Babies are precious little bundles of joy and life that add countless joy to our lives. Even though they are so small and fragile, they are very resilient creatures. However, babies born prematurely or with birth defects become extremely susceptible to injury during the birthing process or shortly after.
A child born prematurely or with a birth defect has a right to be compensated for the health issues that are caused by their injury. Birth injuries can affect the baby’s health and quality of life and that of their family as well. Families often don’t consider what effects a birth injury can have on them; they just know that they are struggling to care for their child and are fearful of what will happen in the future. The good news is that families might be able to hold the hospital or the medical team responsible for any birth injury if there was negligence involved.
If you are the parent of a new baby who suffered a birth injury, what can you expect when filing a birth injury lawsuit? The article explains it all for you.
Hiring an attorney
One of the most difficult times in a family’s life is when a child is born with birth injuries. The emotional trauma can be overwhelming for both parents and the child. In addition to the emotional distress, there is also the financial stress of medical bills and lost income from missed work. Fortunately, the state protects your rights, and there are legal remedies available to help you recover your losses after suffering a birth injury. The first step is to hire an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of filing a birth injury lawsuit and explain all the provisions of it.
It is important to hire an attorney who has prior experience and knowledge of handling birth injury lawsuits because of many benefits such as:
- A deep knowledge of medical jurisprudence surrounding birth injury cases.
- Quick at identifying actions that caused negligence during childbirth by scanning the medical records thoroughly.
- Have a medical team of specialists that can assist your lawyer in proving negligence.
- Help determine the compensation value – an estimated cost of treatment, therapy, etc. that your child would need for the rest of their life.
An attorney can help you understand what you need to do and how difficult it will be to win your case. They will also let you know if any loopholes would allow someone else who was responsible for your child’s injuries to escape liability altogether.
Statute of limitations
Statutes of limitations set out the time frame in which you have to file your lawsuit. In most states, the statute of limitations expires two years after the date of injury. This means that if your child was hurt during labor or delivery, you only have two years from that date to file a lawsuit against anyone who might be liable.
Unfortunately, in many cases where a child sustains a brain injury, the symptoms do not show till later in life when they begin to miss their important milestones. Some states have laws that extend this period by one year if the child suffers from mental retardation or cerebral palsy. For example, in Connecticut, the statute of limitations extends from two years after the date of injury to three years after diagnosis if there is mental retardation or cerebral palsy resulting from birth injury.
If you miss this deadline, it’s not necessarily over for your case. You can still file a lawsuit after the two years have passed — but you’ll have to show that you didn’t know about the injury until after that time had lapsed.
Your attorney can file the lawsuit on your behalf. This will intimate the negligent hospital or medical personnel and both sides will then enter the discovery phase.
The discovery phase involves exchanging documents, answering questions under oath, providing any evidence related to your case, and even expert opinions on issues related to liability and damages. Other mistakes lead to birth injuries which are:
- Failure to do a timely C-section
- Ignoring fetal distress alarms
- Using excessive force to deliver the baby i.e. forceps or vacuum
- Not monitoring the mother correctly during the entire course of pregnancy to see warning signs
- Delaying the birth by using force to keep the baby inside
It can be an emotional time for the parents but your cooperation at this point is extremely vital so you need to gear up and provide your attorney with every little thing you can to build a strong case.
Trial or settlement
When filing a birth injury lawsuit, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff (the person who has been hurt). You will need to provide proof of evidence for the exact factors involved in causing the injuries. Once all this information is gathered, it’s time to meet with the defendant’s insurance company and discuss settlement options. The law usually suggests that attorneys meet up and reach an agreement before taking the trial to the court.
Settling out of court has multiple benefits. You can save yourself from the emotional trauma of prolonged trials, and settlements are usually tax-free. Many hospitals also prefer to opt for settlements to avoid a trial that may damage their reputation.
If the negligent party refuses to accept their fault, your case will proceed to trial with expert witnesses and other evidence presented before a judge or jury. They will determine if there is any liability on behalf of the defendant’s doctor or hospital staff member. Based on all this information, they will either give the verdict in favor or against you.
Birth injuries can be life-altering for everyone involved—especially for the newborn as they navigate the rest of their life with serious health issues. Filing a birth injury lawsuit can be long and emotionally draining. You may need a strong support network of family and friends to help you get through it. Staying positive in the face of adversity is vital, as is patience. As a parent of a child injured during birth, you have the right to pursue compensation for your child’s medical treatment costs.
You also have the right to seek compensation which can help you with any other expenses related to raising a child who has been born with disabilities.