Your Helpful Guide To Birth Injury Lawsuits

No family should have to go through the experience of navigating a birth injury. It can be a really difficult and trying time and unfortunately, the impact on your family can be long-lasting. Your child could suffer a long-term issue that leaves you struggling with medical bills, and wondering who’s at fault.

Moments that are meant for cuddling and bonding, turn into hours of research. Trying to understand a new diagnosis and find treatment options. 

Depending on circumstances and blame, a birth injury lawsuit could potentially help. In this guide, we’ll answer your questions and do our best to point you in the right direction.

Common Birth Injuries

Birth injuries come in many different forms and can happen immediately before, during, or in the short period after childbirth.

These injuries can be temporary, or in some cases more severe.

Some of the more common injuries that affect families are:

► Bruising and bone fractures

Erb’s palsy

Kernicterus

► Cerebral palsy

► Cognitive disabilities

In this next section we’ll explain some of the reasons birth injuries occur. Follow along to learn more.

A closeup image of a baby's boy face.

Causes of Birth Injuries

There are many reasons for birth injuries. Some are natural and unavoidable while others stem from medical negligence. 

Difficult births can sometimes cause trauma to your child. For instance, if the birth calls for forceps then there may be bruising or scratches. Fortunately these types of injuries go away in a couple days, but sometimes worse harm is done.

Another common issue is oxygen deprivation which can lead to serious health conditions such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy, for example, can be congenital or acquired. Meaning it’s genetic or something happens to cause it.

No matter the cause, handling a birth injury can be challenging. If you feel like your baby’s injury was because of the lack of skill or attention by a medical professional, we encourage to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer. You don’t have to go through this alone!

Does Your Baby’s Injury Call For A Lawsuit?

It can be difficult to analyze everything, especially in the midst of a traumatic experience. That’s why you need someone on your side to help you maneuver the situation and figure out who’s to blame. 

It’s possible there’s nothing your doctor could have done. But it’s also possible someone made a bad decision.

Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to follow to make sure your child is safe. Prenatal care and monitoring are part of this, in addition to the birth. If a healthcare professional drops the ball, you have every right to sue. You and your baby deserve better. 

Why Look For a Settlement?

In times of crisis, its hard to think about things such as money. But at some point, you may want to consider how this mistake will impact your family financially. 

It isn’t fair for a family to deal with the burden of mounting medical bills when someone else is to blame. That’s why many people turn to a birth injury attorney to help them sort through the options.

You may seek a settlement for any of the following reasons:

► You want to see a healthcare professional brought to justice.

► To ensure this doesn’t happen to somebody else.

► So you don’t have to struggle financially.

► Wanting to provide the best possible care for your new child.

No matter the reason, you deserve to have your voice heard and fight against this act of medical malpractice. 

A child's wheelchair with colorful red wheels.

What’s The Process For A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

The goal of any lawsuit is to figure out the truth. And also to provide justice for victims. That’s why it’s vital to work with the best birth injury lawyer possible. Someone who can represent you well and help prove the truth. 

The process will involve a legal consultation, of course. Be sure to bring copies of any and all medical records and correspondence between you and the doctor/hospital. Your lawyer will also help you establish how much should be sought in damages. 

Often times in birth injury lawsuits, a “Life Care Plan” will be brought forth. This plan helps estimate how much your child’s care will cost, over their lifetime. This may include the costs of therapy, medication, caregivers, transportation needs, and many other things. Your lawyer and the defendant (often times the hospital or insurer’s legal team) will go back and forth until they reach an agreement. If both parties don’t reach a settlement then it’ll likely go to court.

It’s important to remember that each state has its own statute of limitations, which is basically the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an injury.  A lawyer will help guide you on this! 

How Long Will It All Take?

If your case goes to trial it can often take several years to fully resolve. This can be daunting for new parents. The good news is that in most cases, the guilty party will offer a settlement before it gets to that point. A settlement is a large sum of money that will be given all at once or in periodic payments. 

