your case, the better. If the statute of limitations expires, your case will almost certainly be dismissed, and you will be barred from collecting any compensation for your damages.
Call (718) 717-1191 or visit our office in the Bronx today. Our doors are always open, and you do not need an appointment to talk to a member of our team.