Los Angeles Birth Injury Lawyer
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Los Angeles Birth Injury Lawyer

Ellis Law has advocated on behalf of birth injury malpractice victims in Southern California for more than 20 years. Sometimes the most vulnerable members of society are injured just as their lives are beginning. When that happens, our team offers personalized attention and superior legal representation.  

Our Los Angeles birth injury lawyers can help grieving families understand their legal rights. When a child’s suffering was caused by a negligent healthcare provider, we hold the provider accountable and pursue just compensation. 

When can a birth injury lead to a lawsuit? 

Sometimes birth injuries are unavoidable. In many other situations, they can be prevented with competent medical care. Medical professionals, including midwives, nurses, general practitioners, and OB-GYNs, have a legal duty to provide medical treatment that meets the required standard of care. The standard of care in any case is determined by the type and level of treatment that a reasonably competent medical professional with similar training would provide in that geographic location and under similar circumstances. 

Unfortunately, when a medical care provider breaches the standard of care in the delivery room, innocent newborns suffer the consequences. In the days and weeks after a delivery that did not go as planned, it may be difficult to know whether a medical mistake was to blame. Families are therefore encouraged to consult with a lawyer at Ellis Law immediately if they suspect their child’s medical problems were caused by negligent prenatal or delivery room care. 

How common are birth injuries? 

Infants are the most vulnerable of patients and yet are harmed by an alarming number of medical mistakes. An estimated 7 in every 1,000 babies suffering preventable birth injuries and most of those – over 80% – are classified as moderate or severe. About 20% of infant fatalities are caused by birth injuries 

According to a 2009 study, nearly 157,000 mothers and newborns experienced potentially avoidable injuries in 2006. The highest rate of injury occurred among instrument-assisted vaginal births. All populations are vulnerable to birth risks, with the rates being the same among newborns from the wealthiest communities and the poorest communities.  

Types of birth trauma 

Birth injuries may occur either just before or during the labor process. Catastrophic fetal trauma can result when doctors fail to react swiftly to urgent complications during delivery. 

Your case is unique; no matter the circumstances of your case, our birth injury lawyers have the experience to balance the scale of justice and hold those accountable for their negligent actions. 

We represent clients affected by the following types of birth injuries: 

  • Delay in diagnosing fetal distress 
  • C-section delay or mistakes 
  • VBAC complications (vaginal birth after Cesarean section) 
  • Injury from improper use of forceps or vacuum suction 
  • Cerebral Palsy 
  • Shoulder dystocia complications 
  • Bone fractures 
  • Erb’s Palsy 
  • Pitocin-induced injuries 
  • Brain damage caused by fetal asphyxia 
  • HIE (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy) 
  • Umbilical cord problems 
  • Brachial plexus injury 

Potential causes of birth injuries 

It is estimated that nearly half of all birth injuries could be avoided with proper diagnosis of fetal and maternal risk factors. Some recognized risk factors include: 

  • Size – The size of the mother and the baby both matter. If the mother has a smaller pelvis, or the baby has a larger head, uterine contractions alone may not be enough to move the baby through the birth canal. Improper use of delivery tools like forceps or vacuum extraction can cause trauma to the child. 
  • Blood pressure – Maternal hypertension is common as pregnancy progresses but when it occurs suddenly or increases more than expected, it may lead to a diagnosis of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can lead to prenatal risks like reduced blood and oxygen flow to the placenta, fetal growth restriction, and premature birth. It can also put the mother at risk of brain injury, blood clots, impaired kidney and liver activity, and seizures.  Severe cases of preeclampsia can progress to HELLP syndrome, which is life-threatening to mother and child and requires emergency medical treatment. 
  • Position – When babies do not move normally into a head-first position, they are at increased risk of physical trauma due to the stresses of vaginal birth and/or oxygen deprivation from entanglement with the umbilical cord. 
  • Gestational diabetes – Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can appear during pregnancy. In addition to creating health risks for the mother, whose body becomes insulin-resistant, it can lead to increased baby size, preeclampsia, and other medical conditions that can increase the risks to mother and child. 
  • Delivery medications – Certain drugs have become commonplace in maternity wards but they come with increased delivery risks. Pitocin is often used to induce or speed up labor but it can lead to hyper-stimulation of contractions that interrupt oxygen flow to the baby. Epidurals and other pain management medications, on the other hand, can slow the delivery to the extent that it increases the stress and chance of oxygen deprivation to a child, and increases the like likelihood of interventions like forceps or vacuum pumps. 

