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Baltimore Birth Injury Attorney

Malpractice-related birth injuries are more common than most parents think. Every mother has the right to expect nothing but top-notch care during labor and delivery but, unfortunately, this is not always what they get. According to Birth Injury Guide, six to eight in every 1,000 births result in birth injuries. This equates to about three births per hour in the U.S.

Discovering that a child suffered an injury before, during, or soon after birth is devastating news to a parent. A birth injury can cause months, years, or a lifetime of disability for an innocent child. If your family is going through this trauma, seek legal help. Our experienced lawyers are ready to fight for your child’s rights in the face of negligence, carelessness, and medical malpractice.

What Types of Birth Injuries Are Caused by Malpractice?

One of the most disturbing forms of medical malpractice is birth injury. Mothers trust their obstetricians and gynecologists to take proper care of them and their babies throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. When one of these physicians is negligent in his or her professional duties, it could cause serious birth injuries to the child. Medical malpractice such as lack of prenatal care, failure to diagnose and treat maternal conditions, lack of labor preparedness, and misuse of birth-assisting tools could contribute to the following birth injuries.

Brain Injuries and Related Neurological Conditions

Injuries to an infant’s brain before and during labor and delivery could have lifelong results. A few of the most common malpractice-related causes of infant brain injuries include umbilical cord problems, lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, failure to monitor fetal vital signs, failure to order an emergency cesarean section, failure to take proper steps to respond to a birth emergency, and mistakes such as fracturing the baby’s skull during delivery or shortly after. An injury to the brain at its early stages of development could lead to the following conditions:

  • Cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong neurological condition that affects the ability of the child to move. Motor skills and coordination can suffer in different degrees. Lack of oxygen to the brain can contribute to cerebral palsy.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If physicians diagnose your child with ADHD later in life, it could stem from brain trauma before or during birth, including oxygen deprivation. The same could also be true of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
  • Kernicterus-related brain damage. Kernicterus can happen in an infant with severe jaundice after birth. Failure to properly treat kernicterus could result in bilirubin entering and permanently damaging the infant’s brain tissues.
  • Brain damage. Head and brain trauma during or after birth (e.g. a nurse dropping a child on his/her head) or injuries to the infants spinal cord could lead to temporary or permanent brain damage. Maternal infections such as herpes or syphilis could also cause infant brain damage.

Traumatic and acquired head or brain injuries may impact an infant’s brain development and culminate in long-lasting physical or cognitive difficulties. Physicians may diagnose some brain injuries right away, while others could take months or years to detect. Either way, parents may have medical malpractice claims against at-fault physicians or healthcare centers. The moment a physician diagnoses your child with a brain injury or related condition, contact an attorney.

Bone Fractures and Nerve Damage

Infants can suffer broken bones during or shortly after birth if the attending physician fails to use proper, prudent care when delivering the child. Misuse of tools such as forceps and vacuums could lead to bone fractures in the infant – particularly in the face, shoulder, clavicle, or arm. Fractured bones could lead to related health problems such as temporary facial paralysis or Erb’s and Klumpke’s palsy, which both relate to the nerves in the arms and hands. Fracture-related nerve damage is usually temporary but could affect child physical development.

If a physician uses the incorrect birthing technique to respond to an emergency, such as the baby lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone, it could lead to bone fractures in the infant. Tugging on the child’s arm, for example, could break the bone and cause damage to the brachial plexus, or the bundle of nerves located in the shoulder. These nerves impact how an infant can move his/her arms and hands. Shoulder dystocia or a brachial plexus injury could make it difficult for a child to move the arm and grip things for months after birth.

No matter what type of birth injury your child suffers, contact a lawyer to discuss a potential medical malpractice case. It’s possible that a negligent or careless physician caused your infant’s injuries.

