Disclaimer: The following that you’re about to read is meant to serve only as a guide telling you how the law treats injuries that your baby had sustained after you’ve given birth to them, and should never be taken as straight-up legal advice. For more information on what legal course of action can you take against those who caused your baby’s birth injuries, you should seek the services of a licensed lawyer with ample knowledge on dealing with cases such as yours.
When you’re an expectant parent, you take good care of yourself so that you can give birth to a healthy baby. However, all your measures to ensure that your baby comes out healthy could be for nothing if your doctor made a mistake during delivery or while performing a procedure that inflicted injuries on your baby. While it’s tough to know at first if your baby sustained birth injuries while being delivered or if they are birth defects instead, the law provides a clear distinction between a birth injury and a birth defect.
Birth Injury versus Birth Defect: Knowing the Difference
From a legal perspective, the terms “birth injury” and “birth defect” aren’t interchangeable, no matter how loosely you might have been using them to refer to your baby not being born as healthy as you initially expected them to be.
A birth injury is caused by a medical mistake that occurred during the delivery of your baby and could have been avoided (for the most part) by your doctor.
A birth injury is only considered as unavoidable if complications arose during your baby’s delivery despite your doctor adhering to the standard of care that all doctors are supposed to uphold to as part of practising their chosen profession.
On the other hand, a birth defect affects your baby even before you’ve given birth to them and is caused either by problems stemming from their DNA or your own negligence.
How Can Your Baby Sustain a Birth Injury?
Miscommunication between your doctor and their staff can arise from time to time which can affect how they handle childbirths. The amount of stress that doctors and their staff face inside a delivery room can cause them to commit some of these common mistakes while performing a child delivery procedure:
Pulling or twisting the baby too hard during delivery.
Not using a forceps or vacuum extractor correctly in cases where assisted delivery is required.
Giving you the wrong amount or type of drug while you’re delivering your baby.
Not performing an emergency cesarean section if you’re unable to deliver your baby the normal way.
Not paying attention to the child delivery procedure being performed.
Still performing a child delivery procedure despite being visibly exhausted.
Taking over a child delivery procedure despite not being skilled enough to handle high-risk pregnancies such as yours.
Your Doctor Hasn’t Committed Medical Malpractice Unless You Can Prove That They Did So
Even with all the common mistakes that your doctor might have made while you’re giving birth to your baby, you can’t just sue them right away for medical malpractice, even despite the injuries that your baby may have sustained during childbirth.
If you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your doctor for injuring your baby, you would first have to establish the following:
#1. A doctor-patient relationship was set when you were still pregnant with your baby.
Only the attending physician who performed the child delivery procedure can be sued for medical malpractice if they were proven to have done it negligently.
You should thus make sure to address your medical malpractice lawsuit to the attending physician themselves as they were the one that you had a doctor-patient relationship with at the time of your childbirth.
Any consulting physicians who were also present at the time when the child delivery procedure was performed shouldn’t be part of your lawsuit as you didn’t have any doctor-patient relationship with them. However, related health care professionals such as specialists, nurses, psychologists, and pharmacists may be liable for medical malpractice if they assumed responsibility for you/your baby’s well-being.
#2. Your doctor became negligent during the child delivery procedure
Negligence in a medical sense has occurred the very second that your doctor deviated from the standard of care that all doctors are supposed to observe.
You have to prove that the doctor who delivered your baby has committed medical negligence, as a more competent doctor would’ve performed the same procedure without injuring your baby at all.
Doctors aren’t required to give their absolute best every time they do their job, as long as they are still able to do so with reasonable skill and care.
#3. The negligence of your doctor has directly caused your baby’s injuries
Your medical malpractice lawsuit can have a chance of being taken seriously only if you can prove that your baby’s birth injuries were a direct result of the negligent manner in which your doctor had performed the delivery procedure.
If you already had complications during your pregnancy, your doctor may not be sued for medical malpractice.
You would have to consult with a more knowledgeable medical professional who has dealt with childbirth before as they can help you prove if your doctor had displayed negligence while delivering your child.
#4. Your baby’s health has been significantly harmed by all those injuries that they sustained after being delivered negligently by your doctor.
The lawsuit that you’re filing against your doctor may not have a chance in court though if you can’t show that your baby’s birth injuries obtained after the delivery procedure had caused a significant amount of harm on them.
Proving that your doctor caused enough damage to your baby and estimating the amount that you’ll spend trying to give your baby a normal life despite their injuries can make you eligible for a damage award handed to you in your state court.
Giving birth to your baby is the most important time in your life as you transition from being an adult to a parent. But if your baby is born with injuries that aren’t your fault at all, you should remember that you can take legal action against the doctor who inflicted harm on your baby during the performed child delivery procedure. After all, birth injuries are mostly avoidable and the doctor who delivered your baby negligently may be held accountable in the eyes of the law for what they did.
Scott Jeffreys is a promising young law enthusiast that hopes to bring his youthful spirit in his field. He is currently writing for the Dolman Law Group and tries to add a refreshing modern take to topics on the legal world that people can learn from. Scott enjoys his free time with friends and family, and loves to cook for them.