Birth Injury vs. Wrongful Birth: Understanding the Difference
Is a Birth Injury Case the Same as a Wrongful Birth Claim in New Jersey?
As the parent of a child born with a medical condition, the challenges ahead are understandably daunting. In addition to caring for your baby after the delivery, you may be left wondering if doctors, nurses, or the hospital itself played some role in your child’s condition. Could your obstetrician or treating physician have prevented it? Did their decisions regarding your medical care contribute to the injury or illness? Perhaps they should have identified the condition before you brought the child to term. The questions can seem endless and the answers out of reach. As you begin to investigate what might have happened and consider whether or not to pursue legal action, you will inevitably come across two key terms: wrongful birth and birth injury. Although these concepts may overlap in certain cases, they represent two distinct issues common in medical malpractice litigation involving infants. In this week’s article, we will delve into the definitions and critical components of wrongful birth and birth injury cases, providing you with the information you need to determine which may apply in your child’s case.
If you would like answers to your specific questions regarding a birth injury or wrongful birth claim in New Jersey, simply call us at 973-435-4551 or fill out our convenient online form to speak with an attorney who can assist you. Our lawyers handle lawsuits on behalf of children and families who are left to suffer the consequences of undiagnosed birth defects and birth injuries caused by negligence throughout the state. We are always available to provide you with a better understanding of your legal options and to discuss how we can help ensure that you receive the best possible representation. Consultations are free and completely confidential, so don’t hesitate to contact us today.
What is the Difference between Wrongful Birth and Birth Injury?
Wrongful birth is a type of medical malpractice claim brought by the parents of a child born with a birth defect, which alleges that a medical professional’s failure to identify or thoroughly inform them of the abnormality, deprived them of the opportunity to avoid conception or terminate the pregnancy. Unlike wrongful birth cases, birth injuries occur in the course of the birthing process, causing structural or functional impairments in otherwise healthy infants. A birth injury may occur during labor, delivery, or after delivery.
Wrongful Birth Occurs before the Baby is Born
Wrongful birth cases involve birth defects, which are present at birth and may be caused by genetic or environmental influences. A baby may be genetically predisposed to a condition, thus inheriting the condition from one or both parents. In other cases, external factors such as medication that the mother takes during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. Birth defects are also referred to as congenital malformations or congenital anomalies. Between 2 and 3 percent of infants in the United States are born with birth defects, which can affect a wide variety of organs and body parts. Birth defects are the number 1 cause of infant mortality in the U.S. and among infant mortalities, 1 in 5 involve a birth defect. Some of the most common birth defects include:
- Down Syndrome
- Spina Bifida
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Tay-Sachs Disease
- Skeletal Dysplasia
- Pulmonary Hypoplasia
- Larsen syndrome; and
There are screening tests which doctors can order at various stages of pregnancy to detect the above birth defects other abnormalities. It is the responsibility of these medical professionals to ensure that screening procedures are conducted and interpreted correctly. In addition, doctors must inform and educate expectant mothers when potential birth defects exist. This provides parents with the opportunity to make difficult, yet necessary, decisions about whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy. If doctors fail to fulfill any of these responsibilities and a child is born with a birth defect, this may constitute wrongful birth.
Birth Injuries Occur in the Process of Birth
Birth injuries occur in approximately 2 percent of vaginal deliveries and approximately 1.1 percent of Cesarean deliveries. They may result from a variety of actions (or lack thereof) that constitute medical negligence during the process of childbirth. Some of the prevailing causes of birth injuries are oxygen deprivation and blunt force trauma. If doctors use improper technique during the delivery, fail to order a C-section, delay in ordering a C-section, or fail to react to infant respiratory distress, a myriad of catastrophic injuries can result. Surgical errors during C-sections can also lead to serious and often permanent birth injuries.
Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries
- Cerebral Palsy; and
- Erb’s Palsy
If a doctor, nurse, midwife, medical technician, or another medical professional fails to provide the necessary standard of care and a child suffers an injury as a result, this may provide the parents with grounds to file a birth injury lawsuit against those responsible.
File a Claim for Wrongful Birth or Birth Injury in NJ? Contact Us
At Fronzuto Law Group, we understand that the legal process can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Our highly experienced birth injury and wrongful birth attorneys serve as guiding hands through every phase of the legal process, working diligently to recover the compensation you and your family deserve. To find additional answers to your questions and discuss your potential claim, contact our New Jersey offices today at 973-435-4551.