Few events in life are more traumatic to a family than a birth injury. As a parent of an injured child, you have many questions about what might have gone wrong during labor or delivery.
Illinois Birth Injury Attorneys
If your child has been diagnosed with a condition caused by a birth trauma, you should take steps immediately to determine whether medical malpractice played a role. The Chicago birth injury lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can help you to seek answers.
The reality is that doctors, nurses, midwives and other medical professionals often make preventable mistakes before, during and after a child’s delivery. Those mistakes can cause devastating birth injuries. Medical errors may disfigure a child or cause a disability that requires a lifetime of ongoing care and treatment.
For more than 30 years, our law firm has focused on helping birth injury victims and their families in Chicago and throughout Illinois. We know how to effectively investigate and litigate these highly complex cases. Above all, we are passionate about seeking justice for the families we represent.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We can review your case, answer questions about your legal rights and options and explain how our birth injury attorneys can put our skill and experience to work for you.
Our Experience with Birth Injury Lawsuits in Illinois
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., has a deep background in handling birth trauma cases. We have secured numerous settlements and verdicts on behalf of children and their families in Chicago and many other communities in Illinois.
Our experience includes assisting families with children who suffered birth injuries before, during and after delivery, including:
- $29.1 Million Verdict – We represented the family of a Chicago child who suffered profound brain damage due to his doctors’ failure to prevent an infection before the child’s birth and to promptly address the infection after it arose.
- $15.35 Million Settlement – We obtained this settlement for the family of a Dekalb County child who suffered brain injuries due to errors that occurred when a doctor used a vacuum extractor device to assist in the child’s delivery.
- $13.3 Million Verdict – We won this verdict on behalf of the family of a Cook County child who permanently lost use of his left arm and shoulder due to errors made by the obstetrician and nurses when the child’s shoulders became stuck during delivery.
- $8.25 Million Settlement – We reached this settlement on behalf of the parents of a Chicago child who died only 40 days after his birth due to a pharmacy error that caused him to receive an excessive dose of sodium.
Our experience allows us to understand the factual and legal issues involved in these cases. It also gives us keen insight into how birth injuries affect children and their loved ones. We understand the physical, emotional and financial challenges that families face after a birth injury. We are truly committed to making our clients’ lives better.
How Can Our Chicago Birth Trauma Attorneys Help You?
Your case will start with a free consultation. You can meet with a Chicago birth injury lawyer from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., at our Chicago or Waukegan office or at a location that is most convenient for you, including your home. The consultation will be strictly confidential, and it will carry no obligation.
During the consultation, we can learn more about your case. For instance, we will want to know when you first suspected that a birth injury occurred. We also will want to know how the injury has impacted the life of your child and your family.
If we agree to work together, our legal team can get to work on your case right away. We will take steps that include:
- Investigating your case – You may need to sign a release that allows us to obtain and analyze the medical records from your pregnancy, delivery and postnatal care. We may also interview witnesses who can shed light on how the injury occurred.
- Consulting with experts – We will review your case with independent medical experts who can help us to determine whether a doctor, midwife, nurse or other medical professional failed to meet the recognized standard of care. We will also consult with experts to calculate the amount of damages that should be sought in your case.
- Making a settlement demand – After we have thoroughly prepared your case, we may make an initial settlement demand to the medical care provider’s malpractice insurance company. If liability and damages are uncontested, a case may be resolved at this point.
- File a lawsuit – If a pre-litigation settlement cannot be reached, we can go forward with filing a complaint in the proper Illinois Circuit Court or federal District Court. After a lawsuit is filed, it initiates a formal evidence-gathering process called discovery. We can continue settlement discussions throughout this stage.
- Take your case to trial – If liability and/or damages are contested, it may be in your best interest to try your case in court. Our skilled trial lawyers will be ready to present the strongest case possible on your behalf, including presenting expert witness testimony and professionally crafted exhibits. Keep in mind: A settlement may be reached in the course of a trial or even after a verdict is returned.
- Collect and disburse funds – If a settlement or verdict is obtained in your favor, we will work quickly to collect and disburse the funds owed to you as well as to resolve any liens that may be attached to your recovery.
When you work with Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., you will pay no costs or legal fees unless we are able to obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
Types of Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence
About three of every 100 births involve some type of serious birth injury. In some situations, “natural” circumstances can cause oxygen deprivation during the labor and delivery process. For instance, the umbilical cord may become compressed or twisted, or the baby may be too large to easily pass through the birth canal.
In many instances, birth injuries, especially to the brain, are caused by mistakes made by doctors, hospitals or other medical professionals during the delivery process.
