When your child is diagnosed with Brain Damage or Cerebral Palsy in Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas, let us put our Resources to Work for You.
When you trust delivery of your baby to a hospital and its staff, you expect that you and your child one will receive the best care possible. When something goes wrong and a doctor or the hospital staff violates safety rules or fails to follow evidence-based guidelines, the results can be catastrophic.
In Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, preventable birth injuries can leave a family heartbroken and financially strapped. Birth Injury cases are complex and can be difficult to prove. Legislation in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas can make it even more difficult to get the compensation you deserve. Don't trust your case to just any firm. Make sure it is one with a proven track record and ready to go to trial for you.
We Help You Prove Your Claim So That You Can Get the Care and Rehabilitation You Need
Investigating and proving that medical malpractice occurred is not a simple task, and one that you should not take on alone. From the complex process of gaining access to medical records to the difficulty proving wrongdoing on the part of the medical staff, we know where to find the evidence that they hospital doesn't want you to see.
Hospital corporations hire large law firms to defend birth injury lawsuits, in Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas. They don't admit to errors no matter how egregious and fight until to bitter end. This puts you at a disadvantage when fighting against these experienced insurance companies.
We have the experience you need to get the best outcome in your claim. Our trusted Dallas medical negligence attorneys have years of experience helping people in similar situations. Our team is not only well-versed in medical malpractice law, but we also have experience working in the medical field.
You Don’t Have to Fight This Solo
When your world has been turned upside down because of medical negligence in Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, let us be your support system. Instead of worrying about fighting hospital corporations and insurance companies, contact the Girards Law Firm and put experienced medical attorneys on your side.
Approximately five out of every 1000 children born in the US will suffer some type of birth injury. Birth injuries can range from minor injuries like bruising, to a life-altering diagnosis of brain damage.
Hospital Factors contributing to Birth Injuries
Modern hospital systems are supposed to be designed and operated with a proper patient safety system in place. This involves administrative functions, nursing functions, and physician functions. Failures in one or more of these systems can cause or contribute to a preventable birth injury when there is inadequate equipment, missing or delayed personnel, or failures in recognition and response when a baby gets into crisis during the birth process.
Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries vary in severity and type. Many birth injuries result from the delivery itself as the baby makes its way down the birth canal. Sometimes, birth injuries can occur when the doctor or the nurses fail to adequately assess or respond to conditions or complications during a woman's delivery. These injuries include:
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy - Brain damage caused by a combination of low blood oxygenation and low blood flow to baby's brain during the birth process
- Cephalohematoma - collection of blood under the baby's periosteum, a tissue that covers the bones in the head
- Facial paralysis - caused by excessive pressure on the face during delivery
- Fractures - of the collarbone, limbs or head
- Erb's palsy - stretching or tearing of the nerves that control movement in the arms, hands and fingers
- Cerebral palsy - damage to the areas of the brain that control muscle function and movement. Can be caused by a lack of oxygen during delivery.
Birth injuries are different from birth defects. Birth injuries occur during difficult deliveries in which something goes wrong - whether the child is in a breech position, is too large to move through the birth canal or suffers some other distress. Birth defects are caused by some factor before or during pregnancy, such as a genetic disorder, the mother's use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco, or by some prescription medications.
Professional Responsible of Hospital, Nurses, and Doctors
Frequently, there is shared liability among the healthcare team for preventable injury to your child during the labor process. The doctor or team of doctors who delivered the child may be liable for failing to follow recognized standards of care during your delivery. Frequently, we see this happen when there is a knowledge deficit among the team members, a failure of hospital procedures, or when shortcuts or unnecessary risks are taken. The hospital, nurses and other care providers, such as interns, residents, techs and nursing aids, also may be named parties for their actions. If the doctor is part of a private practice, the practice also may be named in the suit in certain situations. If a medication prescribed by your doctor and correctly taken by you led to a birth injury or birth defect, the manufacturer of the medication may be named in a products liability suit. Your attorney will determine which parties may be subject to liability based upon the facts and laws governing your situation.
Proving a Birth Injury Case
In order to prevail in a birth injury case, the family’s lawyer must prove:
- The appropriate level of care that should have been provided to the mommy and her baby
- The doctor failed to provide the necessary level of care
- The child or the mother suffered an injury as a result
The family’s lawyer must show that it is more likely than not that the birth injury occurred because of the medical staff or hospital staff's acts or omissions during the birth of the child.
Defenses to a Birth Injury Claim
There are three common defenses used by insurance lawyers defending a medical malpractice suit for a birth injury:
No Doctor-Patient Relationship In order to maintain a malpractice suit, the doctor and patient had to have an established doctor-patient relationship. If the doctor did not provide treatment or care to the patient prior to an emergency delivery or C-section, it may be difficult for the plaintiff to prove a doctor-patient relationship existed. Some states have "Good Samaritan Acts" that immunize doctors from liability for helping people in emergency situations. This is an issue that your lawyer will investigate in detail before pursuing a claim in order to make sure that the required proof is available.
No Deviation from the Standard of Care Frequently, the insurance company lawyers will claim that there was no deviation from the standard of care. But, failing to adhere to evidence-based guidelines is convincing proof of negligence. Evidence-based guidelines are guidelines that are proven by scientific studies to be safest for management of labor and delivery. Evidence-based guidelines are available from a number of sources, including the medical specialty boards, accreditation agencies, the Leapfrog Group, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, among others.
