No parent wants to find out that their child has suffered a serious injury due to trauma before, during or shortly after birth. Unfortunately, birth injuries affect dozens of families in Houston and throughout Texas each year. Many birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice, meaning they could have been prevented had a doctor used an appropriate amount of care in treating the mother or baby. At The Doan Law Firm, our Houston birth injury attorneys are passionate about exposing medical malpractice and helping families who are faced with devastating birth injuries achieve justice.
Houston Birth Injury Resources
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Why You Need a Houston Birth Injury Lawyer to Represent You
A birth injury lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice claim. This is one of the most complicated types of lawsuits in Texas. Medical malpractice lawsuits have unique elements, such as requirements for written notices and medical expert reports. The best way to meet these requirements is by hiring a Houston personal injury attorney to take care of legal matters for you, such as filing your claim and collecting evidence. You can count on an attorney to fight for maximum compensation on your family’s behalf, even if this means taking your birth injury case to trial in Harris County.
How Do Birth Injuries Occur?
Both injuries can occur in a wide variety of ways. Essentially, anytime a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or any other member of the medical team helping with the delivery of a child is negligent in their actions, the child can sustain an injury.
Some of the most commonly cited causes of birth injuries include:
Failing to monitor the fetus, including failing to detect low oxygen levels that could cause cerebral palsy
The improper use of birthing tools, including vacuum extractors or forceps during the birth process, which can lead to facial damage as well as nerve or muscle damage in the neck or head
Failing to notice abnormal birth presentation or position (shoulder first or breech birth)
Undiagnosed large birth weight that leads to complications
Umbilical cord prolapse or umbilical strangulation, which can lead to hypoxia or other oxygen-related issues
Issues with Pitocin, the labor-inducing medication
Failing to recognize when a C-section would be more appropriate than vaginal delivery
Failing to send a child to a neonatal care unit or failure to call in a specialist when necessary
Are Birth Injuries Always Preventable?
Medical complications occur, and they often have nothing to do with negligent actions on the part of the medical provider. The human body is complicated, and there are going to be times when children are born with various defects, injuries, or illnesses that were not preventable or were not caused by the negligent actions of someone else.
With proper prenatal care and attentive medical professionals, many birth injuries are indeed preventable. Nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals involved in the birth process should always look for warning signs pre-labor, during labor, and right after the birth.
If you have any questions about whether or not the birth injury sustained by your child was caused by medical negligence or was preventable in any way, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled Houston birth injury lawyer today. We offer free consultations, and we want to help you determine the next steps moving forward for your particular situation. Determining whether or not an injury was preventable is challenging, but an attorney can work with trusted medical professionals on your behalf to do so.
The Importance of an Early Diagnosis in Birth Injury Cases
It is not uncommon for medical professionals to be unaware of a birth injury right away. In some cases, medical professionals know that there are complications, and there may be an initial injury that seems to be treated. However, the signs and symptoms of some birth injuries do take some time to show up, including conditions like cerebral palsy.
The first step in the right direction in these situations is early diagnosis of a birth injury. Modern medicine has provided us with incredibly valuable tools and techniques to diagnose birth conditions and then begin a treatment program accurately.
The problem with the diagnosis of birth injuries is that babies and young children are more limited in their ability to communicate that something is wrong. Children do not even have a way to express that something is not right. Ultimately, parents and caregivers may be the first individuals to notice that something is amiss. In some cases, a pediatrician may notice that there are various milestones that have not occurred, and this may lead to further tests.
Your child’s doctor should be able to detect any abnormal symptoms and investigate the cause. Early birth injury detection is perhaps the most important factor in finding an effective treatment put your child. Early intervention can lead to significant improvements in a child’s quality of life, both in the short term and in the long term.
When Can You File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Houston?
A birth injury refers to any type of harm suffered by an infant during gestation, labor or delivery. It can also refer to injuries sustained shortly after birth, such as a newborn who is mishandled or dropped by a hospital staff member. Although many mothers experience unexpected complications during childbirth, if these issues – or resultant infant injuries – are caused by a negligent health care practitioner, the family has the right to file a medical malpractice claim in Texas.
Medical negligence is when a health care professional deviates from the accepted standard of patient care. Medical malpractice is a knowing or intentional deviation rather than one caused by carelessness. If a health care provider is guilty of either tort in connection to a birth injury in Houston, the family may be entitled to financial compensation for their related losses.
Is There a Difference Between Birth Injuries & Birth Defects?
It is not uncommon to confuse the terms “birth injuries” and “birth defects.” However, these are two separate things.
Birth injuries are the types of trauma that a child incurs as an infant, either during the pregnancy, the birthing process, or shortly after birth. Birth defects are either chemical defects or physical defects that are present at birth. Birth defects are usually genetically inherited or caused by some sort of environmental factor. In most situations, you will not see a birth injury lawsuit brought against a medical professional for birth defects unless the environmental factor that caused the defect was the result of negligence.
