What you need to know if your case goes to trial
Birth injuries typically occur during the labor and delivery process, although some can also happen during pregnancy if a medical professional doesn’t take the proper steps to identify and treat any potential issues or underlying health conditions of the mother or baby.
Many severe birth injuries are preventable through sound decision-making on the part of the medical team. For example, performing an emergency cesarean section (C-section) can reduce the risk of your baby having severe brain damage from a stroke if you develop high blood pressure while in labor or during a prolonged delivery.
The majority of birth injuries fall within the realm of medical malpractice, and you could have legal grounds for a lawsuit if your doctor failed to practice the level of care that one would expect a reasonable physician to perform under the same circumstances.
This article will discuss how fault is proven in a birth injury case and what to expect if your case goes to trial.
If I file a birth injury lawsuit, will I have to go to trial?
Fortunately, only around 7 percent of medical malpractice lawsuits go before a jury. The majority of birth injury cases are completed through a settlement without a trial. However, you might need to go to court if you’re unable to reach a satisfactory agreement with the medical professional’s legal team regarding the doctor’s fault in a birth injury case.
Learning that your case will go before a jury may leave you feeling nervous, scared and even angry. You may fear having to relive the trauma that you’ve endured as the evidence for your case is presented in court.
Your emotional reaction is valid, but remember that a trial is sometimes the best option for receiving the compensation you need to move forward and provide for your child’s ongoing care, and knowing what to expect in court can help you navigate your way through the process.
What factors will a jury consider when making their decision?
Bringing your case before a jury provides you with an impartial group of people who are required to make a decision based on the available evidence.
Depending on the nature of your case and where the trial is held, the type of evidence that is permitted in court may vary. However, you should expect a jury to generally consider the following important factors before coming to a final decision.
When it comes to proving a doctor’s negligence, medical records serve as a fairly clear snapshot of the events that may have led to a birth injury. The jury will look at your medical records to identify the timing of specific events or issues and what treatments your doctor administered or recommended when those issues occurred.
The standard of care
There is a generally accepted standard of care in the medical profession that requires a provider to use reasonable and sound judgment when making critical decisions regarding a patient’s health.
Many hospitals, birthing facilities and medical specialists have a written document that outlines their expected standard of care. Juries will look at this standard of care to determine whether or not the doctor stepped outside of what would be considered reasonable judgment based on the established care standards.
The doctor’s knowledge
The jury will also look at what your physician knew or should have known about your and your baby’s health based upon the facts that were evident during prenatal visits, labor and delivery.
For example, they may look at whether your physician recommended a C-section over a vaginal birth if your baby experienced signs of distress during labor and delivery, such as changes in their heart rate. Failure to take appropriate action that aligns with what your doctor knew about the situation could be seen as negligence on their part.
Your prenatal care
The jury needs to have a complete understanding of any injuries that you and your baby suffered during childbirth. To accomplish this, they’ll need to assess your medical records, but they may also inquire if you regularly attended your appointments and followed any orders your doctor gave during your prenatal treatment.
For instance, they may want to know if you followed or refused your doctor’s advice about medications, diet, activity levels and other restrictions. This information can provide the jury with a better picture of what happened before the injuries occurred.
Don’t worry if you’re asked to provide testimony during the trial. Your attorney will advise you about any potential questions to ensure you’re well prepared before going to court.
Expert witnesses are often called in to provide an unbiased perspective regarding the facts in your case. Naturally, the jury members may not have the medical knowledge needed to examine a case fully.
Expert witnesses can provide professional opinions as to if an appropriate standard of care was followed, and the jury will look at their credentials to assess whether or not the expert’s testimony is valid.
When to contact a birth injury attorney
Going before a jury can be a nerve-racking experience for any parent struggling with the devastating effects of a birth injury. By the time your case goes to court, you may already feel as though you’ve been through the wringer.
Fortunately, the process can be much less stressful when you work with a legal team experienced in handling birth injury trials. Your attorney can gather evidence, negotiate with doctors and insurance companies, and obtain expert witnesses in the event your case ends up in court.
Doctors have a standard of care that they owe to their patients. If you believe your OB-GYN deviated from that standard of care and that deviation resulted in an injury to you or your baby, you may have cause to file a medical malpractice claim. An experienced birth injury lawyer can review the specific details of your case and help you determine how to move forward and recover compensation.
If you believe your baby was injured as the result of a medical professional’s negligence, contact Laura Brown at Brown Trial Firm. Laura has dedicated her practice to advocating for children who have suffered birth injuries, serving families nationwide. She’ll investigate the truth and help you get the compensation you need to pay for the long-term medical care your child needs. Contact her today for your free consultation.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma
- Neonatal Intracranial Hemorrhage (Childbirth Brain Bleeds)
- Hydrocephalus (Extra Fluid in the Brain Cavity)
- Cervical Dystonia
- Hemiplegia (Brain or Spinal Cord Injury)
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Neonatal Stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) Brain Injury
- Infant Seizures
- Spastic Diplegia (Spasticity in the Legs)
- Top Risks for Birth Injuries
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- G-Tubes for Newborns
- Medical Errors
- Cesarean Section & Birth Injury
- Negligence in Brain Cooling Treatment
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Fetal Intolerance to Labor
- Jaundice (Kernicterus)
- Breech Position
- Placental Complications
- Placental Problems
- Umbilical Cord Problems
- Uterine Rupture
- Cervical Incompetence (Insufficiency)
- Blighted Ovum
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) - Intestinal Inflammation
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Amniotic Fluid Embolism
- Birth Injury from Premature Delivery
- Developmental Delays
- Abnormal Cord Insertion
- Infections at Birth
- Chorioamnionitis Bacterial Infection
- Premature birth
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Birth-Acquired Herpes
- Placenta Previa
- Placental Abruption
- Mismanaged Fetal Malposition
- Obesity Related Birth Injuries
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Blood Clots During Pregnancy
- Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis
- Myths & Facts About Birth Injuries
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Gestational Diabetes
- Maternal Mortality Risk
- Oligohydramnios (Low Amniotic Fluid)
- Infections During Pregnancy