In other words, childbirth carries some inherent risk but medical professionals who specialize in labor and delivery are tasked with managing that risk rather than increasing it. When doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners fail to make the kind of risk management decisions that other reasonably skilled medical professionals would make, it may amount to medical malpractice. 

Birth trauma may be the result of medical malpractice when it is caused by: 

  • Delayed Cesarean section delivery 
  • Failure to detect or respond to signs of fetal distress 
  • Failure to treat  umbilical cord problems or placental abruption 
  • Improper management of shoulder dystocia 
  • Excessive force when using forceps or vacuum 
  • Pitocin dosing errors 
  • Failure to detect or treat maternal infections 
  • Failure to regularly monitor fetal heart rate 

Medical mistakes can lead to birth injuries 

A difficult delivery, or even mismanagement of prenatal conditions, can lead to a range of birth injuries. Some of the more common injuries include: 

  • Erb’s palsy – This paralysis of the arm is caused by trauma to the bundle of nerves running through the neck known as the brachial plexus. Minor damage may heal without long-term effects but more severe damage can require surgery and lead to long-lasting conditions like differing arm lengths, weakness, paralysis, and limited range of motion. 
  • Oxygen deprivation – Extended deprivation of oxygen can lead to brain damage. Even mild oxygen deprivation causes other conditions, from cognitive disabilities to cerebral palsy. 
  • Spinal cord injuries – Forceful delivery, often including the use of forceps, can cause spinal cord damage. As a result, the infant may face paralysis or other conditions caused by nerve damage. 
  • Broken bones – Fractured collarbones are the most common broken bones during delivery, often occurring when the baby presents as a breach. Infant collarbones may heal quickly but the injury is painful and can limit arm and shoulder movement. 
  • Facial injuries – Pressure during delivery can damage the baby’s facial nerve, leading to facial paralysis. Mild nerve damage may cause only some bruising and heal on its own. More severe damage may require surgery. A baby may also experience subconjunctival hemorrhage, in which small blood vessels in the eye are broken. This can cause bright red spots in the whites of the eyes that take days or weeks to resolve. 

It is critical to a birth injury lawsuit to be able to prove the connection between the medical provider’s actions and the resulting injury. The attorneys at Ellis Law have the experience needed to spot potential medical malpractice and we work with expert medical witnesses who can prove it to a jury. 

Signs of birth injuries 

In the excitement of labor and delivery, parents are often not looking for signs of an injury. However, the sooner a birth injury is discovered and treated, the greater the potential outcome.  

Some signs to look for in a newborn immediately after childbirth include: 

  • Low vitals – Low oxygen levels or heart rate may signal a hidden problem. 
  • Signs of trauma – Evidence of injuries, such as bone fractures or bruises, could be signs of more serious unseen injuries. 
  • Physical behaviors – If the baby arches his back while crying, drools excessively, shows weak reflexes, is overly fussy, has a high-pitched cry, or has trouble suckling or swallowing, it may be caused by an injury. 
  • Neurological signs – A newborn that experiences seizures, that shows sensitivity to light or that shows other signs of possible neurological impairment should be evaluated. 

Some signs of birth injuries may take 1-2 years to materialize. Warning signs include: 

  • Missed developmental milestones such as crawling or walking 
  • Intellectual disabilities 
  • Delayed or lack of speech development 
  • Poor coordination 

These and other signs could indicate a brain injury or nerve damage related to delivery. Further medical investigation can help determine whether a birth injury is at the root of the child’s condition. 

