Since you're here, we assume that you're considering contacting a New Jersey birth injury lawyer about a potential claim. If that's true, there are a few things you should know about our Firm:
- We offer free, no obligation case reviews. If you think you have a birth injury claim, you have nothing to lose by speaking to us about your case, and much to gain.
- We work on a contingency fee basis. If you retain us to handle your claim you pay us nothing out of pocket.
- Time is of the essence. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for birth injuries is generally two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date the injury should have been reasonably discovered. (There's an exception, which we discuss below.)
Not ready to talk to one of our attorneys? No problem. We invite you to keep reading to gain a better understanding of what it means to have a birth injury claim in New Jersey.
Topics covered here:
- About Birth Injuries in New Jersey
- Common Birth-Related Injuries
- Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
- Who has Claims for Birth Injuries?
- Who can Sue for Birth Injuries?
- Which Parties can be Liable for Birth Injuries?
- How will I be able to Prove Liability?
- What Happens in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?
- New Jersey Birth Injury Statute of Limitations
- How can a Birth Injury Attorney Help?
About Birth Injuries in New Jersey
Birth-related injuries are devastating. When you've been looking forward to the birth of your healthy baby, it is heartbreaking to realize that something has gone wrong.
Birth-Related injuries are especially confusing because it can be unclear who is at fault. As parents, you may develop a close, personal relationship with your team of doctors and nurses. This relationship can make it even more heart-wrenching to know that one of them may have done something wrong.
If your child has suffered a birth-related injury in New Jersey, it's essential to get all of the facts. You may be facing additional medical bills and potentially a lifetime of treatment for your child. Pursuing financial recovery from the parties responsible might be a necessity, and it’s what you and your child deserve.
Our dedicated and compassionate attorneys have experience dealing with doctors, hospital staff, and insurance companies. Read on to find out how we may be able to help you.
Common Birth-Related Injuries
Birth-related injuries that an infant sustains during labor and delivery due to medical negligence can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
There are several types of injuries that a baby can sustain due to an error during the delivery process.
Brain injuries that occur during labor and delivery often result from hypoxia, a decrease in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the baby's brain.
Several circumstances can cause severe oxygen deprivation, which in some cases, result in cerebral palsy and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
For example, the umbilical cord might become intertwined around the fetus' neck, restricting the flow of oxygen to the baby's brain. If obstetricians do not detect umbilical entanglement and take steps to address the situation, such as administering labor-inducing drugs or performing an emergency C-section, the delay in delivery can exacerbate hypoxia. It can result in anoxia, the absence of oxygen, thereby worsening the extent of brain damage.
Birth-related injuries such as oxygen deprivation can also arise from complications due to shoulder dystocia. This is a condition sometimes observed in babies situated in a breech position inside the womb. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby's passage through the birth canal is impeded. In shoulder dystocia, the infant's shoulder gets caught on the mother's pubic bone.
An obstetrician can perform maneuvers to dislodge the stuck shoulder. However, failure to employ these techniques, or failure to execute these manipulations in a timely fashion, can prolong the amount of time the baby remains in the womb.
This delay in labor and delivery may result in brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. A physician who does not immediately induce labor or order an emergency C-section when the baby might be in danger can be liable for a medical malpractice claim.
In addition to oxygen insufficiency, an infant can also suffer a wide array of physical injuries. Doctors may treat shoulder dystocia in a reckless manner. A physician's forceful manipulations can cause the following:
- Clavicle fractures
- Humerus fractures
- Vertebral damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brachial plexus injuries
Some of these injuries can occur if the doctor exerts excessive pressure. This would happen if the doctor pulls the baby's head or jerks the baby's neck to one side. Brachial plexus injuries occur when nerves located in the region of the neck become excessively stretched or torn. This hinders the transmission of neural impulses from the spinal cord to the shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. This restricts the baby’s movement.
NJ Birth Injuries Can Be Medical Malpractice
Other birth injuries caused during labor and delivery that may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit result from iatrogenic trauma to the baby. For example, a physician might attempt to expedite the delivery by using obstetric instruments.
The improper application of tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps might inflict harm to the baby’s head by causing brain hemorrhaging (bleeding). A surgeon might also cause damage while performing a C-section if the baby is accidentally cut when an incision is made in the mother’s abdomen.
Parents may not be able to detect all birth injuries immediately, but signs may become more apparent as the child grows. For example:
- Cognitive and motor deficits,
- Difficulty with speech production,
- Developmental delays, and
- Visual or auditory problems.
These signs might indicate that the child has sustained a brain injury.
Get A Free Birth Injury Case Review
Are you looking for a qualified Birth Injury lawyer in New Jersey? If so, simply submit the short form below to speak with an experienced attorney from OPLN about your case.
Who Has Claims For Birth Injuries?
Although birth injuries are more common in babies, sometimes the mother may also have a claim. For example, If the doctor failed to notice the mother's health deteriorating during delivery, and this led to injuries, such as a seizure, the mother may have a claim.
If a child sustains injuries, the parents may also have a separate claim for pain and suffering.
Who Can Sue for Birth Injuries?
