birth injury

NEW JERSEY BIRTH INJURY LAW 101

There is nothing more tragic than giving birth and coming home without a baby. A newborn left at the hospital due to doctor’s negligence is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Unfortunately, there are far too many cases of birth injuries in the United States. In New Jersey alone, as many as 22 children are born every day with birth injuries. While majority of these injuries will heal over time – such as broken bones – some can lead to permanent damage that the child has to carry for the rest of their life.

Most birth injuries are caused by the following conditions:

  • Unusually large babies exceeding 9 pounds
  • Premature babies born before the full 37-week term
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion – the pelvis of the mother is too small or has an irregular shape
  • Difficult or prolonged childbirth

According to the Merck Manuals, these are the most common birth injuries:

  • Swollen and bruised scalp
  • Cephalohematomas – accumulation of blood below a skull bone
  • Intracranial hemorrhage – bleeding in the brain
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage – eye blood vessels burst
  • Brachial palsy – injury to the nerves of the arms and hands
  • Facial paralysis due to excessive pressure on the baby’s face or inappropriate use of forceps

These birth injuries are considered minor as they are easy to treat. Some even heal on their own.

Serious, Life-Threatening Birth Injuries

In rare cases, birth injuries can be life-altering and even life-threatening.

  • Brain injuries. When the mother loses too much blood or her umbilical cord twists tightly, the baby might not receive enough oxygen. This can lead to seizures or mental disabilities.
  • Cerebral palsy. One common type of brain injury that is caused by severe oxygen deprivation during or after childbirth is cerebral palsy. This condition can cause severe physical and mental disabilities.
  • Nerve injuries. Difficult deliveries can weaken certain muscles and result in temporary paralysis or difficulty breathing. Injuries to the spinal cord nerves or diaphragm may cause permanent paralysis.
  • Bone injuries. Another serious injury that can occur during difficult deliveries is bone fracture. Infants could suffer a fractured skull, clavicle, upper arm (humerus), or upper leg (femur).

Birth Injury Malpractice

When a doctor, nurse, midwife, or other medical practitioner fails to act on warning signs that a child is in danger, they could be charged with malpractice under New Jersey law.

The following medical errors could constitute a malpractice suit:

  • Failure to obtain a proper obstetrical history
  • Failure to manage diabetes or excessive weight gain during pregnancy
  • Failure to correctly estimate the size of the fetus before delivery
  • Failure to anticipate birth complications
  • Failure to respond to excessive bleeding
  • Failure to provide the baby with adequate oxygen during delivery
  • Failing to spot and respond to fetal distress
  • Failure to perform a C-Section on time
  • Failure to treat an infection
  • Failure to interpret and respond to changing fetal conditions during labor
  • Excessive use of forceps or vacuum extractor during delivery
  • Improper administration of hormones (such as Pitocin) to induce labor
  • Circumcision mistakes

Basic Precepts of New Jersey Birth Injury Law

In the state of New Jersey, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two (2) years. If you want to sue your doctor or medical facility, you should file a lawsuit within 24 months from the date of injury.

There is an exception, however, for birth injuries that are impossible to detect within the first two years. For example, cerebral palsy is often diagnosed when the child reaches toddler age.

Another exception is when a minor wish to file a lawsuit for an injury sustained at birth. In both cases, the plaintiff can file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years after the injury is discovered or until the child reaches 13 years of age.

birth injury malpractice

Get an Experienced Attorney Handle Your Medical Malpractice Case

If your infant has suffered an injury because of the negligence of a medical practitioner, let the experienced attorneys at DeZao Law help you. Contact our team right away for an initial consultation.