When a newborn baby suffers an injury due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical provider, the damage could lead to lifelong difficulties – and even premature death. Parents are often understandably concerned about their child’s medical health and safety in such instances, but it is just as important to explore the option of compensation through a birth injury lawsuit.

Birth injuries come in many forms, and the impact they have is lasting. Talking to a birth injury lawyer right away is essential to ensuring that your child has the funds necessary for treatments, long-term medical care, and any complications that might arise later in life.

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Why Parents Are Filing Birth Injury Lawsuits

Birth injuries can cause lasting damage, affecting an infant’s quality of life and ability to earn an income when they grow older. Even if an injury causes short-term harm and the child eventually heals fully, the pain and suffering caused by the birth trauma can be devastating. Recovering physically and emotionally can take years of costly medical treatment and care. For this reason, some parents choose to file birth injury lawsuits to seek help with expenses that are likely to crop up during their child’s lifetime.

There are a variety of injuries that can happen during childbirth, some of which are a natural risk of the delivery process, while others are exacerbated by doctors or other medical staff who fail to follow the proper procedures or recognize certain conditions. Health professionals could be held liable for medical negligence or malpractice if they use unnecessary or risky delivery techniques, or who miss signs of complications during labor (such as shoulder dystocia) leading to a birth injury.

Most Common Birth Injuries

  • Cerebral Palsy – a group of motor disorders affecting movement
  • Klumpke’s Palsy – paralysis of the upper arm muscles due to brachial plexus injury
  • Erb’s Palsy (Erb-Duchenne Palsy) – paralysis of the lower arm and hand muscles due to brachial plexus injury
  • Hematoma – bleeding beneath the cranium (scalp)
  • Spinal Cord Injuries – damage or severing of major nerves/nerve groups
  • Facial paralysis – injury to nerves controlling the baby’s face muscles
  • Perinatal Asphyxia – oxygen deprivation during delivery, leading to brain damage such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Clavicle Fracture – breaking of the collar bone
  • Caput Succedaneum – swelling of soft tissue in the scalp
  • Bruising – usually caused by instruments like forceps
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage – bursting of blood vessels in the eyes

How a Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help

A birth injury attorney can help parents whose infant was injured during childbirth by consulting with them about the best way to seek money that can pay for immediate treatments, as well as long-term care. Reputable birth injury lawyers will offer a free case review to discuss your situation and offer a realistic expectation about what you can receive from a settlement or verdict.

In many cases, parents will also need to set up Life Care Plans that specify the types of care a child injured at birth will need over the course of his or her lifetime. The document estimates the future medical expenses related to treatments and other medical needs that are likely to arise during the child’s life, as well as incidental costs related to those needs. A birth injury lawyer can help prepare your child’s Life Care Plan to ensure nothing is left out and that sufficient funds are sought as part of the lawsuit.

Costs Included in a Life Care Plan

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychological therapy
  • Special education costs
  • In-home care expenses
  • Daily medical supplies
  • Prescription medications
  • Mobility devices
  • Transportation to/from treatment centers
  • Home modifications to accommodate disability

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Your State

Medical malpractice cases differ widely from state to state. Most birth injury cases are handled as individual legal claims rather than class action lawsuits or multidistrict litigation, since the circumstances surrounding the injuries are often specific to a particular set of circumstances.

In order to file a birth injury lawsuit, your lawyer will help you establish the following conditions:

  • Duty of Care: It is important to show that the doctor or other medical staff had a duty of care over your child at the time that the birth injury occurred.
  • Breach of Duty: Once duty of care is established, the next hurdle is to demonstrate how the medical professionals responsible for your child’s welfare breached that duty, leading to injury. Breach of duty can include both actions that the medical provider took, as well as things they failed to do, such as failing to order an emergency c-section (cesarean section).

Additional evidence will need to be gathered to show these conditions. Experienced attorneys have the knowledge and resources to help you gather the appropriate documents and put together your malpractice claim to increase your likelihood of receiving compensation.

