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Seattle Birth Injury Attorneys

Legal Representation for Families Affected by Labor and Delivery Injuries

There are few things as devastating for new parents as seeing their newborn suffer. It's especially terrible when mistakes made by medical professionals hurt your child. If your child is displaying symptoms of an injury at birth, one of the happiest days of your life may become one of the most heartbreaking. Some birth injuries are not immediately apparent and are only noticed when a child fails to meet certain developmental milestones.

Pregnant woman and doctor with stethoscope

When your child suffers a serious birth injury as the result of medical negligence, you may be able to seek monetary support for your child's medical expenses. The experienced Seattle birth injury lawyers at Pendergast Law understand the importance of protecting your child's rights and securing his or her future.

Call us today to find out how we can help you. You can reach us at (888) 228-3860.

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Common Types of Birth Injuries

Some birth injuries are temporary with symptoms that improve over time; others are permanent and can lead to a lifetime of struggle and hardship for an entire family. In fact, birth injuries are among the leading causes of long-term medical conditions. Here are a few examples of common birth injuries that result from medical malpractice:

  • Cerebral palsy: A disorder caused by damage to a child's brain during pregnancy or delivery. Cerebral palsy affects muscle control, coordination, motor skills, speaking, and mental and physical development. Besides physical trauma, cerebral palsy can be caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow during labor or in the neonatal period.
  • Erb's palsy: Erb's palsy is an injury caused when the brachial plexus nerves located near a baby's neck are stretched or torn during birth. This injury can result in varying degrees of loss of function in the fingers, hand, wrist, or arm. If the nerves are severely damaged, they usually require surgery to repair.
  • Bone fractures: The bone most commonly broken during birth is the baby’s clavicle, which can happen if the baby is forcibly removed from the mother. In extreme cases of shoulder dystocia, doctors used to purposely break the collarbone to get the baby out.
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: HIE is widespread brain damage caused by either hypoxia (lower oxygen levels) or ischemia (blocked flow of oxygen) to the baby. If health care providers don’t pay attention to the fetal heart rate monitor, a baby’s distress can end in brain injury from lack of oxygen.
  • Pitocin (oxytocin) mismanagement: Pitocin is a powerful drug that is used to induce or progress the birthing process, usually administered through an IV. However, too much of this medication can cause uterine rupture, especially if the mother has had a previous C-section. Fetal distress, and resultant brain damage, are side effects of Pitocin in some cases.
  • Forceps injuries: When forceps are used during a difficult labor, they can cause minor injuries like bruises, or serious injuries like skull fractures, scalp lacerations, and nerve damage.
  • Caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma: When vacuum extraction is used inappropriately during labor, it can result in severe swelling on the baby’s scalp. If there's a significant amount of bleeding between the skull and its fibrous covering, red blood cells can break down, and a baby can become jaundiced.
  • Infant wrongful death: In the worse cases, negligent birthing procedures and aftercare can cost a baby its life.

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Birth Injury Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve helped many Seattle parents deal with the aftermath of their child’s suffering a serious birth injury. Below are the most common questions we hear from clients.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Birth Injury?

What's the Difference Between Birth Defects and Birth Injuries?

Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Birth Injury?

What Kinds of Medical Negligence Lead to a Birth Injury?

How Long Do I Have to File a Birth Injury Claim?

What Damages Can I Pursue in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Newborn baby with tag on ankle

Q: How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Birth Injury?

A: Most birth injuries are obvious. They show up as broken bones, swelling, or bruising. However, there are other birth injuries that don't show symptoms until later on. If your child shows any of the following signs, he or she may be suffering a birth injury:

  • Problems with mobility
  • Difficulty grabbing things
  • Difficulty sitting upright
  • Hearing and speaking issues
  • Seizures

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Q: What's the Difference Between Birth Defects and Birth Injuries?

A: Birth defects occur during pregnancy, as the child is developing. They are relatively rare in North America. Birth defects can be caused by genetic abnormalities, chromosome issues, or environmental factors. Common birth defects include cleft lip, heart defects, and problems with the central nervous system. Birth injuries are traumatic events that happen to the baby and/or mother before, during, or just after a delivery.

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Q: Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Birth Injury?

A: Any medical professional involved in the labor and delivery can be held accountable for injuries they cause due to their negligent or dangerous actions. A Washington medical malpractice claim for a birth injury can be brought against a:

  • Delivery doctor
  • Obstetrician
  • Labor and delivery nurse
  • Neonatal resuscitation practitioner (NNP)
  • Midwife
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Pediatrician
  • Neonatologist
  • Hospital
  • Birth center

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Q: What Kinds of Medical Negligence Lead to a Birth Injury?

A: The negligent or dangerous actions of medical professionals come in many different forms. Here are the most common types of medical negligence that lead to birth injuries:

  • Failure to monitor a child or mother's vital signs
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction devices
  • Poor sanitation of labor equipment
  • Medication or anesthesia errors
  • Not ordering a C-section in a timely manner
  • Surgical errors during C-section procedure
  • Improper treatment of shoulder dystocia, causing brachial plexus injury (nerve damage to shoulder, arm, or hand)
  • Administering too much medication to start labor
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a trapped or compressed umbilical cord
  • Allowing labor to go on too long without intervention

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Q: How Long Do I Have to File a Birth Injury Claim?

A: Washington State has a complex statute of limitations regarding birth injury claims. A statute of limitations is the window of time that you have to file a lawsuit after an injury occurs. Therefore, a family with a potential birth injury claim should contact an experienced medical malpractice law firm right away. Careful preparation and consultation with top medical experts is required to properly prepare a case for trial. Usually, a judge will require a settlement mediation before a jury trial is set. It is important to have a law firm that is willing and able to take a case to trial if a settlement cannot be made. That said, the majority of cases prepared by an experienced birth injury lawyer do settle.

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Q: What Damages Can I Pursue in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

A: An experienced Seattle birth injury attorney can help you pursue compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Physical therapy
  • Treatment expenses
  • Lost future potential earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Special equipment and household and vehicle modifications (wheelchair ramps, etc.)
  • Wages lost while caring for child or going to doctor appointments
  • Damages for your child's decreased quality of life

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After a Birth Injury in Seattle, Get Legal Help

It's the responsibility of your doctor to know when problems may arise. A doctor has to carefully monitor the baby and mother during labor and delivery. When there's a failure to diagnose or prevent complications, the consequences can be devastating.

If your child suffered injuries during birth because of medical malpractice, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your losses.

Contact the experienced Seattle personal injury lawyers at Pendergast Law, at (888) 228-3860 to schedule your free consultation.

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