Most Common Birth Injuries

Although virtually any type of negligence-based injury to your child could potentially be grounds for a birth injury lawsuit, there are certain types of birth injuries that have resulted in legal action more than others. The nature of the birthing process and potential complications often give rise to injuries involving the baby’s brain, muscles, or motor skills. Descriptions of some of the most common types of birth injuries are as follows:

  • Brain injuries. An infant’s brain is a sensitive organ that can suffer various types of damages before, during, or soon after birth. If a physician fails to monitor fetal vital signs, fails to detect umbilical cord problems, misuses birth-assisting tools, fails to treat infant jaundice, or doesn’t carry out an emergency cesarean section, a brain injury can result. Oxygen deprivation, brain hemorrhaging, or traumatic brain injury can cause traumas such as cerebral palsy.
  • Physical injuries. Medical malpractice can cause a wide range of physical and muscle-related injuries, often due to improper birthing techniques during complicated deliveries. Yanking on the infant’s arm, for example, could cause a brachial plexus injury to the nerves in the shoulder, resulting in temporary weakness or paralysis in the affected arm and hand. Physical injuries can include cuts, bruises, and fractures, and cause conditions such as Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and shoulder dystocia.
  • Infection-related infant injuries. Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections can lead to diseases, illnesses, and conditions passed on to the infant. It is a physician’s job to detect and appropriately treat maternal health problems during pregnancy whenever possible. Failure to do so can result in infant illness, such as strep or meningitis.

No matter what type of injury your infant has suffered, bring your case to the attention of an attorney at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy. Our attorneys truly care about clients and believe that no infant should have to suffer because of the incompetence or negligence of a medical professional. If you suspect you have the right to bring a birth injury lawsuit in Baltimore, contact our office for assistance.

Causes of Birth Injuries

Notwithstanding unavoidable causes, numerous birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice. Parents are often given insufficient information regarding the cause of their child’s condition and can be wrongly led to believe that a preventable mistake was inevitable.

Some causes of birth injuries and ensuing disabilities include:

  • Dystocia – A type of obstructed labor that happens when, after the head is delivered, the shoulder has difficulty passing through. If doctors fail to properly respond to dystocia, the umbilical cord can become compressed and be life-threatening to the infant. Resulting complications from dystocia can include Klumpke paralysis, Erb’s palsy, and cerebral palsy, among others.
  • Fetal distress – A labor complication characterized by diminished oxygen to the infant. Prolonged diminished oxygen can result in permanent brain damage or death.
  • Prematurity – When doctors fail to respond appropriately to premature birth, an infant is at risk for problems like apnea, jaundice, respiratory distress syndrome, and others.
  • Prolonged labor – Extended labor (labor that lasts longer than 14-21 hours) can be labeled “failure to progress.” When this happens, the baby is at risk for serious complications.
  • Birth infections – Infections, if left untreated, can cause serious birth injuries such as brain damage. Some common infections include bacterial infections, rubella, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Abnormal pelvis shape – Labor can fail to progress if the mother has an irregular pelvis structure. Doctors can note this ahead of time to plan for a safer delivery option, such as C-section.
  • Improper use of force during delivery – The use of forceps, ventouse, or excessive pulling during delivery can cause fractures and even paralysis.
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) – This is a type of brain injury that often results from diminished oxygen to the infant during childbirth.

Even if you had a major risk factor present, your doctors and nurses are trained to remain vigilant and respond to your specific medical needs to ensure a healthy delivery. For example, hospital staffs are required to monitor your fetus’ condition closely in the days and hours leading up to delivery. If fetal distress is discovered or a condition becomes life-threatening, a responsible healthcare provider should take the necessary steps to keep you and your baby safe, including scheduling an emergency C-section.

Identifying a Birth Injury

Some physical injuries may heal fairly quickly after delivery, including minor bruising or forceps marks, swelling in the scalp, and other injuries. Although the initial injury may look very extreme, most heal within a few weeks of birth. If they do not heal within the first weeks of your child’s life, or you begin to notice developmental delays, you could have a more serious situation on your hands.

Physical injuries often require therapy or surgery, like the following movement-impairing conditions:

  • Paralysis
  • Fractures
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Injuries to the brachial plexus

Cranial injuries, such as cerebral palsy or brain damage, are often the most life-altering injuries and usually occur when a child experiences hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (also known as hypoxia, or simply a lack of oxygen) during the delivery process. Early treatment for these injuries can include therapy, medication, surgery, or accessibility devices.