What Are Common Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries can be caused by many lapses or inconsistencies in a patient’s care during the birthing process. These include miscommunications, misdiagnoses, a lack of fetal heart rate monitoring, the failure to order an emergency C-section and the misuse of birth-assistive tools such as forceps. If an OBGYN, nurse, surgeon or another health care professional breaches the standards of patient care, it can cause serious birth injuries, such as:
If your child was diagnosed with any type of injury soon after birth or in the first few years of his or her life and you believe that a doctor’s negligence played a role in causing the injury, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. There are critical deadlines that you cannot miss if you wish to have a valid medical malpractice claim in Texas. A lawyer from The Doan Law Firm can immediately go to work on your case to make sure you don’t miss your filing window.
Possible Symptoms of a Birth Injury
There may be various symptoms associated with birth injuries. In some cases, birth injury symptoms are immediately recognizable. However, it could take months or years for some symptoms to become noticeable. Parents and caregivers will likely have the most knowledge about the overall child’s development, but a child’s doctor should also notice if various milestones are not being met.
Some of the signs associated with birth injuries may be noticeable right after birth, and this can include:
Crying while arching their back
Difficulty eating, swallowing, or suckling
Drooling more than usual
Facial nerve injuries
Hands curved into a claw-like shape
Lower oxygen levels
Low heart rate
Loose or stiff muscles
Sensitivity to light
Weak or absent reflexes
If a child exhibits any of these symptoms soon after birth, it is important for individuals to ensure their child is thoroughly examined. This could be a sign of nerve damage or brain damage.
Some signs of a birth injury may appear between the 12- to 24-month timeframe and include:
Delays in speech or no development of speech at all
Difficulty using utensils or cups
Difficulty eating or drinking
Trouble crawling or walking
Low memory retention or other intellectual disability
Involuntarily pulling on the neck
Lack of muscle control
Lack of bodily movement, called ataxia
Failing to bring objects to the mouth
Unable to pass objects from one hand to the other
Hearing or vision problems
This is certainly not a complete list of the types of signs and symptoms associated with birth injuries. If you think anything seems abnormal with your child’s development, we encourage you to seek assistance from your pediatrician as soon as possible. Not all of these signs and symptoms necessarily mean your child has a birth injury, but you want to know for sure.
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How Can a Houston Birth Injury Lawyer Help?
Both injury claims in Houston and the surrounding areas are fairly difficult cases to litigate, more so than traditional medical malpractice cases. That is why it is so crucial to have a Houston birth injury lawyer who can stand by your side every step of the way.
When a child sustains an injury at birth, there needs to be an extensive investigation into the incident. An attorney will be able to use their resources to handle the investigative process. This includes working through the court system to obtain all medical records related to the particular birth injury as well as examining the history of the medical professionals involved.
Often, these claims revolve around seeking medical witnesses who can provide expert testimony as to why they believe that the child was injured due to the negligence of another medical professional. These claims are extensive. An attorney will handle all negotiations with the insurance carriers or legal teams involved. However, this may not be sufficient enough. A birth injury lawyer will also have the claim fully ready for trial if that is what it takes to help their client recover compensation.
Damages Available in a Birth Injury Case
The families of children who have sustained birth injuries may be able to recover various types of compensation. The total amount of damages available for a successful birth injury claim will vary depending on the type of injury and the severity of the injury. There are various factors that attorneys and financial experts will use when calculating how much compensation the client should receive.
Some of the basic factors that will be considered for these claims include:
The cost of any emergency medical treatment needed
The future cost of medical care, physical therapy, or rehabilitation for the child
Any expenses needed to cover special education or other special needs for the child
The costs of modifying a child’s home to aid with mobility and special needs
The need for any special purpose equipment for the child
The total amount of lost income a child throughout their lifetime due to a birth injury disability
Physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the child
Because these injuries occur early in a person’s life, the total costs of care can become quite high. However, we must take into account the fact that Texas does place some limitations on the total amount of compensation available for medical malpractice claims, which includes birth injury claims.
Under Texas law, plaintiffs will be limited to $250,000 for non-economic damages, which includes losses like physical and emotional pain and suffering. However, there are no limitations on how much compensation a person can receive for economic damages, which includes medical costs, lost wages, and other calculable expenses.
Who is Responsible for My Child’s Injuries?
There may be various parties who could hold liability for a child’s injuries. This includes the following:
Family physician or primary care provider
In general, individuals will visit their primary care provider or family physician to confirm the pregnancy. Most of the care provided by a family physician is not considered specialty care, but they do have a duty to ensure that a pregnant individual is screened properly and referred to an obstetrician or gynecologist if a birth or pregnancy-related complication arises.
