Washington, D.C. Birth Injury Attorneys
Compassionate Washington, D.C. lawyers advocating for mothers and newborns
The birth of your child is a magical event: Your hopes and dreams for your new child’s future are finally about to be realized. When your child is injured, however, it can feel like the world has stopped spinning. You need answers. You need reassurance. You need to know you can protect your child. You need an experienced Washington, D.C. birth injury attorney you can trust.
At Paulson & Nace, PLLC, we offer you our assistance in getting what you need to help your child. We are an experienced team of lawyers who advocate for birth injury victims throughout Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas. Over the last four decades, we have secured millions of dollars in compensation for parents and children whose injuries required constant medical attention, making day-to-day living a challenge. Some of our more notable awards include:
- $50 million verdict for a young mother injured during childbirth: Clifton v. Georgetown University Hospital
- $37 million verdict for birth defects caused by a prescription drug: Havner v. Merrell Dow
- $6 million verdict for an injury suffered during childbirth: Yates v. George Washington Hospital and Washington Hospital Center
- $10.8 million verdict for a child with cerebral palsy
We know that your only goal is to protect your family: let our family help yours.
I have found the firm so far to be very compassionate and understanding, something that seems to be rare in companies these days, let alone in attorneys. Chris Nace offered to help us when no one else would. That goes a long way in my book.
How can we help?
- Birth injuries vs. birth defects
- What are common birth injuries?
- What causes birth injuries?
- Common maternal injuries during labor and delivery
- Seeking compensation for a birth injury in Washington, D.C.
- How Long Do I Have to File a Birth Injury Claim in Washington, D.C.?
- Do you have a Washington, D.C. birth injury lawyer near me?
Birth injuries vs birth defects
Many people confuse birth injuries and birth defects, thinking that they have the same meaning. While these terms are similar, they are usually used to describe two different things. We will explain the main difference between birth injuries and birth defects below.
- A birth injury occurs when the baby suffers an injury when the mother is in labor or delivering the baby. This typically occurs when a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare provider is negligent and fails to do something correctly, or it may occur because the baby experiences a birthing problem that could not be avoided. For example, the mother may have unpreventable birthing complications, which lead to a birth injury.
- A birth defect occurs before the baby is ever born. Birth defects arise during the pregnancy and affect the baby while they are still in the womb. Unfortunately, birth defects are very common as a baby is delivered and diagnosed with a defect about “every 4 ½ minutes” in America.
Barry Nace won $95 million for a client in a birth injury case. The case took place in 1987 in which a baby was born with hands that were disfigured. The baby’s deformities were caused by a specific medication called Benedictin, which the mother was taking for nausea. As a result, the manufacturer of the medication, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. received a lawsuit. At the end of the birth injury case, the mother was awarded $20 million for her son’s birth injuries and $75 million for punitive damages.
Attorney Nace took another product liability case involving Benedictin medication to the United States Supreme Court, which was Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Two children were delivered with birth defects due to the mother taking the anti-nausea medication. As a result, this case created the “Daubert Standard,” which allows the judge to look at and determine how reliable and relevant expert witness testimonies are before they can be used in federal court and presented to jury members. New rules and guidelines were established for expert testimony because of this specific case.
What are common birth injuries?
When we talk about “birth injuries,” we typically mean injuries sustained by a child during the birthing process. Not all these injuries are permanent, but those that are often require years, even a lifetime, of care. These types of injuries are sometimes called birth traumas.
Some of the more common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy. When the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen just prior to or during labor, it can lead to cerebral palsy – a group of motor disorders that can vary in severity. This can lead to long-term dependency on family and expensive equipment to help with daily living. New research shows that the chances of a baby being diagnosed with cerebral palsy increases when a mother is in an accident or injured while pregnant.
- Brachial palsy. This is an injury to the brachial plexus – the nerves around the arms and hands. It usually occurs because of difficulties moving the newborn’s shoulder. The damage can cause the newborn to lose “the ability to flex and rotate the arm.” Even in the best-case scenario it may take months for normal movement to return. More serious injuries result in a tear to a nerve that can cause permanent damage. Shoulder dystocia is a complication that can lead to brachial palsy and damage to the brachial plexus nerves. This typically happens when the baby’s shoulders become stuck during the labor and delivery process, causing serious and life-threatening issues for both the mother and the infant.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. Newborns who are diagnosed with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) usually have brain damage and other long-term effects due to not getting enough oxygen or blood flow. Most babies are diagnosed with HIE after being in the birth canal too long. This typically happens when the labor and birthing process is prolonged, the mother has blood pressure issues, the placenta ruptures, or the umbilical cord becomes stuck around the baby’s neck.
- Umbilical cord injuries. Another common birth injury is umbilical cord injuries or a prolapsed umbilical cord. This usually occurs when the umbilical cord becomes stuck, compressed, pinched, or smashed. When this happens, the baby cannot get the oxygen or nutrients it needs to thrive, grow, or even survive. As a result, the infant may have severe developmental problems, seizures, cerebral palsy, motor issues, and more.
- Stillbirth. In some especially heartbreaking cases, medical negligence can lead to fetal death, stillbirth, or infant death.
- Bruising or forceps marks. Some newborns have difficulty passing through the birth canal requiring different methods of assistance. Some babies need the help of forceps to guide them through while in other instances a vacuum extraction may be necessary. Doctors should understand when and how to use these medical devices. Newborns may develop scalp bruises and cuts or be left with marks from the forceps.
