Questions to Ask Your Birth injury Lawyer in Michigan
The birth of a child should be one of the happiest moments in a family’s life; however, shockingly, birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born each year in the United States. In some cases, these defects result from birth injuries caused by the medical professional’s negligence during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
In addition to being traumatic for the whole family, birth injuries can be costly, requiring medical visits and specialized care. Families that suffer in this way deserve compensation, and the best way to win it is by working with an experienced birth injury attorney. Read on to discover what important questions you should ask your skilled legal team.
Birth-Related Injuries and Trauma
Birth injuries, also known as neonatal birth trauma, typically occur during labor and delivery and can affect both the mother and the baby. Unfortunately, some birth injuries result in permanent disabilities, learning difficulties, or developmental delays, with some requiring lifelong care.
While birth defects are abnormalities that tend to form during pregnancy (generally in the first three months) and are usually caused by genetics or the expectant mother’s lifestyle choices, neonatal birth trauma is caused by problems during labor and delivery, such as hypoxia (a lack of oxygen). These complications can be the result of medical negligence.
Examples of birth injuries include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Brachial Plexus injuries
- Erb’s Palsy
- Klumpke’s Palsy
- Brain damage
- Bleeding on the brain
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial paralysis
Potential birth injuries that the mother can obtain include:
- Pudendal neuralgia
- Forceps injuries
- Placenta abruption
- Nervous shock
How Medical Negligence Can Lead to Birth Injuries
Pregnancy, labor, and delivery have inherent potential risks for both the mother and the baby. While some complications are unavoidable, others are preventable, such as those caused by medical malpractice. In these cases, the medical professionals at the birth have either taken action or failed to take action that directly leads to the birth injuries.
- If both the mother and baby are not monitored closely enough, the doctor may not notice the signs of fetal distress.
- Allowing labor to go on too long or to progress too slowly. Prolonged labor comes with many risks, including low oxygen levels, uterine infection, and an abnormal heart rhythm in the baby.
- Inappropriately or improperly administering drugs to induce labor.
- A failure to respond correctly or quickly enough in the event of shoulder dystocia (when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal).
- Causing trauma to the infant’s head, for instance, through improper or aggressive use of the vacuum or forceps, can lead to trauma and even developmental delays.
These examples of medical negligence occur during labor and delivery; however, mistakes made by medical professionals during pregnancy, such as the failure to diagnose conditions such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, can lead to severe side effects for the mother or baby.
Working With an Experienced Birth Injury Lawyer
Medical malpractice cases are notoriously challenging to take on, but your chances of success are significantly increased if you work with an attorney experienced in birth injury cases, like those at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
After you or your baby suffer from birth injuries, your family will experience shock and trauma that may make it difficult to deal with the legal ramifications of the event. Your legal team can take on the stress of the legal battle so you can focus on what matters: your family.
When you first start the process of filing a claim with your attorney, it can seem overwhelming. Arming yourself with the following questions can help you get the most from your meetings with your legal team.
How is Fault Determined in Birth Injury Cases?
Medical negligence is defined as an act or a failure to act (omission) by a medical professional that deviates from the generally accepted medical standard of care. It is the legal concept most often referred to in medical malpractice cases; however, for your birth injury medical malpractice case to be successful, your attorney must prove that negligence occurred and that said negligence directly caused the injury.
All medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. This means they should provide the level of treatment and care that another health care professional with similar training and qualifications in the same medical community would provide in the same situation. In other words, they must meet the accepted medical standards of care. If a doctor or other health care professional fails to meet these standards, they have been negligent.
Hospitals and clinics can also be held legally responsible for birth injuries. If their labor and delivery policies lead to injuries for either the mother or baby, they can be held directly liable. Alternatively, they may be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their staff.
What Are the Challenges of Proving Medical Negligence?