Obstetricians or gynecologists (OB/OB-GYN)
Obstetricians and gynecologists are primarily responsible for the prenatal care of an expecting mother. Often, the mother’s OB/GYN is the person who delivers the child. If there is a high-risk pregnancy anticipated, this should be planned and monitored by an obstetrician at the appropriate level of care. Any lapse in judgment during a high-risk pregnancy could lead to injury or death for the infant or expecting mother. In such an outcome, a wrongful death lawyer in Houston is ready to fight for justice for your family.
Obstetricians are generally the party that is responsible for delivering the child and using various birth tools. Additionally, they are usually the ones to either perform C-sections or recommend that a C-section be performed if the vaginal birth is deemed too dangerous. Again, any missteps in making these decisions could lead to harm for an infant or mother.
Nurses or physician assistants
Nurses and physician assistants commonly assist with the birthing process, particularly the monitoring of a mother before, during, and after the birth. These individuals will also be in charge of caring for the infant after birth. Any mistake by these medical professionals could lead to harm for a child or mother.
Anesthesiologists play a key role in the birthing process if a C-section becomes relevant. These individuals are responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring vital signs as the procedure goes forward. Failing to adequately perform these duties could lead to harm to a mother and baby.
Hospitals or surgical centers
Hospitals or surgical centers could be responsible if their employees’ negligence led to an injury to an expecting mother or infant during the birthing process. Generally, employers will be held liable for the actions of their employees.
What is Texas’s Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Lawsuits?
The medical malpractice statute of limitations in Texas is two years from the date the medical mistake occurs. This generally means that the medical malpractice victim must file the lawsuit within this two-year time frame or lose the ability to recover compensation for their losses.
There are some exceptions to this overall statute of limitations. The first limitation deals with injuries that occur to a minor. Under Texas law, a minor has until the age of 14 to file a malpractice lawsuit. Any injury that occurs to a minor after they turn 14 but before they turn 18 must be brought within two years from the date the malpractice occurred.
Texas law does state that any claim for the minor injury victim’s medical expenses before they turn 18 years of age belongs to the minor’s parents. This claim is subject to the two-year statute of limitations.
How Much Does a Birth Injury Attorney Cost?
When an individual needs a birth injury lawyer, the last thing they need to think about is how much it will cost them. That is why our Houston birth injury attorney takes these claims on a contingency fee basis. This means that both injury victims and their families will not pay any legal fees until after our team successfully recovers compensation for their losses. There will be no upfront or out-of-pocket costs to worry about during the case.
If the claim is successful, our legal fees will equal a percentage of the total settlement or jury verdict amount, and this percentage will be agreed upon before any work begins. If we do not win, our clients do not pay anything.
Houston Birth Injury FAQs
Some of the most common questions we receive related to birth injuries include the following:
Is there a difference between a birth injury and a birth defect?
A birth defect is something that is typically not preventable, while a birth injury is something that is often preventable and caused by the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional. Birth defects are congenital, and birth injuries are preventable (usually).
Does your situation arise to the level of a lawsuit?
Whether or not your situation could become a viable medical malpractice lawsuit depends entirely on the evidence at hand. We encourage you to work with a skilled birth injury lawyer in Houston who can walk you through this process and help you determine whether or not to move forward with your claim.
Will a lawsuit always be successful for a birth injury claim?
Medical malpractice claims are notoriously difficult, and success depends on proving that a doctor violated the medical standard of care. This involves obtaining testimony from trusted medical professionals, gathering as much evidence as possible related to the incident, and pushing forward to a trial. Not every medical malpractice claim will be successful, but your attorney can help you understand your chances of success.
How will a jury determine whether or not a doctor is responsible?
A jury will look at all of the evidence presented, listen to witness testimony, and help determine whether or not a doctor provided an adequate standard of medical care.
Will the case have to go to court?
Not all medical malpractice claims will necessarily go to court. In some cases, particularly when the evidence is overwhelming, an insurance carrier or medical provider may decide to settle out of court. However, if the other side refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary to move forward to a complete medical malpractice jury trial.
When Should You Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Individuals need to speak to a Houston birth injury lawyer as soon as they suspect that a birth injury has occurred. These claims are complicated enough as it is, and waiting any amount of time could put the claim in jeopardy. An attorney needs to get involved quickly so they can begin investigating the incident, working with trusted medical experts, and helping recover compensation. Call our medical malpractice lawyer in Houston today so we can begin looking into your unique case.
Contact a Birth Injury Attorney in Houston, Texas Today
A birth injury is a traumatic event for the whole family, not just the injured child. Attorney Jimmy Doan understands how greatly these injuries impact his clients. He goes above and beyond to not only secure the best possible results for each case but also to make sure that his clients have what they need during difficult times. Find out how we can help you today during a free case review in Houston, Texas. Contact our local birth injury lawyers at (800) 349-0000 for more information.