What is the Difference Between a Birth Injury and a Birth Defect?

Insurance companies representing medical practitioners and hospital groups accused of causing a birth injury often try to challenge plaintiffs by saying that it is actually a birth defect. What is the difference, and why would it matter? A birth defect is an issue or uncommon trait that a baby is born with due to a genetic predisposition or a health complication that the mother contributed to while pregnant. A birth injury is a health issue caused by a medical provider’s mistake, like failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress. To this end, birth defects can be argued as “unpreventable,” and birth injuries are often considered “preventable,” even though they might manifest as similar symptoms.

What are the Most Common Types of Birth Injuries?

Research estimates that one child out of every 200 born in the United States will suffer some degree of injury at birth, not a birth defect. Many of these cases are mild and can heal with proper treatment, but that does not mean that the harm caused is any less traumatic for both the parents and the child. Some of the most common birth injuries are shoulder dystocia, umbilical cord entanglement, facial bruising and placental abruption. Of the more serious birth injuries, cerebral palsy and other complications caused by oxygen deprivation are more frequent.

How Do I Know If the Physician Caused the Birth Injury?

Knowing if a doctor, nurse or midwife caused your child injury is rarely straightforward. There might be some cases in which you can point directly to an obvious mistake, but, in most situations, the evidence of medical malpractice gets buried or intentionally hidden. To uncover evidence that shows a physician’s involvement in causing a birth injury, you may need to subpoena a doctor or medical group to share private or confidential documents. Handling this type of injury investigation on your own can be predictably difficult and stressful. You can take those responsibilities off your shoulders by hiring a birth injury attorney who can act on your behalf.

Will My Child Heal from Their Birth Injury?

Not all birth injuries are permanent. With immediate treatments and specialized therapies, some can get better with time. For example, suppose your child suffered shoulder dystocia that limits the movement of the affected arm. In that case, physical therapy sessions with a specialized pediatrician could gradually heal the injury and restore mobility. Severe birth traumas might not heal, though. Most brain injuries are permanent, regardless of when they occurred. If your child is born with a permanent birth injury, then your claim should factor in the consequent lifelong hardships and expenses, pushing your damages to range into seven figures.

When Should I Talk to an Attorney?

Choosing to let a birth injury lawyer manage your claim sooner is usually better than waiting until later. With an attorney representing you from the start, you can focus on taking care of your child and yourself while they get to work handling the complicated details associated with your case. Look for a law firm that offers a 100% free consultation, like Fieger Law, that way you can explore your options without needing to first check your bank account to see if you can afford legal help. At Fieger Law, we also offer contingency fee agreements, which means you don’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case or end it with a successful settlement or verdict.