During childbirth, injuries may occur. Often the injuries are unavoidable, but sometimes they may have been preventable with timely action and the appropriate medical treatment. When preventable injuries are the result of medical negligence, the responsible party or parties may be held legally accountable for the injuries sustained. This may include the doctor who delivered your child, hospital staff members or the hospital itself.
Often, the doctor who was in control of the delivery will be held accountable for his or her actions and the actions of subordinates, such as nurses, residents, other doctors or other hospital staff members. Doctors are held to a professional standard of care. This means that physicians must provide the same level of care as other physicians would in the same or similar circumstances. Therefore, in a medical negligence claim against a doctor, the plaintiff - such as the parents of an injured infant - must provide the court with evidence that establishes that the doctor or other medical personnel failed to meet the medical industry's standard of care during childbirth. Examples of failure to meet the industry standard may found in a doctor's action or inaction, including choice of treatment, method of administering treatment, or failure to notice symptoms or warning signs. If a doctor's medical negligence can be established to the court, the physician may be held liable for the injuries of the mother or child.
Much like physicians, hospitals may also be held accountable for failing to meet an industry standard of care. Hospitals owe patients a duty of care to provide medical treatment. If it can be shown that the hospital breached its duty of care to a patient or failed to meet an industry standard of care for such a facility, the hospital may be held liable for injuries suffered.
The hospital may also be held liable for the negligent actions of hospital employees. If it is discovered that hospital staff members are under qualified, should not have been hired due to information provided by a background check or have been inadequately supervised, the medical facility may have been negligent in their hiring practices. If this is the case, the hospital may be held liable for corporate negligence and responsible for any actions of their negligently hired employees.
If the hospital or hospital employees are found to be medically negligent and liable for the patients injuries, the court may award the plaintiff damages. Generally, the parents are awarded damages for their child's injuries and that monetary compensation will be placed in a trust to benefit the child. Damages may be received for pain and suffering, future costs of medical treatment, mental or physical disability, loss of future income, loss of quality of life or other losses depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury. The amount of damages will also depend on the circumstances, the extent of the injuries suffered and the laws in your jurisdiction.
The parents of an injured child may be awarded damages for their own losses, such as negligent infliction of emotional distress, loss of companionship, medical costs incurred and/or wrongful death of their child. If you believe your child has suffered birth injuries due to negligence care, if is important to speak to an attorney to discuss your circumstances and help you determine what legal options may be the most appropriate for you and your child.