Young mother lying in bed with her newborn baby boy Having a baby is one of the most joyous events a family can experience. Parents wait long months for the arrival of their child. They prepare for and dream of the day they will finally get to see and hold their baby. While most children are delivered safely without problems, there are some births that go horribly wrong because of mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. Those mistakes can result in tragic labor and birth injuries that can alter the course of the baby’s life.

The compassionate and skilled Michigan birth injury attorneys at The Clark Law Office want to help you fight for justice for your child. We want to help you obtain the compensation your child deserves for the injuries sustained at birth due to mistakes made by medical professionals. Compensation will not undo the damage nor ease the pain you have suffered as you watch your child struggle due to his or her injuries. However, compensation from a birth injury lawsuit can provide access to much-needed resources that can help you and your child.  Call 517-347-6900 to schedule a free legal consultation with an attorney.

What is Considered a Birth Injury in Michigan?

A birth injury occurs when the baby or the mother incurs harm during the process of birth.  Despite all the advancements in medical technology and knowledge of doctors, tragic injuries that can last a lifetime to newborns still happens in Michigan hospitals.   Most of these types of injuries are just temporary in nature, but others will be permanent and will negatively affect the child’s life forever.  In many cases, the injury or injuries may not be immediately apparent.  As the child ages and develops, the medical issues become more easily recognizable.

Unfortunately, a birth injury is sometimes the result of negligence by the medical institution giving assistance to the delivery.  Doctors, nurses, and support staff have a legal duty or right to provide adequate medical care.  They are required to provide a standard level care for “normal” and “complicated” births.   This standard level of care includes anticipating problems and reacting accordingly.  For example, hospital staff should be aware of what to do when there is a problem during a delivery including a lack of oxygen, abnormal monitoring strips, and if a c-section should be performed.

If a birth injury occurred because of the negligence of medical staff, a family member can file a birth injury lawsuit to recover compensation for those injuries.  Birth injuries require large compensation to the baby and parents simply because the damages are usually tragic and severe.  This type of case typically results in large settlements since the parent and/or baby has an entire life of medical care or treatment that needs to be covered.

What Are Some Common Causes of Birth Injuries?

newborn baby get the light therapy in infant incubator A child delivery is one of the most common procedures undertaken at a hospital.  The physicians and staff have done this procedure dozens if not hundreds of times.  Even so, there are unforeseen complications that happen during a child delivery.  Just because it as an unforeseen complication does not necessarily mean that malpractice did not occur.  Take the example of the umbilical wrapping around the baby’s neck.  This is unforeseen, but it still requires the proper diagnosis and a rapid response to prevent the baby suffering from a lack of oxygen.  The lack of diagnosis and response can be birth injury malpractice if there was a serious injury as a result.

Other birth injuries should have been anticipated earlier.  Many medical tests and procedures are performed leading up to the birth that will indicate a problem.  This includes various blood tests, ultrasounds, and other tests that will alert the hospital staff to a potential issue.  The doctor and nurses need to use these diagnostics to determine the safest way to deliver the child and provided a standard level of care.

Even if complications are anticipated, it is the duty of the doctors and staff to create a birth plan that will minimize the likelihood of any injuries or complications.  Birth injuries can be complicated, and it can be difficult to determine if the parent or babies’ injuries were caused by negligence.  For this reason, it is important to contact an experienced Michigan birth injury lawyer and discuss your case.

What Are Common Types of Birth Injury Cases?

Birth injury attorneys handle all types of cases and conditions where injuries occur due to the negligence of the doctor, nurses, or staff.  Some of the most common types of birth injury cases include the following:

What Will An Attorney Do to Help Win My Birth Injury Case?

Most birth deliveries go off without a hitch, but there is always a possibility that it can take an unexpected and dangerous turn for the worse.  An injury during a birth can have long lasting and tragic effects on both the mother and the child that can result in complications or defects.  Doctors and medical professionals have been extensively trained to be ready in case this happens and need to take all the steps possible to prevent harm to the patients.  When they fail in this duty to provide a standard level of medical care, they can be held responsible and liable for the damages resulting from the injuries.

Our skilled birth injury attorneys will request and gather all the medical records from the labor, delivery, and prenatal care.  We will also collect all the images from ultrasounds, fetal monitoring strips, and all other diagnostic tests.  We will over everything with our in-house medical legal staff and we will also call in some of the top medical experts in the country for their professional opinion and insights.

