Childbirth always poses a risk to both mother and baby, which is why we always breathe a sigh of relief when it comes off without a hitch. Birth injuries can and do happen to seven out of 1,000 children, but most are minor and resolve on their own without further medical intervention.
However, some birth injuries due to the negligence of medical professionals during pregnancy or delivery can be much more serious. These injuries can have a devastating emotional and financial impact on the child and family for a long time.
If that happens to you, you have two ways to get compensation. You can apply to The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA) or hold the responsible parties liable by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Before you decide on your next step, get legal advice from an experienced birth injury lawyer from a reputable law firm in Florida. Choosing a compassionate attorney with a deep understanding of Florida’s medical malpractice laws is critical. What you are going through is devastating, and you want to make sure your lawyer will have your back every step of the legal process.
What Are Birth Injury Cases?
The basis of birth injury cases is the breach of the duty of care of a medical professional or their failure to deliver standard care expected of a reasonably competent person under similar circumstances. As a result of that breach or neglect, the child sustained preventable injuries.
Most people believe that birth injuries only occur during the delivery process, but that is not entirely accurate. Parents in Florida may bring birth injury claims against medical professionals for wrongful births of children with severe congenital disabilities.
Florida is one of about 20 states whose medical malpractice statute allows for a wrongful birth cause of action because a health provider breached the duty of care. Parents may receive compensation for a misdiagnosis of a fetus’s condition or negligent genetic counseling regarding the likelihood of abnormal development. This negligence essentially prevented the parents from making an informed decision about bringing the child to term.
The typical defendant in birth injury claims is a hospital or other healthcare institution based on the respondeat superior doctrine. However, you can also name individual medical professionals such as the obstetrician as defendants for breaching their duty of care, such as a delayed C-section. The most common causes of different types of birth injuries include:
- Not enough oxygen to the baby’s brain (asphyxia) that can result in cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and other conditions due to brain damage
- Mechanical nerve damage such as to the brachial nerves, leading to Erb’s palsy
- Large size or wrong position of the baby, resulting in the shoulder getting stuck or shoulder dystocia, leading to complications such as brachial plexus palsy, Horner’s syndrome, brain injuries, or death
Should You Accept a Settlement?
Medical malpractice lawsuits take a long time, so you might think that a settlement offered by a hospital would be a faster way to get compensation. If the offer is generous, it is undoubtedly an option you should consider.
However, it would be best to obtain legal advice from an experienced birth injury lawyer first before you accept. Your attorney can provide you with realistic estimates of how much you will actually need to care for your injured child now and in the future. In most cases, the settlement offered will not be enough to cover all your expenses resulting from the birth trauma.
A birth injury attorney will do a case evaluation and provide you with a checklist of the possible costs involved in managing your child’s birth injury. The list can help you understand and prepare for the financial consequences to you due to the negligence of others. Among the items you will probably see include:
- Lifecare facilities
- Personal care
- Doctor visits and medical evaluations
- Hospitalization and other medical expenses
- Home modifications
- Medical equipment
- Lost wages of caregiver parent
- Transportation and other auxiliary expenses
The checklist gives you an accurate picture of financial costs, but not emotional or psychological costs. These factors are unlikely to be included in a settlement with the hospital’s insurance company.
However, the harm done to your child’s emotional and psychological well-being is arguably the most significant loss. If you file a birth injury lawsuit, you might be able to get non-economic damages such as the loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.
Note that Florida places limits on non-economic damages. It caps non-economic damages to $500,000 ($1 million for wrongful death or special circumstances) for practitioners—including healthcare facilities—and $750,000 for non-practitioners ($1.5 million for wrongful death or special circumstances) per claim.
The compensation you might get will depend on the case. If you decide that the settlement offered is not enough and you are not eligible for NICA benefits, you have the option of filing a birth injury lawsuit.
Why Do You Need A Birth Injury Attorney?
Putting together the documents necessary to file an insurance claim or birth injury lawsuit is not easy. For one, you need a good understanding of birth injury law even to know the requirements for medical malpractice cases.
For another, you probably have a lot on your hands taking care of your family. Malpractice lawyers have the resources to handle the detailed and complex casework necessary and accomplish them within the statute of limitations, including:
- Thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury event
- Interview witnesses and secure testimonies
- Consult medical professionals and obtain expert testimony
- Collect evidence such as medical records
- Communicate with healthcare facilities and insurance companies
- Compute past, present, and future expenses to arrive at a fair settlement
A birth injury attorney advocates for parents and an injured child to protect their rights and ensure they get legal advice that will be in their best interest.
What Qualities Should Your Birth Injury Attorney Have?
At its core, any competent lawyer in Florida can handle medical malpractice cases, including birth injury lawsuits. They have the technical skills and knowledge necessary to do the casework.
However, personal injury cases tend to be less about technical skills and more about the instinct that goes with many years of experience in handling these special cases. You can think of it as muscle memory; the more you do something, the better you become at doing it.
An experienced birth injury attorney is in the best position to help you get fair compensation for your financial losses. But since any attorney can claim to be one, you must do your research before hiring a medical malpractice lawyer.
Fortunately, it is easy enough to find a law firm in Miami specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. All you need is to go online and do a local search for “birth injury attorney” on your favorite search engine.
You will get a ton of results, so your problem is narrowing them down to about three or four. However, don’t just click on the top results. All that proves is that they have an effective SEO strategy.
Instead, go through as many sites as you can. Read through their reviews, blog articles, and success claims. Make a shortlist of the ones that impressed you as providing the best value and schedule a free case evaluation. During an initial consultation, you should get a good feel of the lawyer’s interest in your case.
However, interest and commitment are not enough. It would be best if you ask the following questions when deciding on the right law firm to represent you in your claims:
- How long has the law firm been in business?
- What are the lawyer’s experience and success rate in handling similar cases?
- Will the lawyer personally handle all the casework?
- Will the law firm devote the time and resources to pursue the case to the end?
- What type of compensation does the lawyer intend to pursue?
- Does the law firm work on a contingency fee basis?
- Do you like the lawyer taking on your case?
- Is it easy to get straight answers to simple questions?
The answers to these questions will help you decide on the best law firm for your needs. Take the time to do all this, as proper legal representation is critical for your claim’s success.
Did you know?
A mother might be able to file birth injury claims against pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, and treating physicians if they fail to warn of the risks of a pregnant woman’s use of prescribed medication.
Find the Best Florida Birth Injury Attorney at Diamond & Diamond
You should be able to expect to receive a professional standard of care before, during, and after childbirth in Florida. Birth injuries resulting from the negligence of a healthcare facility’s medical staff have enormous consequences for you and your child. You have a right to recover damages for your medical bills and other financial losses, and Diamond & Diamond Lawyers in Miami can help you.
Our birth injury attorneys have extensive experience handling similar cases and the track record to prove they can bring medical malpractice claims to a successful conclusion. We also take pride in our compassionate and personalized approach to our clients because we understand how difficult it is to cope with a child’s birth injury. With Diamond Law, you are in good hands.
Call our toll-free number at 1-800-567-HURT now to schedule an initial consultation and free case review. It is the best way to get to know your birth injury attorney and realize you have made the right choice.