Ohio Birth Injury Lawyer
Families put a great deal of trust in medical professionals during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. But when medical negligence occurs, it can have devastating consequences, resulting in permanent physical, emotional, and financial problems. If you or your child have suffered due to a birth injury, it’s important to contact an Ohio birth injury attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights and the types of compensation you may be eligible for.
Birth Injury Statistics in Ohio
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 136,000 births occurred in Ohio in 2017. Most of these births go according to plan, but mistakes can sometimes happen intentionally or by accident. In 2019, the Ohio Department of Health found that infants died in 0.7 out of 1000 live births due to external injuries.
In a comprehensive study, researchers found that the incidence of neonatal birth injuries was roughly 0.08% of live births and represented less than 2% of neonatal deaths.
Differentiating Between Birth Injuries and Birth Defects
Birth injuries are problems that occur just before, during, or right after delivery. They include fractures, shoulder dystocia, and cerebral palsy, among others. Some birth injuries are unavoidable, while others result from medical negligence.
On the other hand, birth defects occur during gestation, when the fetus develops in the womb. These disabilities typically result from genetics and environmental conditions and are often unpreventable.
Examples of birth defects include:
- Cleft lips and palates
- Spina bifida
- Muscular dystrophy
- Congenital heart defects
Common Causes of Preventable Birth Injuries
Many birth injuries are avoidable with modern medical screening and interventions if your doctor and medical staff adhere to the standard of care established by law.
Some causes of preventable birth injuries include:
- Improper delivery technique
- Delayed Cesarean section
- Improper high-risk birth management
- Failure to detect and treat maternal infections
- Use of excessive force during delivery
- Medication errors or the administration of unsafe medications
- Negligent postpartum care
- Malfunctioning medical devices
- Poorly sanitized medical instruments
- Failure to monitor the mother and the baby properly
- Failure to supervise new medical staff
- Risky medical tests
- Unnecessary treatments
- Poor record-keeping
- Discharging the mother and the baby too early
These mistakes can lead to severe injuries and conditions that will affect a child’s life. Some of the most common include:
- Erb’s palsy: This condition can develop when the brachial plexus (a group of nerves in the arms and hands) is injured.
- Cerebral palsy: This lifelong group of disorders affecting movement and muscle control happens when the brain develops abnormally or an injury occurs causing damage to the brain.
- Shoulder dystocia: Shoulder dystocia occurs when an infant’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvis.
- Fractures: Fracture of the collarbone (clavicle) can happen when there’s difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder. It’s also common during breech delivery.
- Caput succedaneum: This significant swelling of the baby’s soft scalp tissues develops as the fetus travels through the birth canal and is prevalent in infants delivered by vacuum extraction.
- Cephalohematoma: This condition is characterized by bleeding between the fibrous covering and the skull. It appears as a raised lump on the baby’s head. Cephalohematoma is prevalent in cases of difficult labor or delivery by assisting devices.
- Forceps marks: Forceps and other birth-assisting devices can leave temporary bruises or cuts (lacerations).
- Facial paralysis: Pressure on the baby’s face during labor or birth can injure facial nerves, causing paralysis. This is most likely to occur in forceps-assisted deliveries and is characterized by a lack of eye movement on the injured side of the face. If the facial nerves are torn, the baby may need to undergo surgery.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage: This breakage of small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes is common and can take up to 10 days to subside. It’s signaled by a bright red ring in the white part of the eye.
Birth Injuries Also Include Injuries to the Mother
The delivery process can take a toll on the mother’s body even when it goes smoothly. However, in some cases, injuries do result. Common types of birth injuries to mothers include:
- Vaginal tears
- Ruptured uterus
- Prolapsed uterus
- Postpartum hemorrhage
Ohio Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Cases
Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.113 sets the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, which can include birth injuries. You have one year to file, starting from when you discovered (or were reasonably able to discover) the injury. Children affected by birth injuries have longer than one year to file, as laid out below.
Ohio law does allow for exceptions to the one-year statute of limitations. These exceptions include:
- You might be eligible for an additional 180 days — which commence upon the receipt of the notice — if you send a written notice to the defendant before the one-year deadline, informing them of your intent to file a claim.
- According to the Ohio statute of repose, the plaintiff has up to four years to file a malpractice claim. This means that a medical malpractice claim can be filed within the statute of limitation but be barred if filed after the period outlined by the statute of repose.
- If a person could not have reasonably discovered an injury within three years of its occurrence but discovers the injury before the four-year statute of repose, then they will be allowed an additional year (from the discovery date) to file a claim.
- For minors, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until their 18th birthday, after which they’ll have one year to file the claim. If the parents cannot file a birth injury claim, the child can still file and recover damages once they turn 18.
