Injuries sustained by an infant during the labor and delivery process can lead to a lifetime of special needs and care. The services and supplies needed to bring some sort of normalcy to the injured child can quickly deplete even the most financially stable of families.
Compensation for medical negligence or malpractice may ease some of the financial burdens of caring for a special needs child. Yet, this compensation can be quite challenging to obtain due to a wide variety of defenses that may be asserted in a birth injury lawsuit.
In attempting to obtain a legal remedy for a birth injury related to medical malpractice, it is the duty of the plaintiff, the one bringing the suit, to prove the injury resulted when the medical professional breached their responsibility to provide reasonable medical care. This seems like a fairly strait forward statement on the surface; yet, differing interpretations of the terms "duty," "breach" and "reasonable" can complicate proving one's claim.
Defining the standard of care can also present a major obstacle for the plaintiff. The standard of care can differ from medical facility to medical facility, as well as from physician to physician when faced with the same medical event. The standard of care usually must be explained by an expert witness, who describes their opinion regarding the proper response to or method used during the injuring event in question. Both the plaintiff and the defendant are allowed to introduce experts, and these experts can and often do present contradictory positions regarding the proper standard of care, particularly in situations involving a judgment call.
Causation is another factor that can diminish the plaintiff's case, as the defense may allege other possible reasons for the birth injury, like fetal developmental issues, maternal complications or genetic defects. The presence of any of these potential causes may limit or negate the responsibility of the medical professional in the eyes of a judge or jury even where there was medical negligence.
Defense counsel may also rely on how foreseeable a birth injury may or may not have been, given all the data and diagnostics a reasonable physician has at the time of delivery. If risk factors for certain birth injuries are not known beforehand, a medical provider may be able to successfully argue that he was not able to foresee the possibility of birth injury and thus, he did not breach his duty to provide reasonable medical care.
There may be many other defenses that can be alleged to challenge a medical malpractice claim involving birth injuries. Due to the huge level of damages in many birth injury cases, these cases are fought very hard by medical professionals and facilities. The costs and stress of a suit can be significant on the family. It is therefore important that the case be properly evaluated from the outset by an experienced personal injury attorney.