Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyers
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Birth injuries are emotionally devastating to a family. The birth of a child should be a joyous event. When a newborn infant suffers a preventable injury or death because of a negligent medical professional, the loss and pain can be almost too great to bear.
At the Colleran Firm, our medical malpractice attorneys offer compassionate support and trusted legal counsel at this most difficult time for you and your family. The birth injury attorneys at The Colleran Firm have been successfully handling medical malpractice cases for decades. Most of the attorneys at The Colleran Firm are family members and we are committed to helping your family should an unfortunate birth injury occur. You can take comfort knowing that our firm has handled dozens of birth injury cases, many of which have generated multi-million dollar recoveries.
What is a Birth Injury or Birth Trauma?
Birth injuries usually occur during the birthing process but can also be caused by negligence during pregnancy. Some babies are born with birth defects that developed during pregnancy and cannot be prevented. Birth injuries are often the result of trauma during the delivery process. They vary from minor injuries that are temporary and involve a short hospital stay to long-term or permanent medical conditions that require ongoing care. Many birth injuries require expensive follow-up surgeries or treatment.
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What Can a Pennsylvania Birth Injury Lawyer Do to Help Me and My Baby?
If you suspect that you or your baby were harmed by a preventable medical error, a birth injury attorney will evaluate your medical records and review your legal options with you. You may need to sign a release in order for us to obtain your medical records related to your pregnancy and delivery. We work with independent medical professionals to determine whether a doctor or medical professional failed to follow the recognized standard of care and caused a preventable birth injury.
If our legal team determines that you have a valid birth injury case, we will start the pre-litigation process, gathering evidence, hiring medical experts and estimating what the birth injury will cost in terms of past and future medical expenses. It’s not unusual for your attorney to propose a settlement amount to the healthcare provider’s malpractice insurance provider at this point, but insurance companies may be unwilling to settle then.
If an insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement, your attorney will file a formal complaint against the medical professional and his or her insurance company in civil court. Those named as defendants in the lawsuit have a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint. This opens the discovery phase during which the two sides exchange information and defendants will get to see the evidence gathered against them. This is the point at which a settlement is often reached.
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If a settlement is not reached beforehand, our experienced trial attorneys will proceed to trial with the case. We will prepare you to testify in court if necessary and to anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked during cross-examination. We will be there to advocate for you. A case may be settled even after a trial is underway.
How Does Birth Injury Malpractice Occur?
Expectant mothers and the lives of their unborn babies lie in the hands of the physicians who give them prenatal care as well as during birth. Negligent prenatal care can cause serious birth injuries. When an OB-GYN fails to identify or notify a mother of certain risk factors, she and her baby are at risk for injury. These include but are not limited to pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and infections.
Labor and delivery rooms can be chaotic places, with numerous doctors and nurses coming and going during a long delivery. Errors and miscommunication are more likely in this fast-paced environment and lead to labor and delivery negligence. Throughout the labor and delivery, the health of the mother and the baby need to be closely monitored and steps taken if there are signs of distress. In many instances, birth injuries could have been prevented if the attending doctor and staff had monitored the mother and baby’s condition more carefully, heeded warning signs and made different choices.
Many injuries result from a doctor’s failure to perform a caesarian section during a difficult birth. The failure to perform a C-section can cause brain damage, cerebral palsy, or other developmental disabilities that may lead to life-long disabilities.
Doctors and delivery teams run a higher risk of causing birth injuries and fetal deaths during vaginal births when using certain delivery techniques. These techniques can cause birth trauma and include the use of vacuum-assisted delivery devices and forceps when a baby’s shoulders are too large for the birth canal or the baby gets stuck behind the pubic bone. Vacuum extractors can cause neonatal injuries, and many new extractors have soft rubber cups rather than metal cups to reduce head and scalp injuries to newborns.
