Birth Injuries in Oklahoma: When Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Every year in the U.S., millions of babies are born. It’s a day that parents look forward to with joy and anticipation. You choose your doctor and facility carefully, and you trust them to deliver your baby safely. But that doesn’t always happen. Your day of happiness can turn into one of heartbreak, and you could be left searching for a birth injury lawyer in Oklahoma.
What Is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is any harm caused to the infant or mother during the delivery process. The damage can be temporary with the mother and baby making a full recovery, or it can result in lasting disabilities and medical issues–or even death. Sometimes you might not notice a birth injury until months or years after the delivery, when the child misses developmental milestones like talking or walking. If the damage is the result of medical malpractice or negligence, you may have grounds to sue.
Types and Effects of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries aren’t as common today as they were in previous decades. Still, birth injury lawyers from Tulsa to Oklahoma City commonly handle cases that involve:
- Bone fractures, especially to the collarbones
- Physical head trauma and brain bleeds
- Facial paralysis
- Nerve damage
- Uncontrolled infant seizures
- Untreated infections in both mother and infant
- Lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain
- Wrongful death
A lack of oxygen can be caused by several different factors, including umbilical cord problems and delayed Cesarean sections. It can cause brain damage and lifelong disabilities, including developmental disorders, learning problems, and epilepsy, and is one of the most common reasons for birth injuries.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Many birth injuries occur from natural causes, for example if the baby is especially big or in an abnormal position before birth. Before you can file a claim, your Oklahoma birth injury attorney will need to prove that the damage was caused due to negligence, such as when the care provider(s):
- Fail to recognize a mother’s health issues during pregnancy
- Don’t properly monitor vital signs during delivery
- Fail to notice or respond quickly to an abnormal birth position or umbilical cord problem
- Fail to recognize signs of distress in the baby or mother
- Misuse forceps, vacuum extraction, or labor-inducing drugs
- Pull or press on the baby
- Delay a Cesarean section when it is needed
- Fail to quickly resuscitate a baby with birth asphyxia (when a baby isn’t breathing at birth)
Birth Injury Law in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, birth injuries are a type of personal injury that typically falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice. The definition of medical malpractice is a physician’s action (or lack of action) that deviates from the accepted “standard of care” in the medical community and causes injury to the patient.
The standard of care is the treatment that a physician in a similar situation would provide based on established protocols that doctors and healthcare facilities must follow. You can file a claim against doctors, nurses, hospitals, birthing centers, or other delivery providers.
Medical malpractice claims in Oklahoma have statutes of limitations, or deadlines on how long you can wait to file a lawsuit:
- A pregnant woman or her family has two years from the date of the harmful act to file a claim (Title 12, Section 95).
- The family of a baby that suffers a birth injury has seven years from the date of the harmful act to file a claim (Title 12, Section 12-96).
- In some cases, the statute of limitations will begin running when the baby’s symptoms appear.
Proving Birth Injury Malpractice in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law doesn’t specify exactly what you’ll need to do to prove your case in court. But Oklahoma courts have historically ruled that you, the plaintiff, will need to establish:
- Your patient-provider relationship with the physician, nurse, or facility
- