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Birth Injury Claims in Houston
You may be on this page because you have experienced a parent’s greatest fear. Something happened to your child. Instead of a celebration, their birth became something scary. Instead of taking home a healthy baby, you may have an infant facing lifelong challenges.
Even then, it can feel wrong to want to seek justice for your baby’s birth injuries. It feels disloyal to think of them as anything other than perfect. But, the reality is that birth injuries can mean long-term medical expenses for your child. As a loving parent, you must seek compensation for those injuries.
How do you do that? We will explain birth injury claims and give you. But, in Texas, when you do it is even more important than how you do it.
Statute of Limitations
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations (SOL) on birth injury claims. An SOL limits how long you have to bring a claim. So, many people think they cannot file suit after a baby turns two. But you get an extra 10 years to bring a claim for a minor. That means you can bring a claim for 12 years after the injury or after you know about the injury. Depending on the facts, you could have until a child turns 14 to bring a birth injury lawsuit.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is an injury that happens to a baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Birth injuries are different from congenital disabilities (birth defects).
Congenital disabilities develop while a baby is in utero. They usually happen during organ development in the first trimester. They may be detectable via ultrasounds or other testing. Doctors can treat some in utero. Failure to detect them may be malpractice, but it is not a birth injury.
Can I Bring a Suit for a Congenital Disability?
Maybe. Many congenital disabilities are genetic. Others have causes other than medical care. However, if your doctor did something that caused it, you may have a malpractice claim.
One of the most famous examples of a medical intervention leading to congenital disabilities was thalidomide. In the 1950s and 60s, doctors prescribed it to treat morning sickness. However, it impacted fetal development. It led to many issues, including babies with missing or malformed limbs and digits.
How Do I Know If a Birth Injury Harmed My Baby?
That is a critical question. Doctors and hospitals rarely tell you that they hurt your baby. However, your medical records can help tell the tale.
What Are Some Common Birth Injuries?
Not all birth injuries are the result of malpractice. Labor and delivery are inherently risky. However, malpractice frequently causes the following birth injuries
- Clavicle fractures
- Forceps injury
- Vacuum injury
- Head injury
- Brain injury
- Facial nerve injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
Clavicles, also known as collarbones, are the most common birth injury. These delicate bones break easily. Sometimes they break from natural causes, like the baby’s size or a narrow birth canal. Sometimes they are damaged by tools the doctor uses during delivery. Even if a baby’s collarbone broke because of a natural cause, it might be malpractice. If they know a baby is too big for a safe vaginal birth, a doctor should suggest a c-section.
The good news is that these fractures are rarely severe. They rarely require treatment. They heal in about 7 to 10 days. It can be hard to tell if an infant is in pain. However, these injuries do not seem too painful for newborns.
Forceps are tools that look like cooking tongs. They are curved so that they can fit around a baby’s head. The doctor uses them to help deliver a baby that is stuck. While you are pushing, the doctor pulls on the baby. If the doctor places them wrong or uses too much force, it can lead to a head or brain injury.
Vacuums are another tool that obstetricians (OBs) use to help deliver babies. They attach a small cup with a vacuum pump to the baby’s head. The goal is to help guide the baby while the mother pushes.
Like forceps, a vacuum delivery is an assisted birth. OBs should not use them unless they are medically necessary. Some things that might indicate the need for a vacuum delivery are
- Stalled labor
- Baby in distress
- Maternal health conditions
The doctor places a soft cup with a handle and vacuum pump on the baby’s head to help guide them down the birth canal. Vacuum delivery is typically done while the mother pushes during childbirth.
Head Injury/Brain Injury
Head injuries are the result of external trauma to the baby’s school. They can be the result of a natural, unassisted birth. However, they are more likely with forceps or vacuum-assisted deliveries.
Head injuries vary in severity. Some can be minor, while others can lead to lifelong disabilities.
