Birth Injuries Attorneys in San Bernardino
Inland Empire Birth Trauma Lawyer
While the birth of a new child is supposed to be a happy occasion, statistics, unfortunately, demonstrate that this is not always the case. In fact, 27 out of every 1,000 births in the US entail birth injuries to either newborn babies or their mothers. Some birth injuries will eventually heal, but others cause permanently debilitating life-long disabilities or even result in premature death. While some situations occur that are beyond the control of even the most skilled health care professional, birth injury often occurs due to the attending medical team’s action or failure to act with reasonable care during the childbirth procedure. Of the approximately 28,000 infants who experience birth injuries, nearly half are caused by preventable medical mistakes.
If your family recently experienced any kind of injury during childbirth to a newborn baby and/or their mother, San Bernardino birth injury lawyers can help you determine the best course of action. Contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today to discuss your case and learn how our San Bernardino birth injury attorneys can help you seek justice and restitution during this difficult time.
Understanding Birth Injury Law
A birth injury refers to a profound injury that occurs from trauma due to negligence, medical mistakes, or inadequate hospital procedures surrounding the birthing process. A medical professional is negligent if they neglected to demonstrate an appropriate degree of care expected from a similarly trained individual practicing under similar circumstances. Birth injury law is a category of medical malpractice law focusing on personal injury cases resulting from negligence, carelessness, or recklessness on the part of health care professionals during childbirth.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can consist of minor injuries to the skin and soft tissue resulting from the use of medical devices or even pressure from strong contractions. However, not all of them are severe enough to warrant filing a medical malpractice claim. The most common types of birth injuries include:
- Facial paralysis. Applying too much pressure to the infant’s face during delivery, typically due to the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, can cause nerve damage in the face. Infants with nerve damage can have difficulty closing the eye located on the side of the face affected by the damage or may even remain unable to move an entire side of their face. These effects can fade over time, but they can also involve permanent paralysis.
- Brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is the nerve that connects the shoulder and arm to the spine and is responsible for arm and hand movement. Injury to this nerve can result in a condition called Klumpke and Erb’s palsy, which causes loss of sensation and paralysis in these regions. Such injuries often develop due to shoulder dystocia or an infant’s shoulder becoming caught beneath their mother’s pubic bone during delivery. An obstetrician who pulls too hard or in an inaccurate manner to dislodge the shoulder can cause brachial plexus injuries.
- Clavicle fractures. Similar to brachial plexus injuries, clavicle fractures result from obstetricians using too much force to guide the infant out of the birth canal. An infant with a clavicle fracture is temporarily unable to move the arm on the side of their body with the fracture, but these injuries usually heal without further complications.
- Caput succedaneum. This term refers to localized swelling occurring on an infant’s head, often due to misuse of a vacuum extraction device during delivery. Caput succedaneum tends to subside on its own but can cause a secondary condition called Kernicterus if left untreated. This form of brain damage can lead to intellectual disabilities, hearing loss or deafness, vision problems, and athetoid cerebral palsy.
- Cephalohematoma. Another condition resulting from the misuse of delivery tools, cephalohematoma involves bleeding beneath the infant’s cranial bones. A common sign of this condition is a raised bump on the crown of the head. In some infants, cephalohematoma resolves on its own within a few months, but in others, it can cause complications such as hypotension, anemia, jaundice, and meningitis.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). A brain disorder that occurs due to a prolonged period of blocked oxygen or blood flow, HIE can cause a number of effects, ranging from mild developmental issues to epilepsy or cerebral palsy. The severity of this condition depends on the length of time the infant’s brain goes without sufficient oxygen during birth.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries from Medical Malpractice
Birth injuries from negligence can occur due to a number of serious medical malpractice mistakes. Following are some of the most common causes of birth injuries our San Bernardino birth injury lawyers experience:
- Failure to Diagnose and/or Treat Maternal Infection
While not every infection a mother develops during pregnancy is a cause for concern, some infections can cause serious health issues when left undiagnosed and untreated. The following maternal infections are especially dangerous for the mother and/or the infant whose immune system is still developing and therefore particularly vulnerable:
- Chickenpox. This virus is relatively harmless when contracted as a child but riskier when contracted while pregnant. It can cause maternal pneumonia or congenital varicella syndrome in the infant, which causes skin scarring, improper development of limbs, ocular inflammation, and other serious health issues.