Medical errors that can cause birth injuries include:
- Failing to identify and address problems during pregnancy such as infections, pregnancy-induced hypertension or gestational diabetes
- Prescribing a medication for the mother that carries dangerous side effects
- Failing to respond promptly to bleeding, umbilical cord entanglement or fetal distress
- Delaying the performance of a Cesarean section (or c-section) when problems arise
- Premature delivery complications
- Misusing a vacuum extractor or forceps
- Neglecting to properly monitor the mother’s or baby’s condition immediately after birth
- Medication errors, or administering the wrong type or dosage of medication
- Miscommunication between doctors and nurses
- Complications related to genetic testing.
If any of these events occurred before, during or after your labor or your child’s delivery, medical malpractice may have played a part in your child’s birth injury.
By taking legal action, you can get the answers you deserve about what went wrong and caused your child’s birth injury as well as pursue full and fair compensation for the harm you and your child have suffered.
Additionally, a legal claim may ultimately bring attention to problems and force a hospital or individual medical professionals to make changes, which can prevent similar birth injuries from occurring in the future.
What Are Common Types of Birth Injuries?
Many different types of birth injuries can cause a child to suffer permanent disfigurement or a lifetime disability. The most common birth injuries that our legal team has encountered while protecting the rights of children and their families in Illinois include:
- Collar bone fractures – Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulders become caught behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. If a doctor, nurse or midwife mishandles the emergency, the child may suffer a fractured collar bone, or clavicle. For instance, forceps may be improperly used in an effort to dislodge the baby.
- Brachial plexus injuries – The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located at the base of the neck. These nerves control sensation and movement within the shoulders, arms and hands. If shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery, and the situation is not properly handled, the brachial plexus may suffer damage. This damage can result in conditions such as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.
- Spinal cord injuries – The spinal cord is the collection of nerves that extend from the base of the skull to the lower back. If a baby’s spinal cord becomes compressed during delivery, it can cause paralysis (loss of feeling and movement in the limbs) or neurological damage.
- Perinatal asphyxia – A child can suffer permanent brain, lung and kidney damage if the flow of oxygen through the blood stream to the child’s brain is disrupted. An infection, umbilical cord problems or excessive bleeding can cause perinatal asphyxia.
- Cerebral palsy – Cerebral palsy is an incurable condition that can involve a wide range of deficiencies, including loss of speech, vision, hearing, motor skills, muscle control and coordination. A child with cerebral palsy will likely need a lifetime of care. Studies have found that cerebral palsy may be caused by brain trauma or loss of oxygen during a child’s birth. If your child has cerebral palsy, you should know the stages of a cerebral palsy lawsuit, the time limits for a cerebral palsy lawsuit, and who is at fault in a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
- Facial nerve palsy – If too much pressure is placed on a child’s facial nerves during delivery, it may cause the child to suffer loss of voluntary muscle movement in the face. Facial nerve palsy has also been linked to the use of labor-inducing medication or epidural anesthesia.
- Intracranial hemorrhage – A lack of blood or oxygen in the bloodstream can cause a vessel to rupture inside of a child’s brain, leading to excessive bleeding. The child may suffer permanent brain damage or other complications. For instance, the bleeding may cause the child to suffer from heightened levels of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia), which can lead to jaundice.
- Extracranial injuries – If medical professionals misuse a vacuum extractor or forceps during delivery, they may fracture the child’s skull or cause excessive bleeding between the brain and skull. An extracranial injury can disfigure a child.
If your child has suffered one of these injuries or any other type of birth injury, you have the right to pursue a claim against the medical professionals responsible for the harm.
What Can You Recover in a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Illinois?
In an Illinois birth injury lawsuit, claims may be brought on behalf of both the child and parents. If the child is still a minor at the time of the action, a personal representative would bring a claim on the child’s behalf.
The economic damages which could be sought include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost services and earnings
- Caretaking expenses.
The non-economic damages which can be sought include:
- Disability or loss of normal life
- Shortened life expectancy
- Increased risk of future harm
- Physical and mental pain and suffering.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can calculate the full and fair amount that should be sought on behalf of you and your child, basing our determination on medical records and input from medical and life-care planning experts.
Additionally, we may seek punitive damage if the evidence indicates that your child’s birth injury resulted from “willful or wanton” conduct.
If your child died from a birth injury, a separate set of damages would be sought through a wrongful death claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Birth Injury Claim in Illinois?
A birth injury lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice claim. Generally speaking, under Illinois law, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years after the date of the negligent act or omission that caused the injury or within two years from the date on which the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered. However, in no case can the claim be brought more than four years after the negligent act or omission.
This rule is called the statute of limitations. However, other rules may apply in your child’s case.
First, under Illinois law, if the negligent act or omission occurred when a victim was under age 18 – as in a birth injury case – then the claim would need to be filed within eight years from the date of the negligent act or omission or before the victim turns age 22.
Second, in Illinois, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” when a victim suffers from a disability. The statute of limitations will not begin to run until the disability is removed. Thus, if your child suffers from a permanent disability, it is possible that the child’s claim may never be time barred.
Birth Injury FAQs
What Are Birth Injuries?
