Birth Injuries

Every day, women trust doctors and nurses to help deliver their babies. But sometimes mistakes occur, resulting in permanent, life-changing injuries to the baby. These heartbreaking situations may have been avoided with proper care. Learn more about pursuing compensation for birth injuries with a free case review today.

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What Are Birth Injuries?

A birth injury is any form of harm that happens to an infant as they are born. Birth injuries are often caused by preventable medical errors made by doctors or other health care professionals, otherwise known as medical malpractice. Sokolove Law handles medical malpractice cases, including preventable birth injuries.

Birth injuries can damage a baby’s brain or body and vary in severity. More serious birth injuries can last a lifetime and lead to permanent disabilities that affect your child’s emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

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Video Summary: Experienced Nurse Case Managers at Sokolove Law View Transcript.

Kristin P. (00:00):
My name is Kristin, and I’m one of the nurses here with Sokolove Law.

Kristin P. (00:10):
Any person who’s had a child with a birth related injury, I would talk to them about what happened during their pregnancy, the delivery, and how the child is doing to see if it’s something we could assist with.

Kristin P. (00:22):
I’ve been a nurse for 20 years. And I started in medical surgical nursing. And then, I did some work in the operating room. I was in the Army. And after that I’ve been working labor and delivery ever since then, maternal child health, NICU, antepartum, postpartum, anything that has to do with having a baby. What I’ve learned from working in the hospital is what is supposed to happen, or what we would expect to happen during, what somebody would call, a normal delivery. And it helps me be able to differentiate the red flags or the situations that could potentially cause an injury to a child or a mother.

Unfortunately, birth injuries are more common than many might think. In the United States, 7 out of 1,000 babies will be injured at birth.

Families are often unprepared for the emotional as well as financial challenges brought on by birth injuries. For example, the lifetime cost of care for someone with cerebral palsy, a condition often caused by a brain injury at birth, is 10 times greater than for the average person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These costs can be financially devastating to families.

Birth injury lawyers can help families with filing legal claims to help pay for these tremendous costs and improve the quality of life for their child.

Get the Help Your Child Deserves

You may be eligible for compensation. We may be able to help.

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Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects

Birth-related injuries generally occur right before, during, or following childbirth. They are often caused by complications or something going wrong during labor and delivery, including medical negligence or malpractice on behalf of doctors, obstetricians, or other health care providers.

Birth defects, however, occur predominantly during the first 3 months of pregnancy, when the baby’s organs are still forming. For most birth defects, the exact cause is unknown but believed to be a mixture of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors, according to the CDC.

Types of Birth Injuries

Some of the most common birth injuries include:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Brain damage or swelling
  • Cephalohematoma (accumulation of blood above the skull but under the scalp)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy 
  • Facial nerve injury or paralysis
  • Fetal distress or lack of oxygen in the brain
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or HIE (when the baby’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or blood flow)
  • Injuries related to the use of forceps or vacuum extraction
  • Intracranial hemorrhages
  • Jaundice and kernicterus (when bilirubin collects in the brain due to untreated jaundice)
  • Nerve damage
  • Shoulder dystocia (when one or both of the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvis during delivery)
  • Skull fractures or bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Stillbirths and death
  • Umbilical cord strangulation

How to Recognize a Birth Injury in Your Child

Identifying a birth injury in your child is no easy task. While some birth injuries are recognized during routine pediatric checkups, others may go unnoticed for months or even years. They may even be mistaken for other conditions or neurological disorders.

Generally, your child may show signs of a birth injury if they:

  • Cannot move one of their limbs
  • Experience seizures within 48 hours of birth
  • Have hearing or vision issues
  • Have problems with their muscle tone (stiff or weak muscles/limbs)
  • Miss common developmental milestones for their age (i.e., not rolling over, smiling, standing)
  • Prefer one arm/hand over the other

Although your doctor is ultimately responsible for diagnosing any issues in your child, the more attuned you are to your child’s development, the better you’re able to advocate for their best interests.

What Should I Do If I Think My Baby Has a Birth Injury?

Many times we hear from parents who fear their child may be suffering because of a medical mistake that was made during delivery, but they don’t know what happened or what they can do about it now. Even if your child hasn’t been diagnosed with anything yet, we still may be able to help with your case.

Sokolove Law has registered nurses on staff who can listen to your story and help you understand what may have happened.

For many families affected by birth traumas, filing a birth injury lawsuit is often the first step on the road toward healing. Legal rights, however, are time-sensitive due to statutes of limitations or state laws that limit how long you have to take legal action.

Given these limitations, it’s important to reach out to one of our nurses as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Want to Talk to a Nurse?

