A birth defect lawsuit is a legal action that seeks to compensate the family of a child who is born with birth defects. A legal action for a birth defect lawsuit will be successful if it can be shown that someone caused the child’s birth defects. These lawsuits tend to be emotionally taxing for all parties involved as well.
Birth defect lawsuits are usually filed by a birth defect attorney when the defect is caused by malpractice, genetic testing, environmental exposure, or chemical exposure due to negligence. Thousands of children are born with some type of birth defect in the United States every year. Many birth defects involve structural or functional abnormalities that can lead to physical and mental disabilities. Some birth defects may be fatal.
What Are Some Types of Birth Defects?
Although the causes of birth defects are often unknown, a significant percentage of birth defects are caused by chemical exposure or other environmental causes. A mother’s exposure to toxic substances and chemicals at home and at work can cause birth defects. Chemical exposures to pesticides, fungicides, lead, heavy metals, paints, and other toxic substances can increase the likelihood of having a baby with birth defects.
Birth defect lawsuits have been filed by women working in beauty salons, paint factories, manufacturing facilities, metal cleaning operations, and the agriculture industry. Substances and chemicals contained in medications negligently prescribed by doctors may cause birth defects. Chemicals that have contaminated the air or groundwater in a community may also be responsible for birth defects.
No specific type of birth defect automatically gives rise to legal action. However, common types of birth defects include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cerebral Hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation
- Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
- Spina Bifida
- Erb’s Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Dysfunction
- Congenital Heart Defect
- Mental Retardation
If a child suffers from one or more of these conditions, it is possible that the carelessness of a third party partly caused the condition. It is worth noting that some of the above may result from birth injuries. Although the difference between a birth defect and a birth injury may seem minor, the distinction can play a big role in litigation.
What Are Some Issues with Birth Defect Lawsuits?
One hundred fifty thousand or more children are born with structural birth defects in the United States every year. These defects may include malfunctions of the organs and bones. Spina bifida, heart defects, and cleft palate are common birth defects. Many more children will be diagnosed with functional birth defects or in the following months or years, abnormalities in their systems. Neurological, immune, and endocrine system defects are common. Functional birth defects include conditions like intellectual impairment, autism, learning disorders, and attention disorders. Some birth defects last a lifetime. Other defects are fatal.
When a child is born or later diagnosed with a birth defect, parents often wonder why. They may wonder if the condition was caused by something during pregnancy or delivery. It is not always possible to know the cause of a birth defect. Still, studies have shown that some birth defects are linked to exposure to prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, chemical exposure in the home or workplace, or exposure to other toxic substances. Complications during pregnancy or delivery may also cause birth defects. When a child is born with a birth defect that may have been caused by exposure or medical negligence, parents may consider pursuing litigation.
Birth defect lawsuits can be incredibly complex and involve thousands of injured families and several different parties. Generally, many birth defect lawsuits are based around the following:
- Negligence: Negligence is the failure to use the amount of care that an ordinary person would use in similar circumstances. Unlike most areas of the law, negligence does not require someone to act directly. Rather, negligence lawsuits hinge on the idea that someone was not careful enough or failed to appreciate the risk.
- Concerning birth defect lawsuits, several parties may have been negligent. For example, a doctor may act negligently in prescribing the wrong dosage. A hospital may be negligent in hiring and failing to train staff properly. A drug company may be negligent in researching and manufacturing its drugs.
- Product Defect: Product defects refer to a poorly manufactured drug or product. A product is also considered defective if it fails to warn users of certain risks. Like negligence, a defective product may not necessarily indicate a specific intent to do wrong but rather fail to take adequate steps to do or make something reasonably safe. For birth defect lawsuits, these types of claims tend to focus on drugs or other medical devices used during the birthing process.
Can Medical Malpractice During Pregnancy Cause Birth Defects?
Medical malpractice that results in a birth defect can happen in a variety of ways. When a medical professional fails to act according to accepted medical standards and an injury results, you may have cause for a malpractice or medical negligence claim. Any medical professional may be negligent during the course of pregnancy – this includes lab technicians, nurses, radiologists, specialists, doctors, and manufacturers of medical equipment.
Examples of negligent malpractice that may occur during pregnancy include:
- Failure to perform an ultrasound properly
- Failure to read an ultrasound properly
- Prescribing dangerous medication during a pregnancy
- Incorrectly performing a diagnostic test
- Failure to perform necessary testing
- Ignoring test results
- Failure to advise patients of risks
Can Malpractice During Delivery Cause Birth Injuries?
When a doctor or other medical professional acts negligently during labor and delivery, the result can be dangerous to a child. Some common ways that malpractice may occur during labor and delivery include:
- Failure to read tests that indicate fetal danger
- Failure to perform a C-section properly
- Using instruments that harm the baby
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication errors
- Failure to make proper evaluations
If a medical practitioner has violated the accepted standards of care and the result is an injury to your child, you should consider filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice claims and medical negligence claims are difficult to evaluate. Evaluating a medical malpractice claim involves investigation, evaluation of medical records, and asking the right questions. Consider using LegalMatch’s services to contact an experienced birth defect lawyer today.
What Is the Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?
A birth defect is a structural or functional defect that occurs while the infant is still in the womb. A birth injury occurs while the mother is in labor or in the process of delivery. Though birth defects and birth injuries may share similarities influencing the health and functioning of a newborn infant, they differ in their causes, their impact on the child’s development, and how they are presented in court.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Birth defect lawsuits are quite complex and emotionally exhausting. Suppose your child has been born with a disorder, and you suspect it may have been the result of mistakes made by the hospital, medical staff, or drug companies. In that case, you should consider speaking with a birth injury lawyer.
The birthing process is not an exact science, and unfortunately, mistakes can be made without the fault of anyone. Use LegalMatch’s services to find a personal injury lawyer in your area and schedule a free consultation today.