Birth Injury FAQ

What’s the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury? 

Birth injuries are usually caused by something that has gone wrong during child delivery itself, while birth defects are usually accompanied with harm to a baby that arose prior to birth, due to something that happened during or before the months of pregnancy.

What kinds of situations give rise to a lawsuit for birth injuries? 

Most of these injury cases occur when a physician fails to adequately assess or respond to complexities and conditions during a woman’s pregnancy or delivery, or when a woman takes a prescription drug during pregnancy that causes undue and sometimes expected harm to the baby.

Will a lawsuit always be successful if a baby is harmed through a birth injury?

No. Some birth defects (or injuries) are inevitable. The key question is whether the medical providers and/or a pharmaceutical company failed to give you or your baby adequate medical care or medication advice during pregnancy and/or delivery which was their responsibility to the patient.

What is medical malpractice? 

Medical malpractice is a form of negligence committed by a professional health care provider–a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital or hospital worker–whose performance of duties departs from a standard of practice of those with similar training and experience, resulting in injury and harm to a patient or patients. The profession itself sets the measure for malpractice by its own custom and practice.

How common are birth injuries? 

It has been estimated that, for every thousand babies born in the U.S., five will be injured during birth.

In a lawsuit for birth injury, how does a jury determine if a doctor’s actions were within the standards of good medical practice? 

A jury will consider testimony and opinion by experts–usually other doctors, who will testify whether they believe your physician’s actions followed standard medical practice or fell below the accepted standard of care. A specialist, like an obstetrician, is held to a higher standard of care, than reasonable expectation of care–that of a specialist–than would be expected of a non-specialist.

I’ve heard about “teratogens” causing birth defects. What are they? 

A teratogen is a chemical or agent that causes birth defects among children. A number of drugs have been found to be teratogens, and many of these were initially meant to help in a woman’s pregnancy. These include Delalutin, a drug administered to pregnant women for the prevention of miscarriages, and Bendectin, a medication given to pregnant women, to fight nausea.

How common are birth defects? 

Estimates are that 7% of the babies are born with a birth defect or irregularity in their bodies, from very minor to severe.

As a birth defect (or injury), what is cerebral palsy? 

Cerebral palsy is the generally accepted term for a number of disorders affecting a baby’s brain function and body movement. Cerebral palsy can be the result of an injury to a baby’s brain in the womb, during delivery, or some time after birth. It can also be brought by a lack of oxygen flow to a baby’s brain during delivery.

Who will receive money after a successful lawsuit for a birth defect (or injury)? 

If a living child is suffering from harm due to an avoidable birth injury, damages  and other claims awarded as part of a successful lawsuit will typically go to the child, sometimes in the form of a trust. Parents can receive compensation for emotional distress damages in some situations.

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