New Jersey Birth Injury Lawyers
Labor, Delivery and Neonatal Care Malpractice in NJ
You’ve been looking forward to the birth of your child – one of the most joyous events one can experience in a lifetime – for months, if not far longer. For too many families, though, that moment of joy, and the lifetime of happiness you had planned, is stolen out of your grasp by a doctor’s preventable, yet irreversible, mistake.
Birth injuries are particularly tragic examples of medical malpractice. There’s no excuse for a medical or healthcare professional of any kind to act with negligence, failing to meet the acceptable standard of care. The situation is even more tragic when it affects a helpless, innocent newborn, cutting short that infant’s life or permanently and severely compromising the baby’s quality of life.
You may feel helpless when a medical error you never could have predicted has left your family shattered, but you don’t have to let the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who caused this harm get away with what they’ve done.
You can get justice for your sweet baby and the money your family needs to move forward financially after a birth injury. In fact, standing up for what’s right may just prevent another family from having to suffer the heartache you’re going through right now. It starts with one simple but all-important step: reaching out to a New Jersey birth injury lawyer to file a lawsuit on your family’s behalf.
You don’t have to wait any longer to get understanding, compassionate help on your side. Our attorneys will evaluate your birth injury claim today, at no cost and with no risk to you.
UNDERSTANDING BIRTH INJURY CAUSES
Birth injuries usually, although not always, refer to injuries to the baby that occur as a result of problems during labor and delivery. Laboring mothers can also sustain serious injuries due to a medical professional’s mismanagement of their care. What you might not know is that the term “birth injury” can also encompass medical errors made before labor ever starts – and those that occur in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), causing further harm to already fragile newborns.
When it comes to the field of obstetrics, you might wonder who is the doctor’s patient: the mother or the baby? Healthcare providers involved in antenatal, labor, and post-delivery care have a responsibility to monitor and care for both mother and baby. Being negligent in that responsibility – to either patient – can lead to a host of serious injuries.
In every field and specialty of medicine, the medical community sets standards regarding what constitutes appropriate and professional care. Standards within the obstetric community mandate that practitioners adequately monitor both a fetus and its mother throughout the labor and delivery periods. Responsible monitoring helps ensure that the health of mother and baby is not being compromised by the stress of labor and that the delivery has the best chance to result in the birth of a healthy baby.
Unfortunately, some physicians don’t live up to these standards or to the trust their patients have put in them to do everything medically possible to bring their baby into the world without harm. Obstetrical malpractice during labor can include:
- Failing to properly monitor the patients
- Failing to properly interpret the information collected and the signs and symptoms exhibited during labor and delivery
- Failing to make the correct treatment decisions, including whether a C-section delivery is needed and when the procedure should be performed
Monitoring and making treatment decisions are particularly important responsibilities during labor, which puts a great deal of stress on the physical wellbeing of both mother and baby. However, an obstetrician who fails to meet the standard of care at any time while providing prenatal care can also be held responsible for medical malpractice.
Do you believe medical negligence is the reason for the harm your family has suffered? Our experienced obstetrician malpractice attorneys can answer any questions you have.
Child Delivery Malpractice
The stress and pain of labor finally bring you the moment every parent is anxiously waiting for: the actual delivery of the baby, the moment where you will get to meet your precious bundle of joy. Yet, when the delivery of a child is marred by a doctor’s negligence, causing serious harm, the moment you had dreamed about instead becomes a living nightmare.
Doctors, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare providers must adhere to the standards set by the medical community as they deliver the baby. This means they must use caution when intervening with potentially dangerous tools like vacuums and forceps – but it also means they can’t neglect to intervene when needed.
Child delivery malpractice can encompass injuries to both the baby and the mother. If you’re wondering what really went wrong during the delivery of your child, our knowledgeable child delivery malpractice attorneys can help you understand what the medical records say – and whether malpractice played a part in the outcome.
