Birth Injuries in California


Area of Law: 

The last thing an expectant mother wants to think about is a preventable or unnecessary injury to her baby before or during birth. Few patients are as delicate and precious as a newborn infant and medical personnel are highly trained to make sure both mother and child are well taken care of.  But unfortunately, serious birth injuries occur in as many as seven babies out of 1,000.

Although not all serious birth injuries that occur to babies are preventable, some certainly are. A doctor or other medical provider that fails to diagnose or treat a complication or other emergency may lead to the newborn suffering from lifelong consequences.

A birth injury is legally defined as damage sustained during the birthing process. Among the most serious of birth injuries is brain damage, which can occur when the infant is deprived of oxygen. Brain injury may also occur from bleeding within the brain resulting from trauma during delivery.  Other birth injuries can range from minor to life threatening and include but are not limited to:

  • Bone fractures, such as the arm or collar bone
  • Brachial plexus plasy, Erb’s palsy, and cerebral palsy
  • Paralysis
  • Learning disabilities, speech and language problems, mental retardation
  • Seizure disorders and epilepsy
  • Blindness or deafness

When a child is born with one of these or other conditions, concerned parents will often just want to know what happened.  They will want to know if this was an unfortunate outcome or the result of negligence on the part of a health care provider. An injured child and family may be facing millions of dollars in future care. As a result, birth injury cases are some of the more difficult and expensive to prosecute.

If you suspect your child may have suffered from a preventable birth injury, it behooves you to seek out an experienced personal injury attorney with a background specific to these cases. In such cases the medical practitioners will have a talented group of lawyers and experts hired by big insurance companies to aggressively defend them.

In the state of California, an adult has a year to take legal action from the time they knew, or reasonably should have known, of the cause of the birth injury. From the baby’s standpoint, they have until they turn 8 years old for a lawsuit to be filed. There are specific exceptions to these rules that can considerably reduce these time periods. For example, the statute of limitations for cases filed against a California county hospital or one associated with a public health care district are smaller than for those filed against private hospitals.