If you think you’ve been affected by medical malpractice and your child has suffered a birth injury because of it, don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s the first step in getting justice for your baby!

I Signed A Medical Consent Form. Can I Still Sue?

Ever wonder if those pesky medical forms you sign before surgery hold up in court? You’re not alone. 

Let’s say you recently underwent a medical procedure that didn’t go as planned. Before the operation, you vaguely remember someone asking you to sign something. It was probably an informed consent form. You were told that it was mandatory and in order to have surgery, you’d have to sign it. Like most human beings in your situation, you sign without reading every minute detail. You trust your doctor, you’re sure they have your best interests at heart, and you desperately need this surgery to get better. 

Sadly, something went wrong. Neither the doctor or hospital wants to take responsibility. You threaten to sue and guess what appears seemingly out of nowhere? That pesky liability waiver with your messy signature staring back at you.

Can you still pursue legal action or is the end of the story? Keep reading to find out!

A man with a ring on his finger signs a medical form.

So WHAT Is An Informed Consent Form?

An informed consent form is a medical document that indicates your consent to undergo a medical procedure. It also informs you of your privacy rights and protects healthcare professionals from legal action if death or injury occurs.

Hold on. So you’re saying I can’t sue my doctor even though they were careless and injured me?

Sounds a bit callous, huh? 

We know it’s frustrating to think that a doctor can literally get away with murder just because of a signature. The good news is, that’s not the case! You still have legal rights and we’re here to fill you in on the details.

Situations Where You Can Still Sue

There are scenarios where a signed form just isn’t going to hold up in court, which is good news for you. Let’s discuss what situations nullify this (sometimes) pesky document.

Someone Was Negligent

We’ve all heard those horror stories where a doctor performed surgery on the wrong body part or anesthesia didn’t kick in. Or how about when a doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside of a patient’s abdomen? In situations like this, it’s pretty obvious that the doctor was negligent. 

But how does this relate to signing a medical consent form?

Well, it’s simple. If you can prove that your healthcare provider was grossly negligent during a medical procedure, then the form can be thrown out. The whole purpose of a surgery consent form is to make sure you’re aware of possible risks, and it’s also there to protect doctors. But we’re talking about protecting doctors that make the right decisions, yet a patient still dies or is injured by no fault of the doctor. Not the ones that are negligent! 

Your Doctor Didn’t Follow Medical Protocol

Healthcare professionals are guided by what’s considered the standard of care. Basically, there are guidelines that the medical profession deems reasonable for certain medical conditions and diseases. For instance, the standard of care for a cancer patient may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Now, let’s assume that during surgery, your doctor strays from normal practices and opts to try out a new technique he heard about. And unfortunately for you, it makes things worse.  In cases like this, the surgery consent form holds no weight. You are entitled to sue the doctor for turning you into a guinea pig without your consent. 

You Weren’t Given The Medical Facts

Before you go into a procedure, it’s your right to be made fully aware of not only the benefits but the risks too. Now let’s jog your memory a bit, do you remember if the following things occurred prior to your procedure?

► Did the hospital staff fully inform you of the dangers involved in this procedure? 

► Did your doctor try to minimize the risks or even neglect to mention them?

► Was your physician’s main concern cutting you open rather than hearing your worries and concerns?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may have grounds to sue. 

A doctor looks at a computer screen to monitor a patient's condition during surgery.

Final Thoughts 

We hope this post was able to give you a little sigh of relief. That even though you signed an informed consent form before surgery, you still have legal rights. Medical malpractice and negligence are completely unacceptable and thankfully the court system agrees.

With that said, what do you do next?

The first step is always to get legal counsel. Simply get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer (over here!) We’ll untangle this mess, do what we can to help you move on, and fight on your behalf for the compensation you deserve. 

Is Military Healthcare Worse Than Civilian Care?

