Brownsville, Texas, is more than just a city—it’s a community where the joys of small-town living meet big-city amenities. Known for its idyllic year-round weather, rich history, vibrant culture, and top-rated schools and hospitals, Brownsville offers a welcoming environment that makes it a fantastic place to live and raise a family.
However, even in Brownsville’s best labor and delivery hospitals, like Valley Baptist Medical Center and DHR Health Brownsville, medical errors can occur, turning what should be joyful moments into experiences marred by confusion, frustration and questions.
That’s where we come in.
When the joy of childbirth turns into a life-altering experience because of a preventable medical mistake, you need a knowledgeable legal team to fight for your child’s rights.
At Brown Trial Firm, we understand the emotional and financial toll these situations can take on families, and we’re here to offer the compassionate, specialized legal support you need to navigate this difficult process.
Experienced birth injury attorney Laura Brown has extensive knowledge of Brownsville’s medical and legal landscape, ensuring you’ll get the best local representation possible. With a proven track record of successful verdicts and settlements right here in Brownsville, you can trust her to advocate fiercely for your family’s well-being and future.
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Facts about birth and infant mortality rates in Texas
In 2021, there were nearly 373,600 babies born in Texas, a fertility rate of 60.7 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition to the tragic infant deaths that occur every year in Texas, countless other babies are left with birth injuries that often impact the rest of their lives.
Is your baby suffering from one of these common birth injuries?
A birth injury refers to any physical harm or damage that occurs to a newborn before, during or shortly after the birthing process. These injuries can vary in severity, ranging from mild, temporary conditions to more severe, long-lasting issues that require lifelong medical care.
Below are some of the most frequently encountered birth injuries:
- Fractures. The clavicle (or collarbone) is the most commonly fractured bone during birth, usually due to shoulder dystocia or breech delivery.
- Facial nerve injury. The facial nerve can be damaged due to the use of forceps or from pressure on the baby’s face during the passage through the birth canal. This can result in temporary or permanent facial paralysis.
- Brachial plexus injury. This involves damage to the bundle of nerves that control the arms and hands, often caused by excessive pulling during delivery or shoulder dystocia.
- Intracranial hemorrhage. This is bleeding within the baby’s brain, usually caused by a traumatic delivery or the use of forceps.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This is a brain disorder caused by a lack of oxygen that can lead to conditions like cerebral palsy.
- Cerebral palsy. Often caused by oxygen deprivation, this long-term condition can cause permanent brain damage that affects movement, muscle tone, posture and more.
- Meconium aspiration syndrome. Meconium aspiration syndrome can happen if a newborn inhales a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid during birth, potentially leading to respiratory distress. This condition typically requires immediate medical intervention, such as suction or supplemental oxygen, to ensure the infant’s airways are clear and lungs function properly.
- Caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma. These are both conditions that can affect a newborn’s head. While caput succedaneum involves swelling of the soft tissues due to pressure from passing through the birth canal, cephalohematoma is the collection of blood between the skull and its covering membrane, usually caused by birth trauma like the use of forceps. Caput succedaneum typically resolves on its own within a few days, whereas cephalohematoma may take weeks or months to heal and sometimes requires medical intervention.
What is the most common cause of birth injury?
While these birth injuries can result from various factors, some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Oxygen deprivation. This can result from a number of issues, including prolonged labor, abnormal fetal position or problems with the umbilical cord or placenta. Failure to monitor oxygen levels and respond with appropriate interventions can lead to birth injuries.
- Improper use of birth-assisting tools. The incorrect use of forceps or vacuum extractors can cause physical harm to the baby, such as fractures or nerve damage.
- Delayed C-section. Failing to perform a timely cesarean section (C-section) in response to fetal distress can result in birth injuries.
- Medication errors. Incorrect administration of medication to either the mother or the baby can lead to various complications.
- Excessive force. Pulling too hard on the baby during delivery can lead to injuries like shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus injuries, affecting the nerves that control the arms and hands.
- Failure to monitor. Failing to adequately monitor for signs of fetal distress can result in delayed action during critical moments, leading to potential injury.
It’s crucial to note that not all birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice or negligence. However, if you suspect that an injury occurred due to inadequate or improper medical care, you should consult a birth injury attorney for help exploring your options for compensation.
What is nerve damage to a baby during birth?
Nerve damage to a baby during birth refers to injuries affecting the neural pathways that control functions like movement and sensation. These injuries can have both short-term and long-term implications, depending on the severity and the nerves involved.
