Birth Injury & Cerebral Palsy
Birth injuries can place enormous amounts of stress on families, especially if a child will require full time care for the rest of their life. Though birth delivery techniques have improved over the years, birth injuries still happen and can result in years of expensive specialist appointments, tests, treatments and medication.
These unexpected costs cripple many families, particularly if one parent now needs to stay home to care for the child.
Webster & Associates birth injury lawyers have handled devastating infant and child injury cases, including medical malpractice causing spinal cord injury, head injury and brain damage.
Our lawyers can help you better understanding your legal rights, and seek financial compensation where possible to secure the best care and support for your child’s future.
Speak to a seasoned Vancouver birth injury lawyer by calling 1 604 662 7777 or 1 800 999 4991 (toll free) or fill out the contact form below.
Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are commonly caused by doctors, nurses or midwives misdiagnosing conditions or completely missing warning signs, administering incorrect medication, or mishandling deliveries or postpartum care.
Some birth injuries are temporary and heal on their own, or with treatment and/or surgery. Others are permanent and present lifelong challenges.
Common types of birth injury include:
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the way the brain sends communication to the muscle groups. It’s caused by a brain injury or malformation while a child’s brain is still developing, and can impact body movement, posture, balance, motor functioning skills, as well as muscle control, weakness and tone. Infants are at risk of Cerebral Palsy before, during or immediately after birth.
Symptoms can range from slight tremors and poor coordination to complete paralysis. Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive condition, meaning the brain damage caused at the time of birth will not cause further degeneration.
While there is no single cause of CP, birthing complications are responsible for approximately 10% of Cerebral Palsy cases. This can include medical negligence during pregnancy, mistakes during delivery, infections, accidents, or abuse.
A Cerebral Palsy lawyer can help you assess whether the CP was caused by medical negligence, and work to recoup costs for your child’s medical and home care expenses, rehabilitation and physical therapy, special education, counseling and supplies such as wheelchairs or braces (if required).
CP is considered incurable and a “non-life threatening” condition and with the right treatment and rehabilitation, children with Cerebral Palsy can still live long and fulfilling lives.
Erb’s Palsy affects approximately 1-2 babies per 1,000 births. It is caused by an injury to the nerves surrounding an infant’s shoulder known as the brachial plexus. These nerves control feeling and motion in the shoulder, arm, hand and fingers.
Erb’s Palsy can be caused by: a breech birth (when the baby is delivered feet first and arms are injured from the pressure), excessive pulling on the shoulder, or when the baby’s head and neck are pulled to the side during delivery. Larger babies are at higher risk of Erb’s Palsy.
Infants can often recover from Erb’s palsy with treatment or surgery, but severe nerve damage could cause permanent weakness or paralysis in the arm.
Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury affecting 1% of all pregnancies. It’s when a baby’s head and shoulders are stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Large babies are at higher risk of shoulder dystocia.
This condition can be very dangerous for both baby and mother and the medical team must act quickly to deliver the baby safely. The mother is at risk of maternal hemorrhaging, uterine rupture and tearing; while the baby may experience a loss of oxygen (which can cause brain damage), suffer a collarbone or brachial plexus fracture, cerebral palsy and in extreme cases, death.
Spinal Cord Injury
Infant spinal cord injuries occur when trauma during a complicated birth or a medical condition affect the infant’s spine. This could be a bruise (a contusion) or a complete tear (a transection).
In cases of medical malpractice, spinal cord injuries are sometimes due to misdiagnosis of spina bifida; a birth defect when the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) don’t form properly around the spinal cord. If hospital staff are unaware of the condition, the nerves can be easily damaged during handling.
Other causes of spinal cord injuries during delivery include: excessive pressure or pulling of the baby’s body, hyperextension of the head in abnormal birthing positions, brachial plexus-related injuries, or an overstretched spinal cord.
Spinal cord injury symptoms vary greatly depending on severity and location of the damage. They may include: spasms or stinging pains, paralysis, intellectual disability, loss of touch sensations, bowel or bladder control problems, abnormal reflexes and breathing difficulties. Most infant spinal cord injuries happen in the neck region, and the higher up along the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more serious the damage.
In many cases, spinal cord injuries are temporary, and with treatment and rehabilitation a child can make a full recovery. A spinal cord injury lawyer may be able to help families alleviate the stress of expensive treatments.
Oxygen-Related Birth Injuries
Many brain injuries during birth are caused by extremely high, low or absent oxygen levels. Conditions such as anoxia, hypoxia, birth asphyxia, and perinatal asphyxia present terrifying risks in newborns and can result in severe symptoms and in some cases, death.
How Can a Birth Injury Lawyer Help?
In each of the above cases, a birth injury attorney will investigate whether the injury was caused by medical negligence or if it was an inevitable consequence of a complicated birth.
When birth injuries happen as a result of a doctor’s mistake or negligence in treatment or diagnosis, compensation can assist with medical and rehabilitation costs for your child, ensuring they have a bright future ahead.