- Rubella. Rubella is currently an uncommon disease but can result in serious issues when passed from a mother to infant during pregnancy, including hearing and vision problems or congenital heart disease in the infant, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
- Toxoplasmosis. This parasitic infection can cause hearing loss, vision loss, or blindness in an infant if transferred from the mother.
- Hepatitis B. The virus is extremely likely to be passed from mother to infant, with data indicating that 90% of women experiencing an acute infection and 10-20% of women with chronic infection will transmit it to the infant.
- Chorioamnionitis. This bacterial infection occurs before or during labor and affects the membranes that surround the fetus – the chorion, or outer membrane, and the amnion, or fluid-filled sac. The mother can experience bacteremia (an infection in the blood), endometritis (an infection in the uterus lining), the need to deliver via cesarean section, heavy blood loss accompanying delivery, or the formation of blood clots within the lungs and pelvis. Infants delivered to mothers with this infection can develop meningitis (an infection of the spinal cord and lining of the brain), pneumonia, bacteremia, or other life-threatening complications in preterm infants. Early diagnosis and timely treatment with antibiotics make these issues less likely.
- Failure to Detect Fetal Distress During Labor
While a mother undergoes labor, the staff of the maternity ward connect her to multiple monitors that allow them to analyze the vital signs of both the mother and fetus during the entire labor process. Primarily, these monitors exist to identify signals of maternal or fetal distress. Fetal distress, also known as “non-reassuring fetal status,” encompasses a variety of medical issues that can arise during labor that prevent the fetus from receiving sufficient oxygen. Preventing fetal distress requires carefully and diligently monitoring the heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, amniotic fluid, movement, and other vital signs during labor.
Fetal distress can be caused by maternal illness, compression of the umbilical cord, placental abruption, an improper position that places excess pressure on crucial blood vessels, infection of the fetus, or meconium staining. Signs of fetal distress include abnormally slow or fast heart rate, abrupt decrease in heart rate, slow return to baseline heart rate after contractions, abnormal levels of amniotic fluid, the presence of meconium (stool) in the amniotic fluid, reduced movement, and maternal hypertension. Failure to detect fetal distress can result in serious brain injuries, long-lasting effects on cognitive and motor skill development, conditions like cerebral palsy, or death.
- Improper Use of Surgical Instruments or Delivery Tools
Obstetricians may need to implement specially designed instruments to assist in safely guiding the infant out of the womb or expedite delivery, such as forceps and vacuum extraction devices. Forceps are manual tools shaped like a large set of salad tongs with each piece placed on either side of the infant’s head to gently maneuver them through the birth canal. A vacuum extractor applies suction force to the top of the infant’s head to achieve the same. Physicians use assistive devices only under strict criteria. Criteria include a fully dilated cervix, ruptured membranes, and the infant’s headfirst entrance into the birth canal not easily solved by natural pushing.
Use of forceps or a vacuum extractor may also occur if the mother has certain health conditions or if problems develop with the infant’s heart rate. However, experts do not recommend these tools in cases where the infant has a bleeding disorder or a condition affecting bone strength. In addition, physicians should not use forceps or a vacuum extractor when the infant’s head has not yet descended past the birth canal’s midpoint or the position is unknown, the infant is not headfirst, or there is a possibility the infant will not fit through the pelvis.
