Personal Injury Specialized Area of Practice in Charleston, SC

Birth Injuries

If you believe your child’s birth injury was caused by a doctor or hospital’s negligence, it is imperative that you speak with experienced Charleston birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.

The Feidler Law Firm has represented many birth injury victims, and have the litigation experience to navigate your case and get you the compensation you deserve. We know what it takes to hold careless medical professionals accountable.

A birth injury lawsuit is a type of legal action filed against negligent doctors, nurses, hospitals, or other medical professionals that caused a child to develop a preventable birth injury. Injuries to babies and mothers during labor and delivery cause lifelong medical, emotional, and financial problems. While most birth injuries are preventable when doctors follow standard treatment protocols, medical malpractice is often to blame for complications. A birth injury lawsuit is eligible if a child developed an injury caused by preventable mistakes before, during, or shortly after birth, which can affect them for their entire life.

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Birth Injury liability

Proving A Birth Injury Case

OBGYNs and their nurses have specialized childbirth training, education, and experienced, so they should identify pregnancy complications as soon as possible, explain to you the complication and what can be done about them, and inform you of any risks inherent in their recommended course of action.

When your treaters fail to identify or prevent a birth injury, fail you to warn of any risks inherent in a particular procedure, or through a medical error, cause a birth injury, you may be able to recover for their negligence and medical malpractice.

Since birth injury cases are a subtype of medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove the same elements to recovery in a birth injury lawsuit:

  • Owed a professional duty of care to their patient;
  • Breached the professional duty of care;
  • That breach caused the patient’s injury;
  • That injury resulted in damages.

Damages include the newborn’s pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, disfigurement, lost wages over their lifetime, loss of care and affection, and past and future medical and lifecare costs.

Common Birth Injuries

Brachial Palsy

This occurs when the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands (brachial plexus) is injured. It's most common when there is trouble delivering the baby's shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. The baby loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm. If the injury caused bruising and swelling around the nerves, movement should return within a few months. Tearing of the nerve may cause permanent nerve damage. Special exercises are used to help maintain the arm’s range of motion while healing occurs.

Bruising or Forceps Marks

Some babies may show signs of bruising on the face or head simply because of the trauma of passing though the birth canal and contact with the mother's pelvic bones and tissues. Forceps used with delivery can leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby's face and head. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction may have some scalp bruising or a scalp cut (laceration).

Caput succedaneum

Caput is a significant swelling of the soft tissues of the baby's scalp. This develops as the baby travels through the birth canal. Some babies have some bruising of the area. The swelling usually goes away in a few days without problems. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction are more likely to have this condition.

Cephalohematoma

This is an area of bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous covering. It often appears several hours after birth as a raised lump on the baby's head. Over time, the body reabsorbs the blood. Depending on the size, most cephalohematomas take 2 weeks to 3 months to disappear completely. If the area of bleeding is large, some babies may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.

Facial Paralysis

During labor or birth, pressure on a baby's face may injure the facial nerve. This may also occur when forceps are used for delivery. The injury is often seen when the baby cries. There is no movement on the side of the face with the injury and the eye can’t be closed. If the nerve was only bruised, the paralysis usually improves in a few weeks. If the nerve was torn, surgery may be needed.

Fractures

Fracture of the clavicle or collarbone is the most common fracture during labor and delivery. The clavicle may break when there is trouble delivering the baby's shoulder or during a breech delivery. A baby with a fractured clavicle rarely moves the arm on the side of the break. However, healing occurs quickly. As new bone forms, a firm lump on the clavicle often develops in the first 10 days. If the fracture is painful, limiting movement of the arm and shoulder with a soft bandage or splint may be helpful.

