What is a birth injury lawsuit?
Birth injury lawsuits are a type of legal action that may help families affected by cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other birth injuries receive financial compensation. These lawsuits are filed against the doctors, nurses, or other medical personnel who may be responsible for a child’s injuries.
During a birth injury lawsuit, lawyers representing both sides build cases and then try to come to an agreement to end the case. Many families work with skilled lawyers with experience and expertise in birth injury cases. Birth injury lawyers file cases and work to get families compensation to cover their child’s treatment costs.
While each birth injury lawsuit is different, some lawsuits have awarded millions of dollars to cover medical expenses like surgery, medications, therapy, and other care costs.
Why should I file a birth injury lawsuit?
One of the main goals of a lawsuit is to obtain financial compensation to pay for birth injury treatment costs.
Care costs for severe birth injuries can put a significant financial strain on families. For example, health care costs for children with cerebral palsy were 10-26 times greater than those without the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Successful lawsuits award families financial compensation to pay for:
- Adaptive equipment and home modifications
- Emotional damages (such as pain, suffering, or loss of companionship)
- Medical costs (including past and future expenses)
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Other healthcare-related expenses
These financial benefits can improve your child’s overall quality of life. Birth injury medical treatments are usually very costly, and compensation can help to ease the financial burden.
During a birth injury lawsuit, your lawyer can map out the projected costs of your child’s care through what’s called a life care plan. If your case is successful, you may be awarded compensation to cover these expenses.
Most life care plans take the form of a legal document that estimates future care costs using current data and research. In some cases, you and your lawyer may work with a life care planner to estimate these costs.
Experienced birth injury lawsuits can also hold the doctors who delivered your child responsible for the harm done in medical malpractice cases.
Birth injury lawsuits may help provide closure and justice. Further, lawsuits can help other families learn the dangers of birth injuries and the doctors who caused them, keeping future mothers and babies safer.
When should you file a birth injury lawsuit?
You should file a birth injury lawsuit as soon as you can. Getting a headstart on the legal process can help you access financial compensation as quickly as possible.
Some states require an affidavit — a statement confirmed by oath — from a medical professional before taking legal action. You may also need evidence that shows how a doctor was responsible for your child’s injuries.
Birth injury statute of limitations
One of the biggest factors in filing a birth injury lawsuit is the statute of limitations. This law puts a time limit on how long you have to file your civil lawsuit.
The statute of limitations varies for each state, so it is very important to consult an experienced birth injury law firm in your area to determine the best time to file your lawsuit. Attorneys understand the statutes of limitations for each state. It may be difficult to properly file a suit within these limits without the help of a lawyer.
If you decide to pursue legal action after the statute of limitations expires, you may lose your right to sue forever even if you have a valid claim.
Types of birth injury lawsuits
Birth injury lawsuits typically fall under two separate categories — medical malpractice lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits.
If a baby suffered significant injuries that affect their quality of life, lawyers file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professionals responsible. Unfortunately, some birth injuries can lead to a baby’s death. If this is the case, lawyers will file a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn more about the types of birth injury lawsuits below.
Medical malpractice birth injury lawsuits
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or nurse makes a decision that goes against professional standards and harms the mother and/or child.
Doctors and nurses are trained to provide appropriate care for mothers and newborns. Medical professionals should be aware of the consequences of medical negligence, yet some still make poor decisions with lasting consequences.
Wrongful death birth injury lawsuits
Some deaths during childbirth could have been prevented if doctors were not negligent with their care. Wrongful death birth injury lawsuits can be filed if a doctor makes a fatal mistake before, during, or shortly after delivery.
Birth injury lawsuit process
When you file a birth injury lawsuit, you can expect your lawyers to build a case against the doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals who delivered your child. Both parties will try to mediate the situation and come to an agreement through a settlement. If this does not happen, the case will go to trial.
After getting in contact with a birth injury lawyer, you will have your free consultation and establish an attorney-client relationship. The lawsuit process typically consists of building a case and working toward financial compensation.
Most lawsuits generally follow the same process, but each case is different. Depending on the circumstances, some lawsuits will not reach every step in the overall process. Get an in-depth look at the lawsuit process below.
