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Indianapolis Birth Injury Lawyer

When a woman is expecting a child, she trusts her health care providers to act with the best interests of her baby in mind. Sometimes, however, providers fail to follow the standard of care, causing harm to the baby before or during childbirth. If you believe your baby suffered injuries due to a medical professional’s negligence in Indiana, Birth Injury Center can connect you with an Indianapolis birth injury lawyer who can help you seek compensation.

Childbirth has inherent dangers, but many birth complications are preventable. When a medical professional fails to provide the required standard of care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, the baby may suffer a birth injury.

If your child suffered a birth injury you believe was caused by a medical professional’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation through a birth injury lawsuit. When you turn to Birth Injury Center, we’ll connect you with an experienced Indianapolis birth injury lawyer who can determine if you have a viable claim and pursue legal action on your behalf.

Birth Injury Basics

Approximately 82,000 live births take place in Indiana each year. While no two births are exactly alike, most involve minimal complications. Some complications are unavoidable, but even in those cases, a reasonable medical professional can often reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes by taking appropriate measures.

Unfortunately, not all health care providers provide the appropriate care. When a health care provider fails to act according to the standard of care, the baby may suffer an unnecessary birth injury before, during, or immediately after childbirth.

Common types of birth injuries that occur during the childbirth process include:

  • Head trauma, such as skull fractures and caput succedaneum, or scalp swelling
  • Extracranial hemorrhages, such as cephalohematoma and subgaleal hemorrhage
  • Intracranial hemorrhages, such as epidural hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and intraventricular hemorrhage
  • Cranial nerve injuries, particularly to the facial nerves
  • Brachial plexus injuries, including Erbs-Duchenne palsy and Klumpke’s palsy
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Skeletal injuries, such as clavicular fractures and humerus fractures
  • Facial injuries, such as subconjunctival hemorrhages
  • Soft tissue injuries, such as bruising, lacerations, and subcutaneous fat necrosis
  • Abdominal visceral injuries, including bleeding into the liver, spleen, and adrenal glands
  • Brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, which may lead to cerebral palsy

These injuries vary greatly in severity between individual babies. Some birth injuries may clear up on their own within a few days or weeks, causing no substantial difficulties to the baby. On the other end of the spectrum, the baby may be profoundly disabled due to their injuries and require a lifetime of medical interventions, such as surgeries and physical therapy. In rare cases, a birth injury may result in the baby’s death.

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When Is a Health Care Professional Liable?

Some birth injuries may be necessary to avoid greater harm or damage to the baby or mother. As a result, health care professionals aren’t always liable for birth injuries. For example, a medical professional may have no option but to use forceps when labor isn’t progressing, and the baby suffers oxygen deprivation. If the use of forceps results in an unavoidable extracranial hemorrhage to the baby, this might be considered a necessary birth injury, and the provider may not be liable.

However, a health care professional is liable when their negligence contributes to the birth injury. A birth injury that meets this criteria is a form of medical malpractice. To succeed in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove the following four elements:

  • Duty: The health care provider owed your baby a duty of care to act as a reasonably competent provider would under the same circumstances.
  • Breach of duty: The health care provider failed to meet the standard of care, breaching their duty.
  • Causation: The health care provider’s breach of duty caused your baby’s injury.
  • Damages: Your baby suffered bodily injury or other losses caused by the health care provider’s negligence.

Medical malpractice cases focus largely on what the health care provider should have done to meet the acceptable standard of care for similar circumstances. To illustrate, let’s revisit our example regarding forceps use. If all of the signs, such as the baby’s heart rate, suggested the provider should have used forceps to prevent continued oxygen deprivation and they failed to do so, they may be liable for any resulting brain damage.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases in Indianapolis?

If you believe you may have a birth injury claim in Indianapolis, you must act quickly. Indiana has a strict time limit on medical malpractice claims known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a claim before the deadline, you’ll likely be barred from pursuing compensation for your birth injury case.

Under Indiana Code § 34-18-7-1, parents of the child who suffered an injury during childbirth in Indiana have two years to file a malpractice claim. The countdown starts on the date the malpractice occurred.

Most birth injuries involve harm to the baby, and those cases are subject to a special statute of limitations in Indiana. A minor under six has until their eighth birthday to file a claim.

