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If you or a loved one has a child who suffered an injury at birth due to the negligence of a healthcare provider or medical product, you may be entitled to compensation for your child’s injuries through a birth injury lawsuit. Contact TorHoerman Law today to talk to an experienced birth injury lawyer about your legal options, no obligation required and free of charge.
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The birth of a child is a major moment in one’s life. For many people, their child’s birth is an exciting, joyful time spent with family and friends. While successful childbirth is expected, incidences of birth injury can occur. A birth injury can have lasting damage on a child and family’s life. The experience can be emotionally distressing and financially taxing for the family while the child suffers permanent damage. If your child suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation to offset the costs of the injury through a birth injury lawsuit. Contact a birth injury lawyer at TorHoerman Law to discuss your options today.
A birth injury is a physical damage that a baby suffers before, during, or soon after the labor and delivery process. Also referred to as birth trauma, birth injuries can occur naturally or in instances of medical malpractice. Most birth injuries are minor and resolve over time, but some can be more serious and cause lifelong damage.
The most common birth injuries are:
Brachial palsy results from damage to a child’s brachial plexus, the network of nerves controlling the arms and hands. The injury occurs when there are issues delivering the child’s shoulder through the birth canal. Babies suffering from brachial palsy cannot flex or rotate the injured arm. Brachial palsy is typically treatable within a few months of birth with special physical therapies and exercises. In instances where the nerves are damaged, the injury can be permanent.
Skull and facial bruising can occur when the baby naturally passes through the birth canal or comes in contact with the mother’s tissues and pelvic bones. Babies delivered with forceps or by vacuum extraction might also suffer from bruises, marks, or lacerations.
Caput Succedaneum refers to the swelling of the scalp’s soft tissues. Caput develops when the baby moves through the birth canal and is often combined with scalp bruising. The swelling typically diminishes naturally within a few days. Caput is more likely to occur during vacuum extraction.
Cephalohematoma is bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous outer layer. The injury typically appears as a lump on the baby’s head within a few hours of birth. Cephalohematoma usually goes away naturally when the body reabsorbs the blood, a process that can take up to three months. In instances where the bleeding is severe, babies can develop jaundice while the red blood cells break down.
Pressure on the baby’s face during childbirth can damage the nerves and cause facial paralysis. This can occur naturally or when forceps are used during delivery. Paralysis from a bruised nerve typically heals itself within a few weeks. In more severe cases where the facial nerve is torn, surgical intervention might be necessary.
The clavicle and collarbone are the most common bones to fracture during childbirth. The bones are susceptible to breaking during breech deliveries or when there are issues delivering the baby’s shoulder. Newborns with fractured clavicles or collarbones typically heal quickly as new bone forms.
Subconjunctival hemorrhaging refers to bleeding from small blood vessels in the eye’s outer layer. Babies with subconjunctival hemorrhaging often have a bright red band showing in the white section of one or both of their eyes. The hemorrhaging typically does not cause eye damage and heals itself within seven to ten days.
A birth injury can occur due to natural labor processes or medical negligence. Birth injuries occur most often during the child’s transit through the birth canal. They are more common when labor is long or intensive, the birth happens prematurely, the baby is very large, or when devices such as vacuum or forceps are used. Rates of birth injury are declining because of improved technologies and prenatal assessments.
Newborns can suffer physical injuries during birth that are not due to medical malpractice. This is often because of the size of the baby or its position during labor. Conditions that can make birth difficult and possibly cause birth injury include:
Some birth injuries occur due to improper delivery and medical malpractice. When medical professionals fail to take proper caution, miss a diagnosis, or make mistakes during delivery, the child can suffer. Medical negligence that can cause birth injuries includes:
Traumatic birth refers to instances of labor that cause physical and psychological damage to the child or mother. This encompasses deliveries involving complications, death, or the use of instruments in difficult labor. Some studies have shown that up to one-third of women experience a traumatic birth of some sort.
