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Chicago Birth Injury Attorney

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Birth injuries allegedly affect about 60,000 of the 4 million births in the US every year. Having a newborn who suffers from a birth injury can be heartbreaking for the parents. It can also be expensive. A complicated childbirth can cost more than twice that of a normal delivery. Depending on the extent of the child’s injuries and needs, a couple may also incur the costs of ongoing care.

About two-thirds of birth injuries are unavoidable, but the other third are caused by medical negligence or mistakes. The most common reason cited for birth injuries are communication errors among the birthing team, such as misunderstanding a diagnosis, giving the wrong medications or failing to inform a doctor when a fetus shows signs of distress. When you believe an error like this has been made, immediately contacting a Chicago medical malpractice attorney can help you decide your next steps.

Hospitals owe a certain standard of care to their patients. If a medical care provider injures or fails to prevent injury to you or your infant, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs associated with the injury.

Why Choose Us for Your Birth Injury Lawyers in Chicago?

Chicago birth injury lawyer

Founding attorney, Brian LaCien has spent two decades dedicated to achieving results for clients injured through no fault of their own, including those whose lives were forever changed by a preventable birth injury. Our firm provides clients with significant advantages in their legal claims, including the following:

  • Free case consultations and contingency-based payment so you pay nothing until we secure your compensation
  • A dedicated client advocate determined to defend your rights and your child’s best interests throughout the process
  • Open communication throughout your case so you know your options through every step of your legal action
  • Attorney Todd A. Smith has been featured in the New York Times and other national and regional publications as a top Chicago attorney with a reputation and resources to advance your case
  • Attorney Brian LaCien was ranked in a 2022 issue of Chicago Lawyer as one of the top ten personal injury attorneys
  • Access to the best medical experts, special education consultants, vocational experts, and economists to ensure we seek the maximum available compensation

Together, Smith LaCien LLC has won over $2.5 billion for clients in settlements and jury verdicts including over 100 cases resulting in compensation of over $1 million. Our firm puts a powerful voice behind your Chicago birth injury claim.

Common Birth Injuries in Illinois

Many birth injuries are the result of oxygen deprivation which occurs when healthcare providers are not able to recognize problems and provide solutions in a timely manner. Some of these problems can include: Preeclampsia, eclampsia, excessive medication to mother and child, shoulder displacement, trauma to the infant and mother, and umbilical cord prolapse.

Oxygen deprivation is one of the most common causes of brain injuries and can manifest itself as a condition like cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy occurs in 1.5 to 4 children per every 1,000 births. Physical trauma to the brain during delivery can lead to this condition and even cause hearing loss in infants.

How Can Medical Negligence Cause Birth Injuries?

While not all these injuries are due to medical malpractice, they can occur due to improper actions, poor decisions, or lack of actions by medical professionals.

  • Cerebral Palsy: This can be caused by a failure to adequately monitor the fetal heart rate, delayed response to fetal distress, or mishandling a prolonged or complicated labor that results in brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
  • Shoulder Dystocia: Medical negligence can occur if the medical team fails to anticipate or properly manage shoulder dystocia during childbirth, leading to nerve damage from excessive force or inappropriate use of delivery techniques.
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: These can result from excessive pulling on the shoulders during a head-first delivery or from misapplication of forceps or vacuum, leading to stretching or tearing of the brachial plexus nerves.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia: Negligence may be involved if there is a failure to detect or respond to signs of distress indicating that the baby is not receiving adequate oxygen before, during, or immediately after birth.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage: This can occur due to rough handling during delivery or inappropriate use of delivery instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors.
  • Fractures: Bone fractures may result from mishandling the baby during delivery, such as applying excessive force during a breech delivery or the use of instruments.
  • Facial Paralysis: If forceps are used improperly during delivery, they can exert excessive pressure on the baby’s face, damaging the facial nerves.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: These are rare but can occur due to extreme manipulation during delivery, incorrect use of tools, or failure to manage a complicated delivery appropriately.

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Birth Injury Case?

