A Complete Guide to Birth Injury Lawsuits in California

As experienced birth injury lawyers in California, we have the resources, expertise, and passion to help you secure the compensation you deserve. Ready to explore your legal options? Contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

When most people talk about the challenges of pregnancy, they’re referring to the actual birthing process. They rarely talk about the months of physical transformation, mentalBaby in an incubator with a possible birth injury in California preparation, and reimagining life that the birthing parent goes through. 

Imagine going through all of that successfully, right up until labor—only to have your newborn suffer a life-altering birth injury as a result of a medical error. The frustration, depression, and sadness that ensues can be overwhelming, especially when the birthing partner also suffers injuries. 

If you or your partner have been affected by a serious birth injury, you know that it can take a massive toll on your quality of life. Fortunately, you do have legal recourse. An experienced birth injury attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve through a lawsuit against the at-fault party. 

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to birth injury lawsuits in California, including an exploration of the different types of birth injuries, the steps to filing a birth injury claim, recoverable damages, and how an experienced attorney can assist you with your healing journey. 

Did a negligent medical provider injure you or your newborn? If so, you shouldn’t be footing the bill for your own recovery. The compassionate Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer team at Case Barnett Law can help you navigate the legal process. Call us at (949) 409-0055 to get started. 

Understanding Birth Injuries

A birth injury or birth trauma refers to any physical harm sustained by a newborn directly before, during, or shortly after delivery. Many babies suffer minor birth injuries that either heal by themselves or heal with appropriate treatment. However, serious birth injuries that are left unaddressed can result in life-altering consequences, disability, and even death. 

Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries

When discussing birth traumas, it’s essential to differentiate between birth defects and injuries. A birth defect develops in the womb, typically within the first three months of pregnancy, and is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. 

Conversely, a birth injury typically refers to physical harm suffered by a baby leading up to labor, during labor, or shortly after a baby is born. These types of injuries are caused by avoidable physical trauma, often attributable to certain delivery techniques and medical interventions. 

Types of Birth Injuries

Infants are vulnerable to several different types of birth injuries that range from mild to severe.  Whereas some types of birth injuries heal naturally over time, others result in life-long conditions, disability, and even death. The following are among the most common types of infant birth injuries: 

  • Brachial palsy results from an injury to the brachial plexus nerves, which serve the arms and hands. This type of injury can result in the baby losing the ability to flex and rotate their arm. 
  • Cerebral palsy, a lifelong condition caused by damage to a baby’s brain during or shortly after birth that is usually caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or an infection of the brain
  • Head and face bruising, which can be caused by trauma when passing through the birth canal, forceps, or vacuum extraction 
  • Caput succedaneum, a significant swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp that may be caused by passing through the birth canal and by some vacuum extractions
  • Cephalohematoma, bleeding in an area between the skull bone and its fibrous covering, often appearing as a bump several hours after birth
  • Facial paralysis resulting from an injury to the baby’s facial nerve during labor or birth, sometimes caused by forceps. If the facial nerve is only bruised, paralysis typically improves on its own; when the nerve is torn, it often requires surgery.
  • Clavicle fractures, which commonly occur when there is trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage, which refers to the breakage of small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes
  • Perinatal asphyxia, a decrease in blood flow to the baby’s tissues or a decrease in oxygen to the baby’s blood before, during, or after delivery
  • Brain damage that results from trauma during childbirth, typically caused by lack of blood or oxygen to the brain or by a brain bleed

This is far from a comprehensive list of possible birth injuries. If you’re wondering whether or not your baby suffered a birth injury, it’s a good idea to consult a trusted personal injury attorney who is experienced in these types of cases.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Various fetal and maternal risk factors can contribute to a serious birth injury, such as the presence of a fetal infection or the shape of a mother’s pelvis. However, birth injuries are also caused by medical negligence. 

Many life-altering birthing traumas occur when doctors, nurses, and other medical staff fail to do the following: 

  • Anticipate birth complications
  • Address maternal infections and health conditions during pregnancy
  • Respond appropriately to fetal distress during delivery
  • Effectively treat maternal and fetal bleeding
  • Properly use medical equipment, including forceps and vacuum extractors
  • Order a cesarean section (C-section) when it becomes medically necessary
  • Provide adequate post-delivery care to the birthing parent and infant

It’s important to understand that not all birth injuries are caused by a medical provider’s mistakes or negligence. When they are, however, they may be addressed through a birth injury lawsuit

Birth Injury Lawsuits

When an infant suffers preventable birth injuries, the parents may be able to secure compensation through a birth injury lawsuit. A lawsuit’s cause of action typically arises from one of two theories: medical negligence or medical mistakes

Medical negligence occurs when medical providers fail to follow expected medical care standards, and medical mistakes are errors that an experienced provider could make that cause unnecessary harm. Liability often requires the presence of negligence, but it isn’t always easy to determine. A birth injury lawyer can help you determine whether or not negligence played a role in your baby’s injury. 

Recoverable Damages in Birth Injury Lawsuits

Parents may be able to secure a few different types of compensation through a birth injury lawsuit. The most common recoverable damages are economic damages—compensation for financial losses related to the injury. Economic damages may apply to medical expenses, hospital bills, the cost of ongoing therapies, lost wages, and other injury-related losses. 

Plaintiffs may also recover non-economic damages through a birth injury lawsuit. In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages apply to intangible losses and evade a dollar amount. These damages may be awarded for pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and more. 

Lastly, some plaintiffs in birth injury lawsuits are also awarded punitive damages. In contrast to economic and non-economic damages, compensatory and punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for incredibly negligent, wanton, or malicious acts. These damages are awarded at the discretion of the court. 

Case Barnett Law: Trusted California Birth Injury Lawyers

Birth injuries are traumatic for everyone involved. Whereas some birth injuries are unforeseeable and unpreventable by medical professionals, others result from negligent behavior. In the case of the latter, the parents may be able to secure compensation for their losses through a birth injury lawsuit. 

If your baby suffered birth injuries as a result of someone’s negligence, don’t make the mistake of trying to navigate your legal options alone—contact Case Barnett Law to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate attorney today. 

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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