Babies’ skulls are much softer than adult schools. So, even a tiny amount of external trauma can lead to hydrocephalus. While this condition was once known as water on the brain, it does not involve water. Instead, it is the abnormal buildup of fluid deep in the brain. That fluid causes pressure on the tissues of the brain. It can also rupture blood cells.
These head and brain injuries can be severe. They can lead to lower physical and mental functioning. Babies with them may also need lifelong medical care. In some cases, they can even lead to death.
Facial Nerve Injury
When a baby’s facial nerves are injured, they develop a condition known as Bell’s palsy. It can cause a side of the face to droop. Bell’s palsy is often the result of clumsy treatment during birth. Force-assisted births are also a culprit.
Some children outgrow Bell’s palsy. Others do not. While Bell’s palsy is not life-threatening, it can be life-altering. Kids can be cruel. A child with Bell’s palsy may face bullying and other bad treatment.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder. It affects muscle tone, coordination, and movement. CP can lead to delays in developmental milestones.
Abnormal brain development or brain damage can cause CP. That can happen during pregnancy, birth, infancy, or even while a child is a toddler or preschooler.
We must examine medical records to determine whether your child’s CP results from a birth injury. We may also need expert opinions.
If a baby does not get enough oxygen during birth, it can cause brain cells to die. It is a life-threatening condition. Even if infants survive, they may have permanent brain damage. Hypoxia usually leads to some degree of cognitive or physical impairment.
Erb’s palsy is a muscle weakness in the arm or shoulder. It is the result of an injury during birth. This type of birth injury can happen in vaginal or cesarean births. The usual cause is the OB or nurse moving the baby’s head to the side to aid delivery. That movement can stretch and damage the nerves, causing weakness in the arm or shoulder.
Erb’s palsy is rarely permanent. If recovery begins in the first month after birth, the recovery rate is almost 100%. Even if treatment is delayed, most babies see complete resolution of the condition in the first year of life. Surgery may help children who do not recover by three to five months after birth.
Other names for Erb’s palsy are obstetric brachial plexus palsy and brachial plexus birth injury.
Can I Recover for a Baby Killed During Pregnancy or Delivery?
Texas laws only allow parents to recover for injuries to infants born alive. So, if your baby died during delivery, you probably do not have a malpractice claim. You might be able to bring a civil suit under Texas’s new abortion laws. However, they require an intent to kill the baby.
What Do I Do if I Think My Baby Has a Birth Injury?
The most important thing you can do is document your baby’s care. Your attorney will need information about all
- Medical procedures
- Prenatal visits
- Medical facilities
- Healthcare professionals
- Details of your birth
- Details of post-birth care
Does that sound overwhelming? We can get much of the medical information after you sign a medical release. However, the more information you have, the better we can assess whether or not malpractice caused a birth injury.
Who Is Liable for a Birth Injury?
Sometimes, no one. However, if malpractice caused your baby’s birth injury, you may be able to file claims against
- Hospital staff
- Hospital administration
What Compensation Can I Get?
Compensation depends on the type and severity of your baby’s injury. There are two main types of compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit
- Economic damage
- Non-economic damages
Economic damages cover economic costs that are the result of the birth injury. They include medical expenses and any additional care your child may need due to the birth injury.
Economic damages are often more than parents realize. If your child has a permanent physical or mental disability, the costs for lifelong care can be astronomical. Talking to an attorney or other expert about those costs is essential before accepting a settlement offer. For most people, a million-dollar settlement seems like a lot of money. However, a million dollars may not even cover a few years of medical care for a severely disabled child.
Non-economic damages cover things like pain and suffering. In Texas, we limit non-economic damages in malpractice lawsuits. You can get up to $250,000 per provider or facility, but only from up to three parties. The maximum amount of non-economic damages is $750,000.
Get Help Today
Getting the proper medical treatment is essential if your baby has a birth injury. While some injuries are permanent, early treatment and interventions can improve some outcomes. So, you want to have the resources to pay for that care.
Contact us at the Salazar Law Firm. We can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. If we determine that you have a medical malpractice birth injury claim, we represent you with no up-front fees. We only get paid if we win.