Birth injuries and birth defects are terrible occurrences for families. Babies are completely helpless and mothers are generally kept in the hospital while the delivery team delivers the baby. Injuries can occur during the delivery process, and the team may not notice them. A baby should also be examined in the months leading up to the pregnancy to ensure that there are no defects. If a doctor does not do his duty in examining a child or mother, he may fail to diagnose a birth injury or birth defect, and he could be liable for damages. Our team of attorneys at the Downtown LA Law Group will help you file your medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor in such a case.
Failure to Diagnose a Birth Injury
A doctor may fail to diagnose a birth injury at various points during a pregnancy. He could not notice an issue with the baby’s blood work prior to birth, or he may not notice forceps injuries that the baby suffered during the delivery. He could also fail to see any issues when the baby is being discharged, which can lead to deteriorating health as the baby is taken home. The baby could be immune-compromised and the doctor might not even be able to tell if he didn’t conduct adequate tests.
Some ways that birth injuries can fail to be diagnosed include:
- Not noticing birth defects
- Failure to conduct maternal blood screens
- Failure to examine blood work of the baby
- Failure to conduct an ultrasound
- Failure to conduct a maternal serum screen
- Lack of adequate testing conducted on born babies
If you notice that your child has injuries or defects, it is important that you go to the doctor and demand any test results and other notes that were taken during the pregnancy. You may be able to file a lawsuit if there were no reasonable actions taken to ensure that your child was fully healthy.
How to Sue for Failure to Diagnose a Birth Injury
You should always take legal action if a doctor failed to diagnose a birth injury or ignored a birth injury altogether. In order to file a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital, you must prove that the doctor was negligent in some manner. All medical malpractice claims have four points of negligence that must be proven, similar to all basic personal injury lawsuits. You must establish the following:
- You had a doctor/patient relationship with the medical professional, obstetrician, nurse, or other individual who assisted in the birth
- The medical professional breached his or her duty of care in some manner
- The breach of duty resulted in an accident or incident that constitutes malpractice
- The malpractice caused actual physical injuries to your child
All medical malpractice claims require the presence of another group of medical professionals or doctors who will testify concerning the case. They will discuss how they would have acted if presented in similar circumstances. To have a successful claim, the doctors must agree that they would not have acted the way the at-fault doctor or nurse did.
In addition to the testimony of these medical professionals, you should hold on to all the medical receipts from the hospital, insurance billing papers, previous diagnoses or notes from appointments, doctor’s notes, charts, test results, medication and prescription drugs, and more. You should illustrate and prove the type of treatments you underwent and how your child was affected.
It is very important that you schedule a separate medical appointment with a different doctor for your child to get treated for the injuries he suffered. You should not hesitate too long to take your child to another hospital. The longer you wait to make the appointment, the more likely it is that your child’s injuries will worsen over time. Additionally, if there is a long gap between the procedure and the follow up appointment, an insurance agent can debate the validity of the case and the cause of the damages.
You will need to take numerous photos of the injuries your child suffered to show the extent of them and how severe they were. Many injuries will heal in a relatively quick amount of time, but the effects will remain behind. It is crucial that you have evidence from as close to the time of the incident as possible.
There may have been some eyewitnesses, other patients in the hospital, family members, nurses, and more who can testify to the malpractice that happened in the delivery room. Any statements that can be provided will benefit your case.
Once you have gathered enough evidence, you should reach out to a skilled birth injury lawyer who can handle your claim for you. If you have never taken legal action before, you may not be able to win the settlement you deserve. The insurance agent will not be willing to negotiate with you or even reasonably consider your points. He will make a low offer and will essentially ignore you if you do not accept it. Our legal experts will deal with all the evidence in your case, write your demand letter, organize your proof, hire expert witnesses, and more. You should only focus on helping your child recover from his injuries.
Deadline to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In California, there is a statute of limitations of 1 year or 3 years to file a claim for medical malpractice. If you discovered the injuries to your child upon leaving the doctor at any point up to 1 year after the procedure, you must file a claim no later than 1 year later. It is important that you take action as quickly as possible so that all your evidence is sufficiently preserved.
However, if more than 1 year passed with no knowledge of the injuries to your child, you will then have 3 years from the date of the injuries themselves to take action. Essentially, you will have 3 years from the date that the doctor hurt your child.
If the 3 year deadline then passes, you will simply not be eligible to file a claim. The statute of limitations is in place to ensure that claims are swiftly handled and do not unfairly target defendants after a specific period of time. It also allows plaintiffs the opportunity to get compensation quickly.
You may be able to have the statute of limitations temporarily suspended. It can happen if the victim is underage at the time of the incident, and in birth injury cases, this is constantly the case. However, instead of waiting until the victim turns 18 years old to sue, parents or legal guardians generally sue on behalf of the child. This allows the bills to still get covered in a timely manner and evidence will not be lost nearly two decades later. Additionally, the doctor may have left the state in an attempt to wait out the statute, but the deadline would be frozen until he returns to California.
Many parents do not get the compensation they deserve for their children because they do not acknowledge the statute of limitations. It is important that you act quickly and ensure that your case is handled on time and on deadline.
Compensation from a Birth Injury Lawsuit
We will see to it that you and your family are sufficiently compensated for your damages and that you are not made to pay excessive amounts of money for expenses that you did not accrue by yourself. If the doctor can be blamed for the injuries and subsequent debts, he should be held liable. The insurance agent handling the case will look at the extent of the injuries your child suffered, how extensive they were, their permanence, and more. He will then make an offer based on his examinations. You could win damages such as:
- Medical bills for surgery, hospitalization, medication and prescription drugs, anesthesia and other specialist fees, X-rays, physical therapy or rehabilitation, future medical procedures, and more
- Lost wages if you were unable to return to work, whether in the past or future, which may include bonuses, commissions, benefits, bonuses, and more
- Property damage if any personal items were damaged in the incident
- Pain and suffering damages for fear, anxiety, PTSD, psychological trauma, and other emotional stresses
- Wrongful death damages if your child died due to the doctor’s failure to diagnose the birth injury, which can include pre-death medical bills, pre-death pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses, and much more
- Punitive damages if the responsible party acted with gross negligence or the intent to cause harm, but these damages are often viewed as excessive and are difficult to win, so only a skilled lawyer will be able to secure them for you
If you need more assistance, feel free to reach out to one of our expert medical malpractice lawyers at the Downtown LA Law Group in Los Angeles.