While most infants are born healthy, there are many different injuries that can occur during pregnancy or as a result of the birthing process. A birth injury is different from a congenital defect and is often caused by mechanical forces that are used during labor and delivery. They occur in approximately two of every 1,000 births and may include everything from bone fractures or facial paralysis to cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries. If your infant suffered from a birth injury and you believe it was due to medical malpractice, meaning it was caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional or the hospital, a birth injury lawsuit may be necessary.
Receiving compensation through a birth injury lawsuit can help ensure that your child will be able to enjoy the highest quality of life possible. While each case is unique, most share the same general progression. Knowing what to expect can help ease the stress while allowing you to be more prepared, especially if you hire a St. Louis birth injury lawyer, or a specialized attorney in the city in which you live, so that you can navigate the legal process with confidence.
Filing a Claim
Filing a claim can be a long, complex process, which is why having a highly experienced attorney at your side is so important. Deadlines must be met and the evidence must be secure for the best possible outcome as it will need to be established that the injuries wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the malpractice that occurred. The lawyer will file with the courts in the county where the incident occurred on your behalf.
After the claim is filed, the defendant typically has 30 days to respond. They will either deny the claim or accept it and enter into settlement negotiations. While you wait, your lawyer will be working on building your case by gathering evidence like injury photographs, medical records, eyewitness statements, medical expert testimony, and any prior complaints against the defendant.
Negotiation of the Settlement
If your claim is accepted by the defendant, settlement negotiation begins. The majority of birth injury claims are settled successfully without going to court, especially if a lawyer is involved. During the negotiations, they will help ensure that you don’t settle for less than what the case is worth while allowing you to focus on helping your child get necessary medical treatment. Settling is the easiest and least expensive way to resolve the case, with a settlement potentially resulting in payment of all medical expenses, costs related to special education, physical therapy, and other treatments, as well as related financial damages.
Denial of a Claim/Court Process
If the defendant denies the claim and a trial is required, the process starts with the discovery phase which includes gathering of evidence, research, and interviews. Gathering evidence can take months as many hospitals are slow to respond to medical record requests. Expert medical witnesses will need to be obtained as well. The trial starts after the discovery phase, with a judge or jury listening to both sides. If it is found that there is enough proof against the defendant, an appropriate judgment will be awarded as compensation.
The time to receive compensation can take anywhere from many months to a few years, but if the case is successful, in most cases you will be compensated for both past medical expenses and estimated future expenses.