The Negligence Did Not Cause the Injury If the family can show the hospital staff did not follow evidence-based guidelines, the insurance lawyers will claim the negligence did not cause the child's injury. For example, frequently the insurance company will claim the injury could have resulted from the independent actions of a nurse, a genetic disorder or an injury to the mother while pregnant.
Not surprisingly, in every case no matter how egregious the conduct the insurance companies claim that there was no failure to meet applicable standards of care - and even if they did not meet those standards it didn't cause the child's injuries. If you are sitting on a jury right now in a case involving a birth injury, we'll bet you dollars to donuts that the insurance lawyers are claiming there was no negligence and even if there was it didn't cause the injury. That's just what they do. Every case. Every time.
First and foremost, the purpose of a lawsuit in a case involving a severe birth injury is to assure the present and future medical care of the child. Often, an injured child needs around the clock medical care for his or her entire life. The cost of this care over a child’s lifetime can sometimes exceed $80 million. The quality of medical care can even affect how a long a child lives. In severe cases, it is simply impossible for a child to get the necessary care unless a lawsuit is brought against the hospital corporation that is responsible for causing the injuries. The damages recoverable in a lawsuit may include:
- Life Care Expenses to include past and future medical expenses, attendant care, and respite care
- Lost past and future wages of the parents from inability to work while caring for the child 24/7
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent physical disability
- Lost future wages of the child
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
The specific types of damages you may be entitled to will depend on the facts of your case and applicable state or federal law. An attorney experienced in birth injury cases can discuss your options for recovery in greater detail.
Some of the Basics
The placenta is the organ that is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord. It is the baby's lifeline through which blood flows to and from the baby carrying oxygen and nutrients. Normally, the placenta functions well for about 40 weeks - plenty of time for the baby to develop normally and be delivered healthy. Sometimes, however, the placenta functions well enough to keep baby healthy up to labor, but does not function well enough to get the baby through labor in a healthy way. When this happens, the baby must be delivered with an expedited, sometimes surgical, technique. Fetal monitoring during labor is designed to detect when the placenta is not functioning well enough to keep baby healthy through the delivery process. If the healthcare team ignores signs baby is not doing well, and fails to respond to protect the baby, a preventable birth injury may result. Baby can suffer severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen in this instance. In many cases, the parents are not properly informed of the fetal status and are not given an option of a cesarean section delivery to protect the baby.
During the contractions of labor, there is decreased oxygen to the baby - and this is entirely normal. In fact, the baby's body is designed to be able to respond to this type of stress by compensating for it. During periods of decreased oxygen, the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide changes - resulting in the blood becoming more acid than otherwise. But, in a healthy baby there are chemicals in the blood and cells that are consumed in order to maintain a safe acid level in baby. But, these chemicals are used up over time and during an extended labor - or one in which the placenta is not working well - baby is no longer able to compensate for the decreased oxygen and the blood and cells become more and more acidic. In this uncompensated state, baby's brain and vital organs are at risk. Thankfully, there are tools that are used to detect when this situation is developing - but they are only as good as the people who are using them. And, if the user is unaware of the readings or has a knowledge deficit in interpreting them - or if there is a hospital-system failure in responding timely - then baby can be severely injured.
What follows is a normal labor curve for first-time mommies. This is used to give the delivery team an idea of how long is too long and when an expedited delivery should take place given the fetal status.
What follows is a page from a fetal monitor strip. This is from the machine that monitors baby's heart rate pattern so that one can compare it to mommy's contractions. Comparing baby's response to the stress of each contraction - especially when compared over a period of time - can give important, sometimes critical, clues about how baby is handling the stress of labor. There are also characteristic patterns to be looked for that tell the team that baby is not doing well and needs to be removed from the uterus as soon as possible.
When a child suffers a severe brain-damage injury, one of the things that the attorneys must do is evaluate the needs of baby over his or her entire lifetime and put that information in a form that will be used as evidence at trial. This is critical if baby's medical, nursing, therapy, transportation, and other lifecare needs are to be met. What follows is a page from a LifeCare Plan prepared for one of our kiddos. It is provided here so you can see some examples of the lifelong needs when a preventable injury of this kind of severity is encountered. Preparation of a LifeCare Plan requires an expert specially trained in evaluating such needs and explaining them to the jury. A LifeCare Plan is typically many pages long and is updated over time throughout the lawsuit as baby's needs change. The LifeCare Plan is supported by the various experts that are retained by your attorney, which may include specialists in obstetrics, nursing, peri-natology, neo-natology, pediatrics, neuro-radiology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.
The LifeCare Plan will form the basis for baby's future care and is available for use after resolution of the lawsuit as needed. Frequently, baby's case worker will consult it as a basis for care and may update it as baby grows. One of the important things to include in any LifeCare Plan for a catastrophically injured child is respite care for the parents. Caring for a child with such injuries is a 24-hour job and can wear anyone out. Keeping parents healthy and emotionally available is important for baby's well-being too.
Call us today at 214-346-9529 or toll free at 888-333-9709 to learn more about how our Texas personal injury law firm can help with your claim. If you are in Arkansas you can reach us at 501-420-2868. If you are in Oklahoma you can reach us at 405-633-3316.
For more information on this topic you are invited to explore our birth injury library by clicking here.
By James Girards, [email protected]