New Jersey Birth Injury Lawyers
Birth Injury Lawsuits in NJ
The birth of your child can mark one of the most miraculous and beautiful moments of your life. However, these awe-inspiring milestones can turn tragic, and even fatal, for mother and child if the medical professionals tasked with caring for you during this time fail to provide the necessary treatment. Deliveries can present a multitude of problems, requiring extensive monitoring, frequent evaluation, and at times, in-the-moment judgement calls to protect you and your baby as he or she enters the world. Due to the highly sensitive and potentially damaging results of an error during this process, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals simply cannot afford to make mistakes, or worse, to stop paying attention. It is absolutely imperative that doctors adhere to certain medical standards of care while treating a mother during pregnancy and managing labor and delivery. When a doctor is negligent and fails to properly care for the mother and child, it can result in significant birth injuries.
If you or your child suffers from a birth injury, Fronzuto Law Group can help. Our highly skilled New Jersey birth injury lawyers represent both mothers and infants who have sustained injuries before, during, and immediately after childbirth. With extensive experience representing hundreds of families in pediatric malpractice and birth trauma cases and millions of dollars recovered in damages, our knowledgeable team handles cases ranging from cesarean section errors to children who suffer from cerebral palsy. To schedule a free initial consultation about possible medical malpractice resulting in birth injuries in New Jersey, contact our offices at 973-435-4551 or toll free at 888-409-0816. Also, feel free to contact us online to begin your conversation.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury refers to any form of impairment of a newborn’s physical body or bodily function that occurs at birth or in close proximity to delivery. These injuries typically occur during late pregnancy, delivery, or just after the time of birth. Approximately 2 out of every 1,000 births result in injury, ranging from slight, requiring no treatment, to serious, requiring life-long treatment. Although some birth injuries, such as bone fractures or lacerations, can potentially heal without the need to treat, many birth injuries require early diagnosis and timely treatment and therapies. In the worst cases, a serious birth injury can result in neonatal seizure, coma, or the wrongful death of the child. This is why it is incredibly important for doctors to recognize the risk factors for birth injury before delivery; for example, if the fetus is abnormally large for their gestational age or in an abnormal position.
What are Causes of Birth Injuries?
Importantly, birth injuries differ from birth defects in that birth defects are genetic and injuries are caused by an environmental factor. While birth injuries often refer to injuries that a baby sustains during the birthing/labor process, birth injuries can occur during three main time periods: prenatally, during labor and delivery, and in the immediate aftermath of birth. The underlying cause of a birth injury can range from oxygen deprivation or head trauma during delivery, to an infection contracted from the mother during pregnancy. Childbirth requires highly specialized medical professionals who understand the complications that can arise in childbirth and who are prepared to react quickly to changing circumstances so that both the mother and the baby can get through labor and delivery with their health intact. Moreover, doctors are supposed to plan for obstetrical risk factors, both generally and specific to your pregnancy.
You depend on your obstetrician to help you get through childbirth with a happy, healthy baby. In fact, doctors and hospital personnel have a legal duty to provide skilled treatment and care to patients during labor and delivery. Despite this, obstetrician malpractice is a serious problem. Depending on the difficulty of the delivery and the degree of negligence by the doctor, it may not be possible for your child to avoid damage that lasts for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, not all doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals provide top-notch medical treatment. Sometimes, they are negligent, with the end result being a serious birth injury.
Birth Injury Caused during Labor and Delivery
Some birth injuries occur due to negligence during the birthing process. For instance, early recognition of fetal distress is often critical to effective treatment. If the doctor recognizes the warning signs of birth asphyxia, they may be able to take effective measures to deliver additional oxygen to the baby and/or perform an emergency C-section delivery so that the child is born without significant birth injuries. Some of the most common types of birth-related medical negligence and delivery errors that may occur:
- Failure to recognize fetal distress
- Improper administration or dosage of labor-inducing drugs like Pitocin
- Prolonged labor and delayed delivery
- C-section errors, such as delayed C-section or failure to perform a cesarean
- Mismanagement of premature birth
- Umbilical cord errors
- Vacuum extractor errors
- Misuse of forceps
- Medication errors
- Physician failure to supervise a midwife
Birth Injury due to Negligence soon after Birth
While some serious birth injuries occur during labor and delivery, others occur soon after birth, ultimately leaving infants born healthy with permanent injuries. This is particularly common with premature babies, who often require oxygen after birth. Mistakes with how much oxygen is provided to a newborn can lead to overdoses resulting in blindness and other significant complications. Oxygen doses are based on weight, and related errors often occur by miscalculating weight or misapplying standard weight-to-oxygen ratios. Other birth injuries result from missed diagnoses of medical conditions present at birth that lead to permanent damage or death. Similarly, early recognition of health complications after birth may allow the doctor to take action to keep the child from contracting a life-threatening condition, such as a bacterial infection. Other injuries soon after birth may occur due to:
- Failure to diagnose and treat newborn respiratory distress
- Infant resuscitation errors
- Failure to diagnose and treat jaundice
- Failure to monitor the baby for illness and infection after delivery
Birth Injury from Negligent Prenatal Care
Our experienced NJ birth injury lawyers are thoroughly prepared to advocate for you and your child after medical errors during pregnancy, including failure to identify or manage high-risk pregnancy. This often involves a doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat pregnancy-related conditions, such as:
Depending on the source of below-standard care, it may lead to organ failure, organ transplants, skull fractures, brain damage, genital injury, cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injury, or Erb’s palsy. Our team of medical malpractice lawyers frequently represents victims who suffer birth injuries during various phases of pregnancy, childbirth, and thereafter.
