What is a True Birth Injury in Maryland?

One of the most challenging and heart-breaking areas of medical malpractice law is that involving alleged birth injuries causing a catastrophic outcome such as cerebral palsy, a permanent brain injury or other cognitive and motor deficiencies.  It is not just the injuries to the child that are devastating, but also the impact that these physical injuries have on the parent(s), siblings and other loved ones. 

One of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients with an injured newborn is "what kind of birth injuries give rise to medical malpractice cases?"  This is a difficult question to answer and explain because parents are understandably upset over the deficits that their child is experiencing.  In our office, we attempt to explain to our clients the difference between birth defects and true birth injuries.   Birth defects are deficits caused by things such as an inherited genetic/chromosomal abnormality or perhaps a toxin that the mother was exposed to sometime during the pregnancy.  Examples include Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 abnormalities, spina bifida, cleft palates and congenital heart abnormalities.  Birth injuries, however, are those are caused by such circumstances as a doctor's excessive use of force in attempting to deliver a child, the failure to properly identify signs of fetal distress on a fetal heart monitor, the failure to timely deliver a baby with identified signs of fetal distress or the failure to perform required testing in a timely fashion during the pregnancy.  In many of these instances, the negligence results in what is known as "hypoxia" (a lack of oxygen to the brain) and it is this lack of oxygen that causes the permanent physical or cognitive injury to the baby. 

In many instances, a birth defect can be diagnosed and treated while the baby is in utero through things such as routine sonograms, blood tests, amniocentesis and/or the referral of a mom/baby to a specialized maternal fetal medicine physician for specialized care and testing.  In nearly every birth injury case that our lawyers handle, the health care providers argue that the injuries were unavoidable.  In today's day and age, however, doctors and nurses are trained to identify signs of potential birth trauma so that they can act quickly to prevent potential injury.  Moreover, these health care providers have at their disposal incredibly advanced equipment and monitors to assist them in making accurate and timely diagnoses.  The failure to utilize such modalities places the blame squarely at the feet of these health care providers. 

It is important to remember that a child who is born with a birth injury Maryland has 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for such injuries.  Essentially, the statute of limitations is tolled during the child's minority.  The parents of such a child, however, if they desire to claim the medical expenses and other costs associated with or caused by this birth injury, have 3 years from the date that the child is born to make such a claim.  Their claim  is NOT tolled during the child's majority.  This can be in circumstances where a child's birth injuries do not manifest themselves at the time of birth, but rather, become apparent years later as a child fails to be able to reach certain critical milestones in cognitive or physical abilities. 

As a result, if you or a loved one has a child who you believe has suffered a birth injury, regardless of their current age, call our lawyers for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.  These injuries always have a profound impact on the child, his/her family and result in a lifetime of care needs.