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Infant Spinal Injuries: What to Do Next?

BabyOne of the most awful situations a mother can find herself in is that where there is an injury to her child, especially when that child is a newborn. Sometimes, babies are simply born with abnormalities to their body or brain - but sometimes, it is possible to trace a child’s injury to some act or omission of the attending physician. While it can be tempting to want to place blame if your child is born with an injury, it is imperative to do one’s research before committing to any legal recourse.

Common Causes of Spinal Injuries to Newborns

While the overall presentation of spinal injuries in pediatric cases is thankfully rare, there are patterns to be found in the cases one does see. A significant portion of reported cases are caused by undue pressure or rotation during delivery - especially if the attending surgeon uses forceps. It is also common to see spinal injuries in breech birth situations. In such cases, it is sadly common for a surgeon either to forego the option of a cesarean section or to delay making the decision until the damage has already been done.

In many cases, injury to the spinal cord will result in temporary damage, or in a manageable condition, but it is possible for the spinal cord to become overstretched. Forceps or vacuum extractors can lead to hyperextension of the cord, or an edema or other type of lesion caused by rough handling can become larger if not spotted. It is even possible that a child will be stillborn, though this most often occurs after an injury in utero, rather than during delivery.

Is my Child’s Injury Actionable?

When deciding whether or not you have a case for medical malpractice, it is imperative that you consider the specifics in California’s medical malpractice laws. In order to make a case for malpractice, you must show a variety of facts to be true. You must show:

  • That the medical professional owed a duty of care to you and your baby (though this is established by law in California);
  • That the duty was breached;
  • That actual harm was done to you and/or your child (this can be either physical or mental/emotional); and
  • That the harm suffered was a direct result of the doctor’s conduct, with no other intervening cause.

The last is perhaps the most important, especially in cases involving birth injuries. Many symptoms in newborns can be evidence of a spinal injury, but may also be evidence of another condition entirely, and as such, it can be difficult to pinpoint how the harm occurred - in other words, whether it can be laid at the feet of the doctor, the mother sustained trauma, or if nature simply took its course.

Ask a Legal Professional

In such a delicate and difficult situation, it is always best to consult a professional for advice before moving forward. The compassionate San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. will be honest and straightforward with you, and do our best to give you an accurate picture of your options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of San Benito, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Monterey.

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.