Birth injury lawyers in Chicago

It may seem that the doctor or other provider is always the liable party in a birth injury claim, but that’s not always accurate. If the doctor is an independent contractor with privileges at the hospital they may be personally liable. If they are employed by the hospital, the hospital could bear liability. A number of individuals or entities could be liable or share liability, depending on the negligent action that resulted in the birth injury. For instance, did a nurse not properly inform the doctor of a change of status in the mother or unborn baby, or was there a communication error through administration? Did the labor and delivery team fail to properly monitor mother and fetus during labor? Was the staff improperly trained on procedures? Possible liable parties in birth injury cases in Illinois include the following:

  • The attending physician
  • The hospital or birthing center
  • A nurse
  • An anesthesiologist 
  • One or more members of the care team

It takes a thorough investigation to determine the correct liable party or multiple liable parties in a birth injury claim depending on the type of negligence that occurred to cause the injury.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Suspected Birth Injury

When you suspect that a birth injury has occurred, taking immediate and informed actions is critical for the well-being of your child and for any future legal action you might consider. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do following a suspected birth injury:

  • Seek Immediate Medical Evaluation: If you notice any unusual symptoms or behaviors in your newborn that raise concerns, seek a second medical opinion immediately. Symptoms may include excessive crying, seizures, limpness, or difficulty feeding. Request a thorough examination to assess any potential injuries or conditions that might have occurred during birth.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all medical visits, treatments, and conversations with healthcare providers. Note dates, times, names, and the nature of the discussions. Document your baby’s symptoms and any physical signs of injury, with photographs if visible. This can be crucial for correlating symptoms with potential birth injuries.
  • Request and Secure All Medical Records: Obtain complete medical records for both the mother and the baby, including all notes from prenatal visits, hospital records from the birth, and any subsequent treatments. These documents are vital for reviewing what happened during the delivery and identifying deviations from standard medical practices.

Legal Procedure to File a Chicago Birth Injury Lawsuit

If your child has suffered a birth injury and you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must follow the required procedure in order for your case to be entertained by the courts. Although every person has the right to represent themselves and complete court processes on their own, the procedure for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is complex and better handled by a competent personal injury lawyer.

When filing a complaint with the court, it must be accompanied by a sworn declaration that a medical professional has reviewed the facts of the case and has determined that the case has legal merit. This written declaration must include the reasons for the health professional’s determination that a reasonable and meritorious cause for filing a lawsuit exists in the case. The health professional giving the declaration must:

  • Be knowledgeable in the relevant issues involved in the case;
  • Practice or have practiced within the last six years or teaches or has taught within the last six years in the same area of medicine as the case; and
  • Be qualified by experience or demonstrated competence in the subject matter at issue in the case.

Satisfying this requirement of the courts involves an analysis of the medical records by the medical professional. It requires a commitment of time, resources, and professional expertise that you may not have or have access to, which is where an established Chicago personal injury attorney comes in. At Smith LaCien LLP, we have a team of dedicated medical professionals that we work with to put together a compelling case on your behalf.

Getting Compensation for Chicago Birth Injuries

A birth injury can have life-long consequences for the victim. Depending on the severity of the case, the victim may require intensive medical care, therapy, and accommodations for the rest of their life. The burden of bearing the costs associated with these needs falls on the legally responsible party whose negligence caused the victim’s injury. A legal claim for a birthing injury will include a demand for damages in a particular amount.

The amount of damages demanded is not an arbitrary number. Damages are based on the actual losses that a victim suffers because of their injury. This includes past and future losses associated with their injury. Getting an accurate valuation of a victim’s actual damages requires skill and expertise to account for both their economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages account for the tangible losses that a victim suffers like medical expenses and loss of capacity to earn an income. Non-economic damages account for intangible losses like disability and loss of society.

At Smith LaCien LLP, we have a track record of impressive outcomes for our clients, with over $2.5 billion recovered in personal injury claims consistently ranking at the top in Illinois for client recoveries. We will dedicate our resources to ensure that your case is properly valued and that you get fair compensation for your birth injury case.

