Boston Birth Injury Attorney

The birth of a child should be one of a parent’s proudest moments. However, even with advances in modern medicine, complications can arise during birth that can affect both the child and mother. Also called birth trauma, these injuries can be due to either a doctor’s negligence during birth or mistakes made during prenatal care.

Common Birth Injuries

These are some of the common birth injuries suffered during a complicated labor:

  • Preecalmpsia. This potentially life threatening condition affects at least 5-8% of pregnancies, wherein the mother can suffer from high blood pressure, kidney damage, and various other complications. The earlier the condition develops, the more serious it becomes. If not recognized early or treated properly, it can lead to stillbirth in infants and death in the mother.
  • Bruising. Some birth equipment might cause bruising on the body or head of the child. This is more common with “tug” instruments like forceps and vacuum equipment. Bruising and lacerations can lead to other, more severe problems in the mother as well.
  • Paralysis. Extreme pressure exerted on the baby can injure his or her nervous system. Paralysis is easy to detect when babies feed and cry. Sometimes they cannot move certain facial muscles or one eye does not completely close. This could lead to permanent nerve damage that requires surgery.
  • Bone breaks and fractures. Clavicles and collarbones are easily damaged during delivery, especially if the baby is improperly positioned. The baby will instinctively avoid moving to prevent feeling pain, though splints or other treatments will still be needed.
  • Cerebral Palsy This is caused by a brain injury or malformation that can occur during birth which affects motor functions and muscle coordination for the rest of a person’s life.
  • Bleeding. Blood may accumulate in the skull due to the rupture of a blood vessel during delivery. This can cause a lack of oxygen in blood flow or deformity of the skull bones.

Prenatal Injury

Giving birth to a child is a cause for celebration, but it can also be a frightening prospect for some moms-to-be. Though technology has made childbirth increasingly safe, there is still potential for birth injuries to occur. Medical malpractice can happen during pregnancy or during the labor itself. Some common causes are:

  • Failure to diagnose birth defects that could be improved or corrected with fetal surgery, as is the case with some heart defects.
  • Failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, leading to tubal rupture, infertility, or death.
  • Failure to identify any condition of the mother, like placenta previa, which can lead to sepsis, shock, and death.
  • Negligent attitude toward fetal distress, which can lead to permanent brain damage or death.
  • Not ordering a C-section when one could be deemed best for the health of the mother or the child (for example, doctors generally order these when labor has stalled to prevent infection or breathing problems in the baby).

Birth Defects

While birth injuries are generally caused by negligent behavior during delivery, birth defects are caused by something that happened prior to birth. It’s estimated that 7% of all babies are born with some form of defect or irregularity. Defects can be caused by a number of different factors, including heredity or actions taken by the mother or father during pregnancy such as alcohol or drug use. Because of their very nature, it can be very difficult to pinpoint the cause of a defect and therefore  win legal compensation. Moreover, the defense may try and classify the injury as a defect rather than an injury. Be sure to speak with a local attorney before pursuing a claim involving a potential defect.

Legal Implications

Although it may not happen often, occasionally a doctor may commit and error during delivery. Negligence may harm the child, the mother, or both. This could be due to a failure to control the mother’s blood loss during delivery or the baby’s oxygen levels. If a medication causes a problem with the birth, you might have a claim against the pharmaceutical manufacturer instead of the physician.

It is challenging to know if the problems are due to a birth defect or negligence on the part of a drug company or the medical staff. Some complication may be due to a combination of the two. It is important to request an examination to determine fault. Not all birth injuries are preventable, which means that not every injury raises a valid claim.

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations on birth injury claims is three years and the case must be filed before the child’s 9th birthday. There is also a modified law for children under the age of six so due to this short statute, it is important to gather evidence quickly to resolve the case.

To satisfy a claim, you need to somehow prove fault beyond all reasonable doubt. If you want to lodge a claim against your doctor, you must prove he or she did not provide standard medical care. Your attorney will need to consult with other medical experts to gauge what is considered standard care, then prove the doctor failed to meet this standard.

Medical error is a more difficult to prove than most other injury claims because often times, the evidence shows the injury would have occurred despite obvious negligence. This is broken down into three steps:

  • The medical staff, pharmaceutical company, or equipment manufacturer owed a certain level of care to you or the child.
  • The defendant failed to meet the standard of care that any other professional in the same circumstances would have met.
  • The defendant’s actions directly led to injury to you or your child.

Contact Us

You and your child deserve the full support of the law to live a happy, healthy life. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a birth injury, and you suspect negligence, immediately contact Sweeney Merrigan Law. We have decades of collective experience handling these types of case, and we can help you navigate your claim as subject to Massachusetts law.