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Philadelphia Med Mal & Birth Injury Lawyer / Blog / Birth Injury / Steps in Birth Injury Lawsuits

Steps in Birth Injury Lawsuits


Birth Injury Lawsuits Explained

Birth injuries are classified as a type of medical malpractice. When they occur, birth injury lawsuits are filed to compensate and give justice to mothers, fathers, babies and children who suffered injury and harm due to negligence on the part of a licensed healthcare provider. This negligence could be failure to follow the standard of care before, during, or after labor/delivery.

When to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit

When a doctor, nurse, or other medical staff member does not appropriately respond to events occurring in the delivery room, the infant and mother may suffer harm ranging from mild to severe; sometimes even catastrophic injury. In some instances, the infant may require long-term care due to their birth injury, often resulting in costly expenses for the duration of the child’s life. A birth injury lawsuit should ideally be filed as soon as possible because of the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania.

Early symptoms of birth-related injuries include muscle spasms, floppy head or neck, failing to meet milestones, rigidity in extremities, paralysis on one side. Sometimes the signs and symptoms of the birth injury are delayed and parents won’t see signs of the injury until the baby is 8 months old or even a toddler.

Statute of Limitations on Birth Injuries

In Pennsylvania, the standard statute of limitations for parental claims in a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years from the date of negligence. Minors have two years from the date that they turn the age of majority, or in other words up to their 20th birthdays. However, when birth injuries are involved, it is important to act quickly to obtain the medical records as soon as possible and while some injuries may take more time to manifest, getting the records after a complicated labor and delivery is a good measure.

An experienced birth injury attorney at the Villari Firm can help explain the process of obtaining your records and investigate the claims for the child even if the parents are beyond the the two year mark for the parental claims so do not delay in seeking assistance.

Birth Injury Lawsuit Steps

Birth injury cases generally follow the same process. The first step is to meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney and explain the facts of your case. In determining whether medical malpractice exists in your case, the following will be analyzed:

  • Was there a failure to adhere to the standard of care? Specific standards of care must be met when treating a patient. If a healthcare provider or facility failed to meet the applicable standard of care, you might have a medical malpractice claim.
  • Did harm result, when was it discovered, and what were the damages? Evidence must include the harm suffered due to the failure to meet the standard of care and the statute of limitations considered.
  • Certificate of Merit: The team at the Villari Firm works with experts in the state of Pennsylvania to obtain a signed certification from an expert of the same specialty to support the validity of your claim so that your lawsuit can be filed

While each case is unique to its facts and circumstances, the steps following the initial consultation are substantially the same for each. These seven steps are outlined below.

  1. Retrieve the Records and Begin to Investigate the Potential Claims
  2. Gather Evidence
  3. File the Lawsuit
  4. The Discovery Phase
  5. Negotiate a Settlement
  6. Go Through a Trial
  7. File Any Appeals

Step 1: Retrieve the Records and Begin to Investigate the Potential Claims

Before filing the lawsuit, it is, as discussed, important to obtain all records including Mom’s chart and Baby’s chart. Important aspects of the chart must be achieved such as the fetal heart tracings which will show whether there were obvious signs of fetal distress.

Step 2: Gather Evidence

The most successful birth injury cases are built upon sound, objective, and concrete evidence. It is extremely helpful to work with a lawyer so that your experiences with dates, times and what occurred are detailed and memorialized. Keeping copies of bills, records of telephone calls, all medical records and expenses that are the result of the harm you have suffered, are critical pieces of evidence for your case. This evidence will help your attorney to evaluate the facts and properly place a valuation on your case.

Step 3: File the Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit in the proper court of law is a primary area where an experienced birth injury attorney can assist you. Parties to the lawsuit are the plaintiffs (you/your family/your child) and the defendants (the medical provider whose conduct may have caused the harm).

Once the case is filed, notice will be made to the defendants. It will outline the charges in the lawsuit and give the defendants a specified time to issue a response. Should the defendants fail to respond in the specified time, judgment can immediately be entered for the plaintiff. The Certificate of Merit must also be timely filed which allows for the lawsuit to continue in its process.

Step 4: The Discovery Phase

Discovery can be a very time and detail-intensive process. During “discovery,” the parties will request potential evidence from the opposing side, to prepare their cases. Examples may include documents, reports, possible witnesses, depositions, and experts being utilized. As the burden of proof in a birth injury case is on the plaintiff, this is a critical part of the process.

The attorneys handle this process for both the plaintiff and the defendant and are subject to many legal rules. An experienced attorney can best protect your rights and pursue that legally required evidence is provided.

Step 5: Negotiate a Settlement

Before going to trial, you and your attorney may enter into settlement negotiations or a process called mediation. The goal is to provide an opportunity for the parties to reach an agreement without going through the time and expense of a full trial. In general, a settlement in a medical malpractice case provides benefits to both parties.

At the Villari Firm, PLLC, we are with you and represent your interests at all steps. If resolution for your case is not achieved through pre-litigation settlement, the case may proceed to trial.

Step 6: Go Through a Trial

During a trial, a judge and jury will carefully listen to and examine all the evidence presented by each party. The Court has many rules that must be followed by both parties as they put on their respective cases which your experienced birth injury attorney can help you navigate. Once each side has had the opportunity to present their cases, a verdict is reached and a judgment entered. Each trial is unique to the facts of the case. Some trials can be accomplished quickly while others can take significantly longer to conclude.

With more than 20 years of experience representing clients in the courtroom, your Villari Firm attorney can help you win significant compensation and justice you deserve.

Step 7: File Any Appeals

Following the judgment being entered, the losing party may file an appeal to a higher court if they believe an error has been made during the trial. Examples of errors can include, improperly admitted evidence, erroneous jury instructions, new evidence that was not previously available, or improper application of the law to the facts of the case. An appeal focuses upon the error(s) and is not generally a “do-over” of the entire case.

An appeal can be a valuable opportunity for a victim if there is an error in the reaching of a verdict. It is important to note that an appeal may not always happen, but the trial process can be significantly lengthened if it does.

Talk with a Birth Injury/Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help

If you believe that you or your baby and/or child suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, talking with a medical malpractice lawyer experienced with birth injuries can significantly assist you. An experienced birth injury attorney will carefully listen as you explain the life-altering events that you have experienced, analyze the facts of your case, consult with respected experts, and work directly with you to develop the best possible strategy for the case.

To speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your birth injury case, call the Villari Firm at 215-372-8889 or online by clicking here. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case.

Summary of Birth Injury Lawsuit Steps

A birth injury lawsuit can be a lengthy and complicated process. Having the best advocate on your side can make a huge difference in drafting the demand letter, the construction and filing of your legal case, through the discovery process, settlement negotiations, trial and if needed, appeals.

With over two decades of experience fighting for victims of medical malpractice, Heidi Villari and her team at the Villari Firm, PLLC will be by your side, fighting for your rights every step of the way.

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