Ultimately, the treatment process is as wide-ranging and complex as the injury itself and will vary greatly for each individual. Consult with your physician immediately to determine the best course of action for treatment and prevention of further injury or disability.

Why and When Should You Hire an Attorney?

A birth injury is never something a parent should take lightly. Do not assume your doctors did everything they could and should have to prevent the injury. Do not think the injuries might have been your fault or that you don’t have the right to pursue financial compensation through legal means. Do not assume you’ve missed the deadline to file, even if years have passed since your child’s delivery.

If your child has any type of birth injury, talk to our attorneys. We offer free, no-obligation consultations with experienced lawyers so that you can get real answers to your questions after a birth injury. Speak to a lawyer immediately after receiving a birth injury diagnosis in Baltimore. Hire a Baltimore injury attorney to help with your baby’s birth injury if you believe someone else caused or contributed to the injury.

The hospital or birth center will likely send an insurance representative to communicate with you about the birth injury event. Protect your family’s rights by entering into these conversations with legal representation. Without a lawyer’s help, you might accept a low-ball insurance settlement offer or end up with no compensation at all. You and your family might deserve compensation for the exorbitant medical expenses of a birth injury, as well as justice for your child. Going up against a physician or hospital can shed light on a dangerous situation and potentially save other children from the same fate in the future.

Maryland Birth Injury Laws and Statutes

Like all types of injury cases, birth injury lawsuits follow state-specific statutes in Maryland. It’s important as a claimant to have at least a cursory understanding of the most important laws so that you know how and when to take legal action for your injured child. As always, you can contact our firm and we’ll answer your legal questions and concerns. In the meantime, here are two important state laws we believe all parents should know.

First, only certain parties can file. In the majority of cases, parents have the right to file a claim against one or more parties for birth injury medical malpractice. Parents will file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child when the child is too young and/or mentally incompetent to legally bring the claim him/herself. Parents can claim recovery for their child’s damages as well as their own, including parental mental anguish and emotional distress.

Second, there is a time limit for filing. There are time restraints you must obey for the Maryland courts to agree to hear your case. In general, claimants have five years from the date of the birth injury to file a lawsuit or three years from the date of discovery of the injury. For example, if doctors do not diagnose your child with cerebral palsy until the age of three, you would have three additional years to file a claim. In Baltimore wrongful death birth injury claims, you have three years from the date of death to file. In all cases, you must file a claim before the child’s 11th birthday.

Who Might the Courts Hold Liable?

Who could be liable, or legally responsible, for your child’s injuries depends on the circumstances of the birth injury or accident? In many cases, doctors and surgeons are independent contractors and not employees of the hospital. If an independent contractor caused your child’s injuries, you might have grounds to sue the individual. If, however, the physician or worker is a hospital employee, the hospital or healthcare facility could be vicariously liable.

In other birth injury cases, third parties could have or share fault. For example, if a malfunctioning piece of medical equipment caused the injury, you might be able to bring a claim against the product manufacturer and/or the hospital for failing to maintain the equipment. There are many lawsuits in which there is more than one party at fault for injuries. It’s important to retain an attorney who can investigate your child’s injuries, identify all defendants, and go up against major healthcare facilities and insurance companies on you and your child’s behalf.

Murphy, Falcon & Murphy knows that many birth injuries are preventable and stem from acts of negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, or the birth center itself. Our firm has a 70-year history and an outstanding reputation within the Baltimore community.  We are passionate about justice and can help hold those responsible for your child’s birth injury accountable. If you believe you have a birth injury case, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

Contact a Baltimore Birth Injury Lawyer

At Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, we treat all birth injury claims with a personal touch. We know that birth traumas deeply affect all those involved, but none more so than the parents. As a parent, you need a lawyer who cares as much about your case as you do. Our attorneys work hard to protect the rights of injured infants and their parents. We give voices to those who otherwise wouldn’t have them in a court of law. Entrust your birth injury case to our attorneys to make the legal process as efficient and rewarding as possible in Baltimore. Call (410) 951-8744 or contact us online for more information.