In the state of New Jersey, parents can sue on behalf of their minor child for birth-related injuries. Children can also sue for medical malpractice after reaching the age of 18.
If you believe your doctor's action or inaction caused your baby's injury, it's essential to speak to an experienced attorney right away.
Which Parties can be Liable for Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are incredibly complicated situations. Although usually there is one primary obstetrician, there is often a whole team responsible for delivering the baby.
Any of the following parties may be liable for your child's birth-related injuries:
- Emergency medical teams
It can be difficult to ascertain which party’s conduct caused the injury. That's why it's critical to speak to one of our attorneys right away so that we can start investigating your claim.
How Will I Be Able To Prove Liability?
Many parents worry about the difficulty of proving liability in cases of birth-related injuries. While it can be challenging, this is where our team can help. Proving liability only factors in when a case goes to a jury. If it settles, it will simply be a negotiation between the parties. It’s always our goal to get our clients the money they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. You are in charge of whether or not you take any offered settlements.
If the case does go to trial, the plaintiff will need to show negligence. To prove negligence in birth-related injuries, the plaintiff must show that the physician or other defendant deviated from the acceptable and expected standard of care. To illustrate this, medical experts are brought in to talk to the jury. The court must hear that the doctors or medical team in your case didn't act as other doctors or medical teams would have.
Our experienced attorneys can help guide you through every step of the process.
What Happens In A Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A birth injury lawsuit generally begins as soon as you discover your baby's injury. Your first consultation with an attorney will be to discuss the injury, how your pregnancy and delivery went, and the current health of your child.
Your attorney will then begin to gather evidence. This process usually involves obtaining all relevant medical records, including yours and your child's, from your pregnancy until the present. If your lawyer believes that you may have a claim, you will discuss how you wish to proceed. Often, attorneys will start with a demand letter asking for compensation from the responsible party.
Sometimes, demand letters lead the other party offering a financial settlement amount. If the settlement amount is something that you think is fair to cover you and your child's needs, this may be where it ends. Litigation is generally not the preferred method of obtaining recovery because it can take a long time and a lot of emotional energy.
However, if the demand letter didn't produce a favorable response and settlement negotiations don't work, the case may be taken to trial. The litigation process will involve more fact- gathering, as well as retaining expert witnesses in the medical field to discuss what should have been done for your child versus what the doctor and medical team did.
Sometimes settlement negotiations will begin again after fact-gathering and interviews. If not, the case will be tried. Your lawyer will argue the case to try to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for you and your family.
New Jersey Birth Injury Statute of limitations
If your baby has suffered a birth-related injury, unfortunately, you have a limited amount of time available to make a claim. Like other legal claims for personal injury, birth injuries have a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time in which a claim must be started before it is barred forever.
In general, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in New Jersey is two years from the date the injury occurred, or two years from the date the patient became aware, or reasonably could have become aware, of the injury. Many babies may not seem injured within two years of the date the injury occurred. Therefore, medical malpractice claims allow special timelines for injuries the parents may have become aware of later.
In birth injury cases specifically, the baby's injury could become apparent only many years later. That's why in New Jersey, the birth injury case must be filed by the child's thirteenth birthday.
Although there may be several years available to bring a birth injury lawsuit, you should pursue your claim as soon as you become aware you may have one. Staff changes at the hospital, as well as shifting medical records, may make financial recover difficult in the future.
Not only that, but bringing a claim sooner may allow you to recover monetary compensation that could be critical to your child's recovery and quality of life. As soon as you think you may have a claim, contact an experienced attorney right away.
How can a Birth Injury Attorney Help?
A birth injury attorney knows the process of seeking financial compensation in and out. A caring, knowledgeable attorney will not only be able to pursue legal claims on your behalf, but they'll be able to help you and your family through this difficult time.
Discuss Your Case with Our Birth-Related Injury Attorneys Today
The law firm of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble has significant experience handling cases involving birth injuries resulting from perinatal negligent care. If you suspect that your loved one sustained a birth injury due to an error committed during labor and delivery, you may be entitled to receive a just settlement.
The firm’s experienced team of attorneys will analyze medical records with the assistance of expert medical professionals to determine if a hospital, physician or nurse violated standards of care and committed an error resulting in irreversible brain damage or other severe injuries. Contact us online or call (908) 928-9200 for a free no-obligation consultation.
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
New Jersey’s largest wrongful birth verdict: failure to disclose an unborn infant's catastrophic genetic defect.
Prenatal testing facility failed to properly perform genetic testing in this wrongful birth suit, with catastrophic consequences.
Discuss Your Case with Our Birth Injury Attorneys Today
The law firm of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble has significant experience handling cases involving birth injuries resulting from perinatal negligent care. If you suspect that your loved one sustained a birth injury due to an error committed during labor and delivery, you may be entitled to receive a just settlement. The firm’s experienced team of attorneys will analyze medical records with the assistance of expert medical professionals to determine if a hospital, physician or nurse violated standards of care and committed an error resulting in irreversible brain damage or other severe injuries. Contact us online or call (908) 928-9200 for a free no obligation consultation.