Birth injury rates have steadily declined over the last few decades. Nevertheless, nearly 3 out of every 1,000 children sustain a birth injury. While this might not sound like a lot, it can totally change your life if you happen to be one of the parents raising a child with a birth injury.
If your healthcare provider is responsible for something that went wrong during your child's birth, you may be able to receive compensation to help cover the costs of treatment.
Let's take a closer look at birth injuries in Tennessee.
A birth injury claim is a type of medical malpractice lawsuit filed against a healthcare provider on behalf of a newborn child who was injured during the process of labor and delivery.
Birth injuries can be minor (for example, facial bruises or broken blood vessels) or significant (for example, permanent brain damage or nerve damage).
Birth injuries occur during labor and delivery, whereas birth defects occur as a result of genetic or environmental conditions while the baby is developing in the womb. Because birth defects aren't typically someone's fault, they don't typically lead to litigation.
Infographic courtesy of BrownTrialFirm
To receive compensation for a birth injury, you have to prove that someone else's carelessness caused your child's injury.
Specifically, you have to prove that:
To establish that your healthcare provider failed to exercise the degree of care and skill expected of a reasonable healthcare professional in the same profession, you'll need to retain medical experts who will testify and provide reports in support of your claim. The need for medical experts is one of the reasons why birth injury claims tend to cost more to litigate than other personal injury claims.
Common examples of actions that might lead to a birth injury lawsuit include:
If the unthinkable happens and your child suffers a fatal birth injury, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible healthcare provider. The type of claim that you'll file is called a wrongful death claim.
To establish a wrongful death claim, you'll need to prove liability the same way you would have to had your child lived.
If your claim is successful, you can recover compensation for funeral expenses, as well as compensation for your loss of care and affection.
Tennessee allows plaintiffs to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages:
Non-economic damages are capped in the amount of $750,000. In cases where the child suffers "catastrophic injuries," the cap is increased to $1 million. Catastrophic injuries include:
Additionally, Tennessee places a cap on punitive damages in the amount of $500,000—or twice the amount of the compensatory damages awarded, whichever is greater.
All states limit the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. This time limitation is called the statute of limitations.
The reason for the statute of limitations is two-fold:
Tennessee has one of the strictest statutes of limitation in the country.
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.