Delray Beach Birth Injury Lawyer
Are you concerned that your child is not developing appropriately? Do you have suspicions that the medical care you received in the prenatal period or during labor and delivery contributed to a problem for your child? These feelings can be unsettling, but they are sometimes the normal product of the stress that comes with a new baby. It may also be difficult to acknowledge that your “perfect” baby is experiencing problems that are outside of the norm. If you have concerns that your child has experienced a birth injury, but are uncertain where to start the process of exploring these issues, one of the experienced birth injury lawyers at Demand the Limits in Delray Beach can explain the steps you need to protect your child and your family.
Parents have been taught that the arrival of a new baby is always a time of joy. While this is often true, the birth of a child can also be a stressful time. Even for experienced parents, a new baby comes with normal challenges that can stress even happy homes. Lack of sleep, the constant time demands, and the changes to the family’s daily activities and normal routine can be extremely stressful. In average households, it can be difficult for parents to determine whether they are experiencing normal stress or whether there is something wrong or if the stress is simply adjusting to a new baby.
However, if you are the parent of a child who has experienced a birth injury, you are dealing with a set of circumstances that goes well beyond the normal stressors that every new addition to a family brings. Negligence by healthcare providers during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can lead to birth injuries that impact your baby’s development and can lead to lifelong health, learning, and developmental issues. Some of these problems are apparent immediately, while others may only be noticeable as your child grows and you notice that he or she is experiencing health challenges that are related to birth injuries. At Demand the Limits in Delray Beach, our birth injury lawyers can help you deal with the specific challenges that come with having a child with a birth injury.
If you suspect that your child has experienced a birth injury, you need to take steps to secure your child’s future. While financial compensation cannot take away a birth injury, the reality is that children who have experienced birth injuries may be looking at a lifetime of expensive medical care and modifications that make it possible for them to function. It is important to seek compensation for the people responsible for the injuries, not only to protect your child, but also to protect your family’s financial future.
One of the things that can make birth injury detection, treatment, and litigation difficult is the fact that no two birth injuries are the same. It takes specialized medical knowledge and legal expertise to get the help you need to deal with the lifelong consequences of birth injuries.
In terms of seeking compensation, one of the most important things to do is to determine whether the birth injury was the result of natural causes or of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice refers to injuries that are the result of health care providers engaging in reckless, negligent, or careless behavior. While medical malpractice is often attributed to doctors, any healthcare professional can engage in malpractice if he or she fails to adhere to the standard of care expected from a member of that profession.
While birth injuries can occur throughout a pregnancy, they are most common during the actual delivery. While obstetricians are in charge of the delivery process, they are not the only medical professionals in the delivery room. There will also be nurses, and, in some circumstances, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals.
While every birth is unique, resulting in a myriad of ways that infants can be injured during pregnancy and childbirth, there are some forms of medical malpractice that commonly result in birth injuries. Malpractice in the prenatal period can include: failure to refer high-risk patients to specialists; failure to administer specialized tests during pregnancy; failure to detect or treat infections; failure to detect or treat umbilical cord entrapment; and failure to diagnose potentially dangerous conditions like hypoxia or spina bifida. Malpractice during delivery can include: improper use of forceps; improper use of vacuum extraction; improper monitoring of delivery room patients; delayed cesarean sections; insufficient oxygen to the baby’s brain; and failure to communicate medical conditions to other hospital personnel.
Medical malpractice a result in a number of different injuries and conditions in an infant. The severity of these injuries can range from mild to significant. While almost all birth injuries are life-changing, some may require only moderate modifications, while others may render an infant incapable of ever living independently or otherwise engaging in a “normal” life. Some common birth injuries are: injuries to the skull; brain damage; hypoxia; wrongful death; and cerebral palsy.
Many people do not fully understand what cerebral palsy is. It is an important condition to consider, because many birth injuries fall under the cerebral palsy umbrella. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth. Sometimes cerebral palsy is the result of natural causes, but it can also be the result of medical malpractice. Cerebral palsy presents in different ways in different individuals. It can impact body movement in several ways, because of its impact on muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflexes, balance, and posture. It is a lifelong condition, though the symptoms of it may worsen with age or improve with therapy and treatment. Cerebral palsy may also co-occur with other conditions, such as intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, epilepsy, vision problems, hearing problems, speech delays, or other learning disabilities.