We also represent victims of wrongful birth and failure to diagnose birth defects such as Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, Larsen syndrome, skeletal dysplasia, pulmonary hypoplasia, and other genetic disorders.
What are Common Types of Birth Injury?
Tens of thousands of babies sustain birth injuries every year at U.S. hospitals. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if doctors and other medical professionals had only exercised sufficient care before, during, and after delivery. Making matters worse is the fact that some birth injuries can be catastrophic and leave the baby with limited mobility, developmental disabilities, and other serious conditions. Depending on the type of medical malpractice in your birth injury case, it is possible that your child will have to suffer for the rest of their life with a permanent disability.
Neonatal injuries range from mild (slight bruising and superficial cuts) to severe (brain and neurological damage). Some of the most common childbirth injuries are:
- Cerebral Palsy: Chronic brain disorder that affects movement, causing poor coordination, weak muscles, and muscle tremors.
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Erb’s Palsy: A brachial plexus injury typically caused by excessive pulling on the baby’s head or neck to forcefully remove them from the womb when the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged against the pelvic bone of the mother, a delivery complication known as shoulder dystocia.
- Brain and spinal cord injuries: such as infant brain damage, hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen
- Brain hemorrhage: Traumatic impact on the baby’s skull can cause intracranial hemorrhage, cerebral hemorrhage, intraventricular hemorrhage, or subdural hemorrhage.
- Facial paralysis: A traumatic birth injury, such as bruising or tearing of nerves during childbirth, can cause facial nerve palsy and paralysis.
- Caput succedaneum: A neonatal condition that causes increased pressure and swelling of soft tissues of the scalp, as well as bleeding below the scalp.
- Cephalohematoma: Minor trauma during childbirth can cause bleeding under the cranial bones of the scalp.
- Bone fractures
Other prevailing forms of birth injury include:
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): Specific type of brain damage caused when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen and blood, often due to obstetrician error.
- Neonatal encephalopathy: Neurological dysfunction in an infant, which can include HIE and neonatal stroke.
- Hydrocephalus: Form of brain injury, also known as “water on the brain,” that involves a heavy buildup of fluid in the brain cavities.
- Torticollis: Muscle problem, also known as “wry neck,” that involves a twisted and tilted neck due to involuntary contraction. The condition is extremely painful for the child.
- Klumpke’s Palsy: Paralysis of the muscles in the forearm and hand, often caused by a brachial plexus injury.
Some birth injuries may occur due to an existing medical condition or delivery complication, such as:
- Newborn Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Also known as neonatal RDS, this is a lung disease that occurs when the baby’s lungs are not fully developed. Newborn or neonatal RDS is often seen in premature births.
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN): Also known as persistent fetal circulation, this life-threatening condition occurs after birth when the baby’s circulatory system is unable to oxygenate blood and distribute oxygenated blood to the organs.
- Epidural Abscess and Cord Compression: Also known as spinal epidural abscess, this birth injury occurs when the spinal cord becomes compressed due to pus and fluid accumulating in the epidural space. Spinal epidural abscess is often caused by bacterial infection and can cause permanent nerve damage.
- Placental abruption: Occurs when the placenta is separated from the inner uterine wall on the uterus prior to birth, causing deprivation of oxygen to the baby and heavy bleeding in the mother.
What are the Signs of a Birth Injury?
Sometimes, it is years before the parents notice the child suffering from an injury that was caused during labor and delivery. This makes it so important for parents to diligently monitor the health of their child and seek immediate treatment when the signs of a birth injury appear. Since not all birth injuries are easy to recognize, doctors need to be highly trained and willing to take the time to carefully monitor both the mother and the child throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the weeks following childbirth. There are many signs of a possible birth injury that your doctor must be alert to after your baby is born. Some of the signs of birth injury that doctors should be on the lookout for include:
- Discoloration of the skin: If the baby’s skin is pale or blue or any other abnormal color at the extremities, it may indicate a serious health complication such as oxygen deprivation.
- Difficulty breathing: If the baby is having a hard time breathing, has a reduced heart rate or pulse rate, or has a weak cry, it can also indicate the urgent need for additional oxygen due to respiration problems.