Neonatal Care Malpractice
When parents reminisce about the blissful day their child was born, they often remember those special moments they first held their newborn baby. Yet not all mothers and fathers are so lucky. When a child is born with a condition or problem – even a temporary one – that requires an increased level of care, he or she may be whisked off to a NICU before parents even begin to bask in that new-baby glow.
A neonatologist or pediatrician, along with neonatal nurses, usually takes over the treatment of these babies. Often born premature, small, affected by maternal complications and the medications needed to treat them, or otherwise vulnerable, these newborns may be struggling to adjust to life outside the womb. They need intensive care from attentive providers. If these healthcare providers deviate from accepted standards in that treatment, they’re putting at risk the health and lives of those who are already so frail.
Medical negligence in the NICU can happen in different ways. When a newborn’s medical caretakers fail to recognize the need for respiratory support promptly, the baby can suffer oxygen deprivation that leads to serious brain damage. The failure to timely diagnose and treat jaundice, a common newborn complication that can often be resolved with no further issues when address appropriately, can also cause a brain injury.
Medical malpractice in a neonatal care unit, especially a NICU, is simply unacceptable. If you believe your child suffered harm due to the care provided after the birth, you can and should take action. Our neonatal care malpractice attorneys are here to guide you.
BIRTH INJURY TYPES
There are, sadly, countless birth injury examples out there. Every birth injury is unique, with different factors that led to the troubles and different outcomes and prognoses, yet certain types of birth injuries are particularly prevalent in the advent of neonatal malpractice.
Sadly, some of the most common types of birth injuries are also very serious, including injuries that cause:
- Paralysis and movement disorders
- Brain damage and cognitive defects
- Broken bones and skull fractures
- Serious infections
Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement. In disorders that fall under the category of cerebral palsy, the problem that prevents typical movement is in the brain rather than the nerves of the limbs.
When cerebral palsy results from medical negligence – which is not always the case – it can happen because of causes such as:
- Physical trauma to the brain from forceps or other pressure exerted on the head during delivery
- Oxygen deprivation during delivery
- Infections that affect the brain
Generally, cerebral palsy disorders are classified as one of three types: spastic, ataxic, and athetoid.
- Spastic cerebral palsy, which makes up more than 70 percent of all cases of cerebral palsy, involves muscle tightness or rigidity that impairs motion.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy, the least prevalent form of cerebral palsy disorders, involve problems with coordination, muscle tone, and muscle tremors.
- Athetoid, also called dyskinetic, cerebral palsy involves involuntary movements.
- Mixed cerebral palsy refers to having symptoms of the different classifications of cerebral palsy disorders.
Cerebral palsy can be considered mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of a child’s cerebral palsy disorder will affect his or her prognosis for the future.
Erb’s and Klumpke’s Palsies
Cerebral palsy isn’t the only kind of palsy, or muscle weakness or functional problem, that can result from birth injuries. Erb’s and Klumpke’s Palsies are movement disorders accompanied by functional deficits that can be as mild as a temporary condition of weakness that limits one arm’s range of motion and resolves on its own or as severe as full paralysis of one arm.
When Erb’s and Klumpke’s Palsies occur as a result of a birth injury, brachial plexus nerve damage is often the culprit. The brachial plexus network of nerves, which runs from the spinal cord to the armpit, controls movement in the hand, arm, shoulder, and chest.
Injuries to the baby’s brachial plexus most often result from a labor and delivery complication called shoulder dystocia, in which the mother’s pubic bone obstructs the baby from exiting the birth canal. When healthcare practitioners wrongly maneuver the baby to get the shoulders unstuck, or use too much force in doing so, they can cause damage to these nerves.
Birth Injury Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
HIE refers to a type of brain injury in which a lack of oxygen coming into the body prevents the brain from receiving adequate blood flow. There can be many different causes of HIE during birth, ranging from unpreventable maternal complications to very preventable instances of malpractice that include physical trauma to the head sustained during delivery and shoulder dystocia. As with many other types of birth injuries, HIE can range from mild to severe, and prognoses for children who suffer this type of injury can vary from favorable to very grim.
