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Birth Trauma: What are Your Rights?

While the majority of births in the United States are unaffected by negligence or mistake, injury can occur to a mother or child during the birthing process. If your child suffered an injury due to negligence on the part of the doctor, hospital or birthing team, you and your lawyer may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Here, the legal professionals at Alperstein & Diener discuss your rights when affected by birth trauma.

What is Birth Trauma, and Was Negligence Involved?

Birth trauma is noncongenital damage or injury to a newborn baby or delivering mother. This can include pre-and-post-birth oxygen deprivation, fractures, nerve injury and bruising. Injuries sustained by birthing mothers may include excessive uterine bleeding, vaginal tears, infection, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, and mental stress and anguish.

Negligence during a medical procedure is a failure to use reasonable judgement when providing care. While every birth trauma case is unique, negligence occurs in a few similar ways: the doctor or medical staff failed to assess the mother or child’s health accurately, the birthing team failed to respond to conditions appropriately or injuries occurred due to improper prenatal care. In one of the first two scenarios, a doctor may fail to account for a mother’s hypertension, or may have chosen not to perform a cesarean when it was medically necessary. In the last scenario, a doctor may have prescribed a prescription drug and failed to warn the mother about side effects that may later cause complications or injury to either the baby or mother.

How Does Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim Work?

If an injury occurs to a newborn child, the parents or natural guardians of the child must file the legal claim. A mother can also file suit if she suffered unnecessary injury or harm. Additionally, the partner or family of the mother can also file a claim on her behalf, especially in cases of wrongful death.

Claimants typically file for special and general damages in medical malpractice cases. Special damages include compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other specific expenses due to the birth trauma. General damages are typically non-tangible losses: lessened quality of life, emotional suffering and physical pain.

The statute of limitations for birth trauma cases in Maryland occurs when the child turns 11 years old. This is longer than typical medical malpractice cases (a claim for an injured mother, for example), which are five years. This statute of limitations extends to a child’s 16th birthday if the birth trauma claim involves an injury to a child’s reproductive system, or a foreign object being left inside the child.

Should I Acquire Representation?

Birth trauma deeply affects the injured party and their family. While these cases can be complicated, claimants have the right to pursue reparation when it is believed that you, your child or your spouse were injured before, during, or immediately after delivery due to medical negligence. Hiring an attorney well-versed in birth trauma and medical malpractice law can be an essential asset to your claim—for a consultation with an experienced attorney, or to retain our services, contact Alperstein & Diener today!