The majority of healthcare professionals in Georgia provide excellent care during the stages of labor and childbirth. But in some cases, the care provided falls below the acceptable standard of care. When an injury to a child results from substandard care, a birth injury lawsuit may be appropriate.
In this article, we'll explain what you need to prove to establish a successful birth injury claim. We'll also take a look at when you need to file your lawsuit, and what steps you should take immediately following a birth injury.
A birth injury is an injury suffered by a child during labor and delivery.
Birth injuries can be minor injuries that heal without treatment or catastrophic injuries that require life-long care.
Birth injuries that are generally considered minor include:
Birth injuries that are generally considered serious include:
Due to the time and expense associated with litigating birth injury claims, it can be difficult to find an attorney who's willing to handle a minor birth injury lawsuit. On the other hand, attorneys are generally eager to handle cases involving more serious birth injuries.
Although birth injuries are always stressful for parents, you can't always sue someone for a birth injury. To sue someone for a birth injury, someone has to be at fault. Healthcare providers aren't considered at fault if the birth injury was unavoidable or if the injury was necessary to prevent a more significant injury.
So when is a healthcare provider at fault for a birth injury?
To establish fault in a birth injury case in Georgia, you need to prove that:
In other words, Georgia acknowledges that healthcare professionals should be held to certain standards. If a healthcare professional delivers care that falls below these standards and an injury occurs as a result, the healthcare professional will be held liable.
To convince an insurance company, judge, or jury that a healthcare professional met or failed to meet the applicable standard of care, parties generally retain medical experts to provide reports and testify about the appropriate medical standard of care and whether the healthcare professional met that standard.
Common examples of actions that might lead to a birth injury lawsuit include:
Georgian's can recover the following damages in a birth injury case:
It's important to keep in mind that birth injury lawsuits are generally filed by parents on behalf of an injured child. As a result, the damages recovered go toward the child's medical expenses (with anything extra usually being placed in a trust that the child can access when they turn 18).
For example, a child who suffers a brain injury may require a lifetime of care. What's more, the child will likely miss out on wages they would have otherwise earned had they not suffered a brain injury. Experts (medical professionals, vocational experts, etc.) are often asked to testify about future losses.
Every state has a "statute of limitations" that determines how long you have to file a lawsuit.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within the allotted time, your case will be dismissed and you will be permanently barred from filing the lawsuit.
Under Georgia law, a parent or guardian can file a lawsuit on behalf of their injured child up to the point that the child turns 7 years old.
It's not always clear that a child has been injured at birth. Sometimes, the symptoms of a birth injury don't appear until years after the injury occurs. If you can prove that, despite your due diligence, you weren't aware of the injury until after the child's 7th birthday, you may be able to have the deadline extended (this is called "tolling" the statute of limitations).
You probably didn't think your first act as a parent would be preserving your child's birth injury claim, but life as a parent is unpredictable.
After a birth injury, there are several steps you, as the parent or guardian of the injured child, should take in order to improve your chances of recovering damages down the road.