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Pennsylvania Birth Injury Attorney
Birth Injury Claims in Harrisburg, Lancaster & Beyond
The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion but, unfortunately, many newborns and their parents are left facing the consequences of a medical professional’s mistake. If you or your child suffered an injury at birth or has been diagnosed with a medical condition stemming from a birth injury, our firm can help you seek the justice you deserve.
Since 1888, Metzger Wickersham has been fighting for the rights of people throughout Pennsylvania. We understand the devastating experience you are going through, and we want to help. Our Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers have extensive experience representing injured children, their parents, and mothers who have suffered severe, debilitating injuries due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, and other medical professionals. Our firm has successfully recovered favorable settlements for countless clients and, when necessary, we are ready to take our clients’ cases to trial.
Please note: When in the best interest of the client, birth injury cases may be referred to other law firms.
How Do Birth Injuries Happen?
While some accidents are truly unpreventable, many birth injuries occur because doctors, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, and other medical professionals are negligent or make mistakes.
Some of the most common causes of birth injuries include:
- Failure to monitor the mother or infant’s vital signs
- Failure to identify/respond to signs of fetal distress
- Prolonged labor
- Premature (early) childbirth
- Large babies
- Lack of oxygen during labor/delivery
- Failure to order a timely cesarean section (C-section)
- Improper use of forceps, vacuums, and other assistive devices
- Failure to recognize complications, such as an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
- Failure to order a C-section with breech presentation
In some cases, birth injuries are caused by improper care during pregnancy. Examples include failing to properly manage maternal conditions, such as preeclampsia, or failure to diagnose/treat maternal infections and other potentially harmful conditions.
If you believe that your child was harmed due to a medical professional’s negligence or malpractice on the part of a hospital or similar medical facility, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Reach out to our Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers at Metzger Wickersham to learn more.
Proving a Doctor’s Negligence
It can be extremely difficult to prove a birth injury case. Like other types of medical malpractice claims, it is not enough to prove that a doctor or another healthcare provider failed to treat a natural condition that led to your baby’s injuries. Instead, you must prove that the doctor, nurse, obstetrician, or medical provider failed to uphold the standard of acceptable care. This means that they failed to provide the same level of treatment and care that another qualified medical professional would have provided in the same or similar circumstances.
Doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers have large, powerful defense teams on their side. It is important that you also have a legal team that is ready to fight for you. At Metzger Wickersham, we represent individuals and families who have suffered unimaginable hardships due to the failure of trusted healthcare providers. Our Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers are ready to stand up for you and your rights.
Contact Us 24/7 for a Free Consultation
Knowing that your child suffered needlessly because of a medical professional’s negligence or wrongful conduct can feel unbearable. Allow our team at Metzger Wickersham to fight for the justice you and your family deserve. We bring a longstanding history of more than 135 years spent serving the people of Pennsylvania to our practice, as well as a reputation for compassionate client service and aggressive trial advocacy. We have the experience, resources, and know-how to guide you through the legal process and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
With offices in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pottsville, Shippensburg, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, and York, we are able to assist you wherever you are located. We can even travel to your home or visit you in the hospital if needed.
What Are Birth Injuries?
A birth injury is an injury to a baby or mother during pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. Unlike birth defects, which usually arise from various unpreventable factors, such as genetics, birth injuries commonly result from negligent or wrongful conduct. In other words, birth injuries are typically the result of medical malpractice.
Some examples of common birth injuries include:
- Brachial Plexus Injuries: Sometimes, when attempting to remove newborns from the birth canal, doctors may twist or stretch the baby’s head or neck. This can damage the brachial plexus nerves. Located near the shoulder and neck, the brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves connected to the arm, hand, and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries can lead to a range of complications, including impairment of the affected side.
- Broken Bones/Fractures: Broken bones, or fractures, are a relatively common birth injury. The most common birth-related fractures include broken collarbones (clavicle) and legs (femur). While most broken bones heal completely with proper treatment, more severe fractures will require more intensive care. In some cases, surgery may even be required.
- Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that impacts an individual’s mobility, posture, balance, and muscle tone. Although there are several possible causes of CP, one of the most common is lack of oxygen during childbirth. Improper brain development in the womb can also lead to CP. Children who are diagnosed with CP will likely require a lifetime of care, as there is no known cure for the condition.
- Cephalohematoma: Often, during childbirth, minor trauma causes blood vessels on the head of a newborn to break. This can lead to an accumulation of blood under the baby’s scalp, which is known as cephalohematoma. Due to the location of the injury—under the scalp but not on the brain—cephalohematoma does not cause brain damage. It also typically heals on its own, but treatment may be needed if your baby’s cephalohematoma does not improve.
- Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s palsy is a condition caused by an upper brachial plexus injury. Infants who suffer Erb’s palsy will typically exhibit mobility issues in the shoulder but will often retain mobility in the fingers. Depending on the severity of the injury (whether the nerves are stretched, ruptured, torn, etc.), babies may require extensive treatment and may face lifelong impairments and other issues.
- Facial Paralysis: Also known as facial nerve palsy, facial paralysis is a relatively rare birth injury that occurs when nerves in the newborn’s face is damaged. This damage may result from intense pressure during labor and delivery, as well as a medical professional’s improper use of assistive birthing devices, such as forceps or vacuum extractors. In some cases, facial nerve palsy can occur due to developmental abnormalities and congenital factors.
- Oxygen Deprivation: One of the most serious—and most common—birth injuries, insufficient oxygen during labor and/or childbirth can lead to numerous complications, some of which may even be life-threatening. Various forms of oxygen deprivation, such as anoxia and hypoxia, can cause severe brain injuries, cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and even death.
- Shoulder Dystocia: When a baby’s shoulder(s) become lodged behind the mother’s pelvis during childbirth, it is known as shoulder dystocia. Although most babies who experience shoulder dystocia are born safely, the condition can lead to a range of complications. The delivering doctor may twist or pull the baby too forcefully, causing brachial plexus injuries. If the baby is not promptly delivered, he or she may experience loss of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage and death.
Other relatively common birth injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and birth asphyxia caused by various factors, including umbilical cords becoming wrapped around an infant’s neck or prolonged labor.
Additionally, maternal birth injuries (injuries affecting the mother) include hemorrhaging, vaginal tears, broken bones, uterine rupture/inversion, pelvic organ prolapse, nerve damage, and more. In severe cases, these injuries can lead to a woman’s death during or immediately following childbirth.
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