Mothers who endure complications during childbirth, whether from natural issues or improper medical care, can experience postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by stressful events that are often re-lived through flashbacks and nightmares. Postnasal PTSD sufferers experience various symptoms such as feelings of fear and helplessness, overwhelming memories, depression, nightmares, mood swings, and even feelings of rejection towards their child.
Problems during labor and delivery can lead to numerous complications for the baby. Natural complications and delivery malpractice can damage a newborn’s nervous system and physiological structure. A traumatic birth can result in long and short-term complications and birth injuries.
Potential labor issues include:
Many children experiencing developmental delays such as autism and attention deficit disorder underwent a traumatic birth. Damage to the brain and nervous system during birth can hinder the growth of cognitive and physiological functioning. Traumatic birth and developmental delays manifest as many forms of cerebral dysfunctioning.
Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder that can affect movement and muscular development. It’s caused by damage to the motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for muscle control and coordination. Children with cerebral palsy often struggle with walking, balance, maintaining posture, and fine motor skills. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in young children. Approximately 500,000 children and adults are affected by cerebral palsy with up to 8,000 babies and 1,500 young children diagnosed annually.
Cerebral palsy occurs when the cells in the brain responsible for muscular control and movement fail to develop properly or are damaged through injury. Certain children are at greater risk of developing cerebral palsy at birth, including those born prematurely, newborns with low birth weight, cases of extended or difficult labor, newborns with meningitis or another brain infection, or in cases of fetal distress. There are four primary cases in which cerebral palsy occurs:
The cells of developing fetuses differentiate and move to form new cells. If the process is disrupted, numerous neurological issues can develop.
Myelin serves as protective insulation for the body’s nervous system cells. If the body fails to produce adequate levels of myelin during fetal development, nerve cells remain unprotected and can become damaged.
A child’s brain cells can die off during labor as a result of blood loss or asphyxia (suffocation). Brain cell death is most common in difficult deliveries, instances of late-pregnancy fetal distress, and emergency births.
Brain injury sustained soon after birth can hinder synaptic functioning. Cases in which non-functional or inappropriate synapses occur include trauma, asphyxia, and brain infections.
Approximately 10 to 15 percent of cerebral palsy cases result from medical malpractice. This encompasses numerous mistakes made before, during, or after labor and delivery. Cerebral palsy can occur when medical professionals fail to recognize fetal distress during labor and then do not make the proper interventions. Obstetricians and the delivery team’s failure to resuscitate newborn suffering from oxygen deprivation can also lead to CP. Cerebral palsy has also been found to result from obstetricians writing unsafe prescriptions for pregnant mothers. Motor cortex damage can result from many other instances of inadequate care in pregnancy. If you believe your child suffered from cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, you could be eligible for compensation for damages.
Cerebral palsy is not always a birth injury, and in many cases the cause is unknown. CP is caused by disruptions or abnormalities in brain development, many instances that occur naturally or outside of a practitioner’s control. This can include instances of gene mutations, undetectable maternal infections, fetal stroke, bleeding in the brain, or birth-related asphyxia.
Brain damage from a birth injury can severely affect a newborn throughout the rest of his or her life. Birth injury brain damage can range from minor to severe and can include cognitive impairments, developmental delays, seizures, and in severe cases, death. Some instances of brain damage birth injuries are not immediately detectable.
Birth injury brain damage can come from an acquired or a traumatic brain injury. In a traumatic brain injury, an outside physical force hits or puts pressure on the child’s head. This can include instances where the doctor uses forceps or a vacuum in delivery, the child is stuck in the birth canal, or the delivery team uses too much force. An acquired brain injury means something occurred within the skull or brain. The damage usually comes from a lack of oxygen due to asphyxiation.
Brain damage is not always recognizable in newborn babies, and the symptoms can be delayed or mild. Immediate, physical symptoms to look for including a small skull or head, a disproportional forehead, malformed spinal alignment, distorted facial features, irregular eye movement, and stiffness in the neck. Newborns suffering from brain damage might exhibit behavioral symptoms such as seizures, excessive crying or irritability, difficulty eating and sleeping, and other signs of discomfort without obvious reason.
