Elements of a Birth Injury Case
The delivery of a child is not a routine medical procedure. Instead, it is a highly complex process. If anything goes wrong at any stage in that process, the child can suffer an injury that affects the child for the rest of his or her life. The injury can also place significant emotional and financial strain on the child’s family.
If your child recently suffered a birth injury, you may wonder whether it resulted from medical malpractice. In order to determine whether malpractice occurred, you should consult as soon as possible with an attorney who has experience in this area of the law. The attorney can investigate your case and determine whether there is evidence to establish the four basic elements of a birth injury case: Duty, breach, causation and damages.
At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, we are particularly equipped to handle medical malpractice claims. Our legal team features attorneys who are also doctors. They have a deep understanding of both the medical and the legal issues in these cases.
Here, we discuss the four basic elements of a birth injury case in more detail. For a review of the specific facts of your case, call or reach us online today. We can provide a free and confidential consultation.
Duty of Care in Negligence Claims
Duty of care is an essential element in any negligence claim. Whether one party owes a duty to another party depends on their relationship and the circumstances. For instance, a driver on the road generally owes a duty to other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to drive as a reasonable, prudent person would drive under similar road, traffic and weather conditions. If the weather is snowy, and the road is icy, a reasonable person would typically avoid driving fast and carelessly.
In a birth injury case, a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional owes a duty to the mother and child while providing services during labor and delivery. The level of duty is based on the ordinary, care, skill and diligence that a medical professional with the same specialization would have exercised under similar circumstances. In medical malpractice law, this duty is referred to as the “standard of care.”
As a physician, Dr. Michael M. Wilson has a strong understanding of the standard of care which applies to obstetricians and other medical professionals who specialize in the areas of pregnancy and childbirth. He may also consult with one or more experts who can help to define the specific standard of care which applies to your case.
When Does a Breach Occur?
Breach occurs when a medical professional fails to meet the standard of care. The breach may involve performing an act or failing to do a certain act that would have been reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. Examples of breach of the standard of care in birth injury cases include:
- Improperly using forceps, vacuum extractors or other delivery instruments
- Improperly administering anesthesia
- Failing to adequately respond to fetal distress
- Waiting too long to perform a C-section
- Failing to recognize and address umbilical cord or shoulder dystocia issues.
Dr. Wilson and our legal team will work tirelessly to preserve, gather and analyze evidence that can establish whether the doctor or other medical professional in your child’s birth injury case violated the applicable standard of care. This evidence may be highly technical. It could consist of extensive medical records and test results. Statements of doctors, nurses and other medical staff who observed or played a role in labor and delivery of a child can also provide evidence of breach, or a deviation from the standard of care.
Medical professionals and the facilities that employ them will protect their own. It is likely that a doctor or hospital staff may support the decisions made by your doctor, regardless of whether those decisions ultimately resulted in a birth injury. In this sense, the input of an independent, highly knowledgeable medical professional can help to establish whether a breach occurred. Since Dr. Wilson is both a physician and a lawyer, he gives our clients a distinct advantage when it comes to selecting expert witnesses to review birth injury cases.
What is Causation?
Causation refers to the relationship between a medical professional’s negligence and the harm which a victim suffers. To establish a medical malpractice claim, it must be shown that the doctor’s negligence served as the proximate cause of the child’s injuries. In other words, “but for” the medical professional’s negligence, would the child have suffered injury? If the answer is no, then causation may be established.
A medical professional can make any number of mistakes during labor and delivery. For instance, a nurse may fail to detect fetal distress, or a doctor may wait too long to perform a C-section. The medical professional may even freely admit to making the mistake. However, you will need to show that the medical professional’s mistake caused your child’s injury, or else you will be unable to establish a birth injury claim.
At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, we know how to identify the medical mistakes that result in birth injuries. As an attorney, Dr. Wilson understands the law and how to make sure that all of the details required to establish causation are set forth clearly and accurately in a birth injury claim.
What Damages are Available for Birth Injury Claims?
Finally, in a medical malpractice claim involving a birth injury, you must establish actual damages. Dr. Wilson and our legal team will carefully review the medical records and other evidence in your case, and we may also consult with medical experts in order to establish damages. These damages may include:
- Lifelong medical care
- Loss of the future ability to work and earn a living
- Long-term physical pain
- Emotional suffering.
When we take on your case, we will aggressively pursue the compensation that your child and your family are entitled to receive under the law. Dr. Wilson and our legal team prepare every medical malpractice claim for trial. However, many birth injury cases ultimately are resolved through settlements.
Statute of Limitations in Birth Injury Cases
The statute of limitations sets a time limit for bringing a civil claim. If you fail to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, then you will be barred from obtaining a recovery. For this reason, it will be important to pay close attention to the statute of limitations which applies to your child’s birth injury case.
For instance, in Washington, D.C., you generally have three years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This three-year period typically starts to run on the date when the negligent act or omission occurred, or when the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered his or her injury. However, several exceptions apply.
For instance, children cannot file lawsuits on their own. For this reason, the law gives child injury victims until they reach age 18 before the three-year statute of limitations period starts to run. So, generally speaking, the three-year statute of limitations will not expire until a birth injury victim reaches his or her 21st birthday.
If you are a parent of a child who suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, you may be eligible to bring your own claim. For instance, as a parent, you may be legally responsible for paying the medical bills, expenses and other related costs for a child with special needs, so you may have a claim for your financial losses. The running of the statute of limitations for your claim would not wait until your child reaches age 18. Instead, you would need to bring this claim within three years from the date of the negligent act or omission (or date of discovery).
If medical malpractice caused the death of a child, a different statute of limitations would apply to the case. Generally, a wrongful death claim would need to be filed within two years from the date of the child’s death if the case is filed in Washington, D.C.
If you suspect that your child suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, you should act sooner rather than later to take legal action. Your legal team will need time to collect and study the evidence in your case and prepare the claim for timely filing.
Get Help from an Experienced Washington, D.C., Birth Injury Lawsuit AttorneysToday
If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury due to a medical professional’s negligence, you have the right to take action and seek to hold that medical professional accountable. The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, has more than 30 years of experience in this area of the law, and we have recovered more than $100 million on behalf of our clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland and throughout the country. To learn more about how we can put our skill and experience to work for you, contact us today. We will provide a free and completely confidential consultation.