Charleston Birth Injury Lawyer
Your baby’s birth should be a time of celebration — a room full of excited family, friends, welcome balloons and teddy bears — not a time for anxiety and fear. Unfortunately, the joy of birth for many is tinged with concern about the long-term effects of injuries the baby suffered during the delivery process.
While minor bumps and bruises are a common part of being born, serious and lasting injuries can result from the medical team’s negligent handling of a difficult labor and delivery.
Birth injuries like cerebral palsy, brain damage, brachial plexus injuries and trauma to the head or umbilical cord can lead to severe developmental problems and can leave your child facing a lifetime of impairment.
The birth injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm understand the stress and heartbreak you are enduring, and we can work to help you secure the support you need to make sure your child gets the support he or she needs to cope with a serious birth injury.
Contact Our SC Birth Injury Lawyers Today
Our South Carolina birth injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you through the confusion and strain that follow a problem of labor and delivery. Respect, compassion and care are what you can expect from our lawyers and staff. Since 1968 we have helped injured people recover not just the money they are entitled to, but also their lives.
Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston, Clinton and Myrtle Beach, but our birth injury attorneys are ready to take care of your case anywhere in South Carolina. We represent clients all over the state, including Florence, Richland County, Orangeburg, Columbia, Horry County (including Conway and North Myrtle Beach), North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Summerville.
Our birth injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm nearly 250 years of combined experience helping victims of life-changing injuries in South Carolina. Our lawyers have received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and several have been recognized as Super Lawyers.
While every case is different, and past results are in no way intended to imply that a similar result can be obtained in a case, verdicts and settlements previously obtained by a law firm are an indication of the firm’s experience when it comes to serious injury cases. For more details about the results obtained for previous Joye Law Firm clients, please click on the Results tab on our home page.
Medical Malpractice During Birth
The goal of the labor and delivery process is to end up with a healthy baby and mother. But about seven out of 1,000 babies born in this country suffer some type of birth injury in the process. Some of these injuries will affect the child’s physical and cognitive abilities throughout his or her life — and, sadly, many of these injuries could have been avoided if the doctor and other health care professionals had performed their duties properly.
Some common forms of labor and delivery malpractice include:
- Insufficient monitoring of fetal heart monitor strips that indicate fetal distress.
- Failure to perform a Caesarian section when the mother’s body type or the baby’s size makes a vaginal delivery too risky.
- Excessive and improper force used in attempts to free a baby’s shoulder that has become trapped under the mother’s pubic bone.
- Failure to order a C-section or speed up delivery when the baby is getting insufficient oxygen.
- Inappropriate use of Pitocin, a drug used to speed up contractions.
- Failure to recognize and treat a compressed umbilical cord.
- Misuse of forceps, vacuums or other surgical instruments.
- Failure to recognize and address a detached placenta.
- Substandard communication between doctors, nurses and other staff.
Common Types of Serious Birth Injuries
If these or other forms of medical negligence occurred, they could be responsible for your child’s birth injuries, including:
- Brain damage — A lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during the delivery process is a common cause of brain damage at birth. Depending on what part of the brain was damaged, this injury can result in many different types of impairment, which often fall under the umbrella term of “cerebral palsy.” Although brain damage is irreversible, there are treatments that can improve the child’s ability to compensate for the injury and cope with the limitations. Brain damage can also be caused by reduced glucose (blood sugar) or trauma during labor and delivery.
- Cerebral palsy — Caused by brain damage from an insufficient oxygen supply to the brain during and immediately after labor and delivery, cerebral palsy is the collective term for a variety of impairments to a child’s muscular development and control. Cerebral palsy can also affect a child’s cognitive development. It affects about three out of 1,000 babies born in the United States, according to the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Education Foundation. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form, affecting a child’s ability to control his arms or legs. Athetoid cerebral palsy is less common and usually causes uncontrollable writhing movements in a child’s hands or trunk, making it hard to walk or perform tasks that require fine motor skills. Ataxic cerebral palsy — the least common type — causes significant impairment of fine motor skills like writing.
- Shoulder dystocia — This is a condition where the baby’s shoulder gets wedged under the mother’s pubic bone after the head has been delivered. Several factors can contribute to shoulder dystocia, including (1) the mother’s stature, (2) the baby’s size, (3) the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis, (4) excessive weight gain by the mother, (5) slow descent of the baby and (6) diabetes during pregnancy. A Caesarian section should be ordered when some of these conditions are present. If a vaginal delivery is chosen, medical professionals are trained to never tug on a baby’s head when it becomes stuck, but sometimes they panic and do. When this happens, brachial plexus injuries can result.
- Brachial plexus injuries — This type of birth injury frequently happens as a result of an improper response to shoulder dystocia. Instead of using other, safer methods of delivering a stuck baby, the medical team will pull on the head, causing the nerves in the brachial plexus to stretch. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs from the neck, through the shoulder and into the arms and hands. The nerves can become overstretched, causing them to pull out or rupture. That nerve damage can lead to impairment of the arms, wrists, hands and fingers, as well as the eyes and eyelids.
- Erb’s palsy — A form of brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy frequently results in impairment of the shoulder, upper arm and thumb and fingers. The affected body parts often develop improperly and become atrophied and weak, with a degree of paralysis. This condition can lead to joint problems, including osteoarthritis, and can cause problems with balance and coordination.
- Klumpke’s palsy — Similar to Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy affects mostly the forearm, wrist and hand. It sometimes results in what’s called a “claw hand.”
- Horner’s syndrome — Another type of brachial plexus injury, Horner’s syndrome causes one eyelid to droop and can result in one pupil that remains constricted or is slow to dilate. Sometimes it causes decreased sweating on the affected side of the face and can make one eye appear to be sunken in.
- Broken bones — Traction and other maneuvers used to extract a stuck baby can result in broken bones or fractures, with broken collarbones among those most commonly seen.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — This is a type of brain damage that results from the infant receiving too little oxygen to the brain during the labor and delivery process. There is some overlap between cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, however severe brain damage is possible in a newborn that does not suffer cerebral palsy.
Contact Our Charleston Birth Injury Lawyers Today
If your child suffered serious injuries during delivery, you can trust our attorneys to work to get you the money and benefits you need for a full recovery.