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When Are Birth Injuries Medical Malpractice?


Delivering babies has always been — and always will be — difficult. With advances in modern medicine and technology, the rate of both mother and infant mortality has dropped nearly 99 percent in the United States during the past hundred years.

But although childbirth has become much safer, it’s obviously not a painless process. Birth injuries still occur in spite and sometimes because of modern medical technology. Some of these injuries are unfortunate accidents, but others could be the beginning of a birth injury lawsuit.

Potential Delivery Injuries


Many deliveries come with unique challenges, whether doctors are prepared for them or not. In many cases, unexpected changes in the mother’s or the baby’s condition lead to last-minute or rushed decisions, which may or may not cause injuries like the following.

Vacuum Extraction Injuries

In some difficult scenarios, doctors will use tools like forceps and vacuum cups to aid the delivery. Though the pressure and force involved in these procedures should be carefully monitored, these methods can cause injuries to the baby’s head, scalp, or neck if managed improperly.

Injuries caused by vacuum extraction or other removal tools usually heal quickly without causing permanent damage.

Erb’s Palsy

This injury occurs when a baby’s head or shoulders are stretched too far, causing damage to nerves at the back of the neck. It can cause numbness, weakness, or loss of motion in the affected arms.

On the spectrum of severity, babies can be affected by Erb’s Palsy symptoms for a few days up to several months, with treatment options ranging from physical therapy to surgery. In some cases, paralysis or weakness may be permanent.

Ruptured Blood Vessels

Because of the significant forces at work, babies can experience slight bruising and ruptured blood vessels after delivery. One example of this type of injury is Subconjunctival Hemorrhage, which is when blood vessels in the eye rupture. It appears as a small spot on the white part of the affected eye and usually heals after a few weeks.

Birth Fractures

Another side effect of the intense pressure put on babies’ bodies during childbirth is fractured bones. The most common fractures in newborns are the collarbone and clavicle. Affected newborns usually make a full recovery.

Though certain circumstances make fracture injuries unavoidable, sometimes they occur when safer alternative options for delivery were available, like a C-section.

Medical Malpractice


The key to determining if an injury during childbirth or prenatal care is considered medical malpractice is whether or not the doctor was negligent. Doctors can make mistakes, but only those clearly caused by negligent behavior are considered medical malpractice.

Negligent behavior is defined on a case-by-case basis according to whether the doctor violated an appropriate medical standard of care for the given scenario. This principle basically asks, “Would a competent doctor have done the same thing in a similar situation?” If the answer is yes, there’s no malpractice claim. If no, malpractice remains a possibility.

Childbirth injuries, especially those caused during delivery, can often result from a split-second decision among several medical professionals, all of which see the process from slightly different perspectives.

In addition, doctors can cause harm through a lack of action in the middle of a decisive moment.

Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit with an Indiana Attorney

Birth injuries add stress, worry, and fear during an already painful process. If your newborn experienced a childbirth injury that may have been caused by a doctor’s negligence, you could deserve compensation for both the medical bills and emotional stress related to the injury.

Pursuing legal action against the negligent doctor doesn’t have to be the impossible process you fear. With an experienced birth injury attorney at your side, you can focus on taking care of your newborn and family, not stressing over filing a lawsuit. Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free conversation about your options.