After careful analysis and discussion with the medical experts, we will decide if the birth injury resulted due to medical negligence.  If we believe that to be the case, we will file a birth injury lawsuit on your behalf.  We will prove liability against the doctors and medical staff involved during the birthing process and start immediately building the strongest case possible to get the best settlement/verdict possible.  Due to the nature of birth injury cases, we will also hire planners who can determine what should be expected with the future of your child along with numerous economists to predict what the financial loss and needs of your child will be.

Because you have a limited time to file a birth injury lawsuit, it is important that you contact our office as soon as possible to discuss your case with an experienced birth injury lawyer.

Can I Sue For A Birth Injury Caused By Malpractice?

The simple answer is yes, you can file a lawsuit against the doctor or the hospital if you suffered a birth injury because of a medical malpractice.  Birth injury lawsuits are complicated, and it must be proven that your injury could have prevented if you had received the correct care, precautions, and medical treatment.  Our experienced attorneys have successfully handled dozens of birth injury cases and we have the knowledge to determine if you have a case worth pursuing and that you are entitled to a financial recovery.  To give you a better idea of the types of cases where lawsuits are filed for birth injures, we have listed a few examples below:

  • Sometimes doctors fail to realize that the baby is in a poor position. Ultrasounds and other screening tests should be used and analyzed correctly to find this and then precautions should be taken to minimize harm to the baby and mother.
  • Having an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck or head of a baby is quite common and the doctors and hospital should take the proper actions. However, if this is overlooked or improper actions were taken, it can cause severe consequences due to the lack of oxygen reaching the brain of the child.
  • Failing to deliver the baby using a cesarean or c-section. Doctors are trained to know when this surgery should be performed to prevent birth injuries.  If you doctor failed to perform this procedure when it should have been evident, you can sue for medical malpractice.
  • Failing to diagnose and treat an infection of the mother before giving birth can also be a possible case of medical negligence. It is well known that the health of the mother should be closely monitored during pregnancy and any infections should be treated before delivery.  Doctors are supposed to perform screening tests to ensure this does not happen.
  • Fetal monitoring strips are used to show possible complications with the delivery before the actual birth. If the doctor or hospital misreads these strips and it can be proven they did so, this can be considered medical negligence.  If these monitoring strips were correctly read or analyzed, the doctors could have performed an earlier delivery which can avoid asphyxia and HIE.
  • Even a simple misuse of medical instruments can be considered medical malpractice if they caused a birth injury. There have been many successful lawsuits where the doctors or hospital staff failed to properly instruments such as forceps that permanently injure the newborn.

When is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?

The simple answer to this question is when a reasonable standard of care would have prevented the birth injury altogether.  If this is the case, the incident might be considered medical malpractice.  To have a case for a medical malpractice birth injury in the State of Michigan, the plaintiff needs to prove these 4 key elements.

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship as well as a duty of care between the plaintiff and the defendant being accused.
  • The defendant failed or breached this duty of care to the plaintiff through negligence
  • The breach of duty by the defendant resulted in the birth injury
  • The plaintiff has suffered actual damages because of the defendant’s actions. This can include things such as injuries, medical expenses, and pain/suffering.

If these 4 conditions are met, you are eligible for a medical malpractice claim in Michigan.  If you are not sure if your case qualifies to meet these conditions, speak to one of our experienced birth injury attorneys to discuss your case.

What is Standard of Care?

The term standard of care is used to define how a doctor or medical professional would reasonably treat a certain condition under similar circumstances.  All medical professional are given lots of training and have extensive knowledge how to treat certain medical issues and how to treat them accordingly.  When they are treating a patient, they must use this education and experience.  If they fail to provide this “standard of care’ their negligent actions can result medical malpractice and the patient can bring a lawsuit to sue for the damages.

When a doctor or medical staff deviates from the standard of care during a pregnancy, birth delivery, or the neonatal timeframe, it can result in devastating harm to infants.  The damages done during these vulnerable times are birth injuries.  Some examples of negligent actions that don’t follow the standard of care in birth injuries include:

Is There a Limit on How Much Compensation I Can Win?

There are limitations on how much compensation the plaintiff can be awarded in the State of Michigan.  There are 2 different types of compensation.  The first is called non-economic damages.  This includes pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and the loss of quality in your everyday life.  According to Michigan laws, this limitation is either $280,000 or $500,000 depending on the severity and type of injury.  An experienced birth attorney in Michigan can help determine which limitation applies to your injury as every case is different.

