Florida Birth Injury Lawyers
In our more than 40 years of legal practice, Searcy Denney considers birth injuries one of the most devastating forms of medical malpractice. We are dedicated to helping families recover in the heartbreaking aftermath of a birth injury. By devoting our substantial knowledge and resources to birth injury negligence claims, we have recovered high settlements and verdicts that empower injured mothers and the families of injured children.
Speak with a Florida birth injury attorney at our firm; we are available to help you recover for your injuries and on behalf of your injured child.
Types of Birth Negligence Cases We Handle
Searcy Denney handles a wide range of birth injury claims involving damages to mother and baby during pregnancy and delivery, including:
- Shoulder dystocia, when the baby’s arm gets trapped in the birth canal during labor
- Erb’s palsy, resulting from brachial plexus injury
- Cerebral palsy, resulting from oxygen asphyxia
- Brachial plexus injury, which can manifest in paralysis, numbness, pain and disfigurement of the newborn’s affected arm
- Lack of oxygen, also called oxygen asphyxia, that can lead to serious brain damage
- Nerve damage and paralysis to the baby or the mother as a result of delivery negligence
- Wrongful birth, associated with the birth of a severely disabled child because of a doctor’s misinformation and negligence
Understanding Your Medical Malpractice Rights
The injury of a child at birth raises many questions. Could the injury have been prevented? Who is responsible? How will you pay for your child’s future care? What do you do now?
Searcy Denney answers your questions and explains your options for recovery. As a start, we provide these informative references:
Elements of a Birth Injury Claim
Florida statute establishes the elements of a medical malpractice civil claim. In order to win compensation, you must prove each element of the claim.
Searcy Denney has been assisting Florida patients injured by negligent doctors for over 40 years. Our lawyers have helped countless families recover damages for their injured babies. Our Florida birth defect attorneys recognize the importance of having the financial means to give your injured child every opportunity in life and we do all we can to make that possible.
Below are the elements of a birth injury claim.
1. Duty of care
Duty of care is established by virtue of the patient-doctor relationship. Your obstetrician, anesthesiologists, delivery nurses and other medical professionals and facilities owe you a duty of care under the law.
2. Standard of care
Your health care providers’ duty of care is based upon the reasonable standard of care expected of a similarly situated professional. For example, your primary care physician is not expected to have the same level of specialized obstetrics knowledge as your obstetrician. Therefore, she or he might not be able to recommend whether a vaginal or C-section delivery is appropriate. However, your primary care doctor should be skilled in what is vital to a healthy pregnancy.
To prove standard of care, our medical malpractice lawyers consult with experts in the appropriate fields. At trial, we may introduce testimony of obstetricians who explain to the jury what steps they would have taken in the same situation and in what ways your doctor’s actions deviated from those steps.
3. Breach of duty
Your doctor breached his or her duty if the doctor acted or failed to act in a manner that deviated from the acceptable standard of care. Such deviations might include:
- Failing to detect fetal distress or oxygen asphyxia
- Failing to diagnose preeclampsia, diabetes or low blood pressure
- Failing to assess the risks of vaginal delivery and to recommend a C-section
- Failing to provide thorough, accurate information about potential birth defects
- Failing to test for birth defects and serious medical conditions
- Failing to perform a correct episiotomy to prevent perineal tears
An action that might constitute a breach of duty might include:
- Excessively tugging on your child’s shoulder during delivery
- Incorrectly inserting an epidural
- Inducing labor when inappropriate
- Prescribing medication that is harmful to the unborn child
Causation refers to the link between the injury and your doctor’s breach of duty. You do not have a valid claim just because your baby was injured during delivery if your doctor did nothing wrong. Likewise, your doctor may have made an error, but you suffered no real harm. To prevail, you must show that the mistake your doctor made caused or contributed to your injuries or those of your child.
Commonly, the defense claims the patient is to blame for his or her child’s injuries or that the injuries were beyond anyone’s control. Our lawyers counter these tactics through extensive research, well-organized arguments, strong evidence and the testimony of experienced expert witnesses.
Damages equal the amount of actual loss you suffered. This includes economic damages such as, lost income, medical bills, and future medical care. Noneconomic damages refer to “human damages from pain, suffering, disability, loss of consortium and other similar damages.”
Damages in Birth Injury Claims
Hopelessness, confusion, anger and fear are common reactions to birth injuries. After anticipating a lifetime of happy memories, you may reasonably feel trepidation about the future. Our legal team will help you pursue the compensation you need to minimize the burden on your family and to provide your child with the best opportunity for effective medical treatments and as normal a quality of life as possible.
Depending upon your baby’s injury and prognosis, we may pursue such damages as:
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Surgeries, medications and other treatments
- Prenatal medical care
- Rehabilitation to improve functionality and independence
- Future medical treatments and care
- Childcare assistance
- Training for parents to care for a child with a disability
- Alterations to home and vehicle to accommodate your child’s disability
- Loss of parents’ wages while helping an injured child
- Your child’s pain and suffering
- Your mental anguish
For a woman injured during pregnancy or delivery, we may pursue damages for medical treatments, lost income, assistance with activities of daily living, childcare assistance, pain, infertility, disability, sexual dysfunction and diminished enjoyment of life.
