Championing DC Birth Injury Compensation Claims

CDC statistics reveal that 6 out of 1,000 infants born in the US suffer from severe birth injuries, including developmental disorders, broken bones, and neurological conditions. The proficient birth injury attorneys at The Alvarez Law Firm have a strong history of winning various birth injury and complication cases and are ready to help the DC community. Our seasoned birth injury lawyers are equipped with the expertise, knowledge, and resources to resolve your case successfully.

Examples of Serious Birth Injuries

  • Cerebral Palsy due to medical negligence during childbirth
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries resulting from improper handling during delivery
  • Erb's Palsy caused by excessive force during shoulder dystocia
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) due to oxygen deprivation during labor
  • Spinal Cord Injuries from mishandling during cesarean section or forceps delivery
  • Facial Nerve Palsy caused by trauma during delivery
  • Bone Fractures due to mishandling or improper use of delivery instruments
  • Perinatal Asphyxia resulting in long-term neurological complications
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage from trauma during labor or delivery
  • Shoulder Dystocia leading to nerve injuries or fractures during childbirth
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What Are Some Common Causes of DC Birth Injuries that Count as Medical Malpractice?

Malpractice occurs in healthcare when doctors, specialists, clinics, or hospitals do not provide care that meets the expected medical standards, leading to the patient's injury, illness, or deterioration in health.

Here are some key factors that can lead to birth injuries and potential grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington, D.C.:

  • Failure to Monitor Fetal Distress: Medical professionals must closely monitor fetal heart rate and other vital signs during labor. Failure to detect and respond to signs of fetal distress can lead to oxygen deprivation and serious birth injuries.
  • Delayed or Improper Delivery: Timely delivery is critical in preventing birth injuries. Delayed or improperly managed deliveries, such as failure to perform a cesarean section when necessary or using excessive force during vaginal delivery, can result in harm to the baby.
  • Misuse of Delivery Instruments: Improper use of forceps, vacuum extractors, or other delivery instruments can cause injuries such as skull fractures, nerve damage, or brain trauma to the newborn.
  • Medication Errors: Incorrect dosage or administration of medications during labor and delivery can have adverse effects on both the mother and the baby, leading to complications and potential birth injuries.
  • Failure to Diagnose and Treat Medical Conditions: Failure to diagnose and properly manage conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, infections, or other maternal health issues can increase the risk of birth injuries.
  • Inadequate Prenatal Care: Insufficient prenatal care, including missed screenings, inadequate monitoring of maternal health, and failure to address risk factors can contribute to birth injuries that could have been prevented with proper medical attention.
  • Lack of Informed Consent: If medical procedures or interventions were performed without obtaining informed consent from the parents, it could be considered a form of medical malpractice, especially if the procedure led to harm or injury.
  • Negligent Postnatal Care: Inadequate postnatal care, including failure to identify and address newborn complications promptly, can result in worsening conditions or missed opportunities for early intervention.

How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Proving medical malpractice in a Washington, D.C. birth injury lawsuit typically involves several key steps and considerations:

Establishing Doctor-Patient Relationship

Begin by demonstrating that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the healthcare provider and the mother or newborn at the time of the alleged malpractice. This relationship establishes the provider's duty of care to the patient.

Defining Standard of Care

Define the standard of care expected in similar circumstances. This involves showing what a reasonable and competent healthcare provider would have done under the same conditions.

Showing Deviation from Standard of Care

Present evidence that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care. This could include expert testimony, medical records, and other documentation showing how the provider's actions or inactions fell below accepted medical norms.

Establishing Causation

Connect the healthcare provider's deviation from the standard of care directly to the birth injury suffered by the mother or child. This step involves proving that the malpractice was the direct cause of the injury, illness, or harm.

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How Do I File a Birth Injury Claim in DC?

To file a birth injury claim in Washington, D.C., follow these steps:

Gather Medical Records

Collect all relevant medical records related to the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postnatal care. These records will provide crucial information for assessing the case and investigating whether medical malpractice may have occurred. This involves:

  • Reviewing medical records
  • Consulting experts
  • Evaluating the standard of care provided during pregnancy, labor, and delivery

Document Damages

Document all damages resulting from the birth injury, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Ongoing healthcare needs
  • Loss of income
  • Emotional distress

Keep records of treatments, prescriptions, and any related costs.

File a Complaint

Your attorney will help you draft and file a formal complaint with the appropriate court in Washington, D.C. This complaint outlines:

  • The details of the birth injury
  • Allegations of medical malpractice
  • The damages sought

Serve the Defendant and Enter the Discovery Process

Once the complaint is filed, it must be served to the healthcare provider or institution named as the defendant in the case. Proper service ensures that the defendant is aware of the lawsuit and has the opportunity to respond.

