A birth injury is one of the most devastating incidents that can happen. The Florida personal injury lawyers of Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. understand the emotional trauma of giving birth to your son or daughter only to discover that a doctor’s error caused their injury or death. Although healthcare professionals are highly trained and experienced, their negligent actions could cause harm to the mother or baby during pregnancy, delivery, or post-natal care.
Birth injuries often result from carelessness or intentional misconduct, such as administering the wrong medication dosage or failing to diagnose potential medical problems while the baby is still in the womb. The physical injuries and long-term consequences of the doctor’s negligence can be excruciating. You or your baby might need emergency surgery or ongoing medical treatment. You could end up with expenses you can’t afford and face significant debt.
You should not be forced to endure the physical, emotional, and economic suffering of someone else’s wrongdoing. The losses you suffered should be the at-fault doctor, nurse, or another medical provider’s responsibility. Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. can help you hold them liable and pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are preventable when doctors provide the standard of care necessary during every stage of pregnancy and delivery. Unfortunately, errors are relatively common and can lead to severe injuries and death. In the United States, one out of every 100 babies suffers a birth injury.
The most common causes of birth injuries include:
- Medication errors
- Twisting or pulling the baby incorrectly during delivery
- Failing to diagnose medical conditions
- Failing to detect fetal or maternal distress
- Complications from a premature delivery
- Lack of proper prenatal care
- Overusing or misusing labor-inducing drugs
- Using forceps or vacuum extraction unnecessarily
- Delayed emergency cesarean section
- Failing to identify high-risk deliveries and creating an appropriate plan
- Inadequately monitoring the baby and mother during pregnancy
At Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A., we have extensive experience representing victims of birth injuries and securing a favorable outcome in their cases. Our Florida birth injury attorneys know the long recovery you and your baby face. You have a right to hold the negligent medical provider accountable, and we are ready to help.
Defective Medical Devices Can Cause Injuries and Death
The medical equipment and tools used during childbirth can become contaminated or damaged. If a doctor knows about the unsafe conditions of the equipment and uses it anyway, they could be held liable for the resulting injuries. However, if medical providers aren’t aware of defective medical devices, the manufacturer could be responsible for selling a dangerous product.
Common devices doctors use during labor and delivery that can contain defects include:
- Extraction devices
- Gloves, masks, and other protective gear
Doctors should sterilize all medical tools, equipment, and devices before the birthing process begins. Bacteria could contaminate them if someone doesn’t handle them properly. Contamination can cause severe infections to develop in the baby or mother and lead to life-threatening complications. This often happens if the doctor knowingly uses dirty tools or doesn’t wash their hands before the procedure.
Sometimes, the manufacturer makes an error during the design, manufacturing, or marketing process. Common problems that can lead to birth injuries and death include:
- Assembling equipment incorrectly
- Installing the wrong part on a device
- Using toxic substances on the products
- Providing a tool that contains hazards
- Poorly designed device
Birthing devices should have functioning parts and come with adequate instructions and warning labels of any risks. If the manufacturer doesn’t meet the required quality standards or warn users of the potential dangers of using the product, they could be at fault for the mother or baby’s injury.
Common Signs of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries might be apparent immediately after giving birth. In other situations, warning signs don’t develop until months or years later. Some of the common early signs of birth injuries are:
- Broken bones
- Light sensitivity
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Bulging of the head
- Trouble breathing
- A pale or blue appearance
Under certain circumstances, a parent doesn’t notice problems until their child reaches a certain age and doesn’t meet necessary developmental milestones. For example, a parent may be alerted when the child should be grasping for objects, walking, talking, and performing other basic functions at specific ages but doesn’t.
Warning signs at later stages in a child’s life that can indicate a birth injury include:
- Poor reflexes
- Speech difficulties
- Vision or hearing problems
- Inadequate growth or weight gain
- Inability to solve simple problems
- Trouble walking
- Never laughing or smiling
- Having issues with coordination or balance
- Inability to eat or swallow
- Undeveloped or underdeveloped motor skills
It is your job to advocate for your baby’s overall health and safety. If they exhibit any warning signs of a birth injury, you should immediately take them to the doctor and seek legal representation. An experienced lawyer can determine who may be liable and gather all available evidence to determine who’s at fault.
Factors That Increase the Risk of a Birth Injury
Any newborn could suffer an injury. However, some factors increase the risk of an injury during labor and delivery. The doctor’s job is to identify potential problems and determine a plan to avoid an injury during the birthing process.
The most common risk factors of birth injuries include:
- Baby is breech
- Mother is overweight
- Premature birth
- Cesarean section required for delivery
- Preeclampsia diagnosis – organ damage and high blood pressure
- The shape or size of the birth canal or pelvis creates challenges for a vaginal birth
- Weak contractions during labor, preventing the baby from moving through the birth canal
- Use of vacuum or forceps for extraction
- Delivering a large baby
You should ask your doctor if any risk factors exist that can place your baby in distress or lead to a complicated delivery. Even though medical providers should notice potentially dangerous issues, they could miss something during physical exams. You know your body best and should speak up if something does not seem normal.
Filing an Insurance Claim for Compensation for Your Losses
Parents can suffer a range of losses from a birth injury. There could be additional medical expenses, time spent away from work, and emotional pain from the entire experience. If the injury resulted from a healthcare professional or facility’s negligent actions, you could file a medical malpractice claim. The compensation you receive could compensate for the losses you suffered, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
It is never a good idea to take on an insurance claim without hiring a lawyer. Insurance companies look out for themselves. They typically investigate these incidents for evidence they can use to avoid assuming liability for the injury. They could deny your claim or offer a low settlement to save as much money as possible. If you do not know the maximum compensation you’re entitled to, you could end up with less money than you deserve.
Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. is familiar with tactics used by insurance companies and how to negotiate for a fair settlement. We’re not afraid to fight for the maximum compensation possible. If we receive any pushback or the insurance company doesn’t seem interested in settling your claim, we can file a lawsuit and take them to court.
Filing a Lawsuit for Compensation After a Birth Injury
If you decide you want to sue your doctor, you have to file your lawsuit within a specific timeframe. There is a four-year statute of limitations in Florida. This means that you have four years from the date of the birth injury to file suit if you want to seek compensation. This is a strict deadline the courts enforce. If you file after the deadline passes, the judge will most likely dismiss the case because of the expired statute.
You can pursue compensation for emotional distress, medical bills, and other losses during a lawsuit. You may also be entitled to punitive damages. These damages are only available in a lawsuit and do not compensate you for your losses. Instead, they punish the defendant for their misconduct. A jury might grant this award if you can provide clear and convincing evidence of the at-fault party’s intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Even if your doctor made an error that resulted in a birth injury, your actions could have contributed. If you were partially at fault, you could face a reduction in the compensation you receive under Florida’s pure comparative negligence law. This statute allows a jury to diminish the plaintiff’s financial award by the percentage of fault they share. For example, if you end up with $100,000 in losses but the jury finds you were 20 percent responsible for the birth injury, you will receive no more than $80,000 in compensation.
Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. will fight by your side for justice. You deserve compensation for the injury you or your baby suffered due to a medical provider’s negligent or careless actions. Our Florida birth injury attorneys will work hard to try to achieve positive results in your case. You can depend on us to remain in your corner throughout the entire process and provide the support and guidance you need.
If your child sustained a birth injury, call Schuler, Weisser, Zoeller, Overbeck & Baxter P.A. today at 561.689.8180 for your free consultation and let our legal team help you recover and move forward with your life.
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