Birth Injury Lawyers Representing Families of Children Diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, Cerebral Palsy, and Other Conditions Due to Medical Malpractice
Learning that your child suffered a preventable injury during birth can be a traumatic experience. No child deserves to suffer due to a doctor’s or other healthcare provider’s mistake, and no family deserves to endure the financial and emotional strain that can result from a birth injury caused by medical negligence. If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy, or any other birth injury or condition resulting from medical malpractice, your family deserves to be justly compensated, and we encourage you to contact us right away for a free and confidential consultation.
D’Amore Law Group is a personal injury law firm that represents families throughout Oregon and Washington in claims involving birth injuries resulting from medical mistakes. Our lawyers have years of experience handling birth injury claims against obstetricians, hospitals, and other health care providers and medical facilities. We are familiar with the medical issues involved in birth injury cases (and we work with expert doctors in Oregon and Washington who specialize in diagnosing and treating birth injuries), and we know what securing just compensation means for struggling families. If your family is entitled to financial compensation, we can use our experience to help you, and we will fight to make sure your family has the resources you need to cope with your child’s unfortunate diagnosis. Contact us online or give us a call today.
Why Do Preventable Birth Injuries Occur?
Most parents have one primary question after learning that their child has been diagnosed with a preventable birth injury: Why? Why did it happen, and why is their child being forced to live with the consequences of someone else’s mistake?
Unfortunately, there is no good answer to this question. The simple fact of the matter is that someone made a mistake when they shouldn’t have, and that one mistake is going to have an impact on the rest of your child’s life.
Medically speaking, preventable birth injuries can result from a variety of different causes. Different birth injuries have different risk factors, and different mistakes can have different consequences. Generally speaking, however, some of the most common causes of preventable birth injuries in Oregon and Washington health care facilities include:
- Failure to discuss potential health risks with the parents prior to or during delivery
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal or fetal health risks during pregnancy, labor, or delivery
- Failure to properly account for a fetus’s size and weight during delivery
- Failure to perform a caesarean section delivery (C-section) when necessary for the child’s safety
- Failure to exercise appropriate care during delivery, resulting in physical trauma (e.g., shoulder dystocia) to the fetus
- Failure to timely identify and diagnose risks during labor or delivery or to timely intervene to prevent a birth injury upon observing signs of fetal distress
- Failure to adequately monitor the mother or the fetus during labor or delivery
- Improper use of forceps, vacuum extractors, and other delivery tools resulting in physical trauma, oxygen deprivation, or another form of harm
- Improper administration of (or failure to administer or recommend) maternal or fetal medications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery
- Failure to promptly transfer an injured newborn to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for treatment and monitoring in order to prevent or mitigate the effects of a birth injury
Erb’s Palsy Causes and Risk Factors
Erb’s palsy is a type of preventable birth injury that occurs when the brachial plexus is damaged during childbirth. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that extends from the spinal cord through the neck and connects to the arm just below the shoulder. At the time of childbirth, the brachial plexus is extremely fragile, and it is highly prone to being damaged as a result of excessive force being applied during delivery. As a result, common causes of Erb’s palsy include medical mistakes such as:
- Pulling on the shoulders during a head-first delivery
- Pulling on the lower body during a breech delivery, causing strain on the arms and shoulders within the birth canal
- Improperly or unnecessarily using forceps or other tools that apply pressure to the back, neck, or shoulders
- Failure to intervene when a fetus’s shoulder is held by the mother’s pubic bone prior to labor
Prolonged labor can increase the risk of a child suffering a brachial plexus injury resulting in Erb’s palsy, as can risk factors such as large fetus size and above-normal maternal weight gain during pregnancy. These are all factors that can – and should – be monitored by the mother’s OB-GYN. And if a risk for Erb’s palsy is identified, then appropriate medical action should be taken in order to prevent damage to the child’s brachial plexus.
Cerebral Palsy Causes and Risk Factors
Cerebral palsy differs from Erb’s palsy in a number of ways. However, the consequences of being diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of medical malpractice can be equally – if not more – severe.
Cerebral palsy is a type of brain injury that can result from damage that occurs during or after labor and delivery. An inadequate oxygen supply has long been thought to be the primary cause of cerebral palsy. However, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Now, scientists think that this causes only a small number of [cerebral palsy] cases.” The CDC lists the risk factors for congenital cerebral palsy (occurring prior to or during childbirth) as including:
- Low birthweight
- Premature birth
- Multiple births (e.g., twins or triplets)
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) infertility treatment
- Maternal and fetal infections during pregnancy
- Maternal thyroid problems, seizures, and intellectual disabilities
- Placenta detachment, uterine rupture, problems with the umbilical cord, and other childbirth complications
While most birth injury cases involve congenital cerebral palsy, it is possible for newborns to suffer from acquired cerebral palsy as well. This refers to cerebral palsy resulting from injuries and other medical complications experienced after delivery, including:
- Meningitis, encephalitis, and other newborn infections
- Sickle cell disease
- Brain injuries resulting from physical trauma
- Blood clotting and blood vessel disorders
- Other injuries and complications that restrict blood flow to the brain
What Are Families’ Legal Rights in Cases Involving Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice?
For families who are struggling to cope with the effects of preventable birth injuries, taking appropriate legal action is an important step on the road to recovery. Regardless of whether your child may be able to recover from his or her injury, and regardless of whether or not he or she will experience negative effects every day of his or her life, your family deserves the full remedies that are available under Oregon or Washington law. As the parent of a child who has been diagnosed with a preventable birth injury in Oregon or Washington, your legal rights include:
1. The Right to Expert Medical Care
Your child deserves the best medical care that is available, and no one can prevent you from seeing a doctor of your choosing. You do not have to go back to the same doctor who delivered or treated your child. Your doctor is not entitled to the opportunity to try to fix his or her mistake, and you do not have to put your child’s safety in his or her hands again. If you are unsure of where to go for treatment, we can recommend expert pediatricians and other specialists in your area.
2. The Right to Just Compensation
Although it may be difficult to see any form of justice for your child’s birth injury, families are entitled to “just” compensation for injuries resulting from medical malpractice under Oregon and Washington law. This includes compensation for all economic and non-economic losses that you and your child sustain now and in the future. While the medical costs associated with a birth injury can be substantial, they pale in comparison to the other losses that children and families will endure during their lifetimes. In many cases, the long-term, non-economic costs of preventable birth injuries will far exceed families’ direct out-of-pocket expenses.
3. The Right to Experienced Legal Representation
Families of children diagnosed with preventable birth injuries need help picking up the pieces. From dealing with the insurance companies to filing a claim for medical malpractice, many aspects of dealing with birth injuries require experienced legal representation. You have the right to hire an experienced attorney to deal with all aspects of your family’s situation on your behalf, and you should not have to pay your attorney anything unless you receive financial compensation for your family’s losses.
Regardless of what happened, and even if you are unsure of whether your doctor or other health care provider is to blame for your child’s medical condition, you owe it to yourself to speak with an attorney. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at D’Amore Law Group, contact us today.