Ensuring Compensation for Birth Injury Suffering

Regrettably, CDC data indicates that 6 out of every 1,000 infants born in the US endure serious birth injuries, such as developmental disorders, broken bones, and neurological issues. The Alvarez Law Firm’s successful birth injury attorneys have a strong track record of handling birth injury and complication cases across many states and are ready to serve your needs in Washington. Our committed birth injury lawyers possess the necessary experience, knowledge, and resources to secure favorable outcomes for your case.

Examples of Serious Birth Injuries

Serious birth injuries in Washington can encompass a range of conditions and complications that affect newborns during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth. Some examples include the following:

  • Cerebral Palsy: This neurological disorder can result from brain damage or abnormal brain development during childbirth. It can impair muscle coordination, movement difficulties, and other lifelong challenges.
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: During a difficult delivery, the brachial plexus nerves in the baby's shoulder area can be stretched or damaged, leading to conditions like Erb's palsy or Klumpke's palsy, which affect arm and hand movement.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): This serious brain injury occurs when the baby's brain is deprived of oxygen and blood flow during labor or delivery, leading to cognitive impairments, developmental delays, and other neurological issues.
  • Facial Nerve Injuries: Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery can cause facial nerve injuries, resulting in facial paralysis or weakness in the baby's facial muscles.
  • Bone Fractures: Injuries such as clavicle fractures or long bone fractures can occur during difficult deliveries, mainly when excessive force is applied or when the baby's position is challenging.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia: This condition occurs when the baby experiences a lack of oxygen before, during, or after birth, leading to potential brain damage, developmental delays, and other complications.
  • Shoulder Dystocia: In cases of shoulder dystocia, the baby's shoulders get stuck in the birth canal, leading to potential nerve injuries, fractures, and other birth trauma.
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS): When a baby inhales meconium (the baby's first stool) into the lungs during or before delivery, it can lead to respiratory distress, infections, and breathing difficulties.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage: Bleeding inside the baby's skull can occur due to trauma during delivery or as a result of other complications, potentially leading to brain damage and long-term neurological issues.
  • Birth Infections: Infections acquired during labor or delivery, such as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) or neonatal sepsis, can cause serious health problems and require immediate medical intervention.
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What Are Some Common Causes of Washington Birth Injuries that Count as Medical Malpractice?

Medical negligence, or malpractice, is the failure of healthcare providers, such as doctors, specialists, hospitals, or facilities, to deliver care that aligns with established medical norms, resulting in the patient's injury, illness, or worsening health.

Several common causes of birth injuries in Washington that may constitute medical malpractice include:

  • Failure to Monitor Fetal Distress: Healthcare providers are expected to monitor fetal well-being during labor and delivery. Failure to recognize and respond to signs of fetal distress, such as abnormal heart rate patterns, can lead to oxygen deprivation and birth injuries.
  • Improper Use of Assisted Delivery Tools: Incorrect or excessive use of forceps, vacuum extractors, or other assisted delivery tools can cause birth injuries such as facial nerve damage, skull fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
  • Delayed or Improper C-Section: In cases where a timely cesarean section (C-section) is medically indicated, failure to perform the surgery promptly or performing it incorrectly can result in birth injuries related to oxygen deprivation, trauma during delivery, or other complications.
  • Medication Errors: Errors in administering medications during labor and delivery, such as incorrect dosage or inappropriate drugs, can lead to adverse effects on the baby, including respiratory depression, hypotension, or other complications.
  • Failure to Address Maternal Infections: Untreated maternal infections, such as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) or sexually transmitted infections, can be transmitted to the baby during delivery, leading to serious health problems or birth injuries.
  • Inadequate Prenatal Care: Insufficient prenatal monitoring, failure to identify high-risk pregnancies, or failure to address maternal health conditions can contribute to birth injuries and complications during delivery.
  • Mismanagement of Labor: Inappropriate management of labor, including excessive use of labor-inducing drugs, failure to progress protocols or improper handling of complications like shoulder dystocia, can increase the risk of birth injuries.
  • Misinterpretation of Diagnostic Tests: Errors in interpreting fetal monitoring results, ultrasound findings, or other diagnostic tests can lead to mismanagement of labor and contribute to birth injuries.
  • Lack of Informed Consent: Failure to obtain informed consent from the parents regarding potential risks, alternative treatments, and procedures during labor and delivery can be considered medical malpractice if it leads to avoidable harm.
  • Inadequate Neonatal Care: Substandard care in the immediate postnatal period, including failure to address respiratory distress, infections, or other newborn complications, can result in birth injuries or worsen existing conditions.
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How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Here are some critical steps to proving medical malpractice in a birth injury case in Washington:

  1. Establish the standard of care: You will need to show the standard of care for the specific medical situation and how the healthcare provider or facility deviated from this standard. This may require expert testimony from medical professionals who can explain the appropriate standard of care.
  2. Gather evidence: Collect all relevant medical records, including prenatal care, labor and delivery records, and postnatal care. These records can help demonstrate any deviations from the standard of care and the extent of the harm caused by the alleged malpractice.
  3. Consult with medical experts: It's essential to consult with qualified medical experts who can review the evidence and provide an opinion on whether the healthcare provider's actions or omissions constituted medical malpractice. Their testimony can be crucial in establishing the breach of the standard of care.
  4. Document the injuries: In a birth injury case, it's important to thoroughly document the injuries suffered by the mother or child as a result of the alleged malpractice. This may include medical reports, diagnostic imaging, and other evidence of the harm caused.
  5. File a lawsuit: In Washington, you must file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, generally three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date the injury was discovered, whichever comes first.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Newborn Birth Injury?

Some of the parties that could be held accountable for a newborn birth injury in Washington include:

Healthcare Providers

This can include doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals involved in the newborn's prenatal care, labor, and delivery. If a healthcare provider's negligence, error, or malpractice led to the birth injury, they can be held responsible.

Hospitals or Clinics

The facility where the birth took place can also be held accountable if the negligence of the hospital staff, inadequate protocols, or unsafe conditions caused the birth injury.

Pharmaceutical Companies

If a birth injury resulted from a medication error, a defective medical device, or a pharmaceutical product that was improperly prescribed or administered, the pharmaceutical company could be held liable.

Government Entities

In cases where the birth injury occurred at a public hospital or clinic, a government entity may be held responsible. However, special procedures and timelines must be followed when filing a claim against a government entity in Washington.

Other Third Parties

In some cases, third parties, such as medical equipment manufacturers or contractors responsible for maintaining medical equipment, may be held accountable for a birth injury if their actions or products contributed to the injury.

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What Compensation Can I Get for a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Washington?

In Washington, if your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence or malpractice, you may be entitled to various types of compensation through a birth injury lawsuit:

Medical Expenses

You can seek compensation for the past, current, and future medical expenses related to the birth injury, including hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapy, and any ongoing medical care your child may require.

Pain and Suffering

Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced by the child and the family as a result of the birth injury.

Disability and Impairment

If the birth injury resulted in a permanent disability or impairment, you may be entitled to compensation for the impact it will have on your child's quality of life, future earning potential, and ongoing care needs.

Lost Wages

If the birth injury has resulted in a parent or caregiver having to take time off work to care for the child, you may be able to seek compensation for lost wages and future loss of earning capacity.

Punitive Damages

In cases of extreme negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter similar conduct in the future.

Other Economic Damages

This can include compensation for home modifications, special education needs, assistive devices, and any other expenses directly related to the birth injury.

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

Yes. Under Washington state law, the parents or the personal representative of the deceased child's estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for the loss of their child. The damages that can be pursued in a wrongful death lawsuit for birth injuries in Washington may include the following:

  • Medical and funeral expenses related to the child's injury and death
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the child before their death
  • Loss of the child's companionship, love, and support
  • Economic losses, including the potential income the child would have earned if they had survived
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What is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries in Washington?

In Washington, the statute of limitations for filing a birth injury lawsuit is typically three years from the date of the injury. This means that a legal action seeking compensation for a birth injury must generally be initiated within three years of the date the injury occurred.

It's important to note that the statute of limitations may have some exceptions or variations based on:

  • The specific circumstances of the case
  • The age of the child at the time of the injury
  • Other factors

For instance, if the birth injury was not immediately discovered, the statute of limitations may be extended based on when the injury was reasonably discovered or should have been discovered.

Washington law also allows for tolling the statute of limitations in cases involving birth injuries to minors. This means that the statute of limitations may be paused or delayed until the child reaches the age of majority, which is typically 18 years old. Once the child reaches the age of majority, they have a certain period to file a lawsuit for the birth injury, normally three years.

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

The Alvarez Law Firm: Your Path to Justice for Birth Injuries in Washington

Errors occurring during pregnancy or childbirth can turn a celebratory moment into a tragic one. The esteemed birth injury attorneys at The Alvarez Law Firm have aided numerous families in obtaining rightful compensation from negligent healthcare professionals across many states and are ready to serve the Washington community.

"Integrity for justice" isn't just a catchphrase; it's the foundation of everything we do. Our firm provides compassionate and understanding legal representation to help you pursue accountability from healthcare providers for your child's injuries. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary and confidential consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Washington.

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