Brachial plexus injuries and facial nerve injuries (both discussed above) are among the most common types of nerve damage during childbirth. Other common types of nerve damage include:
- Spinal cord injuries. Though rare, these are among the most severe forms of nerve damage and can result from extreme force or traumatic interventions during delivery.
- Phrenic nerve injury. This nerve controls the diaphragm and is essential for breathing. Damage to this nerve can lead to respiratory issues in newborns.
- Cranial nerve injury. Injury to the cranial nerve can affect vision, hearing, and other sensory functions and is often due to excessive pressure or trauma during birth.
Can forceps cause nerve damage after delivery?
Yes, the improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during childbirth can lead to nerve damage in the baby. While these tools are often used to assist in challenging deliveries, if they’re not positioned correctly or if excessive force is applied, there’s a heightened risk of injuring the baby’s nerves.
The consequences can range from temporary dysfunction that improves with time and treatment to permanent damage requiring long-term care.
Can a baby recover from nerve damage?
The potential for a baby to recover from nerve damage depends on several factors, including the type of nerve injury, its severity, and the promptness and effectiveness of treatment. Some types of nerve damage are temporary and can heal on their own or improve with interventions like physical or occupational therapy. For example, mild brachial plexus injuries or minor facial nerve damage often improve over time and may not have long-lasting effects.
However, severe nerve damage may result in permanent impairment. In these cases, various treatments, such as surgical intervention, long-term physical therapy, and other specialized care, may be required. Even with such treatments, full recovery may not be possible.
It’s important to consult health care providers for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan if nerve damage is suspected. Early intervention often provides the best chance for recovery.
Can a birth injury be caused by poor prenatal care?
Yes, poor prenatal care can contribute to birth injuries. Adequate prenatal care is crucial for monitoring the health of both the mother and the fetus, identifying potential risks, and managing any medical conditions that could affect pregnancy or childbirth. When health care providers fail to offer appropriate prenatal care, it can result in a variety of problems, including birth injuries.
Here are some ways in which poor prenatal care can lead to birth injuries:
- Not addressing fetal position. Anomalies in the fetus’s position, such as a breech position, can be identified during prenatal care. Failure to correct or plan for this can result in a complicated, risky delivery.
- Lack of nutritional guidance. Poor nutritional advice can lead to conditions like fetal malnutrition, affecting the baby’s development and increasing the risk of complications during labor.
- Inadequate screening and monitoring. Failing to conduct essential screenings and monitoring can result in missing conditions like intrauterine growth restriction, congenital abnormalities and maternal infections that may affect the fetus.
- Failure to identify a high-risk pregnancy. Some pregnancies are high-risk and require more intensive care. Failing to identify this can result in insufficient monitoring and potential complications.
- Poor management of pre-existing conditions. If the mother has pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension, inadequate management during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth injuries.
- Delay in referral to specialists. In some cases, specialized care is needed for high-risk pregnancies. Delays in referrals can result in poor outcomes, including birth injuries.
When poor prenatal care results in birth injury, it may be considered medical negligence even if appropriate measures were taken during labor and delivery. A birth injury attorney can help determine if inadequate prenatal care led to your child’s birth injury.
What are the birth injuries due to negligence?
Negligence, in the context of a birth injury, refers to a failure on the part of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc.) to adhere to an accepted standard of care during the pregnancy, labor or delivery process. When a health care provider’s negligent actions or omissions lead to a birth injury, they may be held legally responsible.
To prove negligence, you generally need to establish 4 key elements:
- Duty of care. You must prove that the health care provider owed you and your baby a duty of care. This is already assumed in a doctor-patient relationship.
- Breach of duty. You must demonstrate that the health care provider failed to adhere to the accepted standard of care.
- Causation. You need to link the health care provider’s breach of duty directly to the birth injury.
- Damages. Finally, you must show that the birth injury resulted in physical, emotional or financial harm.
Please note that medical procedures are complex, and it’s not always straightforward to establish a direct link between a health care provider’s actions and the injury. Additionally, birth injuries can sometimes occur due to natural complications or pre-existing conditions, making it difficult to prove that the health care provider’s actions were the sole cause.
Therefore, proving negligence in a birth injury case often requires extensive medical records, expert witnesses, and a thorough understanding of both the medical and legal systems.
What is birth trauma compensation?
Birth trauma compensation refers to the financial restitution awarded to families or individuals who have experienced a birth injury due to medical negligence or malpractice. This compensation aims to cover various types of damages, both economic and non-economic, that the family or the injured child may incur as a result.
