Statistics show that six out of every 1,000 babies will be born with some type of birth injury. Often the most devastating birth injuries are those involving brain damage. When a baby suffers a brain injury, the expenses needed to care for child through adulthood are usually astronomical. For this reason, medical malpractice verdicts involving brain damage can also be very high since a substantial portion of these damages are for providing a lifetime of care to the child.
Last year, a Connecticut family filed a medical malpractice suit against their obstetrician after their son was born with cerebral palsy, a type of birth injury. Through their medial malpractice attorney, the family proved to the jury their obstetrician violated the standard of care in several ways during their son's delivery which included failing to deliver their son earlier based on reduced amniotic fluid or oligohydramnios. As a result of the obstetrician's negligence, the jury determined the baby suffered severe brain damage and returned a verdict of $58 million.
It must be recognized, however, that simply because a child is diagnosed with a birth injury does not mean medical malpractice has occurred. In some instances, the child's birth injury or brain damage was destined to develop no matter what the doctor did or did not do. In other instances, a birth injury may be caused by a labor and delivery complication but the injury would have occurred even under the best of care. In most instances, only an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can uncover whether a child's birth or brain injury occurred from medical negligence, rather than simply a bad outcome that happened through no fault of the doctor.
With last years $58 million birth injury verdict, the Connecticut jury was likely presented with several common medical malpractice defenses. In most medical malpractice trials, the defense invariably denies they were negligent in any way and denies that anything they did or did not do caused any harm. In many instances, the later argument, where the defense claims the injury had nothing to do with the doctors conduct, is the most difficult to overcome because these arguments typically involve complex medical disputes that can easily confuse a jury. Because the plaintiff has the burden of proof in a medical malpractice case, complexity and confusion invariably favor the defense. For this reason, successful medical malpractice lawyers must be able to present their case in a clear, persuasive way consistent with medical issues. However, if the plaintiff lawyer's argument is overly simplified or otherwise dishonest, the jury will see through this and quickly return a verdict for the defense.
ABC Action News, How Medical Malpractice Leads To Birth Injuries, January 27, 2012.