Can You Sue For An Infant Skull Fracture?

A hidden threat to newborns, skull fractures often go unnoticed to doctors and untreated. Sometimes, even the best doctors make mistakes. These fractures in a baby’s delicate skull are caused by the physical force of labor and delivery. Some of these fractures heal quickly and with little consequence. Others have very serious, sometimes permanent effects.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What kinds of head trauma cause pediatric skull fractures
  • The types of skull fractures in an infant
  • The negligent actions that can lead to fractures in a baby’s head
  • The symptoms of skull fractures in newborns
  • What to do if your baby gets a skull fracture

Now, an infant skull fracture rarely happens during a typical birth. When they do happen, they’re often the result of a doctor’s negligence. If you believe a doctor’s negligent actions caused your child’s birth injury, contact Hampton & King to discuss your options. You may be able to recover damages that will help you pay for your child’s treatment. 

Baby crying in pain.

What Can Cause An Infant Head Injury?

Birth can be traumatic for infants. Doctors need to make responsible choices to ensure a safe delivery. In some cases, this means ordering an emergency C-section. If labor goes on too long, babies can suffer grave head injuries like skull fractures.  

Below are some common causes of skull fractures that stem from negligence:

  • Misuse of Forceps/Vacuum: This is the number one cause of infant skull fractures. During a difficult birth, a doctor might use these tools to help the baby move through the birth canal. But too much pulling or pressure can cause a skull fracture. 
  • Accidents/Falls: A careless nurse or doctor may drop the baby, giving them a head injury. 
  • Prolonged Labor: The more time a baby’s head spends in the birth canal, the higher the risk of head injuries. 
  • Improper Birth Positioning: Incorrect positioning of the baby during labor and delivery (like breech delivery) can increase the risk of skull fractures.
  • Delayed Cesarean Section: Delaying a necessary cesarean section can lead to prolonged labor and increased pressure on the baby’s skull, potentially causing fractures.

Do any of the situations above sound familiar? If your child has a serious head injury and your obstetrician used forceps, you may be able to file a malpractice claim. Contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Types Of Skull Fractures In Infants

These types of fractures can range from not too serious to life-threatening. Tiny linear fractures are the most common. They can heal without causing any permanent injury. But other types affect the brain. The baby may have a cognitive impairment for life, or even die from major fractures. 

Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of skull fractures:

  • Linear Skull Fracture: These are the most common type of skull fractures in newborns involved in birth trauma. Linear skull fractures are a simple break or crack. The skull bones don’t move. 
  • Diastatic Skull Fracture: This happens when an infant’s skull bones aren’t fused together yet. A diastatic skull fracture happens along the suture lines where the bones will later fuse together. 
  • Depressed Skull Fracture: If an infant’s skull receives too much pressure from the outside, it can cave in, causing a depressed skull fracture. This is a dangerous type of fracture because the bone presses on the baby’s fragile brain and can cause a severe brain injury. 
  • Ping-Pong Ball Fractures: This rarer and specific type of depressed fracture is when the baby’s skull is indented, and it resembles the shape of a ping-pong ball. This is generally thought to be caused by localized pressure during birth. (It may happen when the baby’s head is pressed against the mother’s pelvis or sacral prominence during delivery, for example.)
  • Isolated skull fractures. Isolated skull fractures are fractures without brain injury or other significant concurrent injuries.There are a few other skull fracture types (a basilar skull fracture being one example), but these very rarely happen because of a doctor’s negligence in the birth process. When it comes to pediatric traumatic brain injury, those other types are associated with other problems, like child abuse leading to pediatric abusive head trauma.

And speaking of, what should you keep your eye out for if you think your doctor was negligent and injured your baby’s head?

Infant Skull Fractures Symptoms To Watch Out For

What are the physical signs and symptoms of an infant skull fracture? These can vary depending on the gravity of the head injury, and how soon doctors catch it and treat it.

Here’s a list of possible infant skull fracture signs and symptoms:

  • Bumps, lumps and bruises on the head
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Internal bleeding 
  • Lack of energy and sluggishness
  • A misshapen skull
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability without explanation
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Paralysis
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bleeding from the ear
  • Nursing difficulties
  • Constant crying without any reason
  • Seizures or convulsions

Brain damage from fractures can lead to neurological problems and developmental delays. In the worst cases, fractures lead to traumatic brain injuries. These can be fatal. If your child developed a traumatic brain injury after birth, speak with an infant skull fracture lawyer right away.

You may be entitled to damages for the following:

  • Past and future hospital care
  • At-home medical care
  • Therapy/Rehabilitation
  • Wrongful death/Funeral costs
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering 
An infant with medical issues laying in a hospital bed.

If Your Child Has An Infant Skull Fracture Or Traumatic Brain Injury

It’s infuriating to know that a doctor’s carelessness cost your child their quality of life or their future. The fact that your child needed surgical intervention at all. All because of a negligent mistake. And in an instant, your life took a left turn. Anger’s boiling over, hospital bills are building up. You’re wondering, “What can I do to get justice? How can I make my child’s life better?” 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to turn back time. But infant skull fracture lawsuits often recover millions for families suffering from a negligent infant skull fracture. This money won’t undo what’s been done, but it can pay for your child’s care and expenses. It can relieve your financial burden, which may help lessen your emotional one. But where do you start?

Here’s what to do first: contact a birth injury lawyer. This type of attorney can help you determine whether your doctor is liable for injuring your child. To set up a free consultation with our birth injury team, contact Hampton & King here.

FAQs About Infant Skull Fractures

How serious is a skull fracture in a baby?

A skull fracture can be very serious. Because the skull protects the brain, if it is fractured, the brain can be damaged. To determine the extent of the injury and how serious it is, the doctor can check for fractures in the skull using an x-ray.

How do I know if my baby is okay after taking a bump or injury to the head?

Always discuss issues like this with your doctor first and foremost, but if your baby has any of the symptoms we covered above (bumps, lumps and bruises on the head, unresponsiveness, lack of energy and sluggishness, seizures, etc), you should either contact your doctor or get your baby straight to the doctor right away, depending on the symptom and its severity.

What are the long-term effects of skull fracture in a baby?

There are many potential long-term outcomes, depending on the severity of the injury. A skull fracture can cause psychological problems, memory issues, sensitivity to light and noise, and more. If the doctors and nurses involved do not provide adequate treatment, it can lead to many long-term medical, social, and psychological problems throughout the child’s life.

Is a small skull fracture serious?

A small skull fracture can be serious, but if it’s mild enough it may heal over time without causing many issues. The most concerning fractures are the ones that cause bleeding around or in the brain. These severe cases can cause very serious problems and usually require immediate intervention and surgery.