A Parent’s Role in Pursuing a Birth Injury Claim

by | Jun 11, 2010 | Birth Injury, Firm News |

When pursuing a birth injury claim in Ohio, the attorney handling the claim will work towards obtaining compensation for the long-term services and care the injured child may need. Most of the time, the attorneys will attempt to shield the parents from the legal and procedural challenges; parents of a severely injured child have enough to handle during this time.

However, the child’s parents do have a role to play. While the lawyer handles the legal aspects of the claim, the child’s parents will work with medical professionals to determine the child’s current and long-term medical needs.

The first step is to determine the nature and degree of birth injury suffered. Some injuries are irreversible and will have significant, life-altering consequences for the child, while others may require substantial medical care initially, but ultimately have more modest consequences.

Once parents understand the full scope of the injuries, they can begin developing a long-term treatment and care plan. A child suffering a birth injury may require medical services from a variety of specialists. These might include neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, and surgeons, for example. A child with a severe birth injury may need supportive therapy from psychologists, social workers or psychiatrists.

A long-term care plan looks not only to the child’s current needs but also to the child’s needs as he or she grows. Any medical or surgical interventions the child may need throughout his or her life due to the birth injury should be addressed in the plan.

Children with severe birth injuries often require adaptive equipment, such as braces, wheelchairs, or hearing aids. The cost of this adaptive equipment and the frequency with which it needs to be replaced should be taken into account in the long-term care plan. Parents may also be required to make home modifications to support the use of adaptive equipment, such as installing wheelchair ramps or safety rails.

Children with severe birth injuries may require intensive day-to-day assistance that must be provided by a nurse or home health aide. If a family member will serve as the primary caretaker, the family must still consider respite care. And the possibility of eventual institutionalization should also be taken into account in appropriate cases, such as when in-home care depends upon the continued good health of the parents.

A realistic and well-thought-out long-term care plan that considers all of these elements is essential to obtaining adequate compensation when medical malpractice leads to a severe birth injury.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy

If you suspect that your child has developed cerebral palsy after childbirth, look for some of these common symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Sensory impairments
  • Cognitive limitations

Steps To Take If You Suspect A Birth Injury

If you suspect your infant has been harmed during the birth process because of the negligence of a medical professional, there is no time to waste in taking the important steps to protect your child’s future. The following steps are crucial for navigating the aftermath of a suspected birth injury:

  • Seek immediate medical attention for your baby. Nothing is as important as your child’s well-being, and many injuries, unfortunately, worsen the longer they are left untreated. Accurately diagnosing and treating these injuries is tremendously time-sensitive which is why it should be your priority. The steps you take will depend on the type and extent of your child’s injury, as it may be necessary for you to request the expertise of additional specialists, treatment, or testing.
  • Enlist the services of an experienced and aggressive birth injury lawyer. If you hesitate to arm yourself with legal counsel, you will soon be contacted by the hospital’s insurance company, pressuring you into a hasty agreement with a minimal settlement amount. Many birth injuries necessitate lifelong treatment and care. Simply agreeing to a lackluster settlement will be a disservice to your child and their future needs.
  • Get a second opinion. Though you may be wary to place your faith or trust in another physician, there is no harm in reaching out to someone with an alternative view of the situation. He or she may be able to provide you with further insight as to how the injury occurred.
  • Collect all possible evidence to substantiate your concerns. This includes your child’s medical paperwork, everyday progress, and more. Report any abnormalities or misconduct to a healthcare provider. By documenting as meticulously as possible, you are only helping your claim down the line. Take notes daily in preparation for future litigation.

Maximize Recovery To Make Sure You Have The Resources Your Child Needs

Unfortunately, you are far from alone if your child has suffered a birth injury due to negligence. These sorts of tragic injuries are all too common, as evidenced by the fact that birth injury suits result in millions of dollars in damages each year including a case that made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2013.

The issue, in that case, concerned whether a state can place a lien upon a portion of the medical malpractice settlement the family hoped to utilize in their child’s care. The young girl was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after her birth, and her condition blamed upon errors made when a Cesarean section was performed during the child’s delivery. The girl became blind, deaf and mentally retarded as a result of the errors and will likely always require 24-hour-a-day care.

The matter was originally settled by her medical providers for $2.8 million. However, the state that the malpractice purportedly occurred in then attempted to place a lien on one-third of that amount. The justification for such a lien was that Medicaid payments had been made in support of the girl, and at least a portion of that went towards the paying of medical expenses.

Federal law prohibits states from attempting to recover for anything but medical expenses in such circumstances as no reimbursement can be made to states if the award is for pain and suffering. The attorney for the family argued that since there had not been a distinction made between what portion of the settlement was for medical expenses and what portion went for pain and suffering, the lien placed upon the proceeds by the state was arbitrary. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the family’s argument and the lien was not allowed.


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