A birth injury occurs when an infant or the mother is injured due to misdiagnosis, mistreatment, or complications during labor, delivery, or prenatal care. Although some injuries may be unavoidable, many occur as the result of a medical error on the part of a health care professional.
How Common Are Birth Injuries?
An estimated five out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States will suffer some type of injury during birth. Data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality show that almost 157,700 injuries to babies and mothers in a recent year could possibly have been prevented.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
When birth injuries occur, they range from mild to life-threatening. A doctor can easily treat some, while others could lead to lifelong medical conditions.
The most common injuries a baby sustains during birth include:
- Collarbone or clavicle fracture
- Brain damage from the restriction or disruption of oxygen
- Injury to the nerves in the neck and shoulder area, resulting in Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injury to the facial nerve
- Cerebral palsy
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Bleeding under cranial bones
- Bruising or swelling of the head
Some injuries are unavoidable, but there are times when you may suspect that the injury could have been avoided if, for example, there was the improper use of forceps, failure to deliver the baby in a timely manner, or order a C-section at the appropriate time.
What Are the Most Common Injuries to Mothers During Birth?
Possible physical and emotional damage during birth includes:
- Ruptured uterus
- Post-partum hemorrhaging
- Vaginal or anal tears
- Prolapsed uterus
- PND (post-natal depression) or PTSD (post-natal traumatic stress disorder)
When a woman gives birth, she puts her body through extreme trauma. Mothers are very resilient, however, and with today’s medical advances, serious injuries are rare. However, when an injury does occur, it’s natural to want to understand why this injury happened to you and whether it could have been prevented.
How Do Birth Injuries Happen?
The likelihood of an injury happening during or after birth increases under the following circumstances:
- If the baby is too large for the mother’s pelvis
- If the baby’s positioning toward the birth canal is incorrect, such as feet first
- If the doctor uses forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery
- If the baby is born prematurely (before 37 weeks)
- If the doctor induces labor with certain drugs, such as Cytotec or Pitocin
- If cesarean section delivery is necessary, but gets delayed or not performed at all
- If the doctor fails to diagnose medical conditions in the baby or mother
- If the doctor doesn’t identify and respond to any fetal distress during labor
While there are many possible things that can go wrong during birth, standard procedures and quality care will usually prevent any injuries. When injuries do occur, it’s important to understand what went wrong and why.
Are All Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice?
No. Sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances that lead to injury. Genetic defects and infections could cause a range of unavoidable health conditions.
However, when a doctor, nurse, midwife, or other medical professional does not follow the recognized standard of care, and the baby or mother is harmed as a result, there could be a case for medical malpractice.
How Can Birth Injuries Be Avoided?
Some of the most important steps physicians take to prevent injuries during birth include:
- Prenatal care: The obstetrician should perform prenatal testing to asses both the mother’s and baby’s health. Early detection of abnormalities allows for proper management and treatment.
- Detect fetal distress: The obstetrician should closely monitor the mother and baby for signs of fetal distress, which indicates the deprivation of oxygen to the fetus.
Premature birth prevention: Infants born before full development face a range of medical issues. The doctor should help the mother carry her baby to term by recognizing and minimizing risk factors.
Can Birth Injuries Cause Cerebral Palsy?
Parents often worry about the possibility of a birth injury leading to brain damage. Cerebral palsy could develop from an injury to the brain while the baby is still in the womb, during delivery, or shortly after birth. A lack of oxygen to the brain could also cause cerebral palsy.
Around 20 percent of children who suffered a brain injury during birth are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It’s less common than most injuries that could happen. However, when it does occur, a parent is left with questions. Unfortunately, there are times when medical malpractice was the cause.
What Can You Be Compensated for in a Birth Injury Claim?
In a birth injuries lawsuit, you could seek compensation for:
- Medical costs relating to the injury, such as medications, hospital visits, and additional treatment that was medically necessary
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Psychological services or counseling
- Home accommodations
- Caretaking costs
- Lost services and earnings
- Disability or loss of a normal life
- Shortened life expectancy
- Increased risk of future harm
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
How Can a Lawyer Help After a Birth Injury?
The experienced attorneys from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., understand the devastation of seeing your child suffer. We have a long track record of success in helping families obtain answers and demand justice for the harm they have suffered. Our goal is to secure the maximum compensation your child needs to live a full life.
Our compassionate birth injury lawyers offer a free consultation and will take the time to answer all of your questions about your case. If your child suffered serious injuries during birth, contact us today to discuss your legal options.
Get Help Today from Our Chicago Birth Injury Attorneys
If you suspect that your child has suffered a birth injury and want to file a birth injury claim, the experienced medical malpractice and injury lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., want to help you.
We feature offices in Chicago and Waukegan, and we work with clients throughout Illinois.
As soon as you are ready to take legal action, give us a call or reach us online. We can provide a free, confidential and immediate consultation.