Championing Justice for Birth Injury Victims

Birth injuries can be a devastating experience for any family. According to CDC data, 6 out of every 1,000 infants born in the US experience significant birth injuries, including developmental disorders, fractured bones, and neurological disorders. Seeking legal assistance is crucial during such challenging times. You need a professional who understands the complexities of birth injury law and is dedicated to fighting for your rights. The Alvarez Law Firm offers the essential expertise, understanding, and resources to achieve justice and compensation for your family during this tough time. Our accomplished attorneys in Hawaii have a successful track record in handling large, complex cases and our birth injury team have a variety of experience with birth complications and birth injury lawsuits.

Are Birth Injuries the Same as Birth Defects?

Determining whether complications are caused by a congenital disability or a birth injury can be challenging. For example, cerebral palsy can be caused by oxygen deprivation during labor, which is an avoidable birth injury, but it can also be the result of an unavoidable congenital disability.

Differentiating between a birth injury and a congenital disability is critical because a personal injury lawsuit is typically only an option for a birth injury.

Birth injuries occur during labor or delivery and can result from:

  • Medical negligence
  • Improper use of medical devices
  • Certain prescription drugs
  • Failure to diagnose complications
  • Prolonged labor
  • Improper use of medical instruments
  • Lack of oxygen to the baby's brain

Some examples of the most common birth injuries include the following:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Brachial plexus
  • Brain injury
  • Bruising
  • Fractures
  • Nerve damage

Improper prenatal care can also lead to birth injuries, and a lawsuit may be filed against the doctor, pharmacist, or drug manufacturer in such cases. Alternatively, congenital disabilities are caused by factors that occur before or during pregnancy, such as genetics and environment. Roughly 3% of all babies born in the U.S. have a congenital disability, which can be caused by teratogens found in certain drugs, alcohol consumption, or drug use during pregnancy. Some congenital disabilities have unknown causes, making it difficult to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

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What Areas of Law Cover Birth Injuries and Compensation?

Medical malpractice refers to any action or failure by a doctor in the course of treating a patient that deviates from the accepted standards of medical practice and results in harm to the patient. This particular category of tort law addresses professional negligence and is the primary basis for birth injury cases and expected damages awards.

In terms of birth injuries, medical malpractice involves errors by healthcare professionals that may occur during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. In addition to the previously discussed birth injuries, medical malpractice can encompass issues such as:

  • Mismanagement of high-risk pregnancies
  • Failure to monitor fetal distress
  • Inadequate response to complications that arise during labor

Medical malpractice claimants can expect three types of damages:

  • General: These damages are intangible or non-economic, meaning they cannot be measured in monetary value. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional and mental harm, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Special: These are economic damages that can be calculated. Examples include lost wages, medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity.
  • Punitive: These damages are granted for particularly egregious conduct, serving as a form of punishment for the defendant's reckless actions. Although not frequently awarded in medical malpractice cases, they are still taken into account when determining appropriate compensation. 

Personal Injury Law

Personal injury law also covers harm caused by negligence. In cases of birth injuries, the compensation sought may also include expenses related to ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy for the affected child, as well as the emotional and psychological impact on the family.

Additionally, families may pursue compensation for long-term disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or Erb's palsy, that result from the birth injury.

Wrongful Death

In tragic cases, wrongful death law might be relevant in the context of birth injuries. If a birth injury results in the untimely death of the baby or mother, families may pursue a wrongful death claim. This legal avenue provides a means for families to seek justice and compensation for the devastating loss they have suffered.

Wrongful death claims in the context of birth injuries can seek compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of companionship
  • The emotional suffering endured by the surviving family members

Legal Liability in Hawaii Birth Injuries

When it comes to birth injuries in Hawaii, determining legal liability is crucial. Liability might fall on healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and hospitals. To determine liability, you need to consider negligence. Was there a failure to follow standard medical practices? A healthcare professional's actions deviate from accepted norms might be deemed negligent.

Key factors to consider include the following:

  • Duty of Care: Did the healthcare provider owe a duty of care to you and your baby?
  • Breach of Duty: Was there a breach of this duty through actions or inaction?
  • Causation: Did this breach directly cause the birth injury?
  • Damages: Were there actual damages, either physical or emotional, as a result?

Potentially liable parties include the following:

  • Obstetricians: For errors during labor and delivery.
  • Nurses: For inadequate monitoring and care.
  • Hospitals: For failing to maintain a safe environment or provide adequate staff training.

Comparative Negligence

Hawaii follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning compensation is adjusted based on the degree of fault attributed to each party.

Plaintiffs can only recover damages if they are less than 51% at fault.

Wrongful Death

If a birth injury results in death, specific statutes apply:

  • Claims must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate
  • Damages can include medical expenses, loss of future earnings, and funeral costs
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Filing a Birth Injury Claim in Hawaii

Before filing a birth injury claim in Hawaii, it's essential to determine whether there was a breach of standard medical care. This starts with examining the medical records of the mother and child to see if there were any deviations from the standard of care. Seeking opinions from relevant medical specialists, such as obstetricians or neonatologists, can also help determine if the care provided meets the accepted standard.

For example, an obstetrician might testify that a cesarean section should have been performed earlier based on the mother's medical history and the progression of labor. It's also important to establish a direct link between the breach of standard medical care and the birth injury. For instance, showing that a delay in performing a necessary cesarean section led to oxygen deprivation and subsequent brain damage in the newborn. It's crucial to have clear documentation of the injury sustained by the newborn. 

Parents or legal guardians need to be involved in filing the claim on behalf of their child. This ensures that all the required information and documentation are gathered promptly, including:

  • Medical records
  • Birth records
  • Recorded expert opinions
  • Hospital records
  • Doctor's notes

After gathering the necessary information, your attorney will draft and submit the legal documents to start the case. Pre-trial negotiations may take place, and many cases are resolved through settlements before reaching court. If a settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial. Both sides will present evidence during the trial, and witnesses may testify. A verdict concludes the trial. The jury or judge will determine liability and, if applicable, the amount of compensation.

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Choose a Dedicated Hawaii Birth Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Mistakes made during pregnancy or childbirth can turn a happy event into a tragedy. You need a professional, empathetic attorney to guide you through the legal maze, someone with the essential skills to investigate the incident and gather crucial evidence to build a strong case. A lawyer dedicated to ensuring your rights are protected and you receive the compensation and justice you deserve. That’s who you will find at The Alvarez Law Firm, top-rated birth injury attorneys in Hawaii.

We’ve successfully helped many victims of medical negligence with our support and guidance in holding responsible parties accountable for your baby’s injuries. Our compassionate and experienced lawyers handle interactions with insurance companies and medical institutions, allowing you to focus on caring for your child without the added stress of legal battles. Trust in a dedicated Hawaii birth injury lawyer to advocate for your family's needs. Contact us today to book a consultation and ensure you have a dedicated advocate by your side.

Let’s talk about your case.

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