- If a baby dies due to a birth injury, the plaintiff has two years from the child’s date of death to file a claim.
- If the negligent party attempts to conceal themselves or leaves the state, the period of concealment does not count against the set statute of limitation.
The situation is different if defective medical equipment causes the child’s injury. In such a case, the Ohio product liability statute of limitations will apply.
Due to short and varied deadlines for filing a birth injury case, it’s important to speak with a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to receive legal advice regarding your rights and eligibility for compensation. Missing the time limit to file can forever bar you from receiving compensation for your losses.
Additional Ohio Medical Malpractice Requirements
Rule 10(D)(2) of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure requires plaintiffs to submit an affidavit of merit along with their lawsuit. An affidavit of merit is a statement from a licensed healthcare professional declaring that they:
- Have reviewed the medical records available to the plaintiff
- Are knowledgeable in the medical standard of care that applies during pregnancy and delivery
- Reasonably believe the standard of care was breached and the plaintiff injured as a result
Note that a judge may dismiss a case that is not accompanied by an affidavit of merit.
What compensation can I recover in a birth injury case in Ohio?
After a successful resolution to a birth injury claim, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the monetary losses caused by the birth injury.
- Present and future medical expenses
- Caregiver’s lost wages
- Home or vehicle adaptations
- Child’s future earning potential
Non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses resulting from the birth injury, such as:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
Ohio Caps the Amount of Non-Economic Damages in a Birth Injury Case
In Ohio, you can receive non-economic damages up to $250,000 or three times your economic damages, whichever is higher. The overall maximum compensation you can receive is $350,000.
The cap may be extended to $500,000 in case of:
- Permanent or substantial deformity, loss of limb, or loss of a bodily organ system
- An injury that prevents the child from independently caring for themselves
The Importance of a Comprehensive Case Value
A study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that 40% of families with babies who have special health care needs experience financial hardship. The CDC estimates the lifetime cost for a child with cerebral palsy to be around $1 million.
The high costs of lifelong health care needs can be attributed to:
- Nursing care
- Ongoing medical care
- Medical equipment
- Physical, occupational, vocational, speech, and psychological therapy
- Vehicle and housing modifications
- Adaptive devices like artificial limbs, braces, and motorized wheelchairs
- Special tutors
- Enrollment in special-needs schools
- Healthcare supplies
Establishing a comprehensive case value is an essential step toward ensuring you receive fair financial compensation. Your birth injury lawyer will assess the circumstances surrounding the medical malpractice, the resulting injuries, and the anticipated damages. They can then use the information to calculate and negotiate a fair settlement.
How do I prove my Ohio birth injury case?
The following elements must be proven in a birth injury case:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed
- The medical practitioner’s care did not meet the standard of care
- There was a link between the medical professional’s negligence and the birth injury
- The plaintiff sustained injuries as a result
To prove medical negligence, an expert testimony is needed to establish a standard of care under the circumstances and at the time the injury occurred. There must also be evidence to show that your healthcare provider’s treatment was below the standard.
However, proving medical negligence is sometimes not enough. An attorney must also establish a causal link to show that the medical team’s negligence caused your baby’s injury.
Why should I hire a birth injury attorney at Levin & Perconti?
Our attorneys can help you through every part of your birth injury claim, including:
- Reviewing complex medical documents
- Calculating current and future damages
- Retaining medical expert witnesses
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Deposing medical experts retained by the defendant
- Explaining complex medical conditions
At Levin & Perconti, we understand the impact of birth injuries both emotionally and financially.
We have successfully resolved many birth injury cases, including:
- $20 million verdict for a child who suffered a brain injury due to the negligence of nurses and residents during labor
- $16 million settlement for a child who suffered a brain injury due to negligent nursing and medical care during labor and cesarean section.
- $14 million verdict for a child who suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen during birth
- $11.5 million settlement for a child with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury
$6.5 million for a newborn brain injury due to a lack of competent medical professionals during a neonatal resuscitation
We diligently pursue compensation for complete damages, including medical care, medication, therapy, special services, equipment, and any other needs your child and your family may have. Contact Levin & Perconti today for a free consultation.
About Our Birth Injury Lawyers
Dov Apfel and Seth Cardeli are two of the leading birth injury attorneys in the nation. They have litigated cases throughout the United States and at the federal level, and are passionate advocates for the families they represent. Dov Apfel is nationally known for his high level of medical knowledge, and acts as a resource for attorneys, judges, and healthcare providers throughout the country. He has been practicing in the field of birth injury for over 40 years and was the recipient of the Dan Cullan Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the AAJ Birth Injury Trauma Litigation Group in 2011. Apfel and Cardeli have presented at dozens of educational events and written for numerous publications. In 2020, they secured one of the top five highest medical malpractice settlements in the nation.
Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf.