Giving birth to a child should be a joyous occasion and a reason to celebrate. However, what should have been one of your life’s best experiences can turn into a nightmare if your baby gets injured. Over the years, there have been many cases where negligent medical professionals have caused harm to mothers and their babies during labor.
Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and hospitals could be responsible for your child’s birth injury. Medical malpractice lawsuits are challenging and complicated. Preventable birth injury cases are no different. You need an experienced attorney if your child suffered an injury during pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
At the law offices of Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, we can help you fight for your rights and the rights of your child. To learn more about our services in a free, confidential consultation, call our Arkansas birth injury lawyers today at (479) 316-0438.
Birth Injuries in Arkansas and Their Causes
A birth injury is any harm caused to a baby during their time of birth. Unfortunately, many things can cause injuries to a baby during labor, including air deprivation, head trauma caused by an impact, and harm caused by forceps. Sadly, a baby can suffer severe injuries or develop a medical condition due to their injuries. Typically, these injuries occur due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, assistants, and other healthcare professionals. Some of the most common birth injuries and their causes in Arkansas include:
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or HIE is a severe type of brain injury that happens when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen during birth. Oxygenated blood deprivation can lead to severe medical issues. HIE can lead to devastating medical conditions such as brain damage, developmental issues, and physical impairment. All trained medical staff assisting during birth must be able to recognize signs of air deprivation and should act quickly to prevent harming the baby. Unfortunately, negligent OB-GYNs and other healthcare professionals fail to detect this emergency on time, which can lead to severe, irreversible damage. If a healthcare professional’s negligent actions injured your newborn, our Arkansas birth injury lawyers can help.
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder caused primarily by brain damage. Unfortunately, there are many problems that can lead to cerebral palsy during birth. For example, umbilical cord problems, brain bleeds, and HIE – among other issues – can lead to cerebral palsy. This type of injury can be prevented by exercising care, identifying a potential problem during or close to birth, and adopting the necessary measures to solve the situation. Common cerebral palsy symptoms include exaggerated reflexes, involuntary motions, and rigid limbs, among other symptoms.
Unfortunately, medical negligence can play a significant role in your baby’s motor and physical impairments due to cerebral palsy. For example, if a doctor exerts too much pressure using forceps to extract the baby from the birth canal, they can cause brain damage that can lead to cerebral palsy. You can hold the liable physician accountable for your baby’s injuries and fight for compensation.
Trauma to the head during delivery can lead to internal brain damage and bleeding. Intracranial hemorrhages can prevent oxygen-rich blood from flowing through the brain, causing extensive damage and risking the baby’s safety. Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases where medical negligence has led to devastating accidents such as accidental falls during birth.
Fetal distress is a severe condition that could result in permanent damage to your child if your treating physician does not take immediate steps to alleviate the underlying cause. Generally, fetal distress is repairable. However, if your doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose the cause, your baby will not receive the emergency treatment required. If your doctor failed to detect signs of fetal distress, especially during a high-risk pregnancy, it could constitute medical malpractice.
Arkansas Birth Injuries From Negligence Medical Care During Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery
Medical professionals and healthcare providers must monitor both the mother and their baby throughout pregnancy. Many women have gone through pregnancies without showing any significant complications. However, there is always the possibility of complications developing at any stage during pregnancy. Healthcare professionals must identify and solve any issues that may put the mother’s and her baby’s lives in danger. Failure to follow the medical standard of care – which we will discuss later – can lead to otherwise preventable harm.
There have been many cases where doctors have engaged in negligent practices that have caused harm to their patients. For instance, there have been situations where doctors fail to identify and plan for a potentially high-risk pregnancy. Moreover, there have been many cases involving failure to order a C-section on time, in order to prevent damage to the baby and their mother. Failure to identify and correct any issues with the umbilical cord has also been a recurrent malpractice issue. If you or a loved one was injured during birth due to medical negligence, our Arkansas birth injury lawyers can help you fight for compensation.
Signs of Preventable Birth Injuries in Arkansas
Some birth injuries are evident at the time of delivery. However, a newborn could suffer a brain injury or other trauma that results in long-term effects that are not readily noticeable. If you are concerned that your child sustained a preventable birth injury, there are some indications that they suffered harm.
Every parent closely watches as their newborn begins to develop new skills or reaches specific milestones. While not every child develops at the same rate, there are acceptable ranges. For example, it is normal for an infant to smile and turn towards sounds around the two-month mark. If your child is not engaging in this behavior, it could be an indication of a more significant problem. Cognitive and motor skill delays are often the result of traumatic, but preventable, birth injuries.
