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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Legal Questions about Subarachnoid Hemorrhages in Babies

Subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAH) are the second most common type of brain bleeding in newborns. Only subdural hemorrhages (SDH) happen to be more common. A rupture of a vein is the most common cause of SAH, alongside trauma.

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Several factors contribute to a higher risk of SAH in newborns and babies. A few of these risks include the use of instruments to assist the birth, vaginal delivery whenever the baby is in breech presentation, a larger than average baby, prolonged delivery, a fast delivery that is accompanied by powerful contractions (precipitous delivery), irregular blood pressure, blood disorders and premature birth.

The severity and the time of diagnosing SAH will play a paramount role in the recovery of the newborn. While some of the babies will exhibit no complications in the future, others may suffer permanent brain damage as a result of the high intracranial pressure caused by SAH. e

Newborn SAH = Grounds for a Lawsuit?

Elk & Elk

Hospital staff and other medical professionals understand the risks that stem from a potentially traumatic delivery. This is why they have to undertake the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of internal bleeding.

Still, subarachnoid hemorrhages could potentially give parents the grounds needed to start a lawsuit against the medical facility or the respective medical professional.

To determine whether an act of medical negligence has occurred, it will be imperative to examine the medical records. These provide information about whether a rough vaginal delivery, the use of instruments during the birth or any other kind of trauma could have potentially contributed to SAH.

Next, the evidence will be used to determine whether any of the medical professionals committed an act of negligence that could have potentially resulted in serious brain damage or even the loss of a baby.

A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Subarachnoid hemorrhages usually occur in full-term babies. This is the main difference between this kind of bleeding and other hemorrhages that are more common in premature babies.

If there’s sufficient evidence that a medical procedure has contributed to SAH in a newborn, parents may initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit on the basis of medical negligence.

Usually, it will be insufficient to demonstrate that something has gone wrong during natural labor or a C-section, contributing to brain bleeding in the newborn. There has to be evidence demonstrating that either the actions or the inactions of medical professionals led to SAH and the eventual consequences for the child.

Through the evidence, the following have to be established for an eventual lawsuit to be launched:

  • The medical care standard under the respective circumstances
  • The manner in which the conduct of the professional responsible for the delivery (a doctor, midwife, nurse, etc.) failed corresponding to the minimum established standard
  • The fact that the failure to reach the medical care standard through either action or inaction caused measurable harm to a newborn in the form of a subarachnoid hemorrhage and the consequences stemming from it

Proving Medical Negligence

As you can see, proving that medical negligence or specific actions at a hospital have contributed to a subarachnoid hemorrhage is a lengthy process. In order to put a successful claim forward, parents will usually need to have a medical expert on their side. This professional will be responsible for acting as an expert witness in order to establish the occurrence of negligence.

For best results, the expert medical witness will need to be a professional in the same field as the defendant. This is especially important for cases of medical malpractice that eventually evolve into a trial.

Most brain injury cases will require a lot of research and preparation on behalf of the attorney. Whenever newborn brain damage is involved, the amount of time to reach a settlement or go to court may be even longer. Such cases may take many months, even years before a settlement occurs or a verdict is produced.

It’s also important to keep in mind that all of the research and evidence will have to be submitted to the defendant. This gives the other party enough time to prepare and to eventually request a settlement.

What can a Lawsuit be Used for?

SAH can have severe consequences, including cerebral palsy, paresis, vision loss, vertigo and motor disturbances. Parents whose child has suffered such consequences as a result of rough labor or the selection of the wrong birthing technique will need funds to provide the required assistance and ensure a good quality of life to their child.

Whenever brain damage is the result of medical negligence, parents can expect a compensation by launching a claim against the medical professional or establishment. Through such a lawsuit, parents can seek compensation for medical expenses and rehabilitation costs, in-home care, specialized equipment and educational assistance, punitive damages and emotional distress.

What’s even more important, the liable parties will be held accountable for their actions.

A brain injury lawsuit falls under the category of personal injury claims. This means that the same statute of limitations will have to be followed. This deadline will vary from one state to another. Thus it would be best to have a consultation with an experienced attorney.

There may be some additional favorable conditions in the case of brain injury lawsuits, especially if the victim is a minor. Depending on the state, parents may be allowed to submit a claim any time before the child turns 18.

It’s a good idea to see an attorney as soon as possible. As already mentioned, brain injury lawsuits may take months and even years. Thus, parents will need to be patient when it comes to receiving some compensation. If an attorney can negotiate a settlement and both parties are content with the amount, a financial compensation will be provided much faster. The good news is that the medical expenses parents accumulate during this period will usually be factored towards the settlement or the calculation of the overall compensation.