Becoming a parent is life-changing. The early days can be both gratifying and overwhelming. This time can become even more stressful if you suspect that your infant sustained a birth injury.
The responsibility and expenses of taking care of an injured infant can be difficult to manage. A birth injury could mean corrective surgeries, therapies, and long-lasting medical care.
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to take care of your infant if they sustain a birth injury. Taking legal action is one thing you can do to help support your injured child and help your family manage the financial responsibility that comes with a birth injury.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury occurs when an infant is injured because something went wrong during labor or delivery. A birth injury should not be confused with a birth defect, which occurs as a result of genetic or environmental factors.
The following are some of the types of birth injuries a New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer can handle:
- Brain injury,
- Brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy),
- Cerebral palsy (CP),
- Broken bones,
- Spinal injuries,
- Paralysis, and
- Medication errors.
Birth injuries can vary in severity. Some birth injuries are temporary, while others are permanent and life-changing. Regardless of the type of birth injury, the experience is scary. A New Mexico medical malpractice attorney can help you if you suspect that your infant sustained a birth injury.
When Is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s action or inaction deviates from the acceptable standards of care and causes injury or death to a patient.
In the context of a birth injury, you may have a medical malpractice claim if your obstetrician, gynecologist, or other healthcare provider failed to exercise the level of care expected of a reasonable and qualified healthcare provider in the same position.
Examples of birth injury medical malpractice can include failing to:
- Diagnose and treat an infection or medical condition,
- Monitor vital signs during labor and delivery,
- Detect and fix problems with the umbilical cord,
- Timely respond to cardiac complications,
- Perform a medically necessary emergency cesarean section,
- Manage delivery complications,
- Notice and treat hemorrhaging,
- Respond to fetal distress,
- Treat conditions such as jaundice or infant respiratory distress syndrome, or
- Properly administer medications or anesthesia during labor and delivery.
Mistakes and negligence during labor and delivery caused by a lack of care may be subject to lawsuits. Birth injuries can require extensive medical attention, including long-term healthcare.
A New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have a medical malpractice claim.
How Can a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Attorney Help Me?
Birth injury medical malpractice claims often require substantial preparation. An attorney with experience handling these types of claims can be the difference between financial hardship and caring for your child’s needs.
Determine If You Have a Claim
After a birth injury, a healthcare provider may mislead you to believe that they complied with the appropriate standard of care. A New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate the facts of your situation and help you determine whether you have a legal claim.
Obtain Adequate Financial Support
After a birth injury, a healthcare provider may present a settlement offer. It’s important not to sign any settlement agreement before talking to an attorney.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can review and negotiate a settlement offer to ensure that your family’s financial needs are fully met.
If the healthcare provider does not offer a reasonable settlement, your New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer can represent you in court and advocate for a jury award that meets your needs.
Hold Negligent Healthcare Providers Accountable
It can be intimidating to assert your rights against a doctor or a hospital. A trained attorney who understands birth injury medical malpractice law in New Mexico can fight on your behalf and help you obtain justice.
How Do I Prove a Birth Injury Was Caused by Medical Malpractice?
As with all medical malpractice claims, you need to show:
- A doctor-patient relationship,
- That your healthcare provider breached the required standard duty of care,
- That the breach caused the birth injury, and
- That the birth injury resulted in damages.
Medical malpractice in birth injury cases is complex and usually requires medical experts to help prove the elements of a claim. Proving medical malpractice may also involve obtaining and examining medical records, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing hospital policies.
How Do I Sue for a Birth Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice?
In New Mexico, you must first file an application with the Medical Review Commission before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court.
The application must demonstrate that there is substantial evidence of medical malpractice and that the injury in question occurred because of the malpractice.
If the Medical Review Commission approves the application, then you may file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court. A New Mexico medical malpractice attorney can help you file a successful application before the Medical Review Commission and fight for your rights in court.
What Remedies Are Available for Birth Injuries?
Remedies in birth injury cases can include the following:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses;
- Loss of income;
- Pain and suffering;
- Permanent disability; and
- Wrongful death.
However, New Mexico places a cap on damages for medical malpractice cases. While there is no limit on what you can recover for medical care, other types of damages are subject to the cap.
For birth injury claims that arose before January 1, 2022, the amount recoverable cannot exceed $600,000. For claims arising after January 1, 2022, the amount recoverable varies depending on the year the injury occurred.
Injuries occurring during 2022 are subject to a $750,000 cap. Starting January 1, 2023, the cap will increase each year based on the consumer price index.
Caps are higher for claims brought against outpatient facilities and hospitals. A New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer can help you estimate the damages you can expect to receive for your claim.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Birth Injury?
Generally, in New Mexico, medical malpractice claims must be filed within three years of the date the injury occurred. However, if the injury involves a minor, you have until the minor turns 19 years old to initiate a medical malpractice claim for a birth injury.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
A birth injury can affect a child for the rest of their life. Caring for a child with a birth injury takes significant time and financial support, which can take its toll on a family.
At Poulos and Coates, LLP, we focus exclusively on medical malpractice claims. We even have a doctor and nurse on staff to help evaluate claims.
If your family is struggling to understand what happened during your labor and delivery or having difficulty keeping up with medical costs due to a birth injury, we want to help you. Contact us today to learn more.