To win your medical malpractice case after you or your child experiences a birthing trauma caused by the action or omission of your medical team, your lawyer must prove your health care provider was negligent, and their negligence was the cause of the sustained injuries. Proving negligence of any kind is complex, and establishing medical negligence comes with its challenges.
One of these challenges is that often the only proof a medical malpractice lawyer has is the doctor’s notes, which can be challenging to interpret and could even be self-serving. Attorneys experienced in these cases know they must work with medical experts who can study the medical documentation, determine what treatment took place, and whether or not it was per the appropriate medical standard of care.
Hospitals are accustomed to medical malpractice lawsuits and have teams of skilled professionals working for them. As such, you should also work with a law firm with a proven track record of winning birth injury cases. It is worth noting that birth injury cases can be highly emotional and triggering; attorneys experienced with these kinds of cases understand the sensitivity needed to take on such a claim.
What Can I Claim?
If you believe you or your child’s birth injuries are the fault of a third party, such as the attending doctor or hospital where you delivered, you may claim compensation. If the child sustained injuries during birth, the parent acts as their representative at trial. If the child tragically does not survive the birth trauma, the claim becomes a wrongful death case.
In addition to the stress and trauma experienced by the parents and child, birth injuries can cost families significant amounts of money in medical expenses alone. Many birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy may require lifelong care and adjustments to the home to make it accessible. This can put a tremendous financial strain on a family that adequate compensation can alleviate.
You may claim economic and non-economic damages, meaning those that are financially measurable and those that are not. These include:
- Past and future medical expenses that are directly linked to the injury
- Loss of wages and loss of earning capacity
- Past and future pain and suffering both for the child and the parents
Is There a Time Limit to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Michigan?
The statute of limitations for birth injuries in Michigan is complex. Depending on your individual case, the time you have to file a claim for a birth injury in Michigan is two years for parental claims or ten years for a minor plaintiff. For this reason, you are encouraged to contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible.
Although it can take some time for the full extent of birth injuries to become apparent, and it can be emotionally challenging to go through a legal procedure after a traumatic event, it is generally a good idea to file a claim as soon as possible. One of the reasons for this is that evidence can disappear over time, and memories of events can fade, making it more difficult to support your case.
You are required to send a Notice of Intent to File a Claim (NOI) in Michigan. This NOI gives the defendants 182 days’ notice before the claim can be filed in court.
Are There Caps or Limits on Compensation Amounts?
Many states have a set upper limit that caps the plaintiff’s damages after a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. There is no cap on economic damages in Michigan, which refers to measurable financial losses such as medical expenses and ongoing medical care. However, Michigan does limit the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Michigan’s medical malpractice compensation caps are significantly more complex than many other states, so you should always discuss them with your attorney. There are two caps set for non-economic damages. In Michigan, medical malpractice caps are reviewed once a year. As of 2021, the lower cap is $476,600, and the higher cap is $851,000.
The higher limit only applies if the injury:
- Left the injured party with permanently impaired cognitive capacity that renders them unable to lead an independent life
- Caused damage to the spinal cord or brain that led to total permanent functional loss of a limb
- Resulted in the injured party’s inability to procreate
Contact Michigan Birth Injury Lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Today
Collaborating with skilled, experienced Michigan birth injury lawyers such as the team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can give you the best chance of getting the compensation your family deserves following a traumatic event. A successful claim allows you to ensure your child gets all the care they need to lead a happy life.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we understand the complexities of birth injury cases and are sensitive to your situation. We will fight hard to win your case, but the sooner you contact us, the better.
Call us at any time at 1-866-Mich Law (866-642-4529) to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation to start your journey toward recovery.
How are birth injuries proven?
Your attorney may call on the other medical professionals who attended the birth to act as witnesses to prove birth injuries were caused by medical negligence. A medical expert who is not connected to the case is typically also asked to give their qualified opinion.
Will I have to go to court for my birth injury case?
Most birth injury trials are settled out of court because court cases lead to bad publicity for the hospitals. However, if your case does go to court, your attorney will support you every step of the way.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.