Each day, the brave men and women of our armed forces suit up to protect our freedom. A job that deserves a special kind of gratitude and respect. We’d like to believe that we’ve come a long way in taking care of our heroes and in many ways we have…

But the truth is, in a place where everyone should feel safe, our military has in a lot of ways been disregarded. We’re talking about the care they receive at military hospitals and facilities.

While the typical civilian hospital treats the most sick and weak of the population, military base hospitals treat the most healthy. Military surgeons in non-combat zones often lack the necessary skills to save lives because they perform surgery enough. This is a problem. Follow along, as we explain why this is happening and what you can do if you’re a victim.

Military Healthcare – A Broken System?

Most service members are in the prime of their lives and in peak physical condition, but this leaves military surgeons with little experience, a terrifying prospect for a potential patient.  According to U.S. News,

“While civilian surgeons may perform as many as 500 operations every year, military surgeons usually perform under 100.”

That’s less than 20% of their civilian counterparts. What happens when our soldiers are on the operating table? Also, let’s not forget that due to healthcare coverage, military families are often treated at a military hospital as well. Did you know that military babies are twice as likely to experience a birth injury? Surely, our heroes and their families deserve the same level of care and odds of survival as civilians do.

The military healthcare system is in need of repair.

A room full of hospitals beds is empty without any patients.

A Tale Of Military Medical Malpractice

So we know the level of care is an issue, but so is transparency. In many of the stories you hear, negligence within the military was never disclosed. That was the case for Private Ashley Shelton.

Pvt. Shelton was deployed to Afghanistan after being told that the 5 pregnancy tests that showed positive for pregnancy were due to false positives. Dr. Jonathan Richard Coyle, who was in charge of pre-deployment screening told Shelton the false-positives were because of mice exposure.

After working 3 months in a combat zone and exposed to harmful chemicals, Shelton gave birth to her son, Benjamin, on August 15th, 2012, without even knowing she was pregnant.

While in the womb, Benjamin was exposed to anthrax and other vaccinations that were required for Pvt. Shelton to be deployed, and received no prenatal care. Benjamin suffers from congenital birth defects. The U.S. Army has yet to recognize the mistake that led to a soldier giving birth in a combat zone in Afghanistan. Pvt. Shelton and Benjamin received no compensation from the government for this malpractice.

What Is Medical Malpractice & Negligence?

Whether a patient is in the military or not shouldn’t matter when they step foot in a medical facility. Every patient deserves quality care, and the standards should be the same. In case you’re wondering if your situation was the result of malpractice or negligence, let’s first discuss what the two terms mean.

These are the most common types of medical malpractice and negligence:

► Failure to diagnose – This is when a doctor misses your diagnosis or even incorrectly diagnoses you with a different condition.

► Incorrect treatment – If a competent doctor would have taken a different treatment path, that could be malpractice. This also includes a doctor choosing the right treatment, but then administering it incorrectly.

► Failure to warn a patient of the risks – Every patient should know the possible risks associated with a procedure or medication so they can make an informed decision.

► Medical errors – This may include medication mistakes, or surgical mishaps, among other errors.

The distinction between malpractice and negligence may seem slight, but in general it all boils down to intent. If your doctor unknowingly makes a mistake that’s often negligence. But if your doctor makes a choice and is aware of possible consequences, that’s considered malpractice.

A little girl spins around in circles while holding an American flag.

A Change To The Feres Doctrine

Until a recent revision to the “Feres Doctrine,” service members were unable to sue the government for military medical care malpractice altogether. For 70 years, a mistake could occur and it be swept under the rug.  Because of this hard fought for amendment, service members can now seek compensation for damages, and regain their voice.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice or negligence in a non-combat military facility, now is the time to act. Some cases may be retroactive to 2018. We are eager to help you seek the justice you deserve.