Get in touch with one of our registered nurses with extensive labor and delivery experience.

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What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries are often the result of a medical mistake by a doctor, health care professional, or hospital and can be avoided with proper medical care, but if doctors make careless mistakes before, during, or after delivery, the baby is the one who suffers.

While there are many causes of birth injuries, some of the most common events that can result in life-changing disabilities include:

  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors
  • Medical errors before, during, or shortly after childbirth
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to recognize a serious medical condition
  • Failure to properly assess risk factors beforehand
  • Excessive force during delivery

Birth Injury Risk Factors

While no one can predict when a birth injury may occur, there are many risk factors that can increase the likelihood of an injury occurring at birth, including:

  • Difficult deliveries or prolonged labor
  • If the baby presents in an abnormal fetal position (buttocks-first or in breech delivery)
  • If the baby has a large head that could delay or prolong delivery
  • If the baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery
  • If the mother has a small birth canal
  • If the mother is obese or diabetic
  • The use of vacuum extraction or forceps to hasten delivery
  • Substandard care on the part of medical personnel during pregnancy, labor, and delivery
  • Undiagnosed medical conditions or complications
  • Vaginal deliveries of babies with a high birth weight (over 8 lbs.)

In many cases, proper medical care can help address these risk factors and ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery. We have registered nurses with labor and delivery experience who can listen to your story and help you understand what may have happened — contact us today.

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The Cost of Care and Treatment for Birth Injuries

It is the duty of your medical team to keep you and your child as safe as possible. If they did not do this, your child may need long-term care for their condition.

For many families, taking care of a disabled child can be costly. Medications, counseling, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, schooling, assistive devices, and special recreational activities are often unexpected and overwhelming expenses.

For instance, the average lifetime cost of care for someone affected by cerebral palsy, a disorder caused by a brain injury during birth, is estimated to be nearly $1 Million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A few examples of common costs associated with caring for a child with a birth injury include:

Additional expenses include:

Learn More About Your Options

If you believe your child’s birth injury was the result of a medical mistake, an experienced birth injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options.

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Legal Options for Birth Injuries

It’s natural to feel powerless or even hopeless after learning your child may have experienced an injury during birth that could have been prevented. You and your child should not have to endure long-term suffering or health issues due to a medical error that was beyond your control.

If you suspect that your child is the victim of a birth injury, you need to know your legal rights and options.

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit

Birth injuries bring emotional and financial stress to even the most well-prepared families, but compensation from a birth injury lawsuit may be able to help ease your situation financially.

When you file a legal claim with the help of a birth injury law firm, you will work alongside an experienced and dedicated legal team, who help gather the evidence needed to prove that the doctors and medical professionals who delivered your child may be responsible for their injuries.

If successful, a birth injury lawsuit verdict or settlement could allow your family to receive financial compensation, which can help pay for:

Get a free case review today for help determining if taking legal action is the right path for your unique situation.

Get Legal Help Pursuing Compensation for Birth Injuries

As an established national law firm, Sokolove Law has decades of experience handling these kinds of birth injury medical malpractice claims. We’ve recovered over $710 Million on behalf of families with children who suffered preventable injuries at birth.

Birth injury lawyers with Sokolove Law understand the suffering that families affected by birth injuries go through. They will work with you to understand your unique situation and fight for compensation.

Our registered nurses and case managers are ready to speak with you to help you understand what happened. Get in touch with us today to learn more about your potential legal options.

Birth Injury FAQs

What is a birth injury?

A birth injury can be any type of injury that occurred during pregnancy, labor, delivery or shortly after birth.

Common birth injuries include fractures of the clavicle or collarbone and brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy). Birth injuries can also cause cerebral palsy, a movement disorder caused by an injury to the movement areas of the brain.

I think my child has a birth injury. What should I do?

If you think your child shows signs of a birth injury, you should consult a doctor or health care provider to learn more about your child’s condition and to get the treatment they need.

In the meantime, you can discuss the medical care you were provided with one of our registered nurses. They have extensive labor and delivery experience and can help you understand what may have happened in your situation. If medical malpractice occurred, you may be entitled to compensation for your child’s injuries.

Was my child’s injury preventable?

The natural childbirth contractions and contortions can be hard on a small infant, and the potential for a birth injury is always there. However, medical negligence or improper care provided by a doctor, midwife, or nurse during labor and delivery may be the cause of a child’s birth injury.

Some births are complicated, and injuries are not always due to medical negligence. The key is to determine whether the medical professionals provided appropriate medical care to you and your baby during delivery, which our registered nurses can help figure out in a free case review.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit over a birth injury? 

