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Orlando Birth Injury Lawyer

Obstetrical negligence can have very serious implications – even life-threatening implications – for a mother and/or her baby. Obstetrical negligence occurs when the medical practitioner – a doctor, midwife, nurse or other health care practitioner – fails to follow the accepted standard of care. If your child has suffered due to negligence, contact an Orlando birth injury lawyer at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, P.A. today to discuss your options.

Understanding Obstetrical Negligence and Your Rights Under the Law

Some all-too-common conditions associated with negligence in this area include:

  • Stillbirth
  • Fetal hypoxia
  • Fetal brain injury
  • Fetal cerebral palsy
  • Fetal brachial plexus
  • Sterility
  • Stroke

These are serious conditions, and this is not an exhaustive list – there are many other conditions resulting from obstetrical negligence. Negligence can be the result of failure to diagnose a dangerous condition during pregnancy, Improper pain management, failure to timely perform a C-section, and many other actions or inactions.

Though people often think of obstetrical negligence as occurring during a woman’s pregnancy and childbirth, it can begin even prior to late stages of pregnancy – for example, if a medical professional fails to provide proper prenatal counseling, fails to properly screen egg or sperm donors for genetic defects, or improperly stores eggs and sperm. And obstetrical negligence can continue after childbirth if, for example, the doctor fails to provide proper monitoring and follow-up care. This period may continue for six weeks or more after the delivery.

Elements of Obstetrical Negligence

As with all medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must prove:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor or medical professional acted outside of the standard of care
  • The negligent care resulted in an injury to the mother or the baby
  • The negligence resulted in compensable damages

Learn About the Early Signs of Common Birth Injuries

Many types of birth injuries are preventable. With today’s modern medical technology, early diagnosis allows for preventative treatment during labor and childbirth in many cases, and doctors and nurses have the knowledge and tools they need to protect mothers, fetuses and newborns in the vast majority of cases.

Yet, birth injuries are still far too common. Each year, thousands of children are born with birth injuries that could (and should) have been prevented. As a result, as an expecting or new parent, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of birth injuries—and to seek help promptly if you have any concerns about your baby’s wellbeing.

What Are the Signs that Your Child May Have a Birth Injury?

There are many different types of birth injuries. During labor and delivery, babies can suffer injuries ranging from physical trauma (i.e., shoulder dystocia) to brain trauma caused by oxygen deprivation. As a result, the list of birth injury symptoms is extremely long as well.

With this in mind, it can be helpful to start with an overview of what you should expect when your child is born. Crying is normal—and generally a sign of strength and good health. Shortly after birth, many newborns will fall asleep on a parent’s chest, although some may be ready to start feeding right away.

So, what isn’t normal? While all newborns react to birth and their surroundings differently, some signs that something may be wrong include:

  • Arching of the back while crying
  • Curling of the hands
  • Difficulty feeding or swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • High-pitched crying
  • Lack of motor control
  • Seizures
  • Severe crying and inability to be calmed
  • Severe muscle weakness

Some newborns will exhibit signs of physical trauma as well. Bruising and physical deformities can be signs of bone fractures and other physical injuries that may require prompt treatment to mitigate the risk of long-term complications. Doctors can also test for signs of birth injuries that may not be readily apparent to parents—such as a low heart rate or low blood oxygen level.

With some types of birth injuries, it may not be possible to identify symptoms for months, or in some cases even years, after a child is born. Developmental and cognitive delays and abnormalities, for example, may only become evident once a child begins to grow. Once again, if you have any concerns at any time, you should seek a diagnosis and treatment promptly, and if you have reason to believe that your family’s healthcare provider may be responsible for your child’s condition, you should speak with an Orlando birth injury lawyer about your family’s legal rights.

Medical Errors During Labor and Delivery Can Lead to Serious Birth Injuries

Medical errors during labor and delivery are among the leading causes of birth injuries. These errors can lead to oxygen deprivation, physical trauma and other consequences—and they can have life-altering effects in many cases.

If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury, determining the cause of your child’s injury will be a key first step toward filing a medical malpractice claim. This requires a prompt and thorough investigation conducted by lawyers and medical experts who are familiar with the signs of all forms of malpractice. We have decades of experience representing families in birth injury claims, and our lawyers work with trusted medical experts who specialize in diagnosing the causes of birth injuries.

