How to Establish Fault for a Birth Injury
Birth injury lawsuits are governed by medical malpractice, a system of liability that holds medical professionals financially liable for preventable injuries caused by negligence and substandard care. Civil legal actions are centered on negligence. Therefore, birth injury lawsuits must meet several legal elements to prove that a medical professional was negligent in treating a patient, and that their negligence, more likely than not, led to preventable injuries suffered by a mother or their child.
While there is no requirement that doctors must avoid all injuries related to childbirth, there is a reasonable expectation that they will provide skillful and medically acceptable care. Preventable injuries must be prevented. As our birth injury attorneys at Beam Legal Team have seen all too often, nurses, doctors, and other health care providers can make costly and unreasonable mistakes that result in serious and sometimes life-altering injuries. As lawyers, it is our job to help victims injured by these mistakes. We fight to prove when negligence caused preventable birth injuries.
While establishing fault is a matter unique to each and every case, there are general ways in which victims can better understand their rights and how birth injury claims work. For example, establishing fault requires proof of several important legal elements:
- A duty of care – In order for there to be a viable case against any health care provider, that provider must owe a duty of care to the victim. This is generally established when there is a doctor-patient relationship, where a patient agrees to be treated by a doctor and/or medical staff and a specific hospital.
- Breach of duty – Establishing a “breach of duty” is a critical component of a birth injury case. Essentially, this means that a doctor, or some other health care provider, failed to provide an acceptable standard of care when treating a patient. Proving this element requires a meticulous evaluation of what the medical professional or health care provider did that would be considered a deviation from medically applicable standards. For example, medical professionals who fail to appropriately monitor a fetal heart rate monitor, as is the standard in childbirth, may fail to detect signs of fetal distress. This substandard care is a breach of duty because any reasonably skillful medical professional would appropriately monitor heart rate during birth and take steps when needed (e.g., to deliver earlier by cesarean section if necessary) to avoid harm. Our legal team works with many medical experts who can provide testimony in a court of law about what doctors should and should not do, and how a doctor in a particular situation failed to meet the standard of care.
- Causation – A medical provider can be held at fault for causing a birth injury when it can be shown that there is a causal connection between their substandard care and a victim’s injuries. In civil birth injury cases, this connection must be proven by “a preponderance of the evidence,” which means that evidence (provided by medical records, witness testimony, expert witnesses, and other forms of evidence) indicates a medical professional’s substandard care more likely than not caused the victim’s injuries. Proving this element means proving they were at fault for a birth injury. It requires a great deal of work and assistance from medical experts who can testify how negligent acts are directly linked to an injury.
In addition to establishing fault, our legal team works diligently to illustrate the full scope of damages our clients endured as a result of preventable birth injuries. Birth injuries can have profound and life-altering consequences. It is important to take into account all damages victims have suffered and are likely to suffer throughout their lifetimes. These damages usually include economic losses related to medical bills and the costs of future medical needs, attendant care, and therapy. Also, non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of quality of life, and loss of companionship or support.
Over the years, our legal team has leveraged extensive experience and resources to secure more than $500 million in compensation for birth injury victims. In the cases we have handled, we have successfully proven that many different medical professionals, hospitals, and health care providers were at fault for preventable injuries, and liable for victims’ damages.
To discuss a potential birth injury case with a member of our team, contact us for a FREE consultation.