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Is it difficult to prove causation in a birth injury lawsuit?

Although most birth deliveries result in joyous, life-changing outcomes to American mothers, a tragic few are affected by medical mistakes or negligence.

Some birth complications, like shoulder dystocia, may not necessarily injury the newborn. Adaptive delivery techniques may be able to free the baby’s shoulder and allow the delivery to continue. In other cases, however, shoulder dystocia may damage the brachial plexus nerves located in the baby’s shoulder and arm. Doctors may not be able to immediately determine whether any nerve damage suffered by the newborn will be permanent. 

Still other birth injuries might result in permanent disability, like cerebral palsy. In a recent example, three families have brought suit against the same hospital, alleging that doctor error resulted in brain damage and cerebral palsy.

An attorney that focuses his or her practice on birth injuries and other types of medical malpractice knows that the burden of proving causation can be a challenge. The legal defense team for the hospital and/or doctor in question may point to other possible causes. In the case of cerebral palsy, a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during birthing is only of several possible theories. 

However, a jury might agree that a pregnant mother who received only positive medical reports over the course of her pregnancy might have reason to suspect that negligence contributed to her baby’s surprise diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Yet the challenges in bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit involving a cerebral palsy birth injury do not end with causation. A lifetime of treatments may be required for the child, but the defendants may dispute the family’s damage estimate. An attorney can help to request the compensation that such families deserve. 

Source: Injury Lawyer News, “Three Families in Oregon File Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits,” Katarina Seigfeld, Dec. 23, 2014

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