Economic damages may include medical expenses, ongoing medical care, specialized equipment, and potentially the loss of earning capacity for the child in the future. Non-economic damages could involve compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of life enjoyment.
The objective of seeking birth trauma compensation is to provide the affected family with the financial support they need to address their child’s medical and emotional challenges to help them thrive. While no amount of money can fully compensate for the physical and emotional pain caused by a birth injury, financial restitution can help alleviate the added stress of medical costs and ongoing care.
If you believe your family has experienced a birth injury due to medical negligence, consulting with a specialized attorney can help you understand your options for seeking birth trauma compensation.
Brownsville birth injury attorney Laura Brown has helped families recover millions in compensation. Here’s just one of her many successful cases:
Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury
Mateo Ramirez was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when, as an infant, he suffered severe injuries by suffocating on his mother’s umbilical cord. After hearing the evidence we presented, the jury in Brownsville, Texas returned a verdict for $10.3 million for the child’s medical expenses over the course of his life. The Ramirez family is relieved that Mateo will be able to receive the vital medical care he needs.
What is the statute of limitations on birth injury in Texas?
In Texas, parents have 2 years from the date of injury or the discovery of the injury to file a birth injury lawsuit. This means that if a child’s birth injury isn’t evident at birth, like cerebral palsy or some nerve-related injuries, but is discovered later when they fail to meet their milestones, parents may still be able to file a lawsuit as long as they file one within 2 years of becoming aware of the birth injury.
Do I need a specialized attorney for a birth injury case?
Yes, it’s highly recommended that you hire an attorney who specializes in birth injury cases to ensure you get the maximum compensation possible. These cases are complex and require a deep understanding of both medical and legal issues.
An attorney with expertise in birth injury cases can help navigate the intricacies of medical malpractice law, consult with medical experts, and effectively represent your interests in court. They can assist in gathering evidence, conducting investigations, and arguing your case to ensure you have the best chance of receiving the compensation your child deserves.
What if the doctor claims the birth injury was unavoidable?
If the doctor claims the injury was unavoidable, it becomes especially important to consult a birth injury attorney to help determine fault. These cases often hinge on whether the standard of care was breached, and this can be a complex issue requiring expert medical testimony.
Your attorney can consult with medical experts to review the case details, evaluate the actions taken by the health care provider, and determine if the injury could have been prevented with proper care. This will help establish whether the claim of an “unavoidable” injury is valid or if there was, in fact, medical negligence involved.
Can I still file a lawsuit if I signed a consent form?
Signing a consent form does not absolve health care providers from their duty to provide a standard level of care. If negligence occurred, you may still have a valid claim.
What’s the first step in filing a birth injury lawsuit?
The first step in a birth injury lawsuit is to consult a birth injury attorney to evaluate the merits of your case. They can guide you through the process, beginning with an initial investigation and the filing of a complaint.
How long does a typical birth injury lawsuit take in Texas?
The duration of a birth injury lawsuit in Texas can vary widely and is influenced by several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and court schedules. While some cases may resolve in a matter of months, especially if a settlement is reached early on, others can take several years to go through trial and appeals.
The involvement of expert witnesses, the gathering of medical records, and various legal procedures can also contribute to the length of time needed to resolve the case. The duration of a birth injury lawsuit can vary widely, from months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and court schedules.
An experienced birth injury attorney should be able to provide you with a general time frame based on your individual circumstances and similar cases.
What role do expert witnesses play in birth injury lawsuits?
Expert witnesses are often crucial in birth injury cases to establish what the standard of care should have been and how it was breached. They provide specialized knowledge and can help translate complex medical issues for the court.
Schedule an appointment with the top-rated birth injury attorney in Brownsville
If you believe your child is suffering from a birth injury caused by a medical mistake, don’t miss out on the compensation they deserve. Experienced Brownsville birth injury attorney Laura Brown is happy to offer free consultations to give her potential clients the information they need to make the right decision for their child and family.
If you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, rest assured that at Brown Trial Firm, you never have to worry about any upfront fees. Laura’s services come at no cost to you unless she wins your case. Learn more by scheduling a consultation today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Stats of the states – infant mortality. Cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/infant_mortality_rates/infant_mortality.htm
Fertility Rate by State. (2020, April 27). Www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/fertility_rate/fertility_rates.htm
Infant Mortality | Maternal and Infant Health | Reproductive Health | CDC. (2019, March 27). Www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/infantmortality.htm#:~:text=About%20Infant%20Mortality