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Birth Injury Statutes of Limitations

When thinking about filing a lawsuit, another important consideration is your state’s statute of limitations. Every state has a different set of deadlines during which to file your birth injury claim, sometimes as little as a year or two. Other states allow a much longer time to file, but waiting too long can make it hard to get certain records or other evidence needed to make your case.

The resource below provides a high-level overview of state statutes of limitation. If you are unsure about which statute of limitations applies to your case, connect with a local birth injury lawyer for a free consultation to get your questions answered.

See Your State’s Birth Injury Lawsuit DeadlineStatutes of Limitations by State
Expand Resource
Alabama
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 6 months after discovery of the injury, if 2 years have already passed
  • Cannot be filed more than 4 years after the injury, if the child is older than 4
  • Must be filed by the child’s 8th birthday, if younger than 4
Alaska
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury, if discovered within 10 years of the injury
Arizona
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
Arkansas
  • 1 year after discovery of a foreign object
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after wrongful death
California
  • 3 years after birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of a foreign object
  • 2 years after wrongful death
Colorado
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
Connecticut
  • 2 years after birth injury (3 years in some special cases)
  • 2 years after wrongful death
Delaware
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery
Florida
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
Georgia
  • 2 years after birth injury or wrongful death
  • 5 years after the birth injury, if not discovered within 2 years
  • All birth injury claims must be filed before the injured child’s 5th birthday
Hawaii
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 6 years after the birth injury, if not discovered within 2 years
Idaho
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after the
Illinois
  • 8 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
  • No birth injury claims can be made after the child’s 22nd birthday
Indiana
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after the injury should have reasonably been discovered
Iowa
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after the discovery of the birth injury
  • Before the child’s 8th birthday, for injuries occurring in children under 6 years of age
Kansas
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 4 years after the birth injury, if not discovered within 2 years
Kentucky
  • 1 year after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 5 years after the birth injury, if not discovered within 1 year
Louisiana
  • 1 year after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after the birth injury, if not discovered within 1 year
Maine
  • 3 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after the discovery of a foreign object
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
  • Before the child’s 6th birthday, if the injury is not discovered within 3 years
Maryland
  • 5 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 3 years after the wrongful death
  • Before the child’s 11th birthday
Massachusetts
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • Before the child’s 9th birthday
Michigan
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 6 months after discovery of the birth injury
  • 3 years after the wrongful death
Minnesota
  • 4 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after the wrongful death
Mississippi
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 3 years after the wrongful death
Missouri
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury, up to 10 years after the injury occurred
  • Before the child’s 20th birthday
Montana
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after the discovery of the birth injury, but no more than 5 years after the birth injury
Nebraska
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 1 year after discovery of the birth injury
Nevada
  • 3 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
  • Before the child’s 10th birthday in cases of brain damage or birth defects
New Hampshire
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
New Jersey
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
New Mexico
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • Before the child’s 9th birthday for injuries occurring before age 6
New York
  • 2 years and 6 months after the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
North Carolina
  • 3 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury, up to 4 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
North Dakota
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury, up to 6 years after the birth injury
Ohio
  • 1 year after the birth injury
  • 180 days after plaintiff gives written notice to the defendant
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
Oklahoma
  • 7 years after the birth injury (for children under 12)
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
Oregon
  • 2 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 3 years after the wrongful death
Pennsylvania
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
Rhode Island
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
South Carolina
  • 3 years of the birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
South Dakota
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
Tennessee
  • 1 year after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 1 year after discovery of the birth injury, up to 3 years after the birth injury
Texas
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • Before the child’s 14th birthday
Utah
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury, up to 4 years after the birth injury
Vermont
  • 3 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury, up to 7 years after the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
Virginia
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • Before the child’s 10th birthday
Washington
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after the child turns 18, if the parents did not file on their behalf as a minor
  • 8 years after fraudulent concealment of evidence or foreign objects stuck in the body
Washington, D.C.
  • 3 years after the birth injury
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
  • 2 years after the wrongful death
West Virginia
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury
Wisconsin
  • 3 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 3 years after discovery of the birth injury
Wyoming
  • 2 years after the birth injury or wrongful death
  • 2 years after discovery of the birth injury

Birth Injury Settlements and Verdicts

Many birth injury settlements are kept private, though verdicts are typically a part of the public record. Many settlements and verdicts can run into the millions of dollars, given that they are meant to provide enough money to take care of the injured child for the rest of their life.

