Birth injuries can lead to significant short- and long-term effects for a child. In some cases, a birth injury will affect a person throughout their entire life. Anytime a birth injury is caused by the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional, the victim and their family should be able to recover compensation to help with expenses. Here, we want to discuss how to prove a doctor’s negligence if it is suspected that they caused a person’s birth injury.
Establish a Doctor-Patient Relationship
The first element towards proving a doctor’s negligence in a birth injury case is establishing that there was a doctor-patient relationship. There has to be proof that the parent or child (often both in tandem) were a patient of the doctor, obstetrician, gynecologist, hospital, surgeon, or birthing center at the time the incident occurred.
If a doctor-patient relationship does exist, then the medical professional owed you and your child certain duties of professional care, often referred to as the medical standard of care. If a doctor breached the medical standard of care to you or your child during the labor or delivery process, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice case.
Demonstrate a Doctor’s Breach of Duty
The second element in a medical malpractice birth injury case is showing that the doctor in question breached their duty of care. As we mentioned above, this will mean looking at the medical standard of care. In order to examine whether or not the medical standard of care was breached, a court will be asked to examine whether or not a similarly trained medical professional would have acted (or failed to act) in the same manner in a similar type of situation.
Some common breaches of duty that can cause birth injuries include:
- Failing to diagnose maternal conditions or infections during pregnancy.
- Prescribing the wrong medication to the mother.
- Failing to monitor signs of maternal or fetal distress before, during, or after delivery.
- Lack of adequate knowledge about how to handle delivery complications.
- Failing to order a C-section during delivery if one is indicated.
- Inappropriate use of dangerous birthing techniques or tools.
Show Causation Between the Breach and the Injury
After establishing that there was a breach of duty by the doctor in question, it has to be shown that this breach caused the child’s injuries. A common defense during a birth injury lawsuit is that the child would have suffered from the same injury or defect regardless of whether or not the defendant was negligent. It will be up to a medical malpractice attorney to establish that the injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s malpractice.
Prove the Child’s Damages
The last element in proving the negligence of a medical professional after a birth injury is showing that the child suffered specific damages. This can include, but is not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, emotional distress, physical injuries, disability costs, loss of quality of life, etc.
An attorney will work with trusted medical and economic experts to help properly calculate the value of these claims. For birth injury cases, this often includes looking at how the birth injury will affect an individual throughout the remainder of their life.