The birth of a newborn child is generally considered to be one of the most exciting and happy times in a family’s and parent’s lives. Unfortunately however, there are times when healthcare providers are negligent during the process of the pregnancy, labor and delivery of an infant. This negligence can cause birth injuries that can have a seriously negative impact on both the parents and the child for their entire lives.
As a parent this can be emotionally overwhelming, and you may not know where to turn to for help. In this instance, if you suspect that a child birth injury took place because of the negligence of a medical professional, it is strongly advised to reach out to a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice and birth injury cases.
While it is truly impossible to completely compensate someone for a permanent and debilitating injury, a Florida birth injury attorney can help you understand what legal options you have to be able to be able to receive justice.
Each birth injury case is unique and requires expertise to properly determine who is responsible. Some birth injuries are naturally occurring as a result of pregnancy complications and/or difficulties with labor. However, the majority of birth injuries are a direct result of healthcare provider’s recklessness, carelessness or negligence – both prior and during the delivery of the child. In many cases, the obstetricians (also known as delivery room doctors) or supporting personnel (such as nurses or assistants) are responsible for injuries that occur during birth. As a result, they can face direct liability.
There are multiple causes of childbirth injuries due to medical malpractice. Below are a list of the most common mistakes and negligent actions that cause birth injuries:
- Using incorrect delivery room techniques
- Incorrectly monitoring the heart rate of the fetus
- Incorrectly performed procedures or surgical errors including the delay of a C-section
- Birth asphyxia due to incorrect monitoring of the oxygen levels
- Incorrect use of delivery room tools and equipment such as forceps
- Providing the improper treatment or incorrect delivery room drugs to the mother.
- Not providing proper monitoring to delivery room patients
- Not following correct and established delivery room rules and procedures
- A misdiagnosis of a medical condition before or after childbirth
As a result of these mistakes and negligence, serious birth injuries can occur that often have lasting and permanent negative effects on the child’s and parent’s lives. The most common birth injuries that occur are as follows:
- Skull and skeletal damage
- Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects the ability to move, maintain balance and a correct posture
- Hypoxia, a condition which often progresses into a disorder known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, causing cognitive deficiencies and brain damage
- Permanent and irreversible brain damage
- Wrongful death
Florida Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases
In Florida, there is a limited amount of time for the parent(s) of a child who is suffering from birth injuries to file a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice against negligent healthcare providers and/or hospitals. This statute of limitations can often be difficult to navigate, especially while parent(s) are handling other matters related to the birth injury. Because of this, it is strongly advised to contact an attorney specializing in Florida birth injury law right away. Discussing your case with an attorney will allow them to help you through this process and ensure you fall within the time limit of the statute of limitations.
In most cases, the Florida statute of limitations for medical malpractice is 2 years after the date of which the injury should have reasonably been discovered. What is considered a “reasonable” time of discovery can be a grey area, which is where an experienced birth injury attorney can be of great value to establish your case. Many parent(s) end up missing out on the ability to receive just compensation for their child’s injuries due to not having a properly established case that allows them to be within the statute of limitations. In addition to this, Florida’s statute of repose prohibits claims or lawsuits for medical malpractice for an injury that occured over four years from the date of their filing.
For those outside of the 2-4 year window of filing, there is one additional option to allow them to seek just compensation for birth injury. In situations where the child is born after July 1st, 1996, “Tony’s Law” allows parent(s) to file a claim for medical malpractice up until the child is 8 years old. This law overrules the statute of repose discussed previously. The only caveat is that this extension on the statute of limitations is not applicable in situations where the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) knew or should have known that the birth injury was most likely the result of medical malpractice.
Filing a Florida Birth Injury Lawsuit
In Florida, birth injuries fall within the realm of medical malpractice. By definition, medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider violates the established standard of care required for their patients. As required in all personal injury cases in Florida, cases involving birth injury place the burden of proof on the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s representative to prove negligence, injuries and/or damages.
The State of Florida is known to have high payouts when it comes to medical malpractice claims compared to most other states. This is due to several reasons including the fact Florida has no economic cap on these claims.
Because birth injury cases in Florida fall within the realm of medical malpractice, healthcare providers are held to the same standard as all other medical malpractice cases. This standard is defined by Florida statute 766.102(1), which states, “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” (Florida Legislature Chapter 766.102, 2019, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND RELATED MATTERS)
Any healthcare provider who fails to act as any reasonable physician or obstetrician would under the circumstances surrounding pregnancy and childbirth is in breach of this applicable standard of care and can be liable for negligence.
While the healthcare provider may be the one at fault, it is up to the plaintiff to show that the negligent healthcare provider breached the standard of care and that this breach resulted in injuries and/or damages. Once this burden of proof is met, a child may recover compensation for any medical bills related to the injury. They also may be eligible for compensation for the long term pain and suffering caused, as well as any inconvenience and future care required.
Contact A Florida Birth Injury Attorney
Di Pietro Partners is a Fort Lauderdale based law firm that represents both medical providers as well as victims of medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits. Our knowledge and experience in representing each side makes us an extremely valuable resource to our clients.
If you or someone you know has been negatively affected due to a child birth injury which occured in the State of Florida, contact our law firm for a free and confidential case evaluation.