Little else is more devastating than leaving the hospital after giving birth to a baby with a birth injury. In some cases, it may be months or even years before your child begins exhibiting signs that something is amiss, which may ultimately lead to a birth injury diagnosis. Birth injuries occur before, during, or after delivery and may affect the mother, the baby, or both. In addition, these injuries result from many causes, including negligent prenatal care, labor and delivery complications, or inadequate care post-birth. When a birth injury occurs, there are several critical questions that must be answered. First: was the injury preventable? In other words, could the birth injury have been prevented had the doctor or other medical provider provided the appropriate standard of care? Second: if negligence occurred, how did it happen? Third: were the specific negligent acts or omissions directly responsible for the patient’s injuries? Lastly, who can be held responsible when a birth injury occurs? Determining liability in a birth injury case is extremely important, as it determines who can be named in a lawsuit and further, who can be held liable for damages.
Who can be Liable in a Birth Injury Case?
Birth injuries typically arise from either a doctor’s improper diagnosis of a patient’s condition, insufficient treatment, failure to monitor mother and baby during labor and delivery, or mistakes during the birthing process. Common examples include failing to detect pregnancy hypertension, performing a c-section too late, or substandard prenatal care, such as injuries caused by inappropriately prescribed medicine during pregnancy. Malpractice occurs when birth injury is due to negligent practices or failure to act, such as the improper use of forceps, misuse of vacuum extractors, or mistakes with other labor assistance devices. Other negligent causes involve incorrect medication prescriptions, oxygen dysregulation during birth, failing to assess baby weight and size before delivery or delays recognizing or responding to fetal distress during delivery. In many of these cases, the doctor is the primary actor and likewise, the source of negligence. However, liability for a birth injury by no means ends with the treating or supervising physician.
Negligent parties who may be held responsible for birth injuries include:
- Physician Assistants
- Healthcare clinics
- Surgical centers
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Medical staff
- Emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics
Doctors and Other Medical Providers may be Held Responsible
Since labor and delivery often occurs in a hospital setting and is handled by a team of healthcare providers, any and all of these individuals may be sued for medical malpractice when a birth injury occurs. While the primary responsibility to ensure the safety of mother and baby during childbirth typically rests with the doctor, he or she undoubtedly relies upon a variety of other medical workers when providing care. As such, the nurses, medical technicians, residents, surgeons, and others who may become involved in the labor and delivery process, may also be subject to liability in a lawsuit. The significant requirement in order to name such parties is their failure to uphold the acceptable standard of care, which is measured against similarly trained and experienced providers in the given specialty under the set of circumstances presented.
Hospitals may be Sued for Birth Injuries
Additionally, the hospital may be held accountable if its employees were negligent when caring for a woman and her child before, during, and immediately after birth. Regardless of whose conduct is deemed negligent, the hospital may be sued for the incompetence of those who fail to provide the acceptable standard of care in the scope of their employment. Hospitals may also be sued for birth injuries resulting from systemic problems, such as charting errors, patient mixups, and communication failures among members of the healthcare team. Errors with electronic health records, medical testing and reporting, and failure to triage patients in emergency situations, may also provide sources of liability. In a similar manner, the private practice to which the doctor belongs may also be sued in a medical malpractice action in some cases.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers may be Liable
In addition, lawsuits may name the pharmaceutical manufacturer of a medication that caused birth defects or maternal injury. If a pharmaceutical company produced an unsafe drug without adequately warning the physicians who prescribed the dangerous drug, the company may be held liable in a product liability claim for the injuries of those who took the drug. A drug manufacturer must warn physicians and the public of potential side effects and dangers associated with its medications on the market. Generally, however, the doctor, who should have the requisite knowledge of medicine to determine which drug is best for a patient, may be held accountable for prescribing medications that injure patients. This includes pregnant women and their unborn babies, if either suffers a birth injury or birth defect caused by a medication.
Get Help Holding Negligent Parties Accountable for Birth Injuries in NJ
If you or your child suffered a birth injury due to medical mistakes during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or after birth, you may have the basis for a lawsuit. Our team of highly experienced birth injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources to analyze the circumstances of your case; determine the errors that occurred as a result of a doctor’s, hospital’s, nurse’s, or other healthcare professional’s failure to exercise due care; consult with leading medical experts to support a claim for negligence; and diligently pursue the financial compensation you and your family so deserve.
Whether your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, sustained brain damage, experienced complications from a brachial plexus injury, or other harm occurred due to improper management of your labor and delivery, we can help. Likewise, if you or a loved one has maternal injuries due to an undiagnosed or untreated condition such as gestational diabetes, our attorneys have experience achieving justice and financial compensation for those in your situation. We represent victims of birth injuries throughout New Jersey and encourage you to contact us at (866)-708-8617 today for a free consultation. Our birth injury attorneys are available to provide the answers, advisement, and legal advocacy you and your family need now.