Central Pontine Myelinolysis: Symptoms & Cause

We know receiving a scary medical diagnosis can be hard. With a name like central pontine myelinolysis (CPM for short) it’s easy to take one glance at the name and feel overwhelmed, but hang in there with us.

We’re going to simplify things as best as we can and break it down point by point. We’ll explain what it is and why it happens.

As you read this post, be sure to keep one thing in mind: CPM is usually treatment induced. This means that medical negligence is likely the cause.

Follow us to the next section, where we’ll explain things in more detail and get to the root of the issue.

What Is Central Pontine Myelinolysis?

Central pontine myelinolysis is a neurological disorder. It’s very similar to a condition called osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS.) In fact, many use the terms interchangeably. This next part may get a little technical, so bear with us.

CPM/ODS occurs when the sodium levels in the body change too rapidly. When a patient has hyponatremia aka low blood sodium, and the problem is over-corrected, damage can occur.

What happens is the fatty protective substance that protects the nerves in your brainstem starts to deteriorate. Sound serious? It is.

That important substance is called the myelin sheath. 

If the myelin sheath starts to deteriorate, your nerves can’t transmit signals to each other. This is a big problem. 

A doctor's model of a human brain.

So What Causes Sodium Imbalance?

In 1959, when researchers first began their investigation into central pontine myelinolysis, they thought it was caused by either alcoholism or malnutrition.

We now know there are many other conditions that can disrupt your body’s sodium levels. Here, let’s take a look at some of the other conditions that can put patients at a higher risk:

► Liver disease               

► HIV/AIDS

► Certain types of cancer

► Radiation treatments

► Electrolyte disorders

Hyperemesis gravidarum (which involves severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy)

► Serious burns

All of these conditions (among others) can lead to hyponatremia, or low sodium.

This alone won’t cause central pontine myelinolysis or osmotic demyelination syndrome, but what can is how your doctor chooses to treat you. To avoid a bad situation your doctor has to be extremely careful and shouldn’t over-correct the issue. To swing your sodium level from one extreme to the other can cause serious issues. 

Symptoms of Central Pontine Myelinolysis

If a patient experiences low blood sodium levels, a visit to the doctor is crucial and should be immediate. Most doctors are more than capable and will decide on the right course of action. 

But here’s the thing, every once in a while an inexperienced or careless doctor may make a bad call. If you or your family member has experienced symptoms of central pontine myelinolysis, then it’s possible your doctor may have failed to treat you correctly. And they should be held accountable.

Here’s a list of symptoms associated with CPM/ODS, and what to watch out for: 

► Confusion and delirium

► Hallucinations

► Difficult swallowing

► Tremors

► Lack of focus

► Persistent drowsiness or lethargy

► Slow responses and a lack of alertness

► Balance issues

► Slurred speech

► Weakness in the limbs or face

When you enter a healthcare facility for one issue, you don’t expect to leave with a whole slew of new ones. If you or a family member are dealing with any of these issues after seeking treatment for sodium imbalance, you might want to talk to a lawyer. Someone needs to ask questions and figure out who’s at fault.

A man sits with his hands folded near his face.

What To Do If You Have CPM/ODS

Unfortunately, there’s not a permanent fix for either condition but there are treatment options that can help such as physical therapy and speech therapy. It also helps if treatment is started early. 

If you or someone you love has experienced CPM or ODS, you should talk with a legal professional. This conditions is typically caused by medical negligence, not a fault of your own.

With such permanent consequences many people experience long-term physical impairment, emotional trauma, and financial repercussions because of it. You didn’t deserve this in the first place, and now you may deserve compensation. Contact us if you have any questions or believe you’re the victim of medical malpractice and negligence. 

When A C-section Is Necessary (& When It’s Not)

Every woman wants an easy pregnancy. To enjoy her baby bump, daydream about her little one, and to have a smooth delivery. Complications are the last thing a mother wants to think about. 

