The Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury
When it comes to medical malpractice, parents and families may pursue legal action when substandard care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery leads to preventable injuries at birth. These birth injury cases allege that medical professionals failed in their obligation to provide appropriate care and that babies suffered short- or long-term health consequences as a result. However, there are inherent risks to pregnancy and delivery, and there are injuries and disabilities that may be present at birth regardless of the care provided. Because of these factors, it can be difficult for families to understand whether they have grounds to pursue a birth injury case.
At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin, our West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys help families throughout Florida understand their rights when pursuing birth injury lawsuits. This includes understanding what constitutes a birth injury lawsuit and whether the unique facts and circumstances of their cases meet standards established by law.
As the nature of a baby’s injury or disability, and its underlying cause, dictates whether families have viable claims, we wanted to provide some clarification:
- Birth Injuries – Birth injury cases arise from situations in which babies suffer harm due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals. Negligence is defined as a medical professional’s failure to provide an acceptable standard of care, or the type of care a reasonable and skilled professional would provide under similar circumstances. This means that when babies are injured because health care providers fail to adequately assess or respond to conditions or complications during pregnancy or deliver or otherwise treat patients or administer procedures in a negligent or careless manner, they can be held liable for damages.
- Birth Defects – Birth defects are congenital, meaning that they are present at birth and develop as a baby grows in the womb and they can affect any part of a baby’s body, brain, or central nervous system. While birth defects are often caused by genetic mutations, they can also result through exposure to toxins or medications. In the past, certain anti-depressants, narcotic medications, and other drugs have been linked to birth defects.
Do I Have a Birth Injury Case?
Determining whether you have a birth injury case requires a meticulous investigation into your unique situation. Because some injuries are unavoidable, the most important question to consider is whether medical providers failed to provide appropriate care during any phase of treating pregnant mothers and overseeing birth. Substandard care can occur in many different ways, including:
- Failures to monitor or respond to signs of fetal distress
- Failures to identify and address medical conditions with known risks (i.e. high blood pressure)
- Delays or failures to administer emergency C-sections
- Improper use of vacuum extractors, forceps, or other medical devices
- Toxic exposure
- Medication errors
- Unsafe drugs
If the cause of your child’s injuries is rooted in negligence, either committed by medical professionals that provided substandard care or pharmaceutical companies that made unsafe medications available to the public and pregnant women, you might be entitled to compensation of your damages, which can include your emotional injuries, lost income, and past and future medical expenses. Because birth injuries have the potential to result in long-term limitations or lifelong disabilities, birth injury victims and families commonly experience extensive economic and non-economic damages.
With compensation so vital to helping victims and families deal with injuries and disabilities as a child grows, birth injury lawsuits are high stakes cases. They can also be immensely challenging. Highlighting negligence as the cause of an injury, and not a natural defect, is a difficult task, and one that requires extensive work and collaboration with medical experts. Health care providers and insurance companies also complicate cases, as they often work aggressively to pay as little as possible. This is why it becomes crucial for families to work with experienced medical malpractice attorneys who have the insight, resources, and professional connections needed to level the playing field and secure the justice and recoveries victims need. Over the years, our lawyers have proven we have exactly that.
If you have questions about birth injuries and whether you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit, our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin is readily available to discuss your case. Our lawyers have earned national recognition for their work in medical malpractice litigation, and have recovered millions on behalf of victims and families harmed by negligence of medical providers. Call today to request a free case evaluation.