- Caput succedaneum. This is a fancy way of saying that the baby’s scalp swells. The swelling should, if treated properly, subside with time.
- Cephalohematoma. This is “an area of bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones.” It normally takes several weeks to three months to resolve. Some newborns may also develop jaundice.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage. It is common for a child to develop this condition, which is the breaking of small blood vessels in one or both eyes. As part of this injury, a baby’s eyes may appear red, which should subside in about 10 days.
- Paralysis of the face. If facial nerves become injured because forceps are used during the delivery, part of the baby’s face may not move, and the eye may not close. It is then a matter of waiting several weeks to see whether the paralysis improves or if surgery will be required.
- Fractures. Breaks of the collarbone or clavicle are also common especially during a tough delivery or a breech birth. New bone begins forming in the first 10 days, which can produce a firm lump on the clavicle. A painful fracture may also limit movement of the arm and shoulder often requiring a soft bandage or splint to be applied to aid healing. Skull fractures may lead to brain trauma or other complications.
What causes birth injuries?
Sometimes there may be confusion as to the difference between birth injuries and birth defects. Birth defects are generally traced to abnormalities that form as the baby grows in utero while birth injuries are typically caused by carelessness. Not all birth injuries are caused by negligence; some are the result of genetics, and the signs may not always show up on pre-term tests. However, leading causes of birth injury related to negligence include:
- Medical malpractice. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in this country, and they contribute to the number of birth injuries we see in Washington, DC every year. Failing to monitor mother and child, or to diagnose symptoms of an underlying problem, or making a mistake with a birth chart: all of these are considered acts of medical malpractice.
- Delayed birth. When the birthing process has gone on for too long, the mother and the baby can go into distress. This will elevate the baby’s blood pressure, which puts pressure on the skull as well. Delayed C-section injuries are among the most common, and the most dangerous, types of birth injuries there are.
- Oxygen deprivation. When the fetal brain is denied oxygen, it can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. Babies who are delivered too young, or who have the umbilical cord wrapped around their necks, or who should have been delivered by C-section as opposed to vaginally, are at an increased risk of oxygen deprivation.
- Labor and delivery negligence. Negligence during labor can also lead to birth injuries. Labor is a difficult process even when everything goes perfectly. Experienced doctors reduce the known risks before delivery, act quickly to take corrective actions when problems occur during delivery, and know how to reduce the risk of avoidable dangers like dropping babies at the end of the delivery process.
When a doctor or attendee has neglected your needs during labor or delivery, it can cause irreparable damage to the mother and the child. We routinely handle cases involving Pitocin and antibiotics errors, and on behalf of mothers who developed pre-eclampsia and/or eclampsia.
After the baby enters the world, he or she and the new mother need extra TLC after delivery. Both are more susceptible to infections. Doctors, nurses and hospital staff who fail to monitor newborns and new mothers, thus missing clues to changes in their health or behaviors, may be guilty of postpartum negligence, which can lead to injuries as well.
Common maternal injuries during labor and delivery
When people think of birth injuries, they typically only think of the infant being injured. However, it is very common for the mothers to suffer injuries as well. Some of the most common maternal injuries during labor and delivery include:
- Ruptured uterus
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Perineal or vaginal tearing
- Prolapsed uterus
- Postnatal traumatic stress disorder or traumatic birth syndrome
- Pelvic fracture
- Inverted uterus
- Nerve injuries
Over the past few years, there’s been an increase in the number of maternal deaths as well, often from hemorrhage or complications with preeclampsia. These maternal mortality numbers are significantly higher for Black women.
Seeking compensation for a birth injury in Washington, D.C.
Depending on the severity of your child’s injury, he or she may need life-long care. The cost of paying for full-time care and various medications that will be required can become prohibitive. Add to that prosthetics, therapies, and adaptive technologies and ensuring your child gets what he or she needs can be financially overwhelming. There is no guaranteed amount of money you may be awarded in a birth injury case; however, you may make a claim for:
- Medical costs, both current and anticipated
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
If your child is stillborn, or dies during the birthing process, you may also make a claim for the funeral expenses along with a wrongful death claim.
How long do I have to file a birth injury claim in Washington D.C.?
You generally have three years from the date your child was injured, or the date you reasonably could have been expected to know he or she was injured, to file a claim for damages. There are extenuating circumstances, however, and you may have less time that you expected to file a claim. That is why it is important to contact a D.C. birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Paulson & Nace, PLLC has an in-depth understanding of how and why birth injuries occur. Our skilled team of Washington, DC birth injury attorneys works with authoritative sources and utilizes cutting-edge technology to explain our clients’ unique situations to judges and juries alike. We know what it takes to build successful cases against D.C. hospitals and other local medical facilities, and we know how to hold negligent parties accountable when their errors lead to your loss.
Do you have a Washington, D.C. birth injury lawyer near me?
Paulson & Nace has an office at 1025 Thomas Jefferson St NW, in Washington, D.C., close to the Washington Harbour in Georgetown. If you are too injured to travel, we can arrange a phone or video consultation.
Support for birth injury victims in Washington, D.C. and beyond
Paulson & Nace, PLLC, is widely recognized throughout Washington, D.C. for our aggressive advocacy of birth injury victims. When you choose us, you are choosing a team who values family. Schedule your free case evaluation in our Washington, D.C. or Charleston, WV office by calling or by reaching out to us through our contact page.
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