Whether delivery is vaginal or via C-section, bringing a child into the world is an intense process. Doctors and midwives are wonderful and without their expertise, mortality stats would skyrocket. But every once in a while a healthcare professional makes a decision that’s more harmful than it is good.

In this week’s blog we’ll discuss some scenarios you should watch out for, and what you can do if you or your baby have experienced a birth injury.

When C-Sections Are Necessary

There are times when a C-section is absolutely necessary and is the only option for saving lives. Medical staff are highly trained and should understand which instances warrant an emergency surgery. Red flags include fetal distress, an irregular heartbeat, a tangled umbilical cord, and dangerous bleeding among other scary situations. 

In some cases, C-sections are even scheduled in advance. If the mother has certain health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension it may be safer to deliver the baby via C-section. Here’s a few more instances where a C-section may be the safest option:

►Problems with the placenta

►Delivery of multiples (twins, triplets, and more)

►The presence of a dangerous birth defect

►A baby that is too large or is in an unfavorable birth position

Whether a C-section is a last minute decision or scheduled ahead of time, your doctor is ultimately responsible for making the right choices and explaining things to you. Failing to act quickly can result in harmful injuries and in the very worst scenario, death.

A man wearing scrubs holds a newborn baby in his hands and is about to weigh her on a scale.

When C-sections Are Unnecessary

Sometimes C-sections occur when they’re not medically necessary. But why?

Every once in a while, a mother will elect to have a C-section for personal reasons such as fear of delivery or a busy schedule. That’s not generally the case though. The main culprit for unnecessary C-sections is long labor. Here’s what Neel Shah, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, had to say about it:

“When it comes to cost, on average C-sections are reimbursed at 50 percent more than vaginal deliveries in the US. Eighty percent of the cost of labor and delivery is staffing, and C-sections generally require a small staff working for fewer hours. So it’s not the additional money the doctor makes. A vaginal delivery, from a resource point of view, just costs more.”

There you have it. When a mother has a long labor and delivers vaginally, it costs the hospital more. More money and more time. Women are sometimes pressured into having a procedure they don’t want to because of a lack of patience. If your doctor is throwing in the towel because they want to go to the ball game, that’s a problem. Especially if their decision impacts you and your child in a harmful way.

What Complications Can Arise?

Most of us are so familiar with term “C-section” that we forget it’s actually a major surgical procedure. Incisions are made through the abdomen wall and uterus to deliver the baby. You’ll likely have a 4-6 inch scar, will be in the hospital for a few days, and will need to take it easy for a couple of months. And that’s if everything goes smoothly.

In the event of a medical malpractice error, or simply an unforeseen circumstance you may experience any one of the following:

►Lacerations to other organs 

►Need for an emergency hysterectomy

►Higher risk of blood clots

►Too much blood loss

►Infection at the wound site

If your physician made a risky call and harmed you or your baby, there are things you can do about it. In fact, you should probably consider legal action.

A woman stares out the window as she sits in a chair with her knees cradles against her chest.

Botched C-sections: How To Take Legal Action

Even the most trusted professionals make mistakes under pressure but that’s still no excuse for medical negligence. Mothers and babies deserve the safest method of delivery and care. Performing a risky and unnecessary C-section can endanger everyone and make a doctor liable for malpractice. It may be difficult to prove that your doctor suggested a C-section when it wasn’t necessary, but if you experienced a birth injury, you may want to fight back.

Factors like payment or time of day shouldn’t influence a baby’s birth. If an injury affected you or your child, you should contact a birth injury lawyer right away. It’s important to learn what legal rights you may have and how to move forward.  

How To Prepare For Your Meeting With A Malpractice Lawyer

Life is a journey. With each stage of our lives, we’re faced with new situations we haven’t learned how to navigate.

When you find yourself in the middle of a legal situation, it can feel a bit scary. You probably know contacting a lawyer is a good idea, but what about the rest? You may ask yourself questions like, “Which lawyer do I choose? What do I say? What documents do I even bring?”

