The birth of a child should be a time of celebration. Sadly, for parents who learn their child has suffered a serious injury during birth one that could have been prevented with the appropriate medical care this news is devastating. Making matters worse, babies that suffer birth injuries sometimes require lifelong medical care, putting a tremendous financial and emotional strain on families.
Birth injuries are not uncommon, occurring in approximately 6-8 of every 1,000 births in the United States, or roughly 28,000 per year. Many of these injuries happen when doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals make avoidable mistakes. For example, the birth team might fail to recognize signs of fetal distress or a nurse might administer the wrong drug to the mother during labor.
Berman & Simmons won the first verdict in a birth injury case in Maine. Since then, we have handled dozens of cases involving birth injuries to children caused by medical negligence. Our birth injury lawyers have a deep understanding of the medicine and relevant laws in these cases and we are consistently named as the top law firm in the state for this area of the law.
What are some of the most common birth injuries in Maine?
Brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. A brachial plexus injury in babies, also known as neonatal brachial plexus palsy (BPP), occurs when the nerves are stretched, compressed, or torn during delivery. This category of injury includes Erb’s Palsy, which is characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm.
Cerebral Palsy. This is a disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture that can develop as a result of a brain injury before, during, or just after birth. Lack of blood to the brain, lack of oxygen to the brain, and the use of instruments during birth can be causes.
Forceps injuries. Marks and bruises on a baby are normal after a forceps delivery. But when used improperly, forceps can cause skull fractures, bleeding within the skull, seizures and other serious problems.
Fractured bones. These usually do not present long-term problems, but broken bones are among the most common birth injuries in the U.S. The clavicle, or collarbone, is sometimes broken during difficult births and breech deliveries.
Infant brain damage. A myriad of causes, including oxygen deprivation and injuries during birth, can lead to infant brain damage. Sometimes, this damage to the developing brain can cause permanent cognitive and physical impairment.
For the best results, you need the best Maine birth injury lawyers
No other law firm in Maine can match the skill, experience, and tenacity of our attorneys in birth injury cases. We have the financial resources to handle these cases at the highest level and insurance companies know it.
Berman & Simmons is widely recognized as the best personal injury lawyers in Maine and among the best in the U.S.
We have obtained several of the largest medical malpractice jury verdicts in Maine history, and many of the largest settlements for our clients. Our lawyers are extremely knowledgeable about medical issues and skilled at proving fault, documenting the extent of the child’s injuries, and ensuring that the affected family receives full compensation. We have recovered $1 billion for our injured clients.
A law firm that actually listens to you
Cases involving injuries to babies during birth are among the most complex and emotionally devastating cases in our civil justice system.
As the lawyers for parents whose children have suffered birth injuries, we understand the unique challenges you face. We realize that beyond the physical struggles your child endures, the emotional and financial impacts can be overwhelming.
Our lawyers and staff members take the time to listen to you, understand your concerns, and come up with solutions that can make your life better, including obtaining payment for or deferral of your debts until your case is resolved.
When Devastating Birth Injuries Occur, Our Team is Ready to Help.
What are some of the causes of preventable birth injuries?
Missed signs of fetal distress, including failure to monitor heartbeat
Unnecessary or improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
Pulling and/or twisting the infant improperly during labor and delivery
Delay in diagnosis or treatment of a uterine rupture or placental abruption
A delayed cesarean (C-section)
Misuse of labor-inducing drugs
Unwarranted acceleration of the birth
Shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, after delivery of the head)
Paralysis due to mismanagement of
Catastrophic injuries in a head-on car accident
Wrongful death case involving negligent
Plaintiff Rear Ended by
Delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer
Significant Head Injury Car Accident
Birth Injury FAQs
When should you contact a birth injury lawyer?
When something goes wrong during labor or delivery, and a newborn suffers an injury or experiences health problems, it can be difficult for parents to understand what happened and why. Healthcare providers’ explanations may not tell the whole story, especially if it involves mistakes made during labor and delivery. If your child suffered a birth injury, you should meet with a birth injury lawyer for a free consultation. While not every birth injury is caused by an act of medical malpractice, an experienced birth injury lawyer, working with medical experts, can evaluate the facts of your case and advise whether or not you have a claim for compensation.
What should you do after a birth injury?
After a birth injury, parents need to know three essential things: 1) What is my child’s condition and prognosis, 2) What treatment or other care does my child need for their injury or condition, and 3) What caused my child’s injury? The first step is to discuss your child’s injury with the treating physician or obstetrician involved in your child’s labor and delivery. However, your physician may not be entirely forthcoming about the cause of your child’s injury, especially if mistakes were made that may have contributed to the injury.
That is why you should also meet with an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your child’s condition. Additionally, keep track of all expenses, doctor’s visits, procedures, medications, and other aspects of your child’s treatment, and make notes or keep a journal reflecting how your child’s condition manifests itself and affects their daily life, as well as yours. All of this information can be valuable evidence if and when you seek compensation for your child’s birth injuries.
How long do you have to sue after a birth injury?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets forth the period within which you must file a lawsuit for a particular type of claim. If you file a suit after the applicable statute of limitations has passed, a judge will likely dismiss it. In Maine, parents pursuing a birth injury claim on their child’s behalf must file suit within three years of the alleged act of medical malpractice that caused their injury. If the malpractice included a series of mistakes, that three years begins on the date of the last act of malpractice. In the case of a minor suing on their own behalf, they must file suit within six years of the act of malpractice or within three years after they reach age 18, whichever comes first.
How is birth injury compensation calculated?
The nature and impact of a birth injury on a child and their family vary from case to case. That means birth injury compensation also varies from case to case. Generally, however, compensation for a birth injury involves two types of damages. “Economic damages” reflect the hard costs arising from a birth injury, including the cost of past and future medical care, rehabilitation expenses, special education expenses, and the loss of future earning capacity. “Non-economic damages” involve more intangible, but just as real, losses like pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Such damages can be substantial in cases involving life-long injuries and cognitive disabilities.
What is a birth injury?
Birth injuries occur when a newborn suffers an injury or health complications during labor or delivery. Birth injuries often result from physical pressure the child experiences moving through the birth canal or because they are deprived of oxygen during or near the time of birth. While unavoidable complications cause many birth injuries, birth injuries often occur because doctors, nurses, and other delivery room personnel make mistakes.
A birth injury is not the same as a congenital disability (also referred to as a birth defect). While birth injuries happen during labor and delivery, congenital disabilities develop during pregnancy. Congenital disabilities typically involve problems with the child’s nervous system, organs, or bones.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of conditions that involve damage to the brain and nervous system functions. Abnormal brain development in the womb is sometimes the cause of cerebral palsy, but it can also develop due to a lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain during labor and delivery.
Cerebral palsy either impairs or significantly impairs motor functions and can affect:
- Muscle control and coordination
- Body movement
- Muscle tone
- Motor skills
Cerebral palsy is not degenerative – meaning it doesn’t become progressively worse as the child gets older. But the condition is permanent and incurable. Many, if not most, individuals with cerebral palsy can live happy and productive lives, but severe cases of cerebral palsy may require constant, lifelong, and expensive medical care and attention.
What is Erb’s palsy?
Erb’s palsy is a condition that arises due to damage caused to the child’s brachial plexus, a nerve network that runs from the neck of a newborn down through the shoulders and then to the arms and hands. Located in the shoulders and neck, the brachial plexus is particularly vulnerable to damage during childbirth. A brachial plexus injury will often occur during delivery when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pubic bone. Erb’s palsy can develop when these nerves suffer significant damage and cause loss of sensation, muscle weakness, or paralysis of muscles in the shoulder area.