Florida Premature Labor Birth Injury Malpractice Attorneys
Each year approximately 380,000 babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks) in the U.S. According to the March of Dimes, 9.8 percent of all births, or close to 1 in 10 babies, is born too early in this country.
Depending on how many weeks the mother is into the pregnancy, there is a possibility the child will not live. Unfortunately, those who do survive, often have serious health-related problems, including blindness, hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease and cerebral palsy.
Faced with this reality, parents can be devastated, wondering if something could have been done to prevent this suffering. Although not all preterm labor and subsequent premature births are due to medical malpractice, there are, in fact, some situations in which the premature birth could have been prevented had the health care professionals responsible for the mother and child’s care provided the appropriate standard of care.
If your child was injured due to a preventable premature birth, it is important to understand why this occurred, the challenges you now face, and what you can do to handle those challenges. It is also important to hold the negligent health care providers accountable for their negligence and the damages it caused.
The Florida birth injury malpractice attorneys at Paul Knopf Bigger can help. We are committed to obtaining justice for victims of preventable birth injuries and want to help you get the substantial compensation you deserve.
What is Preterm Labor?
Preterm labor is identified as regular contractions that cause the cervix to open any time between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. If the labor continues and the baby is born, there are serious health risks to the premature newborn.
The earlier the premature birth, the greater the possibility that the baby will suffer from serious birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, organ damage, and hearing and vision loss. Fortunately, there are methods that can be used to stop preterm labor and prevent premature birth. However, health care providers have to perceive the potential problem and treat it.
What are Premature Labor Birth Injuries?
Premature babies (preemies) need special care in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Preemies may have permanent mental and physical disabilities. Some specific injuries to preemies include but are not limited to:
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). The baby’s lungs do not develop until about the 36th week of pregnancy. In this condition, the lungs do not function properly and there is a risk of pneumonia and even total lung collapse. The baby may need to be on a ventilator with a breathing tube and its very life is at risk.
- Oxygen deprivation. Due to the lungs being undeveloped, they may be unable to provide adequate oxygen to the brain. Oxygen deprivation can lead to permanent physical and mental disabilities requiring life-long medical care, special education, devices like wheelchairs and more. The needs of the child depend on the extent of the oxygen deprivation and damage to the brain.
- Digestive problems. Due to the immature gastrointestinal (GI) system, the baby may require a feeding tube for nutrition.
- Brain bleeds. Before 34 weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s brain vessels are not fully developed. This can result in a brain bleed, leading to permanent mental and physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy and other conditions resulting from oxygen deprivation.
Many premature babies who live remain hospitalized for months. They may never live normal lives and the lives of their parents are changed forever.
Are Premature Labor Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice?
Some women may go into preterm labor naturally and there is nothing that any health care practitioner could have done to prevent it. On the other hand, there are times a when health care providers do not provide appropriate care and their negligence results in birth injuries.
Some examples of this kind of medical malpractice are when a health care provider:
- Prescribed medications known to cause preterm labor. Like steroids, some prescription medications may lead to preterm labor and premature birth.
- Failed to recognize symptoms of preterm labor. Some physicians may dismiss complaints from the mother that she is experiencing vaginal bleeding, a backache, and other signs of labor, as routine symptoms for the stage of pregnancy.
- Failed to consider the mother’s medical history. A woman who has had a previous miscarriage is more likely to experience preterm labor. Also, a woman who smokes, a woman who is particularly young or old, who is under chronic stress, and has high an autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression is more susceptible to preterm labor.
- Failed to properly treat preterm labor. There are ways to medically stop preterm labor and prevent a premature birth. They may not be effective, but a doctor has a duty to try.
- Failed to diagnose or consider risk factors. Medical conditions that may lead to preterm labor include infections, too much amniotic fluid, pregnancy within 12 months of a previous pregnancy, shortened cervix, obesity, or pregnancy with twins or triplets.
Florida Medical Malpractice Claims for Injuries Resulting from Premature Births
If your child was born prematurely and suffered injuries and the premature birth could have been prevented with appropriate health care, you should consult with an experienced Florida birth injury malpractice attorney to discuss how you can hold the negligent health care provider accountable and get compensated for the damages you and your child have suffered.
Medical malpractice claims can be complex, so involving a skilled attorney in the case as soon as you are aware of the possibility of medical negligence is in your best interest.
In Florida, a medical malpractice claim must demonstrate four elements:
- Duty – The negligent doctor or other health care providers had a duty to provide the same quality of care another reasonably prudent practitioner of the same specialty would have provided in similar circumstances.
- Breach – The health care provider(s) fell short of or breached the expected standard of care.
- Cause – The health care providers’ negligence in breaching their duty caused harm to your child.
- Damages – The harm your child suffered because of medical negligence caused damages. These damages can be economic, as in previous, current and future medical expenses, and non-economic, as in pain, suffering and diminished capacity to enjoy life.
If you can demonstrate these four elements, you may be able to obtain substantial compensation for the damages recoverable under Florida law.
What Compensatory Damages Can Be Recovered in Florida for Premature Labor Birth Injuries?
If you can prove medical malpractice is the cause of the birth injuries to your premature baby, you are legally entitled to be compensated for all your losses. These include:
- All medical expenses associated with the premature birth, including the baby’s stay in NICU.
- Payment of all medical bills related to the birth injury that are incurred through the life of the child. Some babies are injured so severely, they are never able to live normal lives. Some need medical care 24 days a week, 7 hours a day.
- All expenses associated with therapy and special education.
- Pain and suffering of the child and of the parents caused by watching their child suffer.
- Wrongful death damages if the baby does not survive.
Florida Premature Birth Injury Attorneys Can Help
If your baby was born prematurely, was injured at birth and you suspect it was caused by medical malpractice, our birth injury medical malpractice attorneys can help. We offer a free consultation so we can determine if you have a viable medical malpractice claim and advise you on your best course of action.
Preparing effective Florida medical malpractice cases requires the knowledge and skill of experienced trial attorneys and the resources of a successful law firm. The Paul Knopf Bigger medical malpractice attorneys have the experience, skill and resources you can trust to win your premature birth injury malpractice case.
Florida requires you to bring your medical malpractice claim within a certain time period after the injury. If you miss the deadline, you lose your right to compensation forever no matter how severe the birth injury was. Therefore, it is important to contact us as soon as possible. You can schedule a free consultation online or call us 24 hours day/7 days a week at (855) 598-4520.
- The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). (2021). Premature labor and birth.
- Mayo Clinic. (1998-2021). Preterm labor.