Attorney at Law

What to Do if You Believe Your Baby Suffered a Birth Injury

Daisy Rogozinsky
November 15, 2022
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
June 1, 2023

As parents, our greatest hope is that our children will be born happy and healthy. It’s terrifying to imagine that they could potentially be hurt in the process of pregnancy or childbirth. Unfortunately, birth injuries are not uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3% of babies in the United States are born with a birth injury. 

If you believe that your child may have suffered a birth injury, you probably feel afraid and uncertain of what to do next. But you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are options available for parents of children with birth injuries to receive aid and justice. In this article, we’ll review the steps that it is recommended you take if you suspect your child may have suffered a birth injury.

1. Look for Immediate Signs and Symptoms

The first thing you need to do is to determine whether or not your baby is showing signs of birth injury. There are many different types of birth injuries, including:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Newborn jaundice
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Newborn cephalohematoma
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Spinal cord Injuries
  • Kernicterus

Each of these has different symptoms, some of which can be seen immediately upon birth. Some early signs of birth injury include:

  • One limp arm
  • Abrasions, bruises, or swelling on the face, head, or shoulder
  • A floppy appearance indicating a lack of muscle tone
  • Requiring resuscitation at the time of delivery
  • Seizures developing within 48 hours
  • Failure to begin breathing immediately following delivery

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is likely your baby may have been injured during childbirth.

2. Look for Symptoms that Develop Later

It’s important to note that not all symptoms of birth injury are apparent immediately after birth. Some can take hours, days, or even weeks or months to develop. Some signs of birth injury that you might notice later on include:

  • Stiffness in the joints or muscles
  • Inability to control leg or arm movement
  • Trouble performing basic movements, such as clapping or grasping
  • Inability to crawl, walk, or sit up
  • Trouble swallowing or eating
  • Missing certain developmental milestones, like rolling over, sitting, or standing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seeming to favor one side of the body
  • Issues with muscle control or motor skills
  • Limited range of motion
  • Numbness or weakness in one arm
  • Lack of arm movement indicating partial or complete paralysis

3. Determine Whether the Injury Was Preventable

In order to have a valid medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove that your baby’s birth injury was preventable and caused by negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare professional. There are many different errors that medical staff can make that might lead to a birth injury. These include:

  • Prolonging a difficult labor
  • Delaying a necessary cesarean section
  • Failing to notice and respond to signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to diagnose and respond to other issues that can cause birth injury, including malpresentation, molar pregnancy, jaundice, incompetent cervixhigh-risk pregnancy, umbilical cord compression, fetal growth restriction, and more

Once you’ve noticed the symptoms of a birth injury, you’ll need to consider what caused it. If a doctor had been able to prevent the injury by offering better care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

4. Gather Key Information

 If you believe that your baby’s birth injury was caused by another party, you can take steps toward receiving compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical bills.

Before you speak to a birth injury lawyer about your next steps, it’s important to gather some key information that will help clarify the details of your case. To prepare for a legal consultation, you should gather the following:

  • Your child’s signs and symptoms
  • When, where, and how the birth injury may have happened
  • Who you believe may be responsible and why
  • Any health records and bills related to your baby’s injury

5. Consulting with an Attorney

Dealing with birth injury claims can be very challenging, as many complex legal matters are involved. A skilled lawyer can help you during every stage by identifying all potential parties who may be responsible or liable for the injury; gathering evidence and documentation to support your claim; filing a complaint with the court to formally initiate a lawsuit; representing you in settlement negotiations; and if a settlement is not reached; taking your case to trial.

Many lawyers offer free consultations during which you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your child’s birth injury, what may have caused or been a contributing factor to the injury, and what sort of compensation and damages you may pursue. Through AAL’s directory, you can find numerous attorneys with years of experience practicing medical malpractice law and pursuing birth injury claims.

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