This article is the first in our series on birth injuries, and what you can do if your child was injured at birth. In this article, we give an overview of birth injuries. In our other articles, we explain the importance of hiring the right expert witnesses, as well as the importance of lawsuit discovery process, in birth injury cases in Oklahoma.
What are Birth Injuries?
Birth Injuries are permanent injuries that are caused by doctors or nurses during the labor and delivery process. If your infant child was traumatized during birth, and that trauma caused a lasting, permanent injury, disfigurement, or disability, then your child has suffered a birth injury.
Common birth injuries include hypoxic brain damage, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Other types of birth injuries could be disfigurement to the body or any bodily functions, as well as impairment of limbs and organs.
Birth injuries can cause neurologic and muscular impairment; delays in the child’s development; muscular weakness and impaired coordination.
How Oklahoma law affects birth injury lawsuits
Oklahoma law is very technical when it comes to filing lawsuits over injuries to infants that occurred during labor and delivery. If the child dies, then the parent has a wrongful death claim. However, if the child does not die, the parent does not have a claim, even if the child is permanently disabled and requires 24/7 care.
If an infant is permanently disabled, the child has a claim and a right to file the lawsuit. The child has until the age of 18 years to file such a lawsuit against the healthcare providers.
A parent may file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child, even if the child is an infant. The purpose of that type of lawsuit is to stand in the shoes of the child, and seek all damages that the child would seek, if he or she could speak for herself.
Birth Injuries caused by Medical Malpractice
A birth injury case involves filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice refers to a doctor’s performance that falls well below the accepted standard of care for the profession. In Oklahoma, a doctor must perform at the levels of professionalism and care set by the doctors of the profession. Therefore, in order to succeed in your lawsuit against the doctor or hospital, you must be able to prove that the doctor or hospital violated some code of conduct or other standard of care.
Medical malpractice claims are very difficult to prove, because the negligence is not always obvious. Nor does it always involve a single act or omission. Often in birth injury cases, the negligence arises from a series of actions, or lack thereof. It is the culmination of these acts/omissions that ultimately amount to the negligence.
In Oklahoma, you must prove the Hospital or Physician were negligent
You do not have a case if no one did anything wrong. You only have a case if you can prove the doctor or the hospital failed to live up to the professional standards of care for the medical profession.
However, proving this type of negligence is difficult, because such a claim is outside the knowledge of the general public, including judges and juries. Therefore, you must hire expert witnesses to draw these conclusions for you, and to be able to explain how the doctor or hospital failed to follow the professional standards.
Your birth injury lawsuit will not be successful in Oklahoma, unless you can prove the doctor or hospital staff did something that an ordinary member of the profession would not have done, or would have done differently. Expert witnesses can criticize a doctor’s performance from a professional viewpoint. Qualified experts will be able to recognize violations of professional standards. You will need their testimony in order to prove your medical malpractice case against the doctor, hospital, or both.
You will need an expert witness just to make a decision of whether to file a lawsuit. Once you have filed your lawsuit, you will need an expert to review evidence obtained in discovery. You will also need experts to calculate all financial damages for the remaining life of the child. And you will need an expert that can testify at trial. The good news is that an experienced birth injury lawyer will take care of all of this for you.
Hire a Lawyer to Investigate your Birth Injury case
Travis Charles Smith has been practicing law since 2009, and has represented many plaintiffs, including parents of injured children. Travis believes in listening the client, gathering all the evidence, and hiring the best experts possible. By hiring the best experts, and getting extremely organized and prepared in the beginning phases, Travis is able to work cases quickly toward a positive outcome for the client.