Damages Available in a Birth Injury Claim

When a child suffers a serious birth injury, the result can be a lifetime of expenses in addition to the non-economic damages to the child and family such as pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and diminished quality of life. The medical provider at fault for the injury is liable for compensating the family for these economic and non-economic damages—typically through their medical malpractice insurance. 

Common economic damages available for compensation after a birth injury include the following:

  • Medical expenses: these commonly include compensation for the child’s past and current medical care costs and those anticipated for the future, such as rehabilitative therapies, procedures, assistive devices, medications, modifications to a home, and other costs related to their birth injury
  • Special educational needs: many birth injuries cause impairment requiring special education
  • Parents’ lost income, particularly if one parent must stop working or reduce their work hours to provide care for a child with a disability due to birth injury
  • Any other future economic damages related to the injury

Compensation is also available for non-economic damages including the following:

  • The child’s pain and suffering
  • The parent’s emotional anguish
  • Diminished life quality
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Although financial compensation cannot undo emotional distress or pain and suffering, these intangible damages are the most difficult for the birth-injured child and their family. Compensation for non-economic damages relieves financial stress and opens doors to the best possible care and resources for a birth-injured child.

Does Illinois Cap Damages in Birth Injury Claims?

Some states limit—or cap—the amount of compensation injury victims can recover in medical malpractice claims. Illinois does not place caps on birth injury claims. This allows the families of birth-injured children the legal recourse necessary to recover full compensation for what could be a lifetime of injury-related expenses for medical care and educational costs for the child as well as compensation for the family’s emotional anguish.

Deciding to File a Lawsuit in Chicago

Injury lawsuits involving birth injuries almost always require the help of a lawyer. Given the complexities involved in proving medical malpractice, having skilled legal representation is vital. A qualified attorney in this field will understand the nuances of medical standards and legal requirements and will work to gather the necessary evidence, expert opinions, and documentation to build a strong case. For families dealing with the consequences of a birth injury, this legal support is essential for seeking justice and obtaining compensation for their losses.

Therefore, your first step should be to consult with an experienced injury attorney and determine if you want him or her to be your legal representative.

Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis meaning they only charge fees after they secure a settlement or jury verdict. They finance a case at their own expense and therefore take great care in screening potential clients and evaluating the merits of the case. Once they accept a case, they begin an investigation that includes negotiating with an insurance company, preparing pleadings, sending demand letters, and conducting discovery to help them build the case.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Lawsuits in Illinois?

Like all states, Illinois places limits on the amount of time after an injury that the victim may file a lawsuit. This helps ensure that evidence remains available and eyewitness testimony reliable if a case goes to court rather than resolving with a settlement. It also protects defendants against living under the long-term threat of lawsuits. The statute of limitations for birth injury and other medical malpractice claims in Illinois is two years from the date of the injury. If the birth injury isn’t discovered until some time later, the two-year time limit begins on the date of discovery but the lawsuit may not be filed later than four years from the date the injury occurred.

Do I Have to Go to Court for a Birth Injury Claim in Chicago?

Most birth injury claims are resolved without requiring litigation in court. Instead, a skilled medical malpractice attorney investigates the claim, documents clear and concise evidence, carefully calculates damages and sends a demand package to the medical malpractice insurance company of the at-fault party. They then begin negotiations for a settlement to cover the damages. Sometimes mediation takes place between the involved parties and their attorneys to reach a settlement agreement. 

Fewer than 10% of birth injury claims require a lawsuit in court; however, the attorneys at Smith LaCien LLC are more than ready to aggressively argue your case in court if the insurance company fails to offer an ample settlement. Court cases take longer than a settlement, but typically end in a larger amount than a settlement offer.

Contact The Birth Injury Lawyers In Chicago Today

Lawyers at Smith LaCien LLP believe that when an injury to a newborn is caused by the birthing team, the responsible parties should be held accountable for damages, pain, and suffering. If you believe you have a case, contact us now by email or call (312) 509-8900.

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