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Crying baby injured during labor and delivery | Burg Simpson Law Firm

How Do Babies Get Injured During Labor?

May 8, 2024 | 6 min read

The birth of a child is typically a joyful event. But when the baby is injured during labor, that joy can quickly turn into a harrowing and dreadful experience for the parents.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there is an average of 2.2 birth injuries per 1,000 live births in the United States. Sometimes these injuries are treatable and have no prolonged impact on the quality of the child’s life. In some other cases, however, birth injuries can lead to lifelong health conditions requiring treatment and care. These injuries are typically preventable if healthcare professionals take adequate measures to protect the baby during delivery.

Sadly, that is not always the case. If you suspect that your child was injured during labor as a result of medical malpractice or negligence, you should speak to a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call Burg Simpson Law Firm at 303-792-5595 today for a FREE and confidential case evaluation.

What Causes Birth Injuries During Childbirth?

First, we need to define what birth injuries are. These are damages or injuries sustained by an otherwise healthy child during the delivery process.

This implies that the child was perfectly fine and had no birth defects before the injury they sustained during the birthing process. Birth injuries are usually caused by one or more of the following:

Cephalopelvic Disproportion

May occur when the baby weighs more than 9 lbs. It could lead to a distressing birth, particularly if the mother’s birth canal is small or normal-sized. Experienced healthcare professionals know not to allow a vaginal birth when the baby’s weight exceeds 9 lbs.

Rapid Labor

Also called precipitous labor, labor is considered rapid if it lasts between 3 and 5 hours. It is dangerous because the child could be delivered in an unsterile environment. Also, the baby’s rapid descent through the birth canal can lead to head or brain injury. The baby may also inhale some amniotic fluid or suffer shoulder dystocia.

Prolonged Labor

Prolonged labor can lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or oxygen deprivation in the baby.

Abnormal Birth Position or Breech Presentation

Abnormal presentation increases the risk of oxygen deprivation, birth trauma, and umbilical cord issues in the baby.

Asynclitic Birth

Asynclitic birth complications occur when undue pressure is placed on the baby’s head, causing swelling in the process. This injury typically resolves by itself within 24 hours of childbirth.

Forceps Delivery and Vacuum Extraction

Misuse of forceps and vacuum extraction devices can cause brain damage, small cuts on the baby’s face and head, facial nerve damage, brain bleeds, or skull fracture.

Birth-Assisted Medications

The use of epidurals and pitocin to numb birth pains and induce birth can lead to oxygen deprivation in the baby, rapid birth-related injuries, and other birth complications.

How Can You Differentiate Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?

If you’re thinking of filing a medical malpractice claim in Colorado, it is crucial to understand the difference between birth injuries and defects. Birth defects in newborns are typically more common than birth injuries. According to the CDC, 1 in 33 babies—over 120,000 infants annually—have a birth defect.

Most people tend to confuse in-utero birth defects with injuries sustained during labor. However, they are not the same thing.

Examples of birth defects include:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Anencephaly
  • Cleft palate or lip
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Clubfoot

Examples of birth injuries include:

  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or oxygen deprivation
  • Brain or intracranial bleeds
  • Brain injuries
  • Facial nerve palsy or paralysis
  • Swollen head or head injuries
  • Forceps scratches
  • Shoulder dystocia

What Types Of Birth Injuries & Health Problems Can Result From Medical Negligence?

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Brachial Plexus Injury
  • Birth Asphyxia (breathing problems or oxygen deprivation)
  • Caput Succedaneum
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
  • Facial Paralysis (partial or total paralysis of facial muscles)
  • Fractures (including broken collar bones, arms, or dislocated shoulder)
  • Cerebral Dysgenesis

What If I Suspect Negligence Harmed My Baby?

The smart thing to do is gather evidence or proof that your newborn’s injuries were caused by negligent healthcare professionals. The basis of all medical malpractice claims in Colorado is medical negligence.

You need to show that the medical staff failed to uphold the required standard of care that your baby would have ordinarily received elsewhere, under similar circumstances, and by similarly qualified healthcare personnel. To establish liability, you would have to prove that the medical professional:

  • Failed to identify signs of a problematic birth or fetal distress
  • Misdiagnosed problems during the baby’s delivery
  • Failed to take necessary action after observing the onset of birthing problems
  • Administered the wrong dose of epidural, pitocin, or other birth-assisting drugs
  • Administered the wrong medication
  • Failed to assist in the birth of the newborn on time
  • Improperly utilized the delivery equipment, leading to birth injuries
  • Administered the medications at the wrong time
  • Performed a C-section poorly

Once you can prove that a healthcare professional committed one or more of these errors, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against all liable parties—including the healthcare institution and other staff.

How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Colorado?

In Colorado, you have just two years from the date of the incident or the discovery of the injury to file a malpractice suit against liable parties (see Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-80-102.5).

So, let’s say your infant suffered birth injuries on March 20, 2024, but the injuries were not diagnosed until June 30, 2024. You would have until June 30, 2026, to file the medical malpractice suit.

Although there is a standard two-year deadline, there are special provisions that allow parents of children aged 8 and under to bring legal action against liable parties if their child was hurt while under the age of 6.

How Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Help?

The process of filing a medical malpractice claim in Colorado can be complex. For example, after filing the lawsuit against the liable parties, the following conditions must be met:

  • A certificate of review must be filed within 60 days
  • The certificate must state and show that you have consulted with a specialist who has expertise in the subject of birth injuries
  • The certificate must also affirm that the specialist believes that you have reasonable grounds for the claim

That is just one step. You need the help of experienced Colorado birth injury lawyers to navigate this rather arduous process.

Our skilled medical malpractice attorneys will help you through this very difficult period in your life. With our experience, knowledge, and commitment, we will fight for you and your child so you can get the compensation you deserve.

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With our help, you may be able to recover the following damages:

  • Economic damages – These cover all past and future medical costs, household care, and any lost wages by the parent(s) due to their care of the child.
  • Non-economic damages – These cover non-monetary losses such as emotional anguish and pain and suffering.

Colorado law caps medical malpractice damages at a maximum of $1 million. An experienced lawyer, however, may be able to argue that you are entitled to damages in excess of the cap.

Was Your Child Injured During Labor? Speak to an Attorney Today

Medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries are best handled by experienced birth injury lawyers in Colorado. Our legal team at Burg Simpson Law Firm can help prepare your case, file your claim, and pursue compensation until you get a satisfactory outcome.

No one—least of all an innocent child—should have to suffer needlessly because of someone’s negligence. Our Colorado medical malpractice lawyers can help make things right for you. Fill out our case evaluation form to discuss your case for FREE today.