- Difficulty feeding: Not all babies are open to breastfeeding in the weeks following childbirth. However, if the baby is not showing any interest in feeding of any kind, it could indicate a health complication.
- Odd movements: If the baby is making strange, jerky movements with their arms, legs, or joints, or if certain parts of their body are largely immobile, there may be a larger health issue involving muscle tone.
- Lethargy or sluggishness: Although babies do need to sleep, they should be alert and active when awake. If the baby is lethargic and not moving very often, it may indicate that there is a health problem.
- Learning disabilities and behavior problems: These signs of birth injury are most likely to appear later in childhood, when the child’s motor and speech skills should begin to develop.
It is always important to be aware of the possibility of a birth injury after a difficult delivery, even when the signs and symptoms of birth injury are not immediately present.
Who can be Held Liable for Birth Injuries?
When your baby suffers from an avoidable injury, you undoubtedly want to know how it could have happened and who is responsible. When a birth injury occurs, there may be one or more negligent parties who can be held liable. For instance, systemic errors may contribute to birth injuries through inadequate staffing, misidentifying patient data, fatigue errors, or a healthcare provider’s incomplete knowledge and skill to recognize and respond to conditions arising during labor and delivery. However, it is not only doctors who make mistakes.
Errors resulting in birth injuries may be committed by physicians, nurses, hospitals, drug manufacturers, radiologists, anesthesiologists and other health care facilities and providers, all of whom may ultimately be subject to liability. Since childbirth at a hospital or other facility entails a team of healthcare workers to deliver a baby, all who contribute to an injury may be named in a medical malpractice action. The hospital, clinic, or childbirth center may be liable for its negligence, as well as the negligence of its employees.
Hospitals hire physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals. Thus, they must not only verify that each employee has the appropriate skill level to perform their job, but also secure adequate staffing, accurate records, protocol to follow physician’s orders, working medical equipment, administering appropriate clinical tests, and proper admittance of emergency care patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits commonly name all negligent medical providers responsible for birth injuries, including the doctor overseeing the labor and delivery process.
How Can I Find an Experienced Lawyer for my Birth Injury Compensation Claim in NJ?
When looking for an attorney, it is highly advisable to place your trust in a legal team with experience and results. Our experienced New Jersey birth injury lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group handle birth injury cases involving a vast array of medical conditions, including Cerebral Palsy, down syndrome, epilepsy, neonatal encephalopathy, and other conditions caused by an infant’s lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. We also represent clients with other birth-related conditions, including shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, hip dysplasia, craniosynostosis, and plagiocephaly.
Our first priority will be a thorough discussion with you about the extent of your child’s injuries. We will address the physical and emotional impacts on your life and the life of your child, as well as determining present and future financial needs.
After an extensive investigation, we will work toward recovering compensation for current medical bills (i.e. MRI tests, CT brain scans, hospital stays), special education, physical therapy, necessary future accommodations (i.e. wheelchair access), long-term medical care, and life care planning.Fronzuto Law Group
Some of the recent verdicts and settlements that we have achieved for victims of birth injuries and malpractice with birth-related conditions include:
- $3,825,000.00 – Our attorneys recovered this sum on behalf of a family with an 18-month-old child who suffered an anoxic brain injury and permanent disability after a healthcare provider failed to diagnose and treat infant respiratory distress.
- $2,500,000.00 – Our firm achieved this recovery on behalf of a child after a physician’s failure to diagnose and treat plagiocephaly resulted in permanent deformation of the child’s skull.
- $2,000,000.00 – We obtained this compensation on behalf of a child who suffered permanent skull deformation due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat craniosynostosis
To be compensated for past, present and future losses due to a birth injury, a plaintiff must prove that the named parties’ actions were negligent, meaning they deviated from the appropriate standard of medical care level that a competent medical professional in similar circumstances would provide to avoid injuries. Our team has extensive experience with every phase of the legal process for a birth injury case, from the initial investigation to uncover negligence, to assembling medical records and other sources of evidence, selecting the appropriate medical experts, and zealously advocating on your child’s behalf. If your child’s injuries resulted from negligent medical care, consult with one of our skilled New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys about pursuing those responsible for your family’s damages.
Get Help with Your Labor and Delivery Malpractice Case in NJ
If your child experienced a birth injury and you suspect medical negligence played a role, it is imperative to seek legal counsel about your ability to recover damages and bring justice. At Fronzuto Law Group, we purposefully limit our caseload in order to provide concentrated and comprehensive service to our clients. Through the duration of your case, we will offer support and guidance while leveraging our specialized knowledge and relationships with well-reputed experts in the field to formulate and execute an effective strategy for obtaining compensation. To discuss the circumstances of your case free of charge, contact our offices at 973-435-4551 or toll free at 888-409-0816 and speak with one of our highly knowledgeable New Jersey birth injury attorneys today.
- General Problems in Newborns, Merck Manuals
- Birth Injury Statistics, CDC
- Birth Trauma Overview, Medscape