Birth injuries are some of the most devastating injuries imaginable for new parents. If your child suffers from cerebral palsy or another significant injury as a result of an improperly managed pregnancy, labor, delivery or newborn care, you have a very challenging road ahead.
In addition to your child’s struggles and your family’s emotional suffering, you may find it extremely difficult to cope with the financial impact. The cost of lifetime care for cerebral palsy, for example, can be at least $921,000 for medical costs alone, plus out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages from caregiving, in-home equipment, medical devices and emergency room visits due to your child’s condition.
That’s almost a million dollars for your child’s medical and in-home care. Can you handle that cost without help? If you’re like most Americans, you’d struggle to afford just $500 more a month in extra costs.
It’s time to hold the right people responsible for your child’s circumstances. You and your child need an aggressive and competent attorney to fight for your child’s rights and secure your family’s financial future. With the lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling in your corner, you can be assured that you have a team on your side who will fight passionately for your child.
If your child suffered an injury at birth or during the neonatal period, call the lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling to discuss what we might be able to do to help.
Types of Birth Injury Cases We Investigate
We investigate and pursue many types of birth injury cases, including negligence during pregnancy, labor, delivery or during the newborn period. The negligence involved may result in injuries to either the mother, the child or both.
It’s common to wonder what a birth injury is. The term birth injury refers to physical harm to the baby that occurs during labor and childbirth. A birth injury is different from a birth defect, which is a genetic disorder. Birth injuries are preventable. They occur due to someone’s negligence, and they alter the medical and emotional outlook for the child and their family.
While the scenarios in which these injuries arise are endless, these are examples of common cases we see:
Cerebral Palsy affects the body’s mobility and occurs due to brain damage before, during or after birth. There are about 200,000 new cases of cerebral palsy per year in the U.S.
A premature baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation and is at a higher risk of birth complications and long-term health problems. Every year, more than 200,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. and Maryland is the 15th state in the nation for preterm births.
When the mother’s cervix opens and contractions begin between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is known as preterm labor. It is a risky health complication for both the mother and baby and is correlated with low birth weight. Maryland is 14th in the nation for low birth weight.
Chorioamnionitis and Maternal Infection
During the childbirth period, the mother may acquire an infection that severely affects her health and the health of her baby. Chorioamnionitis is a bacterial infection of the fetal membranes that can occur in hospitals, often during prolonged labor.
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
This is a neonatal brain dysfunction caused by restricted blow flood. It may develop over time during pregnancy, in the childbirth period or after the baby is born.
Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)
PVL is a form of white matter brain damage that affects the transmission of information within the brain and/or between the nerve cells and spinal cord. It is most common in premature babies and due to brain injury.
Nuchal cord is the medical term for the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around a baby’s neck. When it occurs, it deprives the baby of blood, oxygen and vital nutrients they need to thrive.
Intrauterine and Fetal Death
This is the clinical term for being stillborn, when a baby dies after the 20th week of gestation and there is no live birth. There are many causes of fetal death. An expert medical opinion may be required to establish the exact cause or causes.
Death During the Newborn Period
Medically, the newborn period, or neonatal period, is the first four weeks of life. When a death occurs during this period, it is known as a neonatal death or the death of a newborn infant. The infant mortality rate in Maryland is 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Maternal death, or maternal mortality, is defined as occurring within 42 days of birth. According to the World Health Organization, every day about 810 cases of maternal death occur due to preventable causes.
This is a traumatic injury to an infant’s skull bone that causes blood to pool and can damage blood vessels. In some cases, infants may heal from the condition within three months of birth, but in other cases lifelong health problems can persist.
This is a condition that is most commonly caused by a birth injury where the baby’s neck is overstretched and nerve damage occurs. It may be caused by the use of forceps or outdated pulling techniques. Children often need extensive physical therapy to cope with Erb’s Palsy.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
These are injuries to the shoulder and arm that can include limp, partially mobile or paralyzed limbs. Babies and children with brachial plexus injuries usually have restricted movement in the hand, arm and shoulder that requires physical therapy for improvement.
This is a birth injury that occurs when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s birth canal during delivery. It can cause injuries to both the baby and the mother.
When damage to the baby’s eye occurs during childbirth, it is known as a birth-related subconjunctival hemorrhage. It’s a broken blood vessel that usually resolves on its own, but is incurable if it persists long-term.
It is important to point out that some birth injuries are more obvious than others. Certain injuries that occur before, during and after birth are more subtle and it is more difficult to determine exactly when and why they happened.
For example, if the hospital staff fails to administer the correct medication or is completely negligent in caring for your newborn and an injury occurs, it’s fairly clear that they are at fault. But what if your child’s brain damage occurred because the doctor waited too long to perform a C-section? How do you prove this?
These kinds of situations are exactly why there are birth injury attorneys like ours at Zirkin & Schmerling. We know how to track down the paperwork, documentation, interviews, medical opinions and other crucial information you’ll need to prove your birth injury claim and secure the funds you need to support your child.
