The birth of a child should be a life-changing event. However, when tragedy strikes, the anticipated changes do not occur. The sense of wonder and joy is overshadowed with hopelessness when a newborn suffers an injury. Unfortunately, many birth injuries were preventable and resulted from physical errors or poor judgment on the part of the medical staff or healthcare facility. If your child was harmed during labor or delivery, you have the right to hold the negligent party accountable.
At the Reiff Law Firm, our attorneys and staff understand the emotional and financial struggles associated with preventable birth injuries. While no amount of money will stop these hardships, monetary compensation could provide the resources to move forward and provide for the welfare of your child and your family. Our New Jersey birth injury lawyers are committed to providing grieving families the compassionate and aggressive representation they need. Medical malpractice cases are complicated and an experienced attorney is necessary. Call our office at (215) 709-6940 to speak with one of our knowledgeable lawyers. Our initial consultations are free.
Common Birth Injuries in New Jersey
Throughout the United States, thousands of preventable birth injuries occur every year. New Jersey is not immune from these traumatic events. Some of the common preventable birth injury cases our firm handles are listed below.
When a child’s brachial plexus, or the bundle of nerves in the shoulder, are damaged, Erb’s palsy could occur. Depending on the severity of the nerve damage, Erb’s palsy could be a temporary or permanent condition. A common cause of damage to the brachial plexus is excessive force or pulling during a difficult delivery.
If an infant experiences oxygen deprivation during delivery, it could result in lifelong impairments, including brain damage and cerebral palsy. Possible causes of oxygen deprivation include failing to address an umbilical cord problem, medication errors, or a rupture of the placenta. When an infant’s oxygen is restricted, immediate medical attention is required. Physicians should be aware of the child’s condition during birth and attentive to any symptoms of oxygen deprivation. When a treating doctor misses signs of a distressed birth, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Head Trauma and Brain Injuries
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an infant to suffer physical trauma to its head or brain during birth. When surgical instruments, such as forceps or a vacuum extractor, are used to assist a difficult delivery, they could subject the child’s head to excessive force and pressure. Head injuries also occur without surgical instruments, especially if the mother is having a breech delivery. Sometimes an injury will only result in a slight brain bleed that goes unnoticed, resulting in more severe complications.
Another common type of injury infants suffer during delivery are fractured bones. During a difficult delivery, a physician might be forced to act quickly and roughly handles the child. Fortunately, unlike other birth injuries, broken bones rarely result in long-lasting conditions or disabilities.
Liability for Birth Injuries in New Jersey
Who is liable for a birth injury? Can you file a lawsuit against your physician of the hospital where the birth occurred? Birth injuries give rise to medical malpractice cases. In New Jersey, determining liability for a birth injury is often complicated. In some situations, the delivering physician makes an inexcusable mistake, while in other cases, a pre-natal care error causes your child’s injury. Depending on the injury and circumstances surrounding your case, multiple parties could be held accountable, including doctors, nurses, technicians, and the hospital.
Holding Your Doctor Liable for a New Jersey Birth Injury
When a birth injury occurs, all eyes usually turn to the delivering physician. Doctors are required to make immediate and possibly life-altering decisions during a difficult birth. A decision that does not result in a positive outcome is not necessarily medical malpractice. However, doctors could be held liable for birth injuries under certain circumstances.
If a mistake leads to a birth injury or death, then the physician could be held liable. The error must deviate from any decision a similarly trained and reasonable doctor would have made under the same circumstances. For example, allowing a long vaginal delivery to continue when the infant shows clear signs of distress, such as an abnormally slow heartbeat. The chance of liability also increases when a doctor fails to follow standard protocol, such as washing their hands between deliveries.
Holding Nurses and Other Medical Professionals Responsible for Birth Injuries in New Jersey
While the treating physician is in charge of the delivery, other medical team members could make inexcusable mistakes. For example, an anesthesiologist could make an error that endangers both the mother and infant. A nurse could fail to monitor a mother or child during post-natal care or administer the wrong dosage or incorrect medication. These errors could be solely on the nurse’s part or a communication breakdown caused by the treating physician. More than one party might be responsible for a birth injury.
Holding the Hospital Liable for a New Jersey Birth Injury
A hospital could be held liable if the doctor is an employee of the hospital. However, in most cases, a physician is an independent contractor. However, there are other ways a hospital could be held responsible for a birth injury.
While the hospital might not employ the doctor, the facility employs nurses, technicians, and attendants. If these medical professionals are not sufficiently trained or vetted, the hospital could be held accountable.
An unlicensed doctor or one who has a history of medical malpractice claims could open a hospital up to liability. Even though the doctor is not an employee, a hospital has an obligation to ensure that any physician practicing in its facility does not present an unreasonable risk to patients.
A hospital should be sufficiently staffed and equipped to handle emergencies during delivery. If your child was harmed because of improper staffing or a lack of basic equipment, the hospital should be held accountable.
Contact Our New Jersey Birth Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Our New Jersey birth injury lawyers do not have the power to undo the devastating consequences of a birth injury. However, the attorneys and staff at the Reiff Law Firm will fight for the compensation you deserve. Money will not repair the damage but it could provide the means for a family to care for and provide for their injured child. To schedule an appointment with an experienced and compassionate attorney, call (215) 709-6940.