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Birth Injuries in Pennsylvania: Rights, Causes, and Legal Recourse

Town Law Publishing Aug. 17, 2023

birth injury attorney in philadelphia

Bringing a new life into the world is a momentous occasion. But what happens when this joyous event is overshadowed by a birth injury? For many Pennsylvania families, understanding the complexities surrounding birth injuries—ranging from their causes to the legal avenues available—becomes imperative. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve deep into the subject, emphasizing your rights, the potential causes of these injuries, and the legal recourse available in the Keystone State.

Understanding Birth Injuries

A birth injury refers to any harm or damage sustained by a newborn during the childbirth process. These injuries can be temporary, with the baby recovering fully, or they can be permanent, leaving lasting effects.

Common Causes of Birth Injuries

  • Medical Malpractice: Often, negligence on the part of medical professionals during delivery results in birth injuries. This can be due to delayed decisions, such as waiting too long to perform a C-section, using forceps or vacuum extraction incorrectly, or failing to monitor and address fetal distress.

  • Medications: Prescribing or administering the wrong medications to expecting mothers can lead to complications.

  • Infections: Not diagnosing or treating infections in the mother can result in birth injuries.

Types of Birth Injuries

Some of the prevalent birth injuries include:

  • Brachial Plexus Injury: Affecting the bundle of nerves responsible for arm and hand movement.

  • Cerebral Palsy: Caused by brain damage, leading to muscle coordination issues.

  • Fractures: Often resulting from a difficult delivery or the use of delivery instruments.

  • Caput Succedaneum: Swelling of a newborn's soft tissues on the head, often due to vacuum extraction.

birth injury attorney in philadelphia

Your Rights in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law is stringent when it comes to medical malpractice related to birth injuries. Parents have the right to:

  • Seek Compensation: This can cover medical bills, ongoing care costs, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

  • Informed Consent: Medical professionals are required to inform parents of potential risks associated with any procedure or medication.

  • Acquire Medical Records: Parents can request all medical records related to the childbirth, which can be crucial for any legal action.

The Legal Process in Pennsylvania

If you suspect medical negligence caused your child's birth injury, the legal process typically involves:

  1. Consulting a Lawyer: Specializing in medical malpractice or birth injuries. They can assess the viability of your case.

  2. Filing a Claim: If there's enough evidence, your attorney will file a claim on your behalf.

  3. Discovery Phase: Both sides collect evidence, witness testimonies, and expert opinions.

  4. Negotiation or Trial: Many cases are settled outside of court, but if a satisfactory settlement isn't reached, the case might go to trial.

Statute of Limitations

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, including birth injuries, is generally two years. However, because the victim is a minor, the statute doesn't start until the child's 18th birthday. This means you have until the child turns 20 to file a claim.

birth injury attorney in philadelphiaFacing a birth injury is emotionally taxing. However, arming yourself with knowledge can provide some semblance of control in an otherwise overwhelming situation. By understanding the potential causes of birth injuries, being aware of your rights as a Pennsylvania resident, and knowing the avenues for legal recourse, you stand a better chance of obtaining justice for your child. Always consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and get expert guidance.