Understanding the Common Causes of Birth Injuries During Labor and Delivery

Many types of medical errors during labor and delivery can lead to birth injuries. In our experience, some of the most common errors in these cases include:

  • Failure to Monitor – During childbirth, doctors and nurses should monitor both the mother and the baby for signs of distress. Detecting signs of distress early can help prevent birth injuries in many cases.
  • Failure to Diagnose – Monitoring only serves its purpose if it leads to a timely diagnosis. Failure to diagnose maternal and fetal health risks is a leading cause of birth injuries.
  • Failure to Treat – Once a doctor has diagnosed a maternal or fetal health risk, the doctor must provide timely and appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, failure to treat is a common—and avoidable—cause of birth injuries as well.
  • Improper Use of Forceps or Vacuum Extractors – While forceps and vacuum extractors can prove to be necessary with some difficult deliveries, improper use of these tools can be dangerous. The risks of errors involving forceps and vacuum extractors include physical trauma, nerve damage and brain damage (among others).
  • Delayed Cesarean Section (C-Section) – In some cases, a C-section delivery will be necessary to protect the health of the mother, baby or both. Failure to timely recommend and perform a C-section delivery can constitute medical malpractice when it leads to complications that could (and should) have been prevented.

It is important to keep in mind that these are just examples. If you have concerns about the quality of care you or your spouse or partner received during labor or delivery for any reason, you should discuss your concerns with an Orlando birth injury lawyer promptly. Unfortunately, medical errors during labor and delivery are far too common—and far too many new parents find themselves needing to assert their family’s legal rights.

Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries

It’s important not to wait if you think that you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit against your healthcare provider. Currently, Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, including birth injuries. This means that you have two years to sue your healthcare practitioner from the date of the injury.

However, Florida’s “Discovery Rule” may suspend the statute of limitations until an injury is or should have been discovered. For example, if after performing a C-section, a doctor leaves a gauze or small surgical instrument inside the abdomen or pelvis, and you don’t discover it for 2 years, the statute of limitation may begin at this point, not when the malpractice occurred. Also note, however, that Florida has a strict Statute of Repose law, which prohibits litigation against a healthcare professional more than four years from the date of the incident unless there is evidence that the healthcare provider engaged in fraud or misrepresentation to conceal the malpractice.

An initial hurdle that must be met by a potential litigant in a medical malpractice suit relating to obstetrical care or a birth injury is to provide written notice through a Notice of Intent to Sue. The Notice of Intent (NOI) must also include a certification from a medical practitioner in the OB/GYN specialty that the claim has merit and is not frivolous. Contact an experienced Orlando birth injury lawyer at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, P.A. today to discuss your options.

What Damages Can You Obtain for Medical Malpractice in an Obstetrical and Birth Injury Case?

Assuming that you can prove that the healthcare practitioner was your provider and owed you a duty of care, the standard of care was not met, you suffered injuries, and your injuries are compensable, you or your loved one will be entitled to compensation.

When a child suffers a severe birth injury as a result of medical negligence, the family may be entitled to damages. Damages provide compensation for losses suffered as a result of the medical provider’s malpractice and negligence. Compensation can cover both monetary losses and intangible losses such as a diminished quality of life.

Damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Additional healthcare costs such as counseling, occupational therapy, medical care, hospital care, in-home nursing, attendant care and other care
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of life enjoyment

If a death is involved, you may also be able to file a wrongful death suit against the health care provider. If you do so, you may also seek compensation for the following:

  • Burial or cremation expenses
  • Loss of consortium for the parents
  • Economic losses to the Estate

How Long Does an Obstetrical or Birth Injury Lawsuit Take?

It may take several years – two, three or even up to five – for an obstetrical or birth injury lawsuit to reach a settlement verdict. Medical malpractice cases are highly factual, and there is typically a great deal of investigation and discovery that must occur.

Seek Legal Counsel from a Skilled Orlando Birth Injury Lawyer

Do you have questions about filing a birth injury claim in Orlando, Florida? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. Because of the length and emotional intensity of a trial involving a gynecological or birth injury, many cases settle before trial. However, our team of attorneys stands ready to take your case to trial should that prove to be necessary.

Contact our office today to speak with an Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm Orlando birth injury lawyer to discuss your options.