Birth Injury Glossary
The law firm of Searcy Denney has advocated for Florida patients’ rights for 40 years. We regularly handle complex birth injury claims for mothers and children.
For your reference, we have defined common terms related to birth injuries below. Read our glossary and call Searcy Denney to schedule a free case evaluation. Our Florida birth injury lawyers handle claims on a contingency basis so you do not pay lawyers’ fees unless we recover damages for you.
- Brachial plexus is the network of nerves in the shoulder and neck that transmit signals from the brain to the shoulder, upper arm, forearm, hands and fingers.
- Brachial plexus avulsion occurs when the nerves of the brachial plexus are torn from the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis, weakness, numbness, pain, disfigurement and permanent disabilities.
- Brachial plexus neuroma occurs when scar tissue forms on the overstretched nerves and presses on healthy nerves.
- Brachial plexus neuropraxia refers to the overstretching of a newborn’s nerves during delivery, which may require medical intervention to treat.
- Brachial plexus rupture occurs when the nerves are torn, usually requiring surgery or other medical intervention to treat, but may result in permanent disabilities.
- Cerebral palsy is an incurable condition caused by oxygen deprivation during pregnancy or childbirth that causes severe muscle movement restrictions and spasms.
- Cesarean section, or C-section, is an alternative to vaginal birth that may be appropriate when certain risk factors exist, such as a baby’s large size or a mother’s diabetes, obesity, small stature or history of difficult labor.
- Erb’s palsy is a condition that may result from brachial plexus injury and is characterized by paralysis of the upper brachial plexus nerves.
- Facial nerve palsy may occur after prolonged pressure on the cranial nerve, and manifests in facial nerve paralysis.
- Femoral nerve dysfunction is a debilitating postpartum condition in which the mother’s leg nerves are damaged during a difficult labor.
- Fetal distress refers to the fetus’s or newborn baby’s stress signals during pregnancy or labor, often caused by oxygen asphyxia.
- Klumpke paralysis is a condition that may result from brachial plexus injury and is characterized by paralysis of the upper brachial plexus nerves.
- Lumbosacral plexus injury is a debilitating postpartum condition in which the mother’s leg nerves are damaged by an improperly placed epidural needle during delivery.
- Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) occurs when the baby passes the first stool in the amniotic fluid and then breathes in, which results in oxygen asphyxia.
- Oxygen asphyxia refers to oxygen deprivation, often caused by a pinched placenta, early placental birth or prolonged delivery, and can result in brain damage within minutes.
- Perineal tears occur to the mother’s vagina during delivery, and may penetrate her muscles, nerves and the anal sphincter, resulting in pain, numbness, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and disability.
- Shoulder dystocia happens when the baby’s arm gets trapped during delivery and is a common precursor to brachial plexus injury.
- Uterine prolapse refers to the condition in which the mother’s pelvic floor stretches and weakens during pregnancy or delivery, allowing the uterus to bulge through the vaginal canal, and may result in discomfort, sexual dysfunction, infertility, problems urinating and prolapse of other organs.
Learn More About Birth Injuries and Your Right to Recovery
For more information about birth injuries and your options for filing a medical malpractice claim, consult with Searcy Denney. Your case evaluation is free and we handle your claim on contingency so you do not pay lawyers’ fees unless we recover damages. Contact us today to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Florida.
How do I know if I have a medical malpractice claim?
Medical malpractice claims are complex. Whether you have a claim depends upon the facts of your case and the applicable law. We recommend you consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Searcy Denney offers a free case assessment so there is no risk in learning about your rights and options.
Is there a deadline for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Florida’s statute of limitations sets a strict deadline for filing a medical malpractice claim. You have two years from the date you were injured or two years from the date you discovered or should have discovered your injury, but you must file a lawsuit within no more than four years of the date of injury.
The hospital has offered me a settlement, should I agree?
Do not agree to a settlement until you have spoken with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you may waive your rights to any additional compensation to which you may be entitled.
Can I sue the nurse who injured my child?
You can sue any medical professional or facility that had a duty of care to you under the law, breached that duty, and caused you damages as a result of the breach. Potential defendants include specialists, doctors, physical therapists, nurses, hospitals and labs.
Will I receive money for the future care of my child?
When calculating damages, our attorneys consider future costs as well as past losses. Searcy Denney consults with experts to determine anticipated damages associated with the lifelong care of your injured child.
What is my medical malpractice case worth?
Every case is different, with unique facts and individual damages. Our attorneys conduct a thorough analysis of your claim to evaluate its worth. Some claims are meritless while others can be valued at millions.
Will civil damages put my child’s Social Security benefits at risk?
If handled incorrectly, a large settlement could put Social Security benefits in jeopardy. Our attorneys set up a special needs trust and other similar funding vehicles, when appropriate, so that your child can benefit from the settlement funds without losing crucial Social Security support.
What if I cannot afford to pay a lawyer to represent me?
Searcy Denney handles your medical malpractice claim on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees or costs until we win damages for you. In the unlikely event we recover nothing, you owe us no lawyers’ fees. We explain our billing policy thoroughly before you retain our firm so you know what to expect.