Hypoxia

Hypoxia occurs when a baby receives inadequate oxygen to its brain before, during, or after delivery. The condition can lead to brain injury and, if improperly treated, may progress into a permanent disorder, such as cerebral palsy, cognitive deficiencies, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). However, hypoxia doesn't necessarily lead to permanent disability. While most babies born with mild hypoxia will recover without permanent disability, moderate or severe hypoxia substantially increases the risk that your baby will have a lifelong disability.

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Meconium is the first feces, or stool, of the newborn. Meconium aspiration syndrome occurs when a newborn breathes a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery. Meconium aspiration syndrome, a leading cause of severe illness and death in the newborn, occurs in about 5 percent to 10 percent of births. It typically occurs when the fetus is stressed during labor, especially when the infant is past its due date.

The newborn's mouth should be suctioned as soon as the head can be seen during delivery. Further treatment is necessary if there is thick meconium staining and fetal distress. The infant may be placed in the special care nursery or newborn intensive care unit.

Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (SCHN)

This is the breakage of small blood vessels in the eyes of a baby. SCHN may occur during long, difficult labor when too much pressure is placed on the infant during contractions. As the infant moves through the birth canal, the head is under constantly changing pressure, which can be forceful during the delivery. This can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to rupture.

Additionally, injuries to the baby’s eyes can be caused by doctors applying inappropriate pressure and force on the infant during labor and delivery. This is more common when birth-assisting tools are used, such as forceps or a vacuum extraction tool. It can also happen if too much pressure is applied in order to release the infant’s shoulders if he or she is stuck during delivery.

Why & When Should You Hire an Attorney?

A birth injury is never something a parent should take lightly.

  1. Do not assume your doctors did everything they could and should have to prevent the injury.
  2. Do not think the injuries might have been your fault or that you don’t have the right to pursue financial compensation through legal means.
  3. Do not assume you’ve missed the deadline to file, even if years have passed since your child’s delivery.

The hospital or birth center will likely send an insurance representative to communicate with you about the birth injury event. Protect your family’s rights by entering into these conversations with legal representation.

Bottom Line: Get an experienced attorney!

Without a lawyer’s help, you might accept a low-ball insurance settlement offer or end up with no compensation at all. You and your family deserve compensation for the exorbitant medical expenses of a birth injury, as well as justice for your child. Going up against a physician or hospital can shed light on a dangerous situation and potentially save other children from the same fate in the future.

Birth Injury Laws and Statutes

Like all types of injury cases, birth injury lawsuits follow state-specific statutes in South Carolina. It’s important as a claimant to have at least a cursory understanding of the most important laws so that you know how and when to take legal action for your injured child. Here are two important state laws we believe all parents should know:

Who Can File a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Firstly, only certain parties can file. In the majority of cases, parents have the right to file a claim against one or more parties for birth injury medical malpractice. Parents will file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child when the child is too young and/or mentally incompetent to legally bring the claim him/herself. Parents can claim recovery for their child’s damages as well as their own, including parental mental anguish and emotional distress.

What is the Time Limit for Filing?

Secondly, there is a time limit for filing. There are time restraints you must obey for the South Carolina courts to agree to hear your case. In general, the deadline that claimants have for filing a lawsuit is: five years from the date of the birth injury or three years from the date of discovery of the injury.

For example, if doctors do not diagnose your child with cerebral palsy until the age of three, you would have three additional years to file a claim. In Charleston, wrongful death birth injury claims, you have three years from the date of death to file. In all cases, you must file a claim before the child’s 11th birthday.

Birth In jury Infographic

Hire a South Carolina Law Firm to represent your birth injury liability case.

Stefan B. Feidler & The Feidler Law Firm treat all birth injury claims with a personal touch. We know that birth traumas deeply affect all those involved, but none more so than the parents. As a parent, you need a lawyer who cares as much about your case as you do. Our attorneys work hard to protect the rights of injured infants and their parents. We give voices to those who otherwise wouldn’t have them in a court of law. Entrust your birth injury case to our attorneys to make the legal process as efficient and rewarding as possible in Charleston, SC. We will help you seek justice.

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