How to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Indianapolis

Before you can file a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice in Indianapolis, you must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance on your child’s behalf. After you’ve filed your complaint, the department will form a medical review panel composed of three physicians and one lawyer to review the evidence supporting your claim. The panel has 180 days to review your claim and render an opinion.

The medical review panel will then issue an opinion about whether or not the health care provider committed malpractice. Regardless of the medical review panel’s decision, the patient retains the right to file suit. The panel’s report is not conclusive but is admissible in court.

Once you receive the opinion, the statute of limitations will pause for 90 days. You may then file a medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court. It’s best to begin this process with the help of a birth injury lawyer in Indianapolis. They will guide you through your legal options and help you navigate each step, which may include negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company or arguing your case in trial.

What Evidence Do I Need?

Your birth injury claim is only as strong as the evidence supporting it. Medical records are among the most important forms of evidence in birth injury claims. The medical records regarding your pregnancy, the labor and delivery, and your baby’s post-delivery care can all be useful.

Examples of helpful types of medical evidence in birth injury cases include the following:

  • Ultrasound images and reports
  • Doctor’s notes from prenatal appointments
  • Non-stress test results
  • Lab test results from during and after pregnancy
  • X-rays of your child after birth
  • Your child’s medical charts

The primary purpose of this evidence is to prove that the medical provider’s actions or inactions caused the birth injury. However, medical records can also show the damages associated with the birth injury. For instance, your child’s medical charts may include treatment recommendations from medical providers, which your lawyer might use to calculate the monetary cost of future medical care to treat your child’s injury.

Medical bills can also be helpful evidence when building a birth injury claim. Receipts, insurance explanations of benefits, and correspondence from debt collectors could all show how your child’s birth injury has affected your family’s finances.

What Compensation Can You Receive for a Birth Injury Case in Indianapolis?

In addition to the physical harm your child has suffered, a birth injury can have long-term impacts on your family’s financial and emotional well-being. While no amount of money can undo the harm done, a birth injury lawsuit can compensate your family’s losses so you can start moving forward.

The following are some of the damages your birth injury settlement or jury award could help pay for:

  • Past and future medical expenses, including surgeries, rehabilitation, supportive equipment, and medications
  • Expenses for travel to and from medical appointments
  • Lost wages sustained by you or your partner to care for your child’s needs
  • Your child’s future lost wages
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In Indiana, the damages recoverable are capped by Indiana Code § 34-18-14-3. The maximum compensation is currently $1,800,000 for acts of malpractice that occurred after June 30, 2019. Malpractice that occurred between June 30, 2017, and July 1, 2019, has a limit of $1,650,000.

Predicting Future Losses

Because a birth injury occurs at the beginning of a child’s life, most of the damages associated with this type of injury have not yet happened. As a result, a birth injury lawsuit needs to account for the child and family’s future losses.

These future losses could include potential medical expenses, lost wages due to the expected impacts of the injury on your child’s ability to work as an adult, the cost of any assistance your child may need with activities of daily living, and more. These damages often comprise the bulk of the compensation in a birth injury lawsuit.

One way to determine the potential extent of these losses is to create a long-term life and care plan with the help of your child’s health care providers and other professionals, such as estate planners and financial advisors. Your Indianapolis birth injury lawyer can also help you compile evidence that illustrates the anticipated long-term effects of your child’s birth injury. They may also get expert testimony to further support these estimates.

An Indianapolis Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help

A birth injury can leave you feeling helpless, but you don’t need to face this situation alone. With the help of a birth injury lawyer in Indianapolis, you can pursue the compensation and closure your family needs to begin rebuilding your lives.

If your child suffered a birth injury and you believe it may have been due to medical negligence, the Birth Injury Center can connect you with a qualified attorney. Contact us today to learn more.

Written by:
Birth Injury Center Team

The Birth Injury Center aims to create informational web content and guides to help women and their families seeking support and guidance for birth injuries caused by medical negligence. All of the content published across The Birth Injury Center website has been thoroughly investigated and approved by medical expert Natalie Speer, RNC-OB, Attorney Ryan Mahoney, and Attorney Rick Meadows.