There are very specific rules for using such devices because misuse, prolonged use, or too much pressure can cause serious injuries to the infant. Injuries include but are not limited to scalp wounds, facial injury, facial palsy (temporary weakness of facial muscles), facial paralysis, external eye trauma, skull fractures, clavicle fractures, brachial plexus injuries, Caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma, subgaleal hematoma, intracranial hemorrhage, seizures, and brain damage.
- Delayed Cesarean Section (C-section)
Delayed cesarean sections are the leading cause of birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice. Complications may arise during labor that make an immediate C-section necessary to safely remove the infant while also protecting the mother. Such complications include prolonged labor, evidence of fetal distress, placental abruption, uterine rupture, an infant becoming stuck in the birth canal, or Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD).
When an obstetrician fails to recognize the criteria for a C-section and waits too long to perform it, the mistake can cause permanent or fatal injuries to the infant and mother. The infant can experience brain damage, HIE, cerebral palsy, or wrongful death, while the rate of maternal mortality during or after a cesarean section is almost five times the rate recorded in vaginal deliveries. Most maternal deaths during a C-section occur due to postpartum hemorrhage, amniotic fluid embolism, thromboembolism, sepsis, and issues with anesthesia.
Numerous studies demonstrate that properly identifying and planning for potential obstetrical risk factors is the most effective method for preventing birth injuries. Obstetricians and other medical professionals can mitigate these risk factors by recognizing them well before delivery and developing an action plan with the goal of keeping both mother and baby safe and healthy. Failure to take risk factors into account during prenatal care or delivery can constitute medical negligence and result in liability.
Potential Recovery from a Birth Injury Case
Medical negligence can take many forms, but the determining factor in any birth injury case is the standard of care or the level of medical treatment a patient required. San Bernardino birth injury lawyers can help you gather the evidence you need to prove that your birth injury resulted from a failure to meet the standard of care your situation demanded. A birth injury lawsuit can potentially provide several different types of compensation to a family afflicted by a negligent birth injury.
It is not uncommon for babies who sustain birth injuries to also sustain life-threatening issues or permanent disabilities early in life. For example, cerebral palsy is one of the most common forms of long-term damage from birth injury. This condition covers a broad spectrum of symptoms that fluctuate from case to case. Some children with cerebral palsy experience minimal disruption to their health and development, while others with more severe cerebral palsy could require permanent in-home supervision and medical monitoring.
San Bernardino birth injury attorneys can help clients secure compensation for the medical expenses incurred from the birth injury, including the future costs of treating a child afflicted with long-term or permanent damage. A birth injury lawsuit will also likely yield pain and suffering compensation for the family to account for the physical pain of the birth injury and the family’s resulting trauma. The family may also recover lost income if a child’s birth injury is so severe that one parent will need to stop working entirely to remain home with the child.
Hire Expert San Bernardino Legal Representation Immediately
When tragedy happens during childbirth due to a medical professional’s negligence, family members not only suffer an incomparable amount of grief, but they also confront the often frustrating and overwhelming process of seeking legal recourse. When you face the challenge of deciding what to do next after your loved one has suffered a birth injury, Kampf, Schiavone & Associates can help. We will take prompt, aggressive legal action to handle your case, so you and your family can focus on recovery rather than struggling to achieve restitution.
If you have experienced the devastation of a loved one’s birth injury, contact Kampf, Schiavone & Associates today. The sooner you start building your birth injury lawsuit, the sooner your family can begin collecting the compensation you need to address your long-term medical needs and the financial losses resulting from your experience. Our dedicated San Bernardino birth injury attorneys approach every case with care, compassion, and personalized attention. We can help you determine liability for your birth injury, fully assess your damages, and hold the parties responsible for your birth injury accountable for the damages they have caused.
For a free consultation with a member of our team, contact us today by calling or submitting our contact form. We have recovered over $250 million for California residents in cases just like yours, and you can rest assured that we have the legal expertise to achieve the best possible results for your case. Se habla Español.