Diagnosing brain damage in a newborn or infant can be difficult. If the child exhibits the symptoms mentioned above, a doctor might be able to diagnose damage with imaging scans such as an MRI or CT scan. Symptoms are typically more clear in instances of traumatic brain damage than with acquired brain injuries.
Autism spectrum disorders encompass a number of developmental disorders characterized by problems with communication, social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behavioral patterns. There is no single cause of autism, and the disorder can develop from a combination of genetic and nongenetic factors. A birth injury can contribute to autism, and research has shown that children exposed to complications before and during birth are more likely to develop ASD.
Babies who experience a traumatic birth face higher chances of developing autism. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente discovered that children who suffered from complications during birth are at a 10 percent increased risk of developing autism disorder. Researchers have also found that having multiple complications during delivery correlates with higher risks of developing ASD.
Exposure to fetal stress increases a child’s risk of developing autism spectrum disorder. The Kaiser study found that of the children diagnosed with ASD, 37 percent experienced pre-labor complications. The two perinatal complications with the highest ASD association are asphyxia, the deprivation of oxygen, and preeclampsia, a maternal pregnancy complication of high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Harvard researchers identified birth injury and traumatic maternal hemorrhaging as two of the factors that most strongly contribute to a baby’s autism risk. The other factors include premature birth, a birth weight of 2,000 grams or less, abnormal or breeched birth position, congenital malformation, and a low Apgar score at five minutes.
Fetal stress describes complications the child faces prior to or during labor. Typically, the term is used in cases where the fetus receives inadequate oxygen or has an abnormal heart rate. Fetal stress can cause complications during delivery and lead to long-term problems.
If doctors detect fetal tress, there are several measures they may take.
Fortunately, deaths related to labor are becoming increasingly uncommon. In rare cases, fetal stress can cause the death of the child or mother prior to or during labor. In serious cases where the newborn receives inadequate oxygen, or when the baby breathes in amniotic fluid, the child might stop breathing.
Handling a birth injury lawsuit can be difficult. At TorHoerman Law, we understand the emotional and financial toll it can have on you and your family. Our team of experienced birth injury lawyers will work with you to help you navigate the legal challenges while receiving compensation for your suffering. We are happy to discuss your potential birth injury lawsuit for free and with no obligation. Contact us today to learn more about how a TorHoerman birth injury lawyer can help you. Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you in your birth injury lawsuit is the best way to ensure a positive outcome for you and your family.
Before filing a birth injury lawsuit, you should familiarize yourself with the civil litigation process, so that you know what to expect for your birth injury lawsuit.
You should also mitigate further injury by seeking additional medical attention for the child and following all orders from doctors and/or healthcare providers.
After finding an experienced birth injury lawyer, you will begin the process of filing a birth injury lawsuit. Your lawyer will help you to collect evidence to support your claim.
The evidence will be used to determine damages that you are entitled to – you may decide to demand both compensatory damages and punitive damages, depending on the specifics of your child’s birth injury. Your birth injury lawyer will also help to determine the appropriate amount of compensation you should demand.
You will also need to establish liability, and determine who is at fault for your child’s injuries. In many birth injury lawsuits, the hospital, the doctor, or other healthcare providers are liable. Sometimes, more than one party is held liable. Your birth injury lawyer will also be able to help you determine the liable party.
Do not hesitate to contact a birth injury lawyer. In many states, the statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits is very strict. So, it is important to file as soon as possible.
At TorHoerman Law, we have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers ready to handle any birth injury lawsuit. We offer free, no-obligation birth injury lawsuit case consultations for all potential clients. So, feel free to contact a birth injury lawyer from TorHoerman Law to talk about your case. We also work on a contingency fee basis, so we are as committed as you are to seek the best possible outcome for your birth injury lawsuit.
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“What Is a Birth Injury?” Cerebral Palsy Group, cerebralpalsygroup.com/cerebral-palsy/birth-injury/.
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