In Florida, there is a statute of limitations on birth injuries, which can make it important for parents to seek compensation on behalf of a child. Generally, there is a two-year statute of limitations, but the clock does not start ticking at the birth of the child. Instead, it begins ticking at the time that the parents knew, or should have known, of the birth injury. However, there is a non-rebuttable presumption that the parents knew or should have known by the time the child reached two years old, so that parents are barred from bringing lawsuits on behalf of their child more than four years after the birth injury actually occurred.
You may have heard of Tony’s Law. This law was created to help children who were injured by birth injuries seek compensation outside of the four-year statute of limitations. Tony’s Law allows parents to file claims for medical malpractice up to a child’s eighth birthday, as long as the child was born after July 1, 1996. However, the extended deadline does not apply in all cases. If a child’s parent knew or should have known that the birth injury was caused by medical malpractice, then the parent may be barred from bringing suit outside of the statute of limitations. Therefore, no parent should assume that they will have until the child is eight to bring a medical malpractice claim, but, instead, should pursue a claim as soon as they suspect medical malpractice as the cause of a birth injury.
In Florida, birth injuries are considered medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury law that specifically focuses on injuries that are the result of healthcare providers not providing adequate care for their patients. The burden is on the plaintiff, which is usually the child in birth injury cases, to establish that the medical personnel did not follow appropriate medical procedures AND that this failure to adhere to proper standards resulted in the birth injuries. This burden reflects the general standard of proof in the American legal system, where the party seeking compensation for an injury has to prove that the defendant caused the injury. However, it can be very burdensome for a layperson to establish fault in any malpractice setting. After all, most laypeople do not know the appropriate levels of care and do not realize when a medical professional has deviated from them.
Florida Statutes § 766.102(1) provides that “1) In any action for recovery of damages based on the death or personal injury of any person in which it is alleged that such death or injury resulted from the negligence of a health care provider as defined in s. 766.202(4), the claimant shall have the burden of proving by the greater weight of evidence that the alleged actions of the health care provider represented a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care for that health care provider. The prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider shall be that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.”
In addition, it is important to realize that not all birth injuries are the result of malpractice. This is especially true in circumstances where a pregnancy was high-risk or where there was an identified health issue in an infant that was diagnosed prior to birth. According to Florida Statutes § 766.102(2)(a), “If the injury is claimed to have resulted from the negligent affirmative medical intervention of the health care provider, the claimant must, in order to prove a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care, show that the injury was not within the necessary or reasonably foreseeable results of the surgical, medicinal, or diagnostic procedure constituting the medical intervention, if the intervention from which the injury is alleged to have resulted was carried out in accordance with the prevailing professional standard of care by a reasonably prudent similar health care provider.”
What do these laws mean? First, they mean that medical malpractice only occurs if a medical professional failed to act in the same manner as a reasonable medical professional would have acted under those circumstances. If the medical professional adhered to the applicable standard of care and the injury occurred anyway, the medical professional did not commit negligence. It is not enough to show that the healthcare professional’s actions resulted in the injury; you must also show that those actions did not rise to the applicable standard of care. Next, you must link the failure to adhere to the standard of care with the injury. It is not enough to show that a healthcare professional committed medical malpractice; you must also demonstrate how that medical malpractice contributed to or caused the birth injuries for which you are seeking compensation.
While these laws may seem confusing for you, the birth injury attorneys at Demand the Limits in Delray Beach understand medical malpractice law and can help you navigate the complicated medical malpractice legal arena. One of the ways we do that is by helping you find the medical experts you need. These medical experts can give you their opinions on whether or not a birth injury was an unfortunate accident that was not due to anyone’s negligence, or whether it was the result of negligence in the care you received during pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, they may be called upon to testify if your birth injury claim goes to trial, so that they can help establish why the birth injury was the result of medical malpractice.
If you are the parent of a child with a birth injury, time is not on your side. You have a very limited window of time in which to discover whether the birth injury was due to medical malpractice and then bring a claim against the healthcare providers for that malpractice. In addition, because many birth injuries result in life-changing, lifelong injuries, it can be critical to secure financial compensation for your child before he or she reaches adulthood or hits maximum limits on your own health insurance. The birth injury attorneys at Demand the Limits in Delray Beach can provide you with a free consultation, where they can discuss the facts of your case, help you find medical experts to evaluate your child, and explain the legal process to you. Dealing with a birth injury is a frightening and intimidating process. While the lawyers at Demand the Limits cannot take away your worry or stress about the well-being of your child, they can help you take steps to help you and your family deal with the impact of those birth injuries. It may be lonely dealing with a child with birth injuries, but our attorneys are there to make sure that you are not alone.
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