According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there are approximately 83,000 live births every year in the Hoosier State.
Though birth injuries are relatively rare, they can be extremely painful for the families that are affected—not to mention emotionally and financially devastating for both the child and the child's parents.
In this article, we'll take a look at birth injuries in Indiana, including the difference between birth injuries and birth defects, who might be liable in a birth injury case, and what damages can be recovered.
It's easy to confuse birth injuries with birth defects, but these are 2 different types of injuries:
|Birth injuries||Birth defects|
|Birth injuries are the result of some action or inaction that occurs during the process of labor and delivery.||Birth defects result from a problem that occurs when the baby is developing in the womb. Birth defects are generally the result of genetics or environmental conditions.|
Birth injuries are usually minor but can be severe. When birth injuries are severe, they generally give rise to litigation against a negligence healthcare provider or doctor. Common birth injuries include:
Birth defects can be minor or severe, but they generally don't give rise to litigation because they're usually caused by genetics or some other factor beyond the healthcare professional's control. However, birth defects might give rise to litigation if the healthcare professional did something during the pregnancy to cause or increase the likelihood of the defect, such as prescribing the wrong type of medication to the mother.
Common birth defects include:
Healthcare professionals are not liable for every birth injury that occurs. Some birth injuries are necessary to avoid greater harm. For example, a doctor may fracture an infant's clavicle to free the infant from the birth canal before the infant suffocates.
In order to establish a medical malpractice claim based on a birth injury in Indiana, you need to prove that:
In a medical malpractice case, the main focus of the lawsuit is generally on what the healthcare professional should have done in a specific set of circumstances. Lawyers for the plaintiff will attempt to persuade the judge or jury that the healthcare professional acted reasonably, while lawyers for the defendant will attempt to persuade the judge or jury that the healthcare professional acted unreasonably. These arguments are generally made by presenting testimony from experts in the field.
In Indiana, you can receive economic and non-economic damages in an Indiana birth injury case:
However, the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act limits the amount of damages you can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Additionally, Indiana prohibits attorneys in medical malpractice cases from receiving more than 15% in fees.
Indiana requires plaintiffs to follow a strict procedure when filing birth injury claims.
In short, plaintiffs must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance and have their case evaluated by a medical review panel before they can file a civil lawsuit.
Here's how the process works:
Every state has a statute of limitations that determines how long you have to file a lawsuit. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for most birth injury lawsuits is 2 years from the date of the malpractice.
However, filing a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance will "toll" the statute of limitations for 90 days. In other words, once you file the complaint, the statute of limitations clock pauses for 90 days before resuming.