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Birth Injury Malpractice In Virginia

Thankfully, labor and delivery are generally safe, uneventful processes (except for the exciting event at the end!). When complications do arise, however, their effects can be profound and life-altering. For this reason, physicians attending births are trained to make split-second decisions about each woman and baby’s individual situation. If the physician fails to respond to signs of fetal distress or otherwise acts in a way that deviates from accepted standards of care, the baby can face life-long injury that could have been avoided by proper medical care. This negligence may be considered medical malpractice (link to medical malpractice practice area page), and victims may be entitled to financial compensation.

Usually a result of birth complications, babies and mothers can endure acute or permanent injury as a result of medical malpractice during labor and birth. The resulting trauma can range from mild to catastrophic. The most severe birth traumas involve the baby’s brain. If a physician fails to notice a baby in distress (low heart rate) or delays a cesarean section, the baby may be deprived of oxygen to the brain, which can result in the permanent debilitating condition of cerebral palsy. Some of the factors that can result in fetal oxygen deprivation are early placental separation, unusual birth positions, poor circulation through the umbilical cord, and unusually long or short labors.

Use of excessive force, misuse of drugs such as Pitocin or delivery equipment such as forceps can also result in significant injury to mother and/or baby. Other types of birth injuries that can result from malpractice include*:

  • Bone fractures (usually of the collarbone or clavicle)
  • Injury to the spinal cord
  • Bruising/bodily marks from delivery-assistance instruments
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Group B strep infections
  • Nerve trauma
  • Skull fractures
  • Facial or temporary body paralysis
  • Bleeding in the baby’s head/brain (intercranial hemorrhage)
  • Klumpke’s Palsy, Erb’s Palsy, and Horner’s Syndrome

In Virginia, numerous complex laws govern medical malpractice claims. For example, though the state has a strictly enforced requirement that claims be filed within two years of awareness of the injury, some situations are exempt from that law. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you file claims, work with insurance companies and physicians, and navigate the complex maze of laws.

If you or your baby has been injured during labor or birth, and you suspect that injury was a result of negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses. You may be able to recover funds for appointments, hospital stays, rehabilitation, missed work wages and even therapy. Contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the particulars of your situation.

*Please note that this list is not comprehensive. It only provides an overview of relatively common birth injuries. There are many other types of birth injuries. If you suspect medical malpractice in your injury or that of your child, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your unique situation.