Childbirth-Related Injuries to the Mother
Labor and childbirth are precarious situations for the laboring mother as well as her baby. Just as a doctor’s malpractice during birth can cause an injury to the child, it can also leave the mother with lasting damage – or even cost her life. Mothers may suffer nerve injuries, soft tissue tears, fistulas, sterility, postpartum hemorrhage, and death due to childbirth. Poor quality of medical care increases the risks of poor outcomes.
INFANT WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
In the most horrific instances of obstetrical malpractice, a doctor’s errors can take the life of an innocent baby. For families who are forced to endure this gut-wrenching grief, no words will ever be enough to take away the pain. What we can offer is understanding – explanations in laypersons’ terms of what the jargon contained in hospital medical charts means and of what really happened, in the hopes that having answers can help devastated families begin to find some degree of closure.
COPING WITH A BIRTH INJURY IN YOUR FAMILY
When your child has sustained a birth injury, all of your hopes and dreams for your family’s future are suddenly dashed, at the precise time you had been looking forward to so much. Instead of joy, you feel fear and anxiety. What will happen to your little one? What kind of quality of life will he or she have? And, perhaps most importantly, what can you do as a parent to make this better?
Coping with a birth injury is so difficult precisely because so much is unknown. Some children with mild injuries receive excellent medical care and treatment and go on to make phenomenal recoveries, living the mostly-normal lives their parents had anticipated for them. Others face a bleak prognosis, especially if they can’t afford the care they need.
Parents may be left wondering what will happen to a child that won’t be healthy enough to live independently – and wondering if they could have done something to prevent this. As attorneys who have handled birth injury malpractice cases for decades, we know who is responsible for medical errors during childbirth, and it’s not you.
You trusted the medical professionals involved in the birth to care for your growing family. You couldn’t have known that they were making grave mistakes that would change your life forever. Too many parents carry this burden of guilt, when really the blame falls on the healthcare professionals who betrayed your trust. And yet, while their irreversible errors have cost your family everything, they get to carry on without a second thought to what they have done to you – very likely, continuing to risk the health and lives of other babies as they keep practicing in obstetrics or neonatal care.
That’s not fair.
BIRTH INJURY LAWSUIT SETTLEMENTS
No amount of money will erase what has happened to your family. Yet the fact remains that a birth injury can be as destructive to families’ finances as they are to a child’s physical health or a parents’ dreams.
Caring for a baby with a birth injury can require numerous therapies, procedures, medications, and surgeries. Some children may need round-the-clock medical care – perhaps lifelong care – that their parents simply cannot provide themselves. Even if a doctor’s mistake led to new or worsened medical complications in the child or the mother, it’s your family, not the hospital, that has to foot the bill to treat these conditions.
Sometimes pursuing a birth injury lawsuit is the very best thing you can do for your child. The settlement or jury award our attorneys are able to attain for you can make sure your baby has access to top-notch medical care throughout his or her life, allowing for the best possible improvements. It can also provide for in-home care or for your child to stay in a long-term care facility where the medical attention he or she needs is available 24 hours a day.
Birth Injury Statute of Limitations
Just because the harm your baby has suffered at the hands of negligent medical personnel will have lifelong consequences doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world to hold that doctor accountable. Like other medical malpractice claims, birth injury malpractice cases are subject to a statute of limitations – basically, a deadline by which you must move forward with a lawsuit.
Generally, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in the state of New Jersey is two years. For minors, however, that clock typically doesn’t begin ticking until the child turns 18.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to wait two decades to find a lawyer. In fact, because laws and regulations surrounding medical malpractice actions can be so complex, you should always err on the side of caution and start looking for a lawyer early on, way before your injured newborn is nearing adulthood. In certain situations, you could have far less time to pursue a claim. It’s also very possible that, if you wait until the child’s 18th birthday to begin a lawsuit, all of the medical records from the birth – the evidence on which your claim is built – will have long since disappeared.
