Preparing for the birth of your child is supposed to be an exciting time for every parent. You’ve spent months researching car seats, stocking up on diapers, and organizing baby clothes. But something went wrong, and now your child has been irreversibly harmed.
If a doctor’s negligence hurt your child and you’re wondering, “What should I know about filing a birth injury lawsuit in Illinois?”, know that you’re not alone. Prince Law Firm is a proud legal advocate and ally for families in Marion, Williamson County, Johnson County, and beyond.
Can My Family File a Birth Injury Lawsuit? Examples of Qualifying Birth Injuries
If your child was injured before, during, or after the labor and delivery process, they may be facing a lengthy recovery period. In some circumstances, there is no such thing as a full recovery. Many birth injuries involve lifelong impairments.
Whether your child has been permanently or temporarily injured, your family may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit for one or more of the following conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries (including brachial palsy)
- Forceps and vacuum injuries
- Facial paralysis
- Clavicle (collarbone) fractures
- Cephalohematoma (bleeding between the skull and scalp)
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging (broken blood vessels in the eye)
- Caput succedaneum (swelling of the soft tissue of the scalp)
This is an incomplete list of preventable injuries that can occur at birth. If your baby was hurt and you believe their injuries were caused by doctor or hospital negligence, do not delay—seek medical care or a second opinion as soon as possible.
Symptoms of certain injuries may not be readily apparent until days or even weeks after birth. Never ignore any troubling symptoms that your newborn or infant is displaying. Schedule an appointment or seek immediate medical care at an emergency room if your baby:
- Struggles to latch or take a bottle
- Has trouble breathing
- Has a blue or yellow tint to their skin
- Can’t turn their head
- Cries for no discernible reason
- Appears to be in pain or intense discomfort
- Has excessive drooling
- Displays unusual eye movements
- Has floppy limbs or muscle weakness
- Appears lethargic
Seeking timely and appropriate medical care is the most important step you can take for your child. Failure to identify and treat certain injuries can result in a preventable worsening of the condition.
After you’ve met with doctors, your next step in determining your child’s right to legal recourse is to meet with a lawyer.
Determining Your Right To File a Birth Injury Claim
Not every poor outcome is the result of medical malpractice. As much as we’d like to believe that modern medicine has the answer to every potential problem, the reality is that some outcomes are simply unavoidable.
When faced with accusations of negligence, many doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, and medical facilities will claim that a poor outcome was always a possibility.
There are often two matters that we have to settle when determining whether a family has the right to file a birth injury claim. These are:
- Is the condition in question a birth injury or birth defect?
- Was a medical professional negligent in caring for the baby or pregnant parent?
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, birth injuries are not the same things as birth defects. Let’s review the difference now:
- A birth injury is an impairment to a newborn’s bodily function or structure that is the direct result of an adverse event before, during, or after delivery.
- A birth defect is a structural or physical abnormality present at birth that is not the result of an injury.
For example, a birth injury may be a broken clavicle caused by the improper use of forceps during an assisted birth. An example of a birth defect may be a cleft lip or palate caused by a combination of genes or other non-injury factors.
Proving Negligence for a Birth Injury
A birth injury lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice lawsuit. To successfully resolve these types of legal claims, you must be able to prove the following four elements of negligence:
- The health care provider or facility owed you a duty of care.
- The health care provider or facility failed to meet their duty of care.
- Your child suffered injuries as a result of this breach.
- Your child suffered verifiable losses related to their injury.
For claims involving accusations of medical neglect, the duty of care involves something known as the accepted standard of care. To determine what the accepted standard of care is, we work closely with medical experts to determine how another provider of the same specialty (for example, another obstetrician) placed in similar circumstances would act.
If the attending doctor or other health care professional did not adhere to the standard of care when treating you, then they may have been negligent in your care. Examples of neglect that can contribute to birth injuries include:
- Not monitoring the parent or baby’s vitals during labor
- Ignoring signs of fetal distress
- Failing to order a timely cesarean section (C-section)
- Prescribing medications that are contraindicated for pregnancy
- Failing to identify signs of dangerous conditions like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes
- Misusing birthing tools like vacuum extractors or forceps
Who Can Be Held Responsible for My Newborn’s Injury?
Liability for injuries that occur at birth can be complicated. Legal claims often involve multiple layers of liability and more than one at-fault party. Possible at-fault parties in a birth injury case can include:
- Nurse practitioners
- Medical facilities
Statute of Limitations on Birth Injury Lawsuits in Illinois
A statute of limitations is the legal time limit that is placed on a victim’s legal right to file a civil claim or lawsuit. For birth injuries, families have eight years to file their claim. This may be either eight years from the date of the injury or eight years from the date that the injury should have reasonably been discovered.
However, if the birth injury resulted in permanent disability, the statute of limitations is extended until the child’s 22nd birthday.
If you do not take action within the prescribed time limit, you waive your right to compensation for your child.
How To Obtain a Certificate of Merit for a Birth Injury Claim
The state of Illinois requires every medical malpractice claim to be accompanied by a certificate of merit. A qualified medical professional must review the facts of the case and document their initial findings in this certificate, also known as an affidavit of merit.
This medical professional must meet certain requirements, including having knowledge of the specific area of medicine, condition, or illness related to the case. This individual must have also practiced or taught in the same area of medicine relevant to the case within the past six years.
To obtain a certificate of merit for your claim, you’ll want to work closely with a medical malpractice attorney who has developed close professional relationships with health care professionals.
Prince Law Firm—Fighting for Illinois Families
Every child deserves the best possible start in life. When a health care provider’s negligence causes a newborn to suffer a serious or life-altering injury, that opportunity is taken from them.
As parents, you have the right to seek justice on behalf of your child. A successful birth injury claim can provide compensation that supports their recovery and their future, including compensation for all related medical bills.
We’re ready to talk about how we can help. Get in touch by phone or fill out our convenient online form, and we’ll schedule you for a completely free case evaluation with a birth injury lawyer in Marion.
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