This may be new territory for you, but don’t worry. In this post, we’ll share some tips and tricks for communicating with your lawyer. A little bit of prep work can go a long ways and will definitely make for a stronger case.

Your First Consultation With Your Malpractice Lawyer

Every day we engage in professional conversations. Just think about it. You may have a conversation with your doctor, dentist, accountant, coworker, or boss on any given day.  Talking to a lawyer is a professional conversation, just like the rest.

Go into your consultation with confidence. There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable. This is a two way relationship, after all. Remember, you get to choose your lawyer, and they get to choose you. Pay attention to their experience level, body language, and personality. Are they paying attention to what you’re saying? Do they seem to care?

You want a medical malpractice lawyer who has your best interests in mind and will fight for you. If you get the feeling they’re not the right fit, move on. It’s  OKAY to choose someone else.

A man writes bullet points in his journal, to be help him remember everything he needs to communicate.

Provide Every Detail

One of the most important ways you can help both your lawyer and yourself is to always be honest. We’ll harp more on that later…but it’s important to share anything and everything that pertains to your case. Try to explain the events in chronological order. Also, try to make things as easy as possible to understand.

Tip: Jot down your thoughts and questions in a notebook, and bring this to your appointment. This can help you keep your focus and not forget anything important.

Talking about a medical mistake or negligence can bring on a lot of different emotions. Feelings such as sadness, anger, and confusion are normal.  A good lawyer knows and understands this, and will treat you with the respect you deserve.

Ask Questions

No question is a bad one, so don’t be afraid to ask anything. Before you select your lawyer, be sure to ask them many questions about their experience and career. You need a professional who is capable. Ask questions such as:

►How many cases have you won?

►How long have you specialized in medical malpractice? (This is a big one! You don’t want just any lawyer, but one who actually specializes in medical malpractice.)

►What are your biggest settlements?

►Why are you passionate about this area of law?

Like any other service, you hire a lawyer expecting quality care. If your lawyer isn’t patient and understanding, you might consider hiring someone else.

Paying Your Lawyer

Medical cases may seem expensive, but the good news is that most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you shouldn’t owe any money unless your lawyer wins the case. Good news! But don’t forget to nail down the specifics. You’ll want to know and understand each and every expense you may be responsible for. You’ll likely owe the firm a percentage of your winnings, and will need to reimburse any litigation fees.

Signing paperwork often means you’re committing to a firm so before you sign, make sure you feel confident and comfortable.

An older man and a younger woman sit at a desk with their laptops and have a professional conversation.

Assembling Relevant Documents

Bringing useful paperwork and records to your appointment is really important. Without these documents, you’re likely wasting your lawyer’s time as well as your own. We recommend bringing the following:

Medical records

X-Rays and other diagnostic images

Photographs of your condition

Medical bills

► Insurance information

► Pay stubs

Proof of lost wages

► W2’s

► Any relevant e-mails, letters, voicemails, or text messages

Gathering pertinent information will not only save your lawyer a lot of time, it will also give them a better understanding of how this medical error has affected your life. Medical malpractice can harm so many different areas of your life, so it’s important your lawyer has all documents to proof how much suffering you’ve experienced.

Honesty Is Key

Being honest is about more than just telling the truth, it’s about sharing everything and not holding anything back. Remember, your lawyer is here to help you and relies heavily on your transparency. Withholding any information can put your case at serious risk. A last-minute surprise in trial can be disastrous. It’s important that your lawyer knows every detail, so they can be as prepared as possible.

A good rule of thumb: It’s better to share too much rather than too little.

Conclusion

We hope this article was helpful and banished any fears you may have had about pursuing a case. Talking to a lawyer is like talking to any other professional and once you find the right lawyer you’ll feel at ease. If you have any questions or are dealing with a medical malpractice mistake, please reach out to our office.