The sooner you act on your child’s behalf, the less you will have to worry about statutes of limitations and other deadlines or restrictions that could undermine your and your child’s legal rights. You can also get the money your child deserves far sooner, which can make all the difference in reaching his or her full potential for recovery.
FREE CONSULTATION WITH EXPERIENCED BIRTH INJURY ATTORNEYS IN NEW JERSEY
You may not know where to get started in pursuing a birth injury claim – and, with an unwell child to care for, you might feel like you don’t have a lot of time to invest in figuring it out. That doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you need to entrust your claim to Blume Forte’s New Jersey medical negligence attorneys.
Over our decades of experience, we have cultivated particular knowledge about cases involving labor, delivery, and neonatal care medical malpractice. We can use that knowledge to answer your questions about a possible birth injury medical malpractice claim.
It costs nothing to learn more about your legal rights and options. Call (973) 635-5400 or contact us online for a free consultation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BIRTH INJURIES
Q: What Is a Birth Injury?
A: A birth injury is any injury related to the birthing process, including prenatally (meaning that it possibly could have been addressed prior to labor and delivery). This means a birth injury can happen during a pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
Birth injuries can occur when medical professionals fail to recognize, properly and/or timely treat, or provide proper care in light of various conditions that could affect the mother, the child, or both. Some birth injuries may resolve, while others are permanent.
There are situations like cosmetic deformities in which a birth injury will be obvious immediately. Other birth injuries become apparent over time, as a child fails to develop in a normal fashion.
Birth injuries may cause a child to have neurological deficits and/or developmental issues. These issues can manifest physically and may affect cognitive function, as well.
Q: What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
A: For many decades, Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari has handled many types of birth injury cases. Here are some of the injuries we’ve encountered relative to birth injury claims:
- Broken bones, including facial and skull fractures
- Nerve injuries, including Brachial Plexus nerves and craniofacial nerves
- Erb’s and Klumpke’s Palsies
- Brain injuries resulting in Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions
- Cardiac damage
Q: Who Can Be Held Liable for a Birth Injury?
A: Birth injuries may be caused by any kind of medical professional or healthcare provider – not just doctors – who fail to adhere to the standards of care accepted and practiced within the medical community.
Healthcare providers and entities that might be culpable in birth injury cases include:
- Home Health Aides
- Outpatient Clinics and surgical facilities
- First responders, such as paramedics and police
Q: Who Receives Settlement Money After a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A: Money from a settlement with regard to a child’s claims typically goes to the child who was injured. This money can be used for the child’s medical care and other expenses related to that child which the parents may encounter.
The recovery might be placed into a trust the child will be able to access throughout their life, either independently upon turning 18 or through trustees or Guardians managing the funds. Sometimes, money from a lawsuit secured for a child will be deposited into the Surrogate Court’s accounts and then typically be managed by the child’s natural parents if determined to be acceptable to the courts.
In many birth injury lawsuits, the parents can pursue damages as well. If the birth injury ultimately leads to the child’s death, the infant’s parents may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death suit, parents can pursue a financial settlement for medical expenses, their child’s pain and suffering before death, lost companionship and services, funeral expenses, and emotional distress.
Q: How Can an Experienced New Jersey Birth Injury Attorney Help?
A: By getting you the birth injury payout your family deserves, we can minimize the financial impact of a serious birth injury on your family and give your injured child the best chance at the highest quality of life possible.
How do we achieve results in cases like yours? Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari has decades of experience handling NJ birth injury claims. Our resources and our ability to work with experts in various fields of medicine allow Blume Forte to represent our clients to the highest standards.
Contact our New Jersey personal injury lawyers today to find out how we can help. You can reach us at (973) 635-5400.
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