The 2nd type of compensation does not have a limitation beyond the amount of insurance the doctor or hospital carries.  This included all medical expenses (past expenses, current expenses, and projected future expenses), expenses for the child’s education, expenses for housing the child, expenses for transporting the child, and other monetary expenses that will be needed as a result of a birth trauma.  Because birth injuries can be devastating and have lifelong consequences, these expenses can total millions of dollars as the child will be needing care for their entire life.  We work with some of the best economic experts in the country to help determine what these costs will be over the course of life of the child.

How Long Do I Have To Sue After The Birth Injury?

This is a particularly important question to address because failure to meet the statute of limitations can prohibit you from collecting any financial compensation for your child.  In the state of Michigan, the age of the child determines how long you must file a birth injury lawsuit.  If the child is under 8 years old, a lawsuit must be filed on or before their 10th birthday.  However, if the child is 8 or older, the lawsuit must be filed with 2 years from the date of the medical malpractice.  These deadlines are different than other medical negligent cases in Michigan and can be downright confusing.  The best thing to do is to contact a birth injury attorney with experience in this area to help you avoid missing the deadline.

How Long Does a Birth Injury Case Last?

Every birth injury case if different, but typically they will last somewhere between 18-24 months from the time the lawsuit is filed in Michigan.  The state of Michigan has a 2 year statute of limitations which means that you can file the lawsuit up to 2 years after the date of the negligence or malpractice.  There are many different factors which can influence the duration you case lasts.  Some of these factors include:

  • What county the lawsuit was filed
  • The amount of damages that occurred because of the birth injury malpractice
  • How many different experts are being utilized?
  • The accessibility of medical records
  • How many witnesses are available and how cooperative are they?

Using Expert Witnesses To Your Advantage

Birth injury cases are notoriously complicated and difficult to prove.  For this reason, expert witnesses play a crucial role in the success of your case.  To determine if the doctor or hospital did something wrong, a person who is extremely knowledgeable and has extensive experience in the same area is required to strengthen your position and prove that malpractice occurred.

In fact, Michigan requires that experts must be accredited in the same field as the doctor that is accused of malpractice.  Essentially this means that birth injury experts should be a board certified OBGYN.  They also must have recent experience in the field or recent teaching experience within the past year.

Finding qualified experts that are willing to testify again one of their colleagues is hard to find.  We work with the top experts in the State to help build the foundation of your case and ensure that you compensated fairly for the negligence of the doctors and hospital staff.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Birth Injury Attorney?

Our birth injuries attorneys do not charge a fee to take your case a file a lawsuit.  We only get paid if we win a settlement or verdict for your child’s injuries.  Building a strong birth injury case and hiring top experts is not cheap and we will pay for all these expenses and costs to prove that you were wronged and injured because of  the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or staff.  There is no risk involved for you and if it is unsuccessful for some reason, you do not owe us a dime.

Neonatologist Errors and Mistakes

council of physicians for pregnancy A neonatologist is a doctor who cares for premature babies in the intensive care unit.  They are responsible for monitoring and checking the baby for warning signs or signs of distress before the actual delivery.  This is an extremely critical period of the birth process and their job is to looks for any issues of fetal or newborn distress.  If they happen to find any warning signs, they need to alert the resident physician and nursing staff so they can quickly begin treatment to avoid permanent harm or injuries to the baby.

Sometimes they fail to notice certain conditions that they should be aware of.  This failure can cause severe consequences or harm to the baby and/or the mother.  There can be many reasons for failing to recognize these warning signs.  Some of these reasons include simply overlooking a diagnostic test, having a department that is overworked and understaffed, or simply failing to properly monitory the baby.  Regardless of the reason, the doctors and hospital staff can be held responsible using a medical malpractice lawsuits when this occurs and their negligence results in the injury of the child or a child defect.

What Are Common Mistakes In The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?