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Common Types of Birth Injuries
Cerebral palsy: refers to any of a group of neurological disorders that affect body movement and cause muscle stiffness. Cerebral palsy may result from brain malformations that occur as the fetus is developing or as a result of brain damage that occurs from a lack of oxygen during birth or birth trauma. The baby’s oxygen supply may be disrupted as a result of pressure on the umbilical cord, or if the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck. Cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but a child may improve with physical therapy. If a doctor’s negligence caused your baby to develop cerebral palsy, we believe the negligent doctor or other medical professionals should be held accountable. Brachial plexus injuries: typically occur when a larger-sized baby gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, requiring the doctor to use force to extract the baby. The birth injuries range in severity from stretching of the nerve fibers, which can cause weakness in the arm and hands, to scar tissue damage to complete tears of the nerve from the spinal column, requiring corrective surgery. Clavicle fractures:
are among the most common birth injuries. The clavicle, or collarbone as it is commonly known, connects the chest to the shoulder. Fractures of the clavicle in a newborn can occur when too much force is used during delivery. This is more common when forceps or vacuum extraction are used during delivery.
The baby is not the only one who may be subjected to injury during pregnancy or during the birth process. Injury to the mother during birth can also be extremely dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Other Common Preventable Birth Injuries Include:
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What to Do if Your Child Has Suffered From Birth Trauma or Injury
It is difficult for a parent to know whether a birth injury was preventable without outside guidance.
The time limit for filing medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania is generally two years. But Pennsylvania law allows additional time for medical injuries involving children and in cases in which the injury was not immediately known.
If you suspect you and your child have been harmed by a birth injury, it is important to contact a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer from a knowledgeable law firm as soon as possible because these cases are time-consuming to investigate and develop. The attorneys at The Colleran Firm are experienced with the complexities of birth injury case.
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Birth Injury Frequently Asked Questions
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Is a Birth Injury Attorney Expensive?
The birth injury lawyers at the Colleran Firm recognize that you have enough expenses during this difficult time without having to find money to hire an attorney. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis to provide legal assistance to families that are having to cope with a preventable birth injury.
+ Under a contingency fee arrangement, we receive payment for our services only if we successfully recover compensation for you. We sign an agreement with a client at the outset, specifying that The Colleran Firm will receive an agreed upon percentage of any settlement or court award that we obtain on your behalf. If we are unsuccessful, you do not owe any money in legal fees or costs.
A contingency fee arrangement allows families that have been harmed as a result of medical negligence to retain experienced legal representation, which they could not otherwise afford.
What is the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?
Birth injuries typically occur just before delivery, during delivery when a baby is passing through the birth canal or immediately afterward. Birth defects, on the other hand, are congenital abnormalities that develop before a baby is born, often in the first few months of pregnancy. Birth defects include conditions such as congenital heart defects, cleft lip, Down syndrome and hearing defects. Some birth defects may be diagnosed before birth. Most are diagnosed during a baby’s first year. Many birth defects are not preventable.
How Do I Know Whether My Baby’s Disability is a Natural Defect or a Birth Injury?
Some birth conditions occur naturally and some birth injuries such as brachial plexus injuries are caused by a doctor’s failure to anticipate problems with a difficult delivery and act to prevent them. If a baby is born with an unexpected health issue, the family should carefully question the doctor to understand how the baby’s condition occurred. If you are unsatisfied with the explanation, seek an independent perspective. Parents may not know the truth without having their medical records evaluated by an independent medical professional. It’s unlikely that a doctor will volunteer information that he or she made a mistake that caused a birth injury. To find out what really happened, you should consult a knowledgeable birth injury attorney and have an evaluation of the circumstances of your baby’s birth injury.
How Long Will a Birth Injury Case Take?
Medical malpractice cases are complicated and take a long time to investigate and resolve, in many instances more than a year. It depends partly on the extent of the birth injury. For that reason, you need to work with a well-established Philadelphia law firm that focuses on medical malpractice cases and has the financial resources and dedication to pursue these difficult cases to conclusion.
Are Birth Injuries Preventable?
Birth injuries that are caused by medical negligence are preventable errors. In contrast, birth defects cannot be prevented in many cases. At The Colleran Firm, we believe that negligent doctors and hospitals should be held accountable for the harm they cause. We have been helping families in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey deal with the consequences of birth injuries and medical malpractice for decades.