Limited Movement or Limpness in The Child’s Arms
If a child demonstrates signs of limited movement in their arm, limpness, a loss of sensation, or actual paralysis, it could be an indication that your infant is suffering from Erb’s palsy. Also known as brachial plexus palsy, Erb’s palsy occurs when a baby experiences trauma or an injury to the nerves in their arms and spinal cord during labor or delivery. In many cases, this is the result of a medical error if the treating physician failed to recognize signs of shoulder dystocia or negligently employed the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor during birth.
Poor or aggressive behavior in a child could be a sign that they suffered a preventable birth injury. Brain injuries have many different symptoms, including repetitive movements, perception difficulties, lack of social interaction, staring at nothing, or continual failure to make eye contact.
Does Not Respond to Loud Noises
If your child is not responding to verbal prompts or loud sounds, it could be a sign of an underlying birth injury. This includes favoring one ear over the other and struggles with speech.
Smaller Head Than Normal
Microcephaly is a condition that could be caused by a preventable birth injury. When a baby’s head is smaller than average, it could cause developmental problems and delays. Microcephaly often occurs when a child in the womb is exposed to toxins, infection, or deprived of blood or oxygen during delivery. Depending on the level of prenatal care or what occurred during birth, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Birth Injuries in Arkansas
You can file a medical malpractice claim against the negligent OB-GYN, physician, nurse, or another caregiver who harmed your baby. As a defendant, you will have to prove the defendant engaged in otherwise preventable negligent actions. With your Arkansas birth injury lawyer’s assistance, you should be able to prove four main elements.
First, you will be required to prove the defendant (OB-GYN, nurse, anesthesiologist, etc.) owed you a legal duty of care. Second, you will have to show the defendant breached their medical standard of care, which requires them to act in a manner in which a reasonably competent doctor with the same background and skill would have acted under the same circumstances. Third, you will have to prove that your doctor’s negligence caused harm to your baby. Finally, you will need to show the court you suffered damages as a consequence of your medical professional’s negligence.
Once you have shown the existence of these four elements by a preponderance of the evidence, the court may grant you compensation for your losses. The compensation awarded by the court can help you cover losses such as your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Damages Available in an Arkansas Birth Injury Lawsuit
When someone files a medical malpractice lawsuit, they are seeking financial restitution for the expenses they incurred and the harm they suffered. While no amount of money will restore your child’s health, it could make it easier to provide the necessary treatment and therapy your child will require. The type and amount of compensation available will depend on many factors, including the severity of the injury and the future medical costs. While it is impossible to give an estimate or average settlement amount, there are some common types of damages awarded in many cases.
If your child suffered a birth injury during delivery or at a hospital or clinic, any medical expenses or bills related to you and your child’s care should be covered by the responsible party. Some injuries require further treatment, surgeries, or extended hospitalization. All future medical treatment that is necessary because of the birth injury is also recoverable.
Rehabilitation or Therapy
Many preventable birth injuries result in conditions or harm that last a lifetime. Your child could require years of physical or rehabilitative therapy. The cost of these sessions, whether they last a couple of months or decades, should be paid for by the liable party.
Some children who suffer from traumatic birth injuries will have a lifetime of difficulties in developing and using their cognitive skills. In many cases, traditional forms of education will not be sufficient to adequately address your child’s needs. You should be compensated for any special education needs or private schools your child would need.
Home Care of Lost Wages
Depending on the severity of the birth injury, a child might require around-the-clock care to ensure they are safe and comfortable. If you need to hire home healthcare, such as a nurse, you should not have to pay the high costs. Additionally, if you stay home to care for your child, you should be reimbursed for the income you will lose.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A birth injury will affect you and your child’s ability to enjoy and participate in the life many people take for granted. While the cost of this loss might seem subjective, it could be expressed in a dollar figure. In addition to recovering financial losses, you and your child are entitled to recover for the emotional and mental suffering you have and will endure.
Our Attorneys Can Help If You or Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury
If you or your child was injured during labor due to the negligent acts or omissions of a healthcare professional in Arkansas, we can help. Our Arkansas personal injury attorney for birth injuries attorney Ken Kieklak has the experience, skill, and knowledge to hold the liable parties accountable for your losses. We will fight tirelessly, aggressively and strategically, to fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about our services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.