Recoverable Damages in Birth injury Cases
You want the best quality care for your child, and you want to provide your child with all of the opportunities that they deserve to get better and to live the happiest, healthiest life imaginable. However, the financial cost, caregiving time and ongoing stress that comes with caring for a child with disabilities can be completely overwhelming.
Parents of injured children often need extra guidance and support. Let the lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling take on the legal fight to recover enough money to provide a secure and nurturing future for your child.
Damages in birth injury cases may include:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Future lost wages/loss of earning capacity
Consider the Long-Term Injury Costs
By filing a birth injury lawsuit, you can seek the compensation your family will need to cope with the lifelong impact of your child’s health. Consider the following examples regarding the long-term costs of birth injuries
Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral Palsy support organizations estimate that parents will pay $921,000 in basic medical costs alone for lifelong care, plus many other supplemental costs related to loss of income and in-home medical equipment. This is why Cerebral Palsy birth injury cases often result in multi-million dollar judgments.
Erb’s Palsy: This condition has wide variation in its expression in infants and children. A child usually needs extensive physical therapy and it is not uncommon to see judgments of $2.5 million to $3.5 million for Erby’s Palsy when the condition is caused by hospital staff.
Premature birth: When a baby is born prematurely, their in-hospital costs immediately jump from an average of $3,200 to $21,500. Depending on the baby’s exact medical needs, their care may cost $3,000 per day and the parents often end up receiving hospital bills for more than $40,000 just for the first few weeks of life. Lifetime care can cost millions of dollars
6 Real Examples of Birth Injury Cases from Maryland and Beyond
Birth injury cases vary widely and every situation is unique. Here are some examples of recent birth injury cases where the injured party sued and won.
$229.6 Million in Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Suit
During Erica Byrom’s labor, her doctor erroneously advised her that a C-section could put the baby at risk of brain damage or death. With this in mind, Ms. Byrom declined a C-section and her daughter was deprived of oxygen for 22 hours of labor. Her daughter was born with brain damage and Cerebral Palsy. A jury awarded her $229.6 million.
$9.6 Million for Child’s Injuries and Mother’s Emotional Trauma
A federal judge awarded a mother a total of $9.6 million after ruling that a doctor was negligent for waiting too long to perform a C-section, preventing proper oxygen supply to the baby and causing a brain injury. Of the total amount, $250,000 was for the mother’s emotional distress during the delivery.
$30.6 Million for Brain Injury From Failing to Use a Fetal Monitor
A family sued for $30.6 million after hospital staff failed to use the correct type of fetal monitoring to check their baby’s heart rate and other signs of life. When the baby was born, he was not breathing, had no heartbeat and was left with severe brain injuries. This case resulted in a confidential settlement that legal experts estimate to be about $30 million.
$130 Million in Cerebral Palsy Negligence Case
A two-month-old baby with a urological condition nearly died after a hospital staff member inserted an IV, failed to see that the baby was struggling, failed to call a code blue and did not administer chest compressions. As a result, the baby suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. His mother was awarded $130 million.
$73 Million in Stuck-Shoulders Injury Case
A mother and child received $73 million in damages after her son endured brain damage during a vacuuming procedure intended to free his shoulders from being stuck in the birth canal. Nerves in his right arm were permanently damaged and the mother was injured as well.
$42 Million in Brain Bleeding Disability Case
A boy was left with lifelong physical and intellectual disabilities after he was removed forcibly during birth using a nonstandard forceps procedure. It fractured his skull and his brain began to bleed, causing permanent brain damage. His family was awarded $42 million.
Bringing a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
The mother and/or family of a newborn child can bring a birth injury lawsuit that involves negligence or harm during the time period of the pregnancy, labor, delivery and newborn care. If the mother was injured or died during labor, this may be a birth injury case as well.
You may have a wrongful death case if the mother or child died as a result of a health provider’s negligence. Zirkin & Schmerling also provide wrongful death consultations and can handle your wrongful death lawsuit. We’ll help you understand the best path to follow.
If you need help understanding Maryland law regarding birth injuries, contact the lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling. We know how complex this area of the law can be, and we’re here to assist you with gaining clarity about how it all works. Simply contact us to request a case evaluation.
Time Limit on Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuits
A plaintiff generally has five years from the time of the injury or three years from when it was discovered. The lawsuit also must be filed before the child’s 11th birthday.
Timing can be tricky with these cases. Parents sometimes don’t realize a birth injury has occurred until days, weeks, months or even years after the incident. Over time, it may become clear during medical exams that your child has a health issue that resulted from an injury at birth. Now what?
If you are discovering that your child has a health condition that could be due to a birth injury, don’t wait to act. Time is of the essence. You could miss your opportunity to get the support and financial security needed for the difficult road ahead.
