Does your baby have cerebral palsy or another injury caused by birth trauma?
Birth injury cases usually involve catastrophic injuries to babies caused by problems during labor or delivery. Inadequate oxygen to the baby may result in hypoxic brain injury and the development of cerebral palsy (CP). Excessive traction during delivery may result in nerve injuries, affecting the child’s arm and causing permanent disability (Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury). Labor and delivery is a critical time and improper diagnosis and management may have disastrous consequences. Since these injuries are so devastating, millions of dollars may be at stake because the damages can cover a lifetime of future medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care expense for a severely handicapped child. These cases are among the most expensive, time-consuming, and complex cases to be litigated. They are aggressively defended, difficult to settle, and difficult to win. Only experienced attorneys should handle a serious birth injury case. Brad Hendricks , Lamar Porter, and George Wise have extensive experience in litigating and settling birth injury cases. Let us seek the justice your child and your family deserves.
We do not charge an attorney fee for personally consulting with you about your injury case. Many people do not have the money to hire a lawyer to protect their rights. You probably didn’t have this unexpected injury figured into your budget. Now you have high medical bills, probably lost wages, and many other financial worries caused by this situation. We understand, but it is unfair for these considerations to prevent you from obtaining the full amount you are due under the law in compensation for your injuries.
Don’t just take the first offer of settlement from the insurance company if it doesn’t fully compensate you for your loss and protect you from future complications. Protecting your rights is important to us. That’s the reason we cover all expenses until the end of a case, and then we are paid a portion of the funds recovered. If we are unable to recover compensation for you, you do not owe us a fee. This is called a “contingency fee” arrangement and is common among attorneys who handle injury cases.
Attorneys put up large sums of money on these complex cases in order to hire experts, take depositions, gather evidence, and oppose the lawyers of large insurance firms. The attorney you choose must be able to cover the expenses for such battles. Not only does The Brad Hendricks Law Firm have the resources, we have the experience, skill, and dedication to successfully resolve your case.
What is Fetal Distress?
“Fetal distress” is a term that is used to describe a fetus that does not appear to be tolerating labor based primarily on information that is generated by electronic fetal heart monitoring. The obstetrical community has from time to time changed their terminology and classification of fetal heart rate patterns and contraction rates and patterns, but essentially the goal is the same: to identify the fetus who is not tolerating labor and who may be at risk for injury or death. What causes babies to go into fetal distress is not always known. Think of labor as a race: sometimes the fetus just gets too tired running the race, such that the race needs to be stopped (i.e., the baby needs to be delivered). Sometimes fetal distress is the result of a placenta that is not functioning properly or an umbilical cord that is tight around the baby’s neck. Overly strong and/or frequent contractions can cause the baby to become distressed. Drugs that stimulate contractions, such as Pitocin, may cause fetal distress when improperly administered. In the long run, if not addressed, fetal distress can result in lack of oxygen to the fetus and lack of oxygen for sufficient time causes brain damage. Cerebral palsy is the typical result of significant brain damage from lack of oxygen.
Trauma As a Cause
The fetal skull protects the brain and tolerates the forces of most labors, but sometimes the labor process and/or the delivery process imposes such trauma on the brain that permanent damage occurs. The female pelvis cannot accommodate all babies. A fetus that is too large (often when mom is a diabetic) may not be able to safely pass through the bones of the pelvis. When there is enough of a size disproportion between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis, then each contraction forces the head against the hard pelvis. The baby’s head typically “molds” to try and get through, but if the disproportion is significant enough, vaginal delivery may be impossible without causing significant trauma (and brain damage) to the baby.
Instruments used to facilitate a vaginal delivery, when improperly used, can also cause trauma and brain damage. Forceps may be used to grasp the baby’s head (while still in the birth canal) and to pull the baby out and/or to rotate the position of the baby to facilitate vaginal delivery. When not used appropriately, forceps can cause trauma to the scalp (such as skull fractures), and more significantly, to the underlying brain (in the form of a hematoma or collection of blood).