1. Send a demand letter
Your birth injury attorney may attempt to ask the responsible party for compensation before formally filing a lawsuit. In these cases, your lawyer will send a demand letter.
Demand letters explain why you believe the doctor caused a birth injury and how much compensation your child will need as a result. Demand letters are helpful because if a doctor agrees to the terms, you can receive compensation without having to file the lawsuit at all.
However, if your child needs extremely expensive medical care, a doctor may refuse to pay without a lawsuit.
2. Build your case
If the defendant rejects your demand letter — or you decide not to send one — your lawyer will prepare to file a formal lawsuit.
Lawyers will want to know:
- How the child’s birth injury could have been prevented
- When, where, and how the incident occurred
- Who is responsible for the birth injury
This will allow your lawyer to establish the basic facts to estimate the value and strength of your case.
3. File a lawsuit
Your lawyer will file the case in the appropriate court of law. When a lawsuit is filed, you and your family become the plaintiffs (the party taking legal action). The healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, or other medical professionals) who may have caused the injury become the defendants (the party being sued).
A court will process the lawsuit and then send a notice to the defendants, who have a specified number of days to respond. If they do not reply, you win the case automatically.
4. Discovery phase
Your team will gather more evidence to support the claims of medical malpractice. Your legal team will take an in-depth look at the case to make the argument as strong as possible in the court of law. Your birth injury claim must prove that medical professionals did not uphold a high standard of care.
Your lawyers will gather more evidence, including:
- Depositions (first-hand accounts from those present including medical experts)
- Hospital bills and medical expense reports
- Medical documents that specifically note the child’s injuries
- Other related evidence
Likewise, lawyers for the defendants will collect their own evidence to disprove your claims.
5. Negotiating a settlement
Once both sides prepare their case, they will meet to discuss a possible conclusion through a settlement. A settlement provides the plaintiff with financial compensation and results as an official agreement that resolves the dispute.
If the lawsuit reaches a settlement, no side is declared a winner or loser. Instead, the defendants agree to pay a lump sum of money to you, and all legal action stops.
Most lawyers tend to favor birth injury lawsuit settlements since they allow the case to reach a quicker conclusion. This means you receive vital compensation for your child’s injuries sooner.
Cases that do not resolve in a settlement will then move on to the trial phase.
6. Trial and appeal
During a trial, a judge and jury hear arguments from both legal teams and make a decision on the case. While trials may award you with more compensation than a settlement, you will not be awarded any money at all if you lose.
Sometimes the losing side can appeal a trial decision, meaning the case will be reviewed again by a higher court at a later date. This can help you if you lose — but it can also hurt you if you win, since the other side may try to appeal.
The trial and appeals process may add months or years to your case, meaning that life-changing compensation for your child could be delayed.
Birth injury lawsuit case amounts
Although there is no way to guarantee that you will be awarded financial compensation during a birth injury lawsuit, it can be helpful to be aware of other birth injury lawsuit case amounts.
Recent birth injury medical malpractice lawsuits include:
- $4.25 million was awarded in the birth injury settlement for a 4-year-old girl in Long Beach, CA.
- $4 million was awarded in a settlement to the family of a 6-year-old boy in New Bedford, MA.
- $3 million was awarded to the family of a 5-year-old child born with bilateral cleft palate and lip as a result of the mother taking Topamax during pregnancy in Pennsylvania.
- $950,000 was awarded in a brachial plexus injury case involving a 5-year-old girl in New Jersey.
The amount of money you may receive through a medical malpractice lawsuit depends on the severity of your child’s injuries, how the case concludes (trial versus settlement), and other factors specific to your case. Lawyers will also work to maximize your potential amount of financial compensation.
Get help filing a birth injury lawsuit
Negligent mistakes made by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals during childbirth can cause your child to require lifelong treatment.
These permanent birth injuries can often be prevented with proper medical care and can be incredibly costly to manage. Obtaining financial compensation through a lawsuit can help pay for your child’s treatment costs and hold accountable those at fault.
To learn more about filing a birth injury lawsuit and obtaining financial compensation, get a free case review today.