Below are some examples of notable birth injury verdicts and settlements. Each individual lawsuit will have different results, based on the specifics of the case.

Julien Flores (Evanston, Illinois) – $50.3 Million Verdict

In a favorable verdict for the plaintiffs, the Flores family was awarded more than $50 million in their case against Evanston Hospital. Aimee and David Flores filed the lawsuit on behalf of their son Julien, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after hospital staff failed to notice signs of fetal distress. After waiting for several hours, the medical personnel finally performed a c-section. However, at that point it was too late, and infant Julien was born blue and lifeless. The health care providers were able to revive him, but irreparable harm to his brain had already been done. The birth injury verdict included $1.3 million for pain and suffering, $8.5 million for emotional distress, $12 million for future treatment costs, $3 million for loss of future income, and $20 million for the loss of a future normal life.

Noah Whitney (Honolulu, Hawaii) – $9 Million Settlement

The son of Coast Guardsman Richard Whitney and Laura Whitney was born at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. At week 35 of her pregnancy, Laura was rushed to the military hospital after experiencing severe pains, a common symptom of uterine rupture. However, the medical personnel did not respond properly and waited too long to perform a c-section. As a result, Noah suffered a catastrophic brain injury resulting in cerebral palsy. The Whitney family received a $9 million birth injury settlement from the federal government after filing a lawsuit. The settlement was initially rejected by the Department of Justice, but a federal later approved the full amount.

Frequently Asked Questions About Birth Injury Lawyers and Lawsuits

Answers to some common questions about birth injury lawsuits are provided below.

How Much Does a Birth Injury Lawyer Cost?

For most cases, there is no upfront fee for the consultation. If the lawyer agrees to work on your case, they will offer a contingency agreement that means they will only get paid if they help you get money through a verdict or settlement.

Usually the lawyer’s fee will be a percentage of the total compensation. When consulting with a medical malpractice attorney, be sure to ask any questions you have about how it will affect your final amount.

Does My Family Meet the Birth Injury Lawsuit Criteria?

Because birth injuries can happen in a number of different ways, there is no broad set of criteria that will tell you if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or Erb’s palsy because of an injury during delivery?
  • Was the injury caused by the use of certain kinds of medical equipment or instruments, like forceps or a vacuum?
  • Did you receive a c-section, or did a doctor recommend a c-section during your labor?

If you are unsure whether you eligible, it is a good idea to talk with an experienced birth injury lawyer who can help you understand the merits of your case.

What Compensation Can a Birth Injury Attorney Help My Family Get?

No two cases are the same, and the amount of compensation for similar cases can vary widely in different states. That said, there are a number of common considerations that can be taken into account for the final amount:

  • How much pain and suffering did the child experience?
  • Is there any lasting emotional or psychological trauma?
  • What emergency or immediate treatment costs were imposed on the family?
  • Have the parents lost wages due to missing work or having to quit their job?
  • Will the child be disabled for life and need ongoing care?
  • What future complications could arise from the permanent disability?
  • Should doctors, hospitals, or others be punished for their negligence or medical malpractice?

In order to help you seek the most compensation possible, it is a good idea to keep track of all medical records, hospital bills, and insurance company statements. You should also retain copies of any emails, letters and other communications to and from your doctor’s office. Your lawyer will be able to gather additional evidence as well, such as witness depositions and expert witness testimony.

To get the birth injury compensation process started today, connect with a law firm that has the knowledge and ability to help.

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