Another instrument that can cause trauma to the baby is the “vacuum extractor.” This device uses a rubber cup that is placed on the baby’s head, pumped up, and then used to pull the baby out and/or to rotate the position of the baby to facilitate vaginal delivery. Improperly used, a vacuum extractor can cause injuries similar to that of forceps as well as a very dangerous hemorrhage called a subgaleal hemorrhage. This is a bleed that can occur between the skull and the scalp that may cause death if not treated.
Signs of Preventable Birth Injury You Should Look For
Evidence of trauma is normally apparent. While trauma is sometimes unavoidable, the presence of trauma also suggests improper care. Skull fractures are generally avoidable. Hematomas under the dura of the brain (subdural hematomas) are frequently related to inappropriate trauma in the term baby.
When trauma has caused the potential for permanent injury, an attorney should be consulted; other forms of birth injury are not readily apparent to those not familiar with the medical or legal contexts of birth injuries. Most cases of cerebral palsy that have resulted from lack of oxygen during labor and delivery require analysis by trained professionals. Often, “red flags” for a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery include a baby that has low APGAR scores, requires resuscitation, who is put on a ventilator, and is generally in serious condition after delivery and requires longer than usual hospitalization.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
It is natural for parents, confronted with a baby that may have a birth injury, to hope for the best and not think of the worst. Parents are naturally optimistic and healthcare providers do not want to take away hope or paint a possible “bad case” scenario. Also, the younger the child is, the harder it is for health care providers to predict the future needs of the child. But if the future needs do not become apparent until after the statute of limitations has expired, then the right to claim important damages may have been lost—or even the right to sue at all. Attorneys must have ample time to gather records, obtain expert opinions, and take action before the statute of limitations expires and valuable rights are lost. So clearly, any indication of a birth injury needs prompt evaluation by an attorney.
What Type of Damages Can Be Claimed in a Birth Injury Case?
There are many forms of damages that can be claimed in a birth injury case. Some of them include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Caretaking and nursing care (past and future)
- Loss of earnings or loss of capacity to earn
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental and emotional anguish (past and future)
- Pain and suffering (past and future)
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Physical and occupational therapy expenses
- Respite care
- Specialized educational equipment
- Specialized therapy equipment
- Home modifications
- Braces and orthotic devices
- Handicapped equipped vans/vehicles
Fees in Birth Injury Cases
Attorneys who practice in this area charge contingency fees. These are fees that are only payable if the case is settled or a judgment is collected after a verdict at trial. The Brad Hendricks Law Firm charges a percentage of the amount collected, typically between 40 and 45 percent of the gross recovery (unless limited by state law in certain jurisdictions). One of the reasons that fees are so high in this area, and more so than the typical personal injury case, is that the law firm may invest several hundred thousand dollars pursuing the case. If the case is not successful, then the law firm is not typically reimbursed those expenses. Law firms who take these cases put a lot on the line in terms of time and money, and their fees reflect these factors.
Why Hire The Brad Hendricks Law Firm?
When hiring an attorney to handle a birth injury case, experience is a necessity. Law schools do not teach law students how to handle these complex cases—this knowledge only comes through years of experience.
George Wise, another member of our firm, has over twenty years of experience in handling birth injury cases and is a member of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association).
Over the years Brad, Lamar, and George have continued to handle birth injury cases and have a long track record of successfully handling multimillion-dollar birth injury cases. They know the law, they know the medicine, and they know what it takes to win these very difficult cases.
If you suspect your child may have a birth injury involving cerebral palsy, don’t wait—contact The Brad Hendricks Law Firm today.
We Can Help
The Brad Hendricks Law Firm has helped many parents of children born with Erb’s palsy file suit on behalf of their children and themselves. These injuries can be devastating, and a child suffering from an Erb’s Palsy injury may require a lifetime of help. To learn more about filing an Erb’s palsy lawsuit, call the Brad Hendricks Law Firm today at (501) 214-0998 or toll-free at (870) 330-0475. There are time limits for filing a medical malpractice case, so do not delay calling to find out if we can help your child.