Our many years of experience have given us the knowledge and emotional sensitivity to help you sort through your options carefully during this difficult time. To schedule your free consultation, please contact us at 410-753-4611 or make an appointment online.
Investigations Into the Birth Injuries
You may be wondering if there will be an official investigation. And you may be unsure what will happen next and where to turn for help. How can you determine your child’s medical situation, especially if you don’t trust the doctors involved?
This is where Zirkin & Schmerling can step in to assist you. We can conduct a thorough investigation that involves looking deeply into the documentation, seeking the medical opinions of obstetricians and pediatric experts, and getting to the bottom of your child’s medical situation.
In terms of a police investigation, that is a matter for your county’s prosecuting attorney. Birth injury cases rarely result in criminal sentences for doctors because there is not usually criminal intent involved.
However, Zirkin & Schmerling can help you pursue a civil case to hold the right people responsible for your child’s suffering. We do a different type of investigation, one that sheds light on your child’s suffering and assigns the blame where it belongs.
Birth Injury Cases and Court Appearances
As with all civil cases, your case may or may not actually go to court. Sometimes a trial is unavoidable if the hospital or doctors dispute the very basic facts of the case. You may end up in a courtroom, in front of a judge or jury, where the respective lawyers will present each party’s case.
In the alternative, the parties involved may decide a better and more efficient alternative: settlement. In a settlement, the case resolves fairly quickly with a financial and legal agreement.
No matter which path your case takes, we can help you every step of the way. Court cases are time-consuming and stressful, and settlements must be negotiated carefully with the help of an experienced birth injury lawyer.
Your Zirkin & Schmerling lawyer will know what to expect from the process and how to help secure a positive outcome for your family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Birth Injury Cases
If you are considering filing a birth injury claim, your mind is probably swirling with questions. Here are some answers to basic queries about these cases. Consult with your lawyer at Zirkin & Schmerling for advice that is specific to your unique circumstances.
Why do birth injuries occur?
While some birth injuries are unavoidable, they can also result from mistakes and negligent acts by healthcare providers. Doctors and their support staff may misuse forceps and vacuum tools, use the wrong kind of fetal heart monitor, misjudge timing, administer the wrong medication, fail to notice threats to the baby’s health and on and on. We will help you get to the bottom of your child’s injury and seek expert advice about the cause.
How long will my birth injury case take?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. It may take weeks to access all of the medical documents needed to investigate your case. For Maryland birth injuries, settlements with hospitals usually take less time than cases that go to court. For a better estimate, contact us for a free consultation about your case.
Is it worth filing a lawsuit if insurance is paying my medical bills?
Maryland is a state that follows the collateral source rule, which means you can still recover damages even if your bills are covered by health insurance. It’s still worthwhile to file a claim, put the blame where it belongs and protect your family’s future.
Is this a medical malpractice case or is that something different?
Your birth injury case may involve medical malpractice by a doctor, hospital staff member or another health provider. It may also involve wrongful death if the mother or baby dies as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence. In our free consultation, we’ll help you clarify these issues.
Should I wait to see what happens with my child’s health before starting a lawsuit?
Time is extremely important with birth injury cases. There is a statute of limitations on Maryland birth injury lawsuits. Contact us to discuss the timeframe as soon as possible to prevent missing your window of opportunity.
How to Select an Experienced Maryland Birth Injury Lawyer
In a complex situation that involves a challenging birth injury, you need a Maryland birth injury lawyer who can handle your case with professionalism and care. Here are some important credentials to consider:
- Experience. Do they have the expertise to go up against a big Maryland hospital or a well-known local doctor? Are they experienced with many types of birth injury cases right here in Maryland?
- Reputation. Your lawyer must have a stellar reputation with the courts and a firm grasp of the precise laws involved with birth injury claims. Does your lawyer have a reputation for getting positive outcomes in Maryland birth injury cases?
- Results. A good birth injury attorney will serve as your legal voice during a difficult time when you may be overwhelmed with mixed emotions. Can your lawyer get the best possible results for you, while minimizing the impact of this case on your family’s future?
The security and future of your child, and perhaps your entire family, rests on the outcome of this case. At Zirkin & Schmerling, we respect you, your family and this difficult situation. We will work passionately to get the best outcome possible for you.
We can work with you on a contingency fee basis, where you don’t pay unless you are compensated for your and your child’s injuries. This means you pay no up-front fees and can put your mind at ease about the financial impact of filing a birth injury lawsuit.
To learn more, please contact Zirkin & Schmerling today at 410-753-4611 to get in touch with a qualified, experienced birth injury attorney in Maryland.
Our lawyers will provide you an initial evaluation of your case entirely free of charge. We can’t erase the past trauma of the birth injury, but we can give you the representation, understanding, and advocacy you deserve going forward.
Need Answers About a Birth Injury Claim in Maryland? We’re Here to Help
If you feel like you need some legal help, contact our birth injury attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation today.