The anticipated birth of a child should be a joyous time for everyone involved. Although this is a complex and often dangerous medical procedure, modern science is now able to prevent—or at least mitigate—many of the risks.
However, the duty to provide proper medical attention still rests on doctors, nurses, and hospitals. It is vital that all medical professionals involved in neonatal care and birthing take safe and responsible measures during this each step of this process. Unfortunately, neglect of care or failure to remain alert can result in devastating injuries and defects for both the mother and child alike.
A Michigan birth injury lawyer may be able to help if you or your child was injured due to poor medical care during birth. A compassionate and skilled attorney could help to evaluate the actions of these medical professionals, work with experts who could testify on your behalf, and demand fair compensation for your losses.
Potential Causes of Injuries During Birth
Unfortunately, healthy mothers and infants may still suffer from injuries due to unforeseen complications during the birthing process. Incidents such as an umbilical cord becoming wrapped around an infant’s neck may be a routine fix, but still requires an accurate and timely diagnosis for proper treatment. A doctor who fails to notice the signs of this problem may, therefore, commit medical malpractice.
Other injuries, however, are the result of a known complication. For example, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other diagnostics may indicate that medical professionals should expect problems during birth.
While this is the case, OB-GYNs still have a duty to recognize these problems and make an appropriate birth plan that will minimize any threat to the mother and child alike. A well-versed Michigan birth injury attorney could help an injured patient to understand how an injury or defect during birth may have been the result of a doctor’s malpractice.
The Role of an Expert Witness in Michigan
Birth injury cases—like all other malpractice cases—are often complicated. In fact, a victim may be unable to do so much as file a complaint in court without the help of an expert witness. Because of this, these witnesses are often necessary to provide their opinion as to how an injury happened during the birth process, as well as why the doctor was at fault.
According to Michigan Compiled Laws §600.2169, these experts must fit a very specific profile. Essentially, an expert must be accredited in the same field as the defendant doctor. In most of these cases, this means that the expert should be a board-certified OBGYN. Furthermore, the expert must have spent the past year predominantly focused on the relevant field or teaching these practices to students. A well-practiced birth injury lawyer familiar with this process in Michigan could work to ensure that the proper experts are consulted for a case.
A neonatologist must carefully monitor the baby for signs of distress before delivery. During this time, it is essential to properly monitor the newborn for any signs of distress—If there is any evidence of fetal distress or newborn distress, the physician and nursing staff should initiate treatment quickly to avoid permanent harm or injury to the baby.
In some instances, however, the doctors or nursing staff fail to timely recognize this distress. Unfortunately, this can result in significant harm to the child or mother. The failure to recognize distress can be the result of many reasons, ranging from an understaffed neonatal department or simply just negligence in failing to properly monitor the baby. No matter the reasons, however, the doctors and hospital could be subject to a malpractice lawsuit when this behavior occurs and results in a child suffering injuries or defects.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Mistakes
Babies that are in their first 28 days of life are called neonates. Often, if a baby is particularly fragile or facing some challenges, he or she is placed in the neonatal intensive care unit. Any mistakes with these fragile babies can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, there are many ways an infant can be injured while in a care unit. These include, but are not limited to:
- Medication errors
- Failure to adequately monitor the baby
- Failure to diagnose or treat jaundice
- Poor ventilation
Limits on Compensation
In Michigan, there are limits on the amount of compensation that may be awarded to an injured plaintiff. For example, under Mich. Comp. Laws §600.1483, these malpractice cases carry a cap for all non-economic losses—which may include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of quality of life. Because of these nuances, a Michigan birth injury lawyer familiar with the limitations could help a claimant to understand their chances of recovery.
In addition to these damages, there are significant economic compensation that can be sought as well in a lawsuit. These include claims for past, present, and future medical expenses, educational expenses, housing costs, transportation costs, and other specific monetary claims that a family and child will incur due to a birth trauma. We hire economic experts to determine the annual economic costs and project those costs over lifetime of the child.
Deadlines for Filing a Claim
The statute of limitations for cases involving a birth injury is different than for other medical negligence cases in Michigan. If a child is under 8 years old and was injured around the time of birth, a claim may be filed within two years of the incident or by the child’s 10th birthday—whichever time period is longer. These deadlines can be confusing to it is important to contact an experienced birth injury attorney immediately to avoid missing the deadline to file a case.
A Michigan Birth Injury Attorney Could Help with a Claim
Even seemingly normal births can suddenly take a dangerous or even tragic turn. An injury during childbirth may have a devastating effect on both a mother and their child, resulting in complications or defects. However, doctors should be prepared for these developments and be ready to take all steps within their abilities to prevent harm to a patient. Medical professionals who fail in this duty may, therefore, be held legally liable of the resulting damages.
If you or your child was injured during birth, you may be traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. However, a Michigan birth injury lawyer could help to explain your legal options and guide you through the ensuing legal process to seek recovery for your damages. To schedule a consultation, call today.
Birth Injury References and Resources
Examples of Michigan Birth Injury Settlements
- $ 6,000,000 settlement for a premature baby who suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and spastic quadriplegia during surgery
- $ 5,850,000 settlement against a Michigan hospital, doctors, and nurses for failure to treat high bilirubin which resulted in a newborn’s brain damage.
- $ 4,500,000 settlement for a premature baby diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy after being over-ventilated in the neonatal unit. The hospital staff failed to monitor the baby’s blood levels during his intubation, resulting in decreased cerebral blood flow and causing irreversible brain damage.
- $ 4,300,000 settlement for a child who suffered cerebral palsy due to a delay in performing a C-section at the hospital
- $ 3,575,000 birth injury settlement due to the delay in performing a C-section. The baby developed spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy due to the delay.
- $ 2,750,000 HIE settlement in a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. The baby was born with cerebral palsy when health care providers failed to take the proper precautions for a mother with a history of growth-restricted pregnancies. The negligent failure to properly monitor fetal development resulted in intrauterine growth restriction, hypoxia-ischemia, and infection causing severe brain damage.
- $ 2,000,000 settlement in a birth injury lawsuit for a baby who suffered permanent brain damage due to undiagnosed Strep B in utero