The joy of holding your newborn for the first time is priceless. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, your child may sustain an injury at the hands of the medical staff during labor. Birth injuries are not as uncommon as we may think. According to CDC, 7 in 1000 experience a birth injury, some of which heal quickly, while others may have more severe life-altering outcomes for the child.
Medical staff working at a hospital is under oath to provide your child with the best possible care. However, in the unfortunate event of a birth injury, the hospital and staff are liable to pay for damages, and you are allowed to seek compensation for short and long-term medical expenses your child may need down the road.
But before you file a claim, you should know a few things that may increase your chances of a favorable outcome. So consider the following:
Know when you have a claim
A claim is a set of facts that give you the right to file a lawsuit. Primarily, these include negligence of the medical staff. To prove negligent behavior, you must:
- Show the procedure involved some negligence on the part of the staff
- Show the negligence caused injury to the child’s health
- Prove the injury inflicted on your child was foreseeable, in which case you have a claim.
If the injury was not an outcome of foreseeable circumstances, you might not have a claim. After you’ve figured this out, you can move on to taking legal action.
Contact specialists only
Legal jargon and proceedings can be complex for people to understand. Hence, it’s better to lawyer up. It would also make sense to contact lawyers who have experience in the type of claim. So contact professionals with experience in filing a birth injuries lawsuit against medical staff. These professionals would be familiar with important laws and tasks about the nature of the case and would be better equipped than, let’s say, a divorce or tax lawyer.
Statute of limitations
There is a statute of limitations for cases involving a child’s or adult’s injury. This statute holds that the claim filed is rightful and valid for a certain period. A specific amount of time must not have been crossed between when the injury was sustained and the moment you file the claim. It is mainly because a birth injury lawsuit is specific to the birth process and not after it.
Since you are filing a claim of negligence against the medical staff involved during the birthing process, the statute of limitation gives you a pretty small window to start the process. Most states in the US have a 2-to-3 year limit during which parents can file a claim, but do consult your lawyer. If you exceed the window, you may not be able to secure money for your family’s future.
It could take a while
Filing a lawsuit and waiting for every step to play out can be a long process. Hence, as mentioned earlier, look for a birth injury lawyer so they can work on the case on your behalf. A lot of planning and documentation goes into the process, and this is something you may not be able to handle alone.
Be mindful that legal proceedings can be slow. Having a support system around you is also important since the process can be financially and mentally exhausting. So be patient.
Reaching a settlement versus going to court
Your case’s legal proceedings can go in one of two ways. Either the hospital chooses to settle out of court, or both legal teams fight out in front of a judge and jury. Settlements are generally faster and can help you secure a reasonable amount of compensation in a short time. Legal headlines can tarnish a hospital and healthcare professional’s reputation, and neither would want that. Be sure your lawyer has good communication skills since these will come in handy when negotiating a settlement amount.
If the hospital refutes the lawsuit and refuses to negotiate, you’ll have to battle it out. Be ready since the defendant will bring their lawyers to prove you don’t have a claim. Unfortunately, courtroom proceedings are not a cheap affair. The longer the case takes, the more expensive it gets. Hence, finances are a significant factor to consider when you are fighting a big hospital that may have a wealth of influential lawyers at its disposal.
During the entire process, collect all the information you may need to prove your child sustained a birth injury. You and your lawyer must ensure all evidence is properly recorded and documented, including any related reports, photos, eye-witness accounts, information about the doctors involved, etc. Keep notes on the process, including keeping the invoices, statements, details collected by the lawyer, and information about the hospital itself. Since life-altering birth injuries take a few months to manifest, it is best to record everything from day 1 just in case.
Well-documented evidence will help you strengthen your case and determine how much compensation you can receive.
Birth injuries such as Cerebral Palsy and Erb’s Palsy can have a significant impact on the way your child grows. Care management can become an overwhelming expense. Hence seeking compensation for such injuries is your legal right. Since taking legal action is not a straightforward process, this article mentions a few tips to help you out. Showing patience is crucial since this can be a long process. Lawyering up with a competent professional or firm can help you secure a sizeable amount of money to secure your child’s future.