Having a new baby is a happy time for most families, but this joyous occasion can quickly turn to tragedy when a birth injury occurs. Birth injuries can range from bruising and broken bones to death. They are also linked to serious lifelong issues, such as cerebral palsy, which can cost families millions of dollars in treatment costs, daycare expenses, and lost wages. If you believe your child is a victim of a birth injury, we encourage you to reach out to our Cleveland birth injury attorneys at The Mellino Law Firm to discuss your legal options.
YOU CAN COUNT ON THE MELLINO LAW FIRM
Christopher Mellino has obtained millions of dollars in compensation for families whose children have been injured during birth because of negligence. The very first case Chris tried on his own was a birth injury case against a prominent defense lawyer with a national reputation and a long winning streak for the defense in birth injury cases. Chris’ client was awarded $4 million. That success has continued throughout his career.
Most recently, we obtained a $28.7 million verdict in a birth injury case.
At The Mellino Law Firm, we offer compassionate legal counsel and aggressive representation. We are committed to fighting for the justice and fair compensation you and your family are owed.
HOW WE CAN HELP WITH YOUR BIRTH INJURY CASE
We assist clients with all types of birth injury cases, including those involving:
- Cerebral palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- SSRI birth defects
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Caput succedaneum
- Broken bones
- Bruising and/or forceps marks
- Scalp lacerations from vacuums
- This list is not exhaustive; if your child suffered any type of birth injury, our team can help.
4 STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU SUSPECT A BIRTH INJURY
Perhaps you’ve been up all night in the NICU attending to your newborn and worrying about his or her future and health. Or maybe a pediatrician just diagnosed an abnormality that you suspect was caused by treatment your baby received at the hospital. In either case, you’re likely feeling a mix of emotions, including anger about possible negligence, confusion over what to do next, and concern over how best to care for your child.
#1: OBTAIN AS MUCH DOCUMENTATION RELATED TO THE INJURY AS YOU CAN
For instance, the hospital’s obstetric team probably generated paperwork associated with particular medical procedures performed during the birth. If you don’t have those records, call the appropriate offices and obtain them. In addition, record your own observations and thoughts about what happened. Journaling your observations may be quite useful, not only for legal purposes but also for medical purposes, because they can give you and your doctors insight into what really happened to your child and what might be done about it.
#2: ASK QUESTIONS FROM MEDICAL PROVIDERS & TAKE GOOD NOTES
Canvas anyone who might have been present or involved in the birth. For instance, maybe your doula saw the nurse ignoring a rapid heartbeat on the monitor. Or perhaps a junior obstetrician on your team disagreed with your primary physician’s decision to opt for a C-section or to use Pitocin during the process. Get these accounts written down and recorded as early as possible, since human memory is notoriously porous. Again, such evidence can serve double-duty: it can help build your case and also assist with future care for your child.
#3: ENSURE YOUR CHILD GETS THE ABSOLUTE BEST QUALITY OF CARE RIGHT NOW
If your newborn is still at the hospital or in the care of a doctor that you suspect might have behaved in a negligent or careless fashion, you might ask for a second opinion or even take the baby to another hospital for evaluation. Be assertive about your rights as a parent. If you don’t understand why your doctor is suggesting a certain procedure, speak up, and record any answers you get.
#4: CONSULT WITH A BIRTH INJURY ATTORNEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Taking care of a newborn is challenging even under the best of circumstances. If you’re taking care of a sick newborn, you’re likely very distracted, and you may lack the bandwidth to deal with any “legal business” right now. If that’s the case, consider deputizing a parent or close friend to help with the process. Finding a qualified birth injury attorney to advocate for your rights can be essential for at least three reasons.
First off, the attorney can provide peace of mind. Second of all, the attorney can help preserve critical evidence that might otherwise disappear or be forgotten that could be crucial to your obtaining compensation. Third, the attorney, through his or her investigation, can alert you to problems with the baby’s current care, so that you can resolve them before they cause additional harm. It’s important to have an advocate in your corner.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF BIRTH INJURIES?
The March of Dimes has noted that “there are thousands of different birth defects” and about 120,000 babies are born with one each year in this country. There are also approximately 5.82 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births in the United States. Of these infant deaths, 2 percent are reported to be linked to a fatal birth injury.
However, the real number may be a lot higher. When it comes to medical malpractice in general, a lot of injuries are never reported. Birth injuries can have a lot of different causes, and certain infants are more likely to become victims of birth trauma than other infants.
Birth injuries are caused by a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Prolonged labor
- Breech presentation
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (when the baby is too large for the mother’s pelvis)
- Cesarean delivery
- Failure to recommend cesarean when the baby is distressed
- Using tools to assist in delivery, such as forceps or vacuums
- Internal fetal monitoring
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF BIRTH TRAUMA?
Birth trauma refers to physical injuries sustained during birth, leading to a number of different health issues. There are many different signs of birth trauma and, while some symptoms are evident immediately, others take days, weeks, or even years to surface.
Here are some immediate signs your child may have suffered a birth injury:
- Low Apgar scores
- Inconsolable crying as if in pain
- Arched back while crying
- Labored breathing
- Difficulty with latch reflex (baby can’t nurse or take a bottle)
- Unable to swallow
- Sensitivity to light
- Inability to move arm(s)
- Visible bruises or lacerations
- Spasms or seizures
Additionally, some long-term signs that your child was injured during labor or delivery include:
- High blood pressure
- Low heart rate
- Low iron (anemia)
- Inability to gain weight
- Hearing loss
- Gross motor skill delays (difficulty rolling, crawling, walking, climbing, etc.)
- Fine motor skill delays (inability to grasp a spoon)
- Cognitive delays Loss of bodily movements
- Lack of coordination
- Speech difficulties
- Unable to hit development milestones
- Emotional issues (inability to control temper, regulate moods, etc.)
- Intellectual disabilities Learning disorders Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
If medical malpractice caused your baby’s injury or condition, our Cleveland birth injury attorneys can help you determine liability, hold that person/entity accountable, and pursue compensation for future expenses.