Date 5.02.2024

Common Birth Injuries and Their Legal Implications

Posted By: Coker Law

Pregnancy comes with so many emotions and fears, mainly of getting through that last phase: birth. Giving birth, especially as a first-time mom, can be a daunting prospect, but it’s important to be informed of potential complications beforehand. 

However, if you have given birth and had a complication, know that you have rights and any medical malpractice should be held accountable. 

What You Need to Know

Injuries during birth refer to injuries that are sustained by babies and mothers before, during, and after delivery. Misconceived as injuries only suffered during birth, any complications that can be identified and treated are also included. While some birth injuries are unavoidable tragedies, most happen by medical malpractice. These subpar treatments by medical professionals can cause lifelong complications to both mother and child. 

It is important to understand how these injuries will affect you, and your little one, plus the legal rights you have after you’ve suffered these injuries at such a special time in your life. After suffering injuries you have the right to file a birth injury lawsuit, a legal action allowing you to receive compensation for your birth trauma and to help with any needs you or your child may have presently or in the future.

Common Birth Injuries

Labor and delivery is one of the most intense experiences a woman goes through with her child. Although there are effects from the experience that are profound, birth injuries go beyond these typical adjustments to new life. Whether falling under malpractice or error, these shortcomings on behalf of the medical team often have life-changing effects or can impact an infant’s development. 

Common missteps by medical staff include things like:

  • Lack of testing or ultrasounds before delivery
  • Diagnosing and treating prenatal health conditions
  • Anticipate birth complications
  • Address fetal distress during delivery
  • Using medical equipment (forceps or vacuum extractors) correctly 
  • Adequate postnatal care

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves from the spinal cord through the shoulder, arms, and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries are sustained when these nerves are stretched, twisted, or pinched as the baby is born, damaging the nerves. Babies who are breech, have large birth weights, have shoulder dystocia, or were birthed with medical instruments have a greater risk of brachial plexus injuries. 

When mothers find themselves in the middle of a difficult vaginal delivery medical staff should be mindful of the baby’s care immediately following the birth. The severity and location of the nerve damage are what determine the type of brachial palsy your baby is recovering from. 

Erb’s Palsy

Known as Erb’s Palsy, this brachial plexus damage is done to the upper arm structure where the shoulder meets the neck. Paralysis or immobility in the arm is the most common while more severe cases show in the physical appearance. One of the more common brachial plexus injuries that can be prevented by great maternal care, and advanced planning by the OB team. 

Klumke’s Palsy

Klumpke’s Palsy is a less common form of birth injury but affects the lower forearm, wrist, and hand. 

While many of these injuries can be recovered, it’s unclear at the time of the injury. While these injuries can seem to heal, it is important to document them, and any damages while attending to the recovery process. While taking care of your new baby, it’s difficult to see the whole picture while supporting and loving them. Later you might notice that you’ve both suffered and want to hold your medical team accountable. 

While you have a legal right to contact an attorney to receive justice for this malpractice, you also need to be able to prove medical malpractice and the damages you’ve suffered as a result.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of serious birth injury, caused by damage to the brain during a traumatic birth. The cause of many malpractice lawsuits, CP is when the flow of oxygen to the brain is interrupted and eventually leads to what we know as cerebral palsy. 

While the effects of this trauma do not worsen over time, the injuries sustained can never be reversed and there is no cure or treatment for it. There are multiple types of cerebral palsy, and while almost all of them are diagnosed by 2 years of age, the longer it takes to identify, the less severe the palsy is likely to be. 

Caput Succedaneum and Cephalhematoma

These injuries are usually sustained from the misuse of medical instruments such as a vacuum extractor and forceps. While commonly used during difficult vaginal deliveries, they can have serious effects on the baby. These cause swelling or bleeding under the scalp or even the skull. 


Most common in the collarbone, fractures happen during a difficult vaginal birth, especially when there is trouble in delivering the shoulder or even a breech baby. 

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy 

Also known as HIE, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy is an injury that is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain before or shortly after birth, resulting in brain damage. Risk factors can reside with the mother or health problems in the developing child, including:

  • Extreme blood pressure in the mother
  • Heart problems with the baby
  • Injury from the umbilical cord
  • Poor oxygen supply during pregnancy
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

These all affect the severity of the injury, and while mild cases can quickly be recovered from, the statistics can point to more serious complications. Parents have a right to know if their children are living with complications of HIE due to the negligence of doctors and nurse staff.

Legal Implications of Birth Injuries

Preventable mistakes by doctors and nurses leaving children and families with lifelong injuries and grief should be held accountable for their malpractice. Experienced attorneys employ their skills to obtain a medical malpractice settlement that can help provide financial aid for specialized medical, nursing, and therapeutic care. 

This specialized care will be able to maximize quality of life, and life expectancy and even provide justice to a family that has suffered a great deal at a time that should be filled with love. 

Most birth injuries are sustained during difficult and traumatic births that can be prevented. In the cases of medical malpractice, it’s your lawyers' job to prove there was medical malpractice. 

They will be working to answer a few vital questions: 

  • Were there signs of complications that weren’t recognized or treated?
  • Did the medical team fail to order tests to diagnose complications?
  • Was a cesarean decision delayed leading to a traumatic vaginal labor?

These are important indicators that you should be reaching out to the support of an attorney to file your claims. 

How Coker Law Can Help

It’s the last thing that new parents expect but Coker Law is prepared and ready to help you and your family. Some birth injuries are unavoidable, but the ones at the hands of malpractice should be handled with experience, expertise, and resources. 

Proving a medical malpractice lawsuit is complex, and while this situation is devastating you should be able to focus on your child and the care they need. Hire an attorney to support your family and handle your claim with dignity.

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If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, let us help. Contact us by phone or online form to discuss your options or work with our team of trial attorneys. There are no fees unless we win your case.

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