Whether you're a first-time mother or have a passel of kids at home, giving birth is a unique and life-changing experience. Unfortunately, in some situations, even the best-laid birth plans may go awry. Bringing a healthy infant home is always a good outcome, but in some cases, the emotional trauma that can result from having your wishes ignored may leave lasting scars. Do you have any legal options after a particularly traumatic birth experience? Read on to learn more about when a disruption in your birth plan may arise to a legal claim.
What constitutes birth-injury malpractice?
Most birth injury cases involve legal claims that a physician, nurse, or other medical provider engaged in negligence that left an infant seriously or permanently injured. However, birth injury cases don't necessarily have to deal with physical injuries to your child. In some cases, you may be able to maintain a birth injury claim for emotional distress and related damages stemming from the negligent or unprofessional behavior you experienced while giving birth.
For example, if your birth plan included a "no intervention except in emergencies" stance, yet your physician or nurse provided you with incorrect information to induce you into a caesarian section, you may be able to argue that your consent to this procedure was coerced or fraudulently induced. Emergency c-sections can be physically and emotionally traumatic events and being pressured into this procedure by someone who is actively lying to you about the risk of harm to your child if you don't undergo a c-section can be considered medical malpractice.
The damages available in malpractice claims can include financial damages for both your actual medical expenses and for "pain and suffering," which includes emotional distress. Even if you physically recover from birth without any added complications, the emotional trauma of having your wishes superseded without some medically necessary reason can be a compensable injury.
What will you need to prove to prevail on a medical malpractice claim?
There are three basic elements to any type of medical malpractice claim. First, you'll need to show that the physician or medical provider owed you a duty of care. Next, you'll need to establish a clear breach of this duty. And finally, you'll need to show a clear connection between the breach of the duty of care and your injuries. Absent a clear connection between these three factors, the evidence may not be sufficient to establish medical malpractice; however, if you are able to prove each of these factors by a preponderance of the evidence, you should be entitled to damages under your state's law.
For more information, contact your local birth injury lawyer.