Caring for a child with a birth injury 

Raising a child is not cheap but the costs of caring for a child with disabilities can be more than 25 times higher than average. Extra costs may come in the way of: 

  • Long-term medical care, including home health care, nursing services, and day rehabilitation programs 
  • Physical, speech, or occupational therapy 
  • Special education services 
  • Ongoing care by specialists 
  • Surgeries 
  • Medical equipment and supplies 
  • Lost income for parents who are caregivers 
  • Income for children who may be unable to work as adults 

You only get one chance to present your case to a jury or settle with an insurance company so you need to provide reliable evidence of future losses. At Ellis Law, our team can help you calculate the full financial impact of your child’s birth injury, paving the way to fight for complete compensation. 

Choosing the right Los Angeles personal injury lawyer 

Birth injury lawsuits present unique issues. When choosing legal representation in a birth injury case, it is important to choose the right kind of lawyer. Here are some things to look for: 

  1. Look for experience: Birth injury litigation is frequently complex and entails much more investigation than a standard personal injury claim. Identify a firm with a proven track record of recovering settlements and favorable jury verdicts in birth injury malpractice suits. 
  2. Find an attorney with extensive trial skills: While every case is different, most lawsuits involving birth trauma are settled before they reach a courtroom. However, you want an attorney who can argue your case before a jury should settlement negotiations fail. 
  3. Value clear and direct communication: Timely responses and personal attention are two important facets to look for in your attorney. The legal process – from start to finish—can last upwards of a year or more, so be certain you retain someone you feel provides the highest caliber of service and is fully committed to your cause. 
  4. Hire a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis: Most reputable birth injury attorneys in Los Angeles only get paid if their client’s case is successful. Never pay upfront consultation fees, as all legal costs should be deferred until a settlement or award is secured. 

At Ellis Law, we understand the emotional and financial tolls placed on families pursuing birth injury claims. Our primary goal is to help you and your child obtain a bright financial future – taking all monetary stresses out of the equation. Our personal injury lawyers have the unwavering dedication, resources, and experience to help you obtain maximum compensation for your child’s injuries. 

Attorneys at Ellis Law will: 

  • Obtain all medical records from your prenatal care and delivery, including fetal heart monitor strips and physician logs 
  • Perform a thorough investigation of the events leading up to your labor and childbirth to determine whether standards of care were breached 
  • Negotiate an equitable settlement – in an amount that fairly compensates for all past and future medical bills, lost income, diminished earning capacity, home modification needs, as well as pain and suffering 
  • Retain expert witnesses to testify should your case go to trial 

Notable birth injury settlements in California 

Every year, multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements are obtained in cases throughout California. 

A few noteworthy outcomes in birth injury cases include: 

  • $17 million settlement for the family of a baby who suffered severe brain damage after the mother developed an infection that turned septic when it went untreated by medical providers. 
  • $10.5 million settlement based on the negligent actions of a doctor who performed a premature C-section on a woman carrying triplets. The plaintiff was just 25 weeks pregnant at the time and lost one child during the Cesarean; the two other babies suffered severe birth injuries. 
  • $1.7 million settlement recovered by parents whose child suffered oxygen deprivation at birth and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 
  • $3.8 million settlement for the birth trauma of a newborn that was harmed due to a delayed C-section. 

Ellis Law, leading Los Angeles birth injury attorneys 

For more than two decades, attorneys at Ellis Law have successfully litigated birth injury claims, recovering more than $100 million in compensation for children who need life-long care. In addition to our veteran lawyers, our firm also has in-house medical consultants who can accurately determine if malpractice played a role in your child’s birth trauma. 

Perhaps nothing is more frustrating than knowing your baby suffered at the hands of an irresponsible or inexperienced medical professional. Our team has the skill, experience, and resources to determine whether medical malpractice was to blame and to hold the liable parties accountable. 

If your child was injured at birth, you may feel alone but you do not have to. Call Ellis Injury today to discuss your case for free.