Every day, women trust doctors and nurses to help deliver their babies. But sometimes mistakes occur, resulting in permanent, life-changing, or even fatal injuries to the baby. These heartbreaking accidents may have been avoided with proper care.
A birth injury is any form of harm that comes to an infant as they are born. Birth injuries damage a baby’s brain and/or body. Unfortunately, birth injuries are more common than many might think. In the United States, 7 out of 1,000 babies will be injured at birth.
Birth injuries range from mild to severe and may last a lifetime.
Notable birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Bleeding or lack of oxygen inside the brain
- Facial nerve damage
- Skull fracturing
Birth injuries are never intended and are often the result of a medical mistake. Because they happen at random, families are often unprepared for the burdens they bring. For example, the cost of care for someone with cerebral palsy is 10 times greater than they are for the average person. These costs can be financially devastating to families.
What Causes Birth Injuries?
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for over 250,000 deaths each year. Countless others are injured by medical mistakes made by doctors and other hospital staff. These medical errors are also the cause of birth injuries.
Birth injuries are avoidable with proper medical care, but if doctors make careless mistakes before, during, or after delivery, the baby is the one who suffers.
Long-term birth injuries may be caused by:
- Improper use of vacuum extractors/forceps
- Making an error during surgery
- Misdiagnosing a serious medical condition
- Not properly assessing risk factors beforehand
- Using excessive force to deliver the baby
If you suspect that your child is the victim of a birth injury, you need to know your legal rights and options. You and your child should not have to endure long-term suffering due to a medical error that was beyond your control.
For many families affected by birth injuries, filing a lawsuit is often the first step on the road toward healing. Legal rights, however, are time-sensitive due to statutes of limitations. Given these limitations, it is important to reach out to an experienced law firm as soon as possible. Case managers can help determine if legal action is the right path for your unique situation.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect the brain and nervous system. It develops when a child’s brain suffers extreme damage before or during birth.
Cerebral palsy can affect a child’s:
- Ability to eat
- Limb control
- Mental skills
- Motor skills
Cerebral palsy has no cure, and its symptoms often need to be managed with the help of professionals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average lifetime cost for someone with cerebral palsy is over $1 Million.
Cerebral palsy brings pain and suffering to the affected person and their loved ones. If your baby has received a diagnosis, you may feel frustrated, confused, and scared. You are not alone. According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF), over 17 million people around the world live with cerebral palsy.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the direct result of brain damage before or during birth. It can be caused either by a physical injury before, during, or shortly after delivery or an undetected illness. In these cases, the baby’s brain would have formed normally had this damage not occurred.
Birth injuries that may lead to cerebral palsy include:
- Fetal distress (lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain)
- Jaundice that is not properly treated
- Intracranial hemorrhages
- Untreated neonatal infections
- Other medical errors before, during, or shortly after childbirth
If a doctor fails to properly diagnose any of these conditions, they may be responsible for your baby’s injuries. It is the duty of your medical team to keep you and your child as safe as possible. If they did not do this, your child may need long-term care for their condition.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
The symptoms of cerebral palsy will vary based on where the baby’s brain was affected. This is because the damage is usually contained to one portion of the brain. Some children with cerebral palsy may only experience mild symptoms, while others may need around-the-clock care.
Common symptoms include:
- Mental impairments
- Muscles that are locked up, floppy, or shaky
- Problems with spine and joints
- Speech and eating impairments
- Visual problems
The brain injuries that cause cerebral palsy cannot be cured, so the symptoms will not go away with time. However, some symptoms can benefit from effective treatment.
For example, extremely stiff muscles can benefit from physical therapy. Your child could also work with a speech therapist if they have trouble communicating. Early therapy can prevent these conditions from worsening over time.
What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s palsy is a form of paralysis (palsy) that affects the bundle of nerves near a baby’s neck. This bundle of nerves is called the brachial plexus. Doctors who struggle during delivery may pull on a baby’s neck or limbs. This causes the nerves in the brachial plexus to stretch and tear.
When brachial plexus nerves are damaged, it affects the baby’s ability to control their shoulders, arms, or hands. Around 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 babies are born with Erb’s palsy.
Erb’s palsy may cause the following symptoms in the affected limb:
- Numbness, lack of feeling, or a tingling sensation
- Partial or total paralysis
Researchers estimate that over 80% of babies with mild Erb’s palsy can make a full recovery. However, recovery may take several months or years. With more severe cases, in which the nerves are severed, symptoms may never go away. Erb’s palsy is best treated with therapy as soon as the condition is diagnosed.
How to Detect Birth Injuries
Identifying a birth injury in your child is no easy task. Many birth injuries go unnoticed for months or years. They are sometimes mistaken for other conditions, such as spinal cord injuries or neurological disorders.
However, your child may have a birth injury if they:
- Cannot move one of their limbs
- Have hearing or vision issues
- Have problems with their muscle tone (stiff or weak muscles/limbs)
- Miss common milestones for their age (i.e., not rolling over, smiling, standing)
- Prefer one arm/hand over the other
Medicare and Medicaid for Birth Injuries
Managing birth injuries can be very costly, and you may not be able to afford all of the necessary treatments on your own. Fortunately, families affected by birth injuries can receive government aid through Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare and Medicaid can help pay for:
- At-home care
- Communication equipment
- Counseling services
- Doctor visits
- Drugs and medications
- Mental health services
- Medication and medical equipment
- Transportation needs
- Treatment programs
Each form of federal assistance has its own set of qualifications that determine who can receive benefits. Medicare was established so that the elderly and those with severe disabilities can receive medical care.
Medicaid qualifications vary for each state, but generally speaking, the family must have a low source of income in order to receive these benefits.
However, Medicare and Medicaid cover only what is considered “medically necessary.” This means that you still may have to pay for some medical expenses by yourself. You may need to pay out-of-pocket for items such as specialized mobility equipment, physical therapy, and some prescription drugs. Fortunately, there are other ways that you can afford treatments.
Sokolove Law Provides Legal Aid for Birth Injuries
If your child was unexpectedly diagnosed with a birth injury, you may feel powerless or even hopeless. Birth injuries bring emotional and financial stress to even the most well-prepared families.
Compensation from a legal claim may be able to help ease your burdens. When you file a legal claim with the help of a proven law firm, you will work alongside an experienced and dedicated legal team. This team examines if the hospital staff who delivered your child may be responsible for their injuries.
If successful, a legal claim could allow your family to receive financial compensation.
This compensation can help pay for:
- Adaptive equipment (such as wheelchairs and walkers)
- Doctor visits
- Therapy sessions
- Other costs
Sokolove Law has lawyers that are leaders in birth injury claims. Our lawyers understand the suffering that families affected by birth injuries go through. They will work with you to understand your unique situation and maximize the value of your claim.
Call Sokolove Law today at (888) 360-1323 to receive a free case review. Our case managers will speak with you and help answer your questions.