Pursuing compensation for a birth injury has time limitations, meaning that after a certain period of time passes, you can no longer pursue a birth injury lawsuit — whether someone was responsible for your child’s birth injury or not.

This time period varies on a state-by-state basis, so it’s essential to get a free case review as soon as possible to determine if your child’s injury may have been the result of medical negligence.

Will my child get better?

It’s a difficult question to answer and one that depends on the specific details of your unique circumstances. Some birth injuries can cause serious, more permanent damage in a child, potentially leaving them with lifelong mental or physical disabilities while some less severe situations may improve with time.

What is the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?

Birth injuries are generally caused by something that went wrong during the delivery of the child. Birth defects, however, usually involve harm to a baby that arose prior to birth, due to something that happened during or before the pregnancy (e.g. exposure to certain chemicals).

What is the cost of care for a child with a birth injury?

Given the broad range of injuries that can happen at birth, the costs of treatments and therapies that are needed in each case can vary greatly.

In the case of more severe birth injuries, taking care of a disabled child can be expensive, with the costs of treatments, therapies, schooling, assistive devices, and more quickly adding up.

For someone affected by cerebral palsy, the average lifetime cost of care is nearly $1 Million, according to the CDC.

Where can I find more information about birth injuries?

The compassionate and experienced registered nurses at Sokolove Law are here to listen to your story and provide help based on your unique situation. They can answer any questions you may have and help you find any additional information or resources you need. Get in touch with one of our on-staff nurses today.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect the brain and nervous system. It develops when a child’s brain suffers extreme damage before or during birth. Cerebral palsy has no cure, and its symptoms often need to be managed with the help of professionals.

If your child has received a diagnosis, you may feel frustrated, confused, and scared. You are not alone. Over 17 million people around the world live with cerebral palsy, according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF).

If a medical professional’s mistakes contributed to your child developing CP, you may be able to pursue compensation for your child’s treatment through a cerebral palsy lawsuit.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the direct result of brain damage before or during birth. Cerebral palsy causes can be a physical injury before, during, or shortly after delivery or an undetected illness. In these cases, the baby’s brain would have formed normally had this damage not occurred. By working with a cerebral palsy lawyer, you may be able to pursue compensation that can help cover the costs of your child’s treatment. Learn more about your legal options today.

What are signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy?

The symptoms of cerebral palsy will vary based on where the baby’s head and brain were affected. This is because the damage is usually contained to one portion of the brain. Some children with cerebral palsy may only experience mild symptoms, while others may need around-the-clock care.

Common cerebral palsy symptoms include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Mental impairments
  • Muscles that are locked up, floppy, or shaky
  • Problems with spine and joints
  • Seizures
  • Speech and eating impairments
  • Visual problems

The cranial or brain injuries that cause cerebral palsy cannot be cured, so the symptoms will not go away with time. However, some symptoms can be managed through effective treatment.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a form of paralysis (palsy) that affects the bundle of nerves near a baby’s neck called the brachial plexus. Doctors who struggle during delivery may pull on a baby’s neck or limbs, which causes the nerves in the brachial plexus to stretch and tear.

When brachial plexus nerves are damaged, it affects the baby’s ability to control their shoulders, arms, or hands.

Around 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 babies are born with Erb’s palsy, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Erb’s palsy is best treated with therapy as soon as the nerve injury condition is diagnosed.

What are symptoms of Erb’s palsy?

There are a number of common Erb’s palsy symptoms, like:

  • Limpness
  • Numbness, lack of feeling, or a tingling sensation
  • Partial or total paralysis

In more severe cases, in which the nerves are severed, symptoms may never go away. An Erb’s palsy lawyer can help victims pursue financial compensation.

What is birth asphyxia?

Asphyxia refers to a lack of oxygen and blood flowing to the brain. When this abnormality happens during a difficult delivery, it’s referred to as birth asphyxia. Even mild oxygen deprivation during or after birth can lead to a number of developmental delays and medical conditions, like cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

News Related to Birth Injury

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: September 2, 2021

View 7 Sources
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Data and Statistics for Cerebral Palsy." Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/data.html. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "What are Birth Defects?" Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/facts.html. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "What are Jaundice and Kernicterus?" Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/jaundice/facts.html. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
  5. Cerebral Alliance Research Foundation. "Cerebral Palsy Facts." Retrieved from: https://cparf.org/what-is-cerebral-palsy/facts-about-cerebral-palsy/. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
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  7. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals. "Neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy." Retrieved from: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/neonatal-hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy. Accessed on June 17, 2021.