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Birth Injuries and Liability

January 19, 2016

The birth of a newborn child marks a significant milestone in the lives of new parents. However, complications during birthing procedures can leave the newborn child traumatized, deformed, or stillborn. Often times in these types of situations, parents will be riddled with the pain and emotions that stem from giving birth to an injured child. It is in these crucial times when legal advice should be sought to obtain compensation for birth injuries.

Types of Birth Injuries  

Negligence claims against doctors and hospitals for birth injuries require proof that the hospital or doctor caused the complained of injury. This requirement can be satisfied in several ways. A doctor has the duty to properly position the baby upon delivery. Miscalculating the position or size of the baby may be considered a breach of the doctor’s duty of care owed to the patient. Improper position can result in a child’s injuries, such as a brachial plexus injury. Excessive force during birthing procedures can force a rupture to the mother’s uterus. Medication improperly administered during labor could create an adverse effect on the child, furthering complications. In worst case scenarios, the doctor’s actions can cause injury or death to the mother, which could cause subsequent injury or death to the newborn child.

Additional claims include:

  •       Delayed birth
  •       Birth asphyxia
  •       Fetal macrosomia
  •       Newborn jaundice
  •       Placental abruption
  •       Preeclampsia
  •       Umbilical cord compression    
  •       Wrongful pregnancy

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?

A claimant is required to file suit “within three years from the date of the treatment, omission, or operation giving rise to the cause of action or three years from date of discovery or when it reasonably ought to have been discovered, not to exceed six years from date of occurrence.” (S.C. Code §15-3-545).

This timeframe is critical. Failure to strictly adhere to this requirement will result in the claim being barred by the court. In Sims v. Amisub of South Carolina, Inc., Appellate Case No. 2014-001179 (2015), the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a mother’s claim was barred by the Statute of Limitations because her incapacitated condition did not prevent her representative from filing suit on her behalf. In that case, an expectant mother exhibited symptoms that appeared to be indicative of eclampsia (nausea, headaches, dizziness). She was found unresponsive by family members while still pregnant, resulting in an emergency cesarean section. As a result of failing to diagnose her condition, the lawsuit alleged, her child died at the age of two from complications relating to the mother’s eclampsia. Even though her child died, the court held that the statute of limitations was not tolled when she was rendered incompetent. The court interpreted the statute to mean that the legislature did not intend the tolling provision of the law to apply to medical malpractice cases.

Contact a Birth Injury Attorney Now

As a result of cases like Sims, it is necessary to contact an attorney sooner than later. The Connell Law Firm, LLC has been assisting clients with personal injury cases for years. Contact an experienced attorney at The Connell Law Firm to discuss your rights and potential claims for liability.