As a birth injury lawyer, I am often asked what is HIE or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy? HIE occurs when a newborn’s brain is deprived of oxygen for a sufficient period of time during the delivery process to cause death of brain tissue. Unlike other body tissues, brain cells do not regenerate. Once they are damaged, they remain permanently damaged. The result is the loss of motor, sensory and cognitive function referred to as cerebral palsy (CP).
There are a variety of scenarios that lead to litigation when an infant has sustained brain injury at birth. These scenarios vary depending on whether the injury occurred as a result of care during the prenatal period, during the delivery process, or after delivery. Lawsuits arising out of birth injury are highly complex due to the high-stakes nature of this litigation. The cost of caring for a child with CP for the remainder of his/her life runs into tens of millions of dollars. Therefore, these cases are vigorously defended, often with bogus scientific evidence generated by medical societies solely for the purpose of defending this type of litigation.
When litigating a birth trauma case, it is imperative to hire a lawyer who is experienced in these types of claims. An experienced trial attorney will have the resources to finance a case, which can cost as much as $250,000 to prosecute. The lawyer will have adequate training to locate quality experts and unmask the bogus defenses relied upon by the insurance attorneys.
Birth injury claims are often defended on multiple fronts. First, the defense will argue that the care provided was not negligent, even though it resulted in avoidable injury. Insurance company lawyers may rely on medical literature generated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and high-powered experts from prominent medical schools. To overcome these defenses, it is important to have a clear understanding of the facts of the case, including complex medical information. To understand the medicine, we have the case reviewed by a variety of trustworthy specialists who assist us in interpreting CT scans, MRI results, lab data, fetal heart tracings, pathology, and other complex medical data.
Birth injury claims are also frequently defended by experts who argue that the baby’s injury was caused by something other than negligent care. These experts frequently argue that the injury occurred in utero as a result of an infection even in the face of no evidence to support this claim. Defense experts may also argue that a genetic anomaly is to blame for the child’s deficits. In order to refute these so-called “causation defenses,” your attorney must have an understanding of these defenses and the medical literature that refutes them. As needed, we hire experts in genetics, neuroradiology, placental pathology, neonatology, pediatric neurology and pediatric infectious disease to prove how the injury occurred.
The legal representation involved in representing a child with cerebral palsy does not end with a recovery through verdict or settlement. A quality lawyer will bring forward appropriate legal and non-legal experts to address a number of important post-resolution issues. These experts include financial advisors, structured settlement brokers, private case managers, and probate attorneys who can advise on the applicability and implementation of special needs trusts that are designed to permit access to needs-based Medicaid and Medicare benefits.
As you can tell, the handling of birth injury lawsuits requires knowledge, commitment, resources and compassion. As Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys, we represent clients throughout the State of Ohio like they are our own family members. If you need assistance in locating a birth injury lawyer outside the State of Ohio, we can assist well by offering the names of experienced and reputable lawyers who practice in your State.
People interested in learning more about our firm’s legal services, including medical malpractice in Ohio, may ask questions or send us information about a particular case by phone or email. There is no charge for contacting us regarding your inquiry. A member of our medical-legal team will respond within 24 hours.