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Birth-Related Medical Malpractice

Birth ChildWhile the birth of a child is almost always a happy event, there are rare situations where things go wrong. Sometimes, things simply happen; other times, the child or the mother sustains injury due to some error on the part of medical staff. While an error does not always mean malpractice, those that do rise to that level should render the appropriate people accountable.

Multiple Types of Causes of Action

There are several causes that can result in a malpractice claim being filed. One, known as wrongful birth, is when the parents of a child with severe disabilities allege that they were not properly advised as to the risks and complications of birthing that child, and would conceivably have chosen to terminate the pregnancy if all the facts had been known. California is also one of the few jurisdictions that recognize a cause of action for wrongful life, which is when the child (through a next friend or guardian) sues the doctor for failing to prevent their birth. Such causes of action, while legal and winnable, are often considered distasteful by both the medical and legal community, however, so such a claim may be more difficult to bring than those alleging other birth-related acts of malpractice.

If you do manage to mount a case of wrongful birth or wrongful life, be advised that damages are usually limited to the costs stemming from required therapy or care. It is, in theory, possible to receive damages based on emotional pain and suffering, but it occurs less often. In California, these cases do fall under the rubric of medical malpractice, so as per the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), all actual damages are capped at $250,000.

Birth Injuries

By far the most common cause of action related to birth, however, is seeking recovery for birth injuries sustained by mother, child or both. Labor and delivery is possibly the most common surgical procedure in the country, and yet it is also one of the most complex. During one year’s time, it is estimated that approximately 160,000 injuries to mother and child occur that may have been avoidable.

Certain injuries have a higher occurrence than others, but any harm that can be directly linked to medical negligence may be actionable. The most common include:

  • Failure to control maternal blood loss in the case of a rough delivery;
  • Seizures due to maternal preeclampsia, a condition which elevates blood pressure during pregnancy;
  • Brachial plexus injuries to the baby;
  • Oxygen deprivation, which can lead to cerebral palsy in the newborn;
  • Cranial hemorrhage, which can develop into more serious conditions;
  • Brain damage due to a stuck umbilical cord or shoulder dystocia; and
  • Many others, most of which involve too much or too little oxygen getting to the newborn’s brain.

Any injury to mother or child may be negligent if it can be proved that it was incurred as a direct result of the doctor’s conduct, and that that conduct was a breach of the standard of care.

Seek Experienced Legal Help

Pregnancy and childbirth are life-changing events; it is especially important that everything go well when there is life at stake. If you or your child have been harmed by a doctor’s negligence, it is important to protect your interests. The compassionate San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can advise on how best to proceed with your case, and offer suggestions on how to get life back on track Contact us today at (408) 289-1417 to set up an appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, Monterey and Alameda.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.