Birth Injury Attorneys in El Cajon, CA
An infant sustains a birth injury due to a complication that occurs during the process of labor or delivery. According to estimates, five out of every 1,000 newborns in the United States sustain injuries during birth.
Reasons for a birth injury include an obstetrician’s use of inappropriate medical protocols during delivery, or due to the improper use of medical equipment such as a vacuum or forceps. The consequent damage to the infant can range from serious head injuries to lack of oxygen.
Erb’s Palsy and Cerebral Palsy
A majority of birth injuries occur due to two very distinct conditions called Erb’s (or brachial) palsy and cerebral palsy. Both these conditions typically occur due to complications during childbirth, but cerebral palsy can, at times, develop before or a while after delivery.
Erb’s (or Brachial) Palsy
In around two out of every 1,000 births, the birth injury known as Erb’s (or brachial) palsy occurs. This condition develops when an infant sustains an injury to the brachial plexus, which is a cluster of nerves that run from the spinal cord to the arm, supplying the hands and arms.
This condition usually develops when excessive force is exerted on the infant’s neck, shoulder, or head during childbirth due to challenges delivering the shoulder region (called “shoulder dystocia”).
Erb’s palsy symptoms may include limpness or paralysis in an infant’s arm, limited or no motion in the fingers and hands, and sensation loss in the fingers and hands. The baby will typically hold the impacted arm close to their body and will not seem to be able to move the hands, fingers, or arm itself.
Complications associated with Erb’s palsy are usually a consequence of a treating doctor or obstetrician’s:
- Inability to determine that a c-section should have been undertaken given the infant’s size
- Inability to correctly deliver the infant in cases involving “shoulder dystocia”
- Use of too much force on the infant’s neck, shoulder, or head during childbirth
Cerebral palsy is a broad term that encompasses various conditions impacting an infant’s movement and brain function. It may occur due to an injury to the fetus’s brain in the womb, at the time of delivery, or after birth. This condition can also develop due to insufficient oxygen flow to an infant’s brain during childbirth.
Certain conditions that can lead to or contribute to cerebral palsy are as follows:
- Failure of a treating doctor/obstetrician to determine the need to supply sufficient oxygen to the infant, such as by c-section or an unreasonable delay in undertaking the procedure
- A woman’s use of a harmful prescription med during pregnancy
- Bleeding in the infant’s brain following delivery, typically due to trauma to the head
- An infant being born exceptionally prematurely
Cerebral palsy symptoms in a child may show up over some time, and may include:
- Delayed development in terms of crawling, smiling, talking, and rolling over
- Irregular or decreased muscle tone, or “floppy” limbs
- Abnormal posture
- Poor coordination
- Involuntary motion
- Hearing or vision problems
How to Prove Your Case?
Regardless of the specificities of your case, to be able to claim damages for a birth injury, you will need to prove that medical professionals and/or a pharma company failed to provide you or your infant with proper medical care or drug advice during pregnancy and/or childbirth.
In general, to establish that a medical practitioner is legally liable, it has to be proven that their conduct was inferior to the generally accepted standards of health care. Your lawyer will most likely speak with and present the testimony of another medical specialist qualified in the same medical discipline as the defendant, to determine the standard that will be applicable.
This expert will provide testimony on the standard of care that can be reasonably expected from a medical practitioner in the same field as being adjudged qualified and competent to practice. Your lawyer will present the expert testimony in court to show not only the applicable level of care but also to establish that the defendant did not meet this standard when delivering your child.
It can sometimes be hard to establish causation in medical malpractice lawsuits. Your lawyer must specifically prove that your medical care practitioner’s failure to provide you with the applicable standard of care caused the injury. At times, this aspect is challenging to prove as the medical professional’s inability to uphold the standard of care may not be the reason for the patient’s eventual injury, and the other way around.
Caregiver’s Malpractice: Main Elements of a Lawsuit
If you want to sue your obstetrician, other medical professionals, and/or a medical facility for birth injuries to your baby, your lawyer will need to prove the following:
- The defendant (which may be a doctor, nurse, obstetrician, medical venue, medical equipment manufacturer, pharmaceutical company) had a legal duty of care to your child (and in some case, to you)
- The defendant deviated from the standard of care or legal duty by failing to act or acting irrationally in comparison to a competent medical professional in similar circumstances
- The defendant’s deviation from the standard of care or legal duty caused harm to your child (and sometimes to you)
To show that the birth injuries occurred due to the actions or inaction of the defendants, your lawyer will most likely invite expert witnesses to interpret and comment on the complicated medical procedures and concerns in your case.
These may include issues such as what to expect during routine pregnancy and childbirth, what could have been reasonably expected during your specific pregnancy, what really transpired during the pregnancy in your particular case (including elaborating on any complication at the time of pregnancy or childbirth), physical or medical proof of harm to the infant, and opinion on whether any injury occurred due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
Legal Representation by Skilled Birth Injury Attorneys
Has your infant suffered from a birth injury due to medical negligence? If yes, you and your child should receive fair compensatory damages for the expenses and suffering you face. The negligent medical practitioner should be held liable to prevent future misconduct. In such cases, a favorable outcome requires significant investigation and resources.
The experienced birth injury lawyers at Garmo & Garmo are equipped with in-depth knowledge and substantial resources to build a strong claim for you and your child. Call today at (619) 441-2500 for a free consultation with a qualified birth injury lawyer.