Florida Birth Injury Attorneys
Approximately one out of every 200 infants born in the U.S. suffers injuries during the birth process. Most of these injuries are minor, and many of them are unavoidable due to the baby’s size, position, or prematurity. In some cases, however, birth injuries or trauma is the direct result of negligence on the part of the healthcare professionals responsible for providing care for the expecting mother and her baby.
In some instances, especially when brain trauma is involved, birth injuries can be very serious, with long-term effects on the child’s physical, mental and social development. In these cases, it is important to obtain the best possible medical care as soon as possible. It’s also very important to obtain legal advice from an experienced birth injury lawyer who can answer your questions about possible medical negligence or malpractice and help you decide what course of action is in the best interests of your family.
Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
Birth injuries can be caused by a number of issues, including the mother’s preexisting medical conditions, abnormal positioning of the baby, premature separation of the placenta and the uterine wall, and medical malpractice or negligence that leads to fetal trauma or lack of oxygen.
In cases of medical malpractice or negligence, birth injuries can occur when
- Medical professionals fail to react to critical issues in a timely manner.
If your baby experiences distress during labor, such as a decreased heart rate or problems with the umbilical cord or placenta, an emergency C–section could be necessary. If, for some reason, the doctor and labor and delivery team delay in considering and ordering a C-section when it is necessary, and, as a result, your child suffers injuries, they could be liable for those injuries.
- Fetal monitoring is inadequate.
During labor and delivery, your baby’s vital signs should be closely monitored with the technology and equipment necessary for detecting problems such as a decreased heart rate or insufficient oxygen to the brain. When problems are discovered, medical professionals in the labor room should know when and how to intervene to prevent possible injury. If the doctor or another member of the labor room team doesn’t notice a problem or doesn’t intervene promptly to address it and your baby is injured as a result, they could be liable for medical malpractice damages.
- Extraction methods are used improperly.
Doctors might use forceps or a vacuum extractor to help deliver your baby if a natural vaginal delivery becomes too difficult or impossible. When used properly, these methods can ensure a safe delivery and prevent oxygen deprivation for your baby. However, when used improperly in cases of medical malpractice, they can result in serious injury to your child.
Serious Birth Injuries Due to Medical Malpractice
Many types of serious injuries can occur as a result of medical negligence and malpractice during the labor and delivery process. Among these are cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and injuries from vacuum or forceps use.
- Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders caused by damage to a baby’s brain that typically affects motor skills, coordination, and nerve function As a result, a child with cerebral palsy may require intensive treatment and care throughout his/her lifetime to help with physical and mental challenges. While specific health and delivery factors can lead to this serious condition, instances of medical malpractice or negligence could be the root cause.
- Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy occurs when the newborn’s shoulder nerves are injured, typically during labor and delivery. The infant may experience permanent, partial, or complete function loss in the affected nerves and exhibit symptoms such as limp arm, inability to move the hand or lower arm, and decreased grip. Sometimes, factors leading to this condition are unavoidable, but other times possible medical negligence occurs when risk factors are not identified and minimized with careful fetal monitoring and consideration of delivery options.
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t get sufficient oxygen and blood, and the brain is damaged. Effects of this damage may include developmental delays, epilepsy, cognitive issues, and motor skill development delays. In some cases, the condition that led to the oxygen deprivation could not have been foreseen. In other cases, however, a doctor could be negligent for not having diagnosed the condition and intervened to prevent complications and damage.
- Injuries from Vacuum or Forceps Use
If the fetus is in an irregular position that prevents its being able to pass naturally through the vaginal canal, a medical professional may use forceps or a vacuum to gently pull the infant through the canal by its head. Since a newborn’s skull bones are not fully fused together, the head is extremely delicate and fragile, and severe injury, such as skull fractures, facial nerve damage, and brain damage can occur if the medical professional is negligent.
Florida Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Claims
If your child suffers from a birth injury due to medical negligence or malpractice, the birth injury attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger can help you obtain the justice you want and the financial compensation you need. A Florida medical malpractice claim can hold a negligent doctor and/or labor and delivery team members accountable for their actions.
Florida law defines medical malpractice as the failure of a healthcare provider to fulfill their duty to provide care that meets the accepted professional standard of care owed to their patients. When healthcare providers are negligent and do not fulfill this duty and their negligence or error causes a patient to suffer serious injury or wrongful death, they may be held liable for the harm they inflicted with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
As the parents of a child who suffered a preventable birth injury, you may be able to obtain substantial compensation for your child’s injuries, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and care costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
Florida medical malpractice lawsuits to recover damages for birth injuries can be very complex. Proving that healthcare professionals breached the accepted professional standard of care during the labor and delivery process and that the breach seriously injured a baby requires a thorough investigation into and understanding of all the facts of the case, top quality expert testimony and skill as a litigator.
Paul Knopf Bigger medical malpractice attorneys have the expertise, knowledge and skill to successfully represent clients across the country who have been seriously injured by healthcare professionals in Florida. We work as a team, combining our knowledge, skills and resources to achieve justice and full compensation for victims of birth injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Birth Injury Malpractice Cases
The Florida statute of limitations for all medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date the malpractice occurred, was discovered or should have been discovered. The latest date allowed for the discovery of malpractice is four years from the date the malpractice originally occurred. However, “Tony’s Law” extends this deadline and allows parents to file a medical malpractice claim until their child turns eight. Parents must be mindful, though, that cases in which they knew or should have known that the birth injury was most likely caused by negligent healthcare provider(s), the extended statute of limitations may not apply.
If your child has been harmed due to a healthcare professional’s negligence or error, you should not delay getting advice from an experienced Florida birth injury malpractice attorney. The statute of limitations is not flexible, and initiating a lawsuit can in itself be time-consuming since Florida law requires that a thorough investigation, including a review of the claim and a verified written medical expert opinion, be completed as part of the mandatory notice of intent to initiate litigation.