Having a baby admitted to the NICU is not uncommon.  There are a variety of reasons of why babies need intensive care.  Some children require weeks of intensive care and during this period, they are very fragile and must be treated and monitored very closely.  Even a small mistake in a baby’s care while in the NICU can have lifelong negative effects on their health and cause permanent brain injury.  Some of the most common mistakes made by doctors and hospital staff in the NICU include:

  • Giving the baby too much oxygen or overventilation usually caused by the breathing machine
  • Giving improper does of surfactant
  • Misdiagnosis and mistreatment of jaundice and hypoglycemia
  • No closely monitoring the condition of the baby’s health
  • Intubation errors
  • Misdiagnosis and mistreatment of infections
  • Misdiagnosis of brain bleeding (also called hemorrhages)
  • Not diagnosing encephalopathy and other similar brain conditions
  • Improper administering and dosing of medications

What Is An APGAR SCORE?  Does a Low Score Indicate Medical Malpractice?

An APGAR score is simply a fast way to determine to asses the overall health and vital signs of a newborn child.  The acronym stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration.  The test is performed by medical staff at 1 and 5 minutes immediately following childbirth.  If the score is considered low, it will also be performed multiple times within the first 30 minutes.

Each indicator is given a score from 0-2.  This makes the score range from 0-10.  Scores that are between 0-3 are critically low, scores that are between 4-6 are below normal, and scores between 7-10 are considered normal.  Many different conditions can affect this score and result in a low APGAR score.  Some of these conditions include:

  • An error or delay of a cesarean section
  • An error during fetal monitoring
  • A serious medical condition of the mother
  • Abruption of the placenta
  • Premature birth
  • Long duration of labor
  • Problems with the umbilical cord
  • Pitocin medication errors
  • Uterine rupture

A low score on the APGAR test does not always mean that medical malpractice occurred, but it does increase the possibility.  If the doctors fail to give APGAR scores or they outright fail to act on a low APGAR score and provide the treatment necessary, this can be considered negligence.  If this negligence causes an injury as a result, it is medical malpractice.

  • Overlooking warning signs of distress
  • Failing to make a proper treatment plan during a high-risk birth
  • Not taking actions during a complication with the umbilical cord
  • Not safely using Pitocin or Cytotec medications during birth
  • Inadequate treatment of the baby in the neonatal intensive care unit

What is a High Risk Pregnancy?

The definition of a high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that has potential complications which could result in hard to mother or the baby or both.  The most common determining factors that high risk pregnancies include are:

  • The age of the mother is under 20 or over 35
  • The mother of the baby has an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or infection
  • Having multiple babies (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.)
  • A history of birthing complications

It is critically important to identify which pregnancies are high-risk and to adapt the diagnostic and treatment, as necessary.  Failure to do so can increase the likelihood of harm to the mother and the probability the child develops a birth injury and/or birth trauma.  These high-risk pregnancies require more prenatal testing and closer monitoring.  Tests should include additional ultrasound exams, stress-tests, and biophysical profiles.  If the doctors and hospital staff fail to give the standard of care, this is considered negligence and leads to medical malpractice.

How Often Do Birth Injuries Occur?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are roughly 4 million births in the United States every year.  An exceptionally large percentage of these births go off without any complications to either the mother or the baby.  The medical advancements have made birthplace a common and safe medical procedure with most returning to their homes within 2 days.

However, there are still 28,000 babies in the U.S every year that are born with a birth injury.  This makes the percentage of babies that suffer from a birth injury less than 1%, but that the families that do experience a birth injury are devastated.  Unfortunately, many of these birth injuries were avoidable and never had to happen.

What’s The Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?

Sleeping New born baby boy wearing blue hat covering silk white bed sheet The terms birth injury and birth defect are commonly used interchangeably, but there is a particularly important difference the two.

A birth defect is a condition that before the child being born.  It is some form of abnormality or defect present in a baby at birth and can affect any organ or system in the body.  These abnormalities can be genetic in nature, over-exposure to toxic chemicals, or simply unknown.

A birth injury occurs in the labor process or delivery and directly causes a condition or disability that would otherwise be a healthy baby.  Unlike birth defects, birth injuries are usually preventable depending on the exact situation.

Call a Michigan Birth Injury Attorney for Help

The attorneys of The Clark Law Office understand you and your family have been through a traumatic event. You have suffered enormous emotional and financial damages because of the negligence of others. Our birth injury lawyers investigate the cause of your child’s disabilities to help you obtain compensation for the preventable injury sustained by your child during the birthing process.  Call our office at 517-347-6900 to schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your legal options for seeking justice for your child for the wrongful acts of your doctor and/or medical staff. We have offices in Okemos and Lansing for your convenience.