The legal process will then enter the discovery phase. This is where both parties:

  • Exchange information
  • Depose witnesses
  • Gather evidence to support their arguments

Negotiation or Trial

Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may negotiate a settlement with the defendant's insurance company or proceed to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Your attorney will advocate for your rights and seek appropriate compensation for your damages.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Newborn Birth Injury?

Healthcare Providers

The following healthcare providers can be held responsible for birth injuries if their actions or negligence contributed to the harm suffered by the newborn:

  • Doctors
  • Obstetricians
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Other healthcare professionals involved in prenatal care, labor, delivery, and postnatal care 

Hospitals and Medical Facilities

Hospitals, birthing centers, clinics, and other medical facilities may be held liable for birth injuries if they failed to:

  • Maintain safe and adequate standards of care
  • Properly supervise staff
  • Ensure proper equipment and protocols were in place during childbirth

Pharmaceutical Companies

If a birth injury resulted from one of the following, pharmaceutical companies may be held responsible:

  • A medication error
  • A defective drug
  • Inadequate warnings about the use of certain medications during pregnancy or childbirth

Medical Device Manufacturers

If a birth injury was caused by a defect in a medical device used during childbirth, the manufacturer could be liable. Examples include the following:

  • Forceps
  • Vacuum extractors
  • Monitoring equipment

Other Parties

  • In some cases, third parties not directly involved in medical care but whose actions or products contributed to the birth injury may be held responsible. For example, the contractor could be liable if a contractor's negligence led to unsafe conditions in a hospital's maternity ward, resulting in a newborn's injury.
  • In rare cases involving government-operated healthcare facilities or providers, such as military hospitals, government agencies may be held accountable for birth injuries caused by negligence or malpractice.
  • If a healthcare provider's negligence occurred while acting within the scope of their employment, their employer may also be held vicariously liable for the birth injury.
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What Compensation Can I Get for a Birth Injury Lawsuit in DC?

Medical Expenses

Compensation can cover past, current, and future medical expenses related to the birth injury. This includes costs for:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgeries
  • Medications
  • Rehabilitation
  • Therapy
  • Assistive devices
  • Ongoing medical care

Emotional Distress

Compensation can be sought for emotional distress experienced by the child and family members due to the birth injury. This may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Psychological impact

Pain and Suffering

Damages may be awarded for the physical pain and suffering endured by the child as a result of the birth injury. This includes both present pain and suffering and anticipated future pain and suffering.

Loss of Earning Capacity

If the birth injury results in long-term or permanent disabilities that limit the child's ability to work and earn a living in the future, compensation may be awarded for the loss of earning capacity.

Loss of Consortium

Family members, such as parents or spouses, may be entitled to compensation for the loss of companionship, support, and services of the injured child due to the birth injury.

Special Education and Care Needs

If the child requires the following, the cost of these services can be included in the compensation:

  • Special education
  • Therapy
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Home modifications
  • Other specialized care due to the birth injury

Punitive Damages

In cases of extreme negligence or intentional misconduct by the healthcare provider or facility, punitive damages may be awarded as a form of punishment and deterrent.

Legal Fees and Costs

The prevailing party in a birth injury lawsuit may also recover reasonable legal fees and litigation costs incurred during the legal process.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Birth Injuries in DC?

Yes. In Washington, D.C., you can file a wrongful death lawsuit for birth injuries under certain circumstances. Here's what you need to know:

  • A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if the birth injury directly caused the death of the newborn or the mother. Wrongful death claims in birth injury cases typically arise from medical malpractice or negligence during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or postnatal care.
  • In Washington, D.C., the personal representative of the deceased's estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members, including the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased newborn or mother.
  • There is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit must generally be filed within a specified timeframe from the date of death, although exceptions may apply depending on the circumstances such as when the injury is discovered or when the patient reasonably should have discovered it.
  • In a wrongful death lawsuit for birth injuries, damages can include compensation for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the surviving family members.

Your case may be limited in the time you can file it so that is why it is important to contact your DC attorney to review as soon as possible. 

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Trust the Alvarez Law Firm's DC Birth Injury Attorneys

Errors made during pregnancy or childbirth have the potential to turn what should be a happy occasion into a heartbreaking disaster. The reputable birth injury attorneys at The Alvarez Law Firm have helped numerous families obtain the compensation they deserve from negligent healthcare providers and are ready to help you in DC.

"Integrity for justice" is not just a motto; it is the foundation of everything we do. Our firm provides thoughtful and effective legal representation to help you hold the responsible healthcare provider accountable for your child's injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled DC medical malpractice lawyers.

Let’s talk about your case.

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