• Birth Injury Myths
  • December 4, 2012
  • Law Firm: Ross Feller Casey LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • No parent wants their child to sustain an injury at birth, and although the incidence of such injuries is low, it’s important to be prepared if such a tragedy does occur. Many parents know that their child has been injured, but they aren’t always sure if they are entitled to or able to receive compensation for that injury. Much of the time, these beliefs are the result of two common birth injury myths:

    #1: The Time Limit

    Although it occurs at birth, a birth injury’s severity may not be fully revealed until the child is older - sometimes much older. As the saying goes, “hindsight is 20-20,” and this is also true with respect to birth injuries. Parents may look back years after the birth and realize that something was off that day. However, they may also believe that it’s too late to pursue justice, and there are people every day who believe that they can no longer recover damages for their child’s injury. While it’s true that there is a limit of two years for the family to sue, that clock doesn’t start ticking until the child turns 18 years old, effectively giving the parents 20 years to file a claim.

    #2: Determining Fault

    Many parents simply don’t realize that their child’s injury may have been the result of a medical error, and this misconception is particularly notable in cases involving a genetic abnormality or natural complication like breeching. Oftentimes, people will attribute the injury to unavoidable issues that occurred during birth, not negligence. While the doctors and nurses are certainly not to blame for a natural complication, their failure to adequately manage that complication and treat the child can cause a birth injury or increase the severity of one caused by the natural complication.

    Here are some examples in which it could be difficult for parents to recognize medical malpractice during birth:

    Example A
    Through no fault of the doctor’s, the umbilical cord has become pinched during birth, and the baby is exhibiting signs of distress. However, the baby is not being monitored closely enough, and these signs are not immediately noticed. The doctor eventually notices that the baby is in distress and performs an emergency C-section, but the child sustains brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

    Example B
    A mother is experiencing a prolonged labor, putting her baby at risk of oxygen deprivation, abnormal heart rhythms, and abnormal amniotic fluid. The doctor decides to use forceps to help ease the baby down the birth canal. However, he positions them improperly and compresses the child’s cranial nerve, causing facial paralysis.

    It can be exceptionally difficult to determine what caused a birth injury, so we always advise parents to contact an attorney as soon as possible to have the issue thoroughly examined. If your child has sustained a birth injury, even if it was years ago, then you may want to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

    Matthew Casey is a founding partner at Ross Feller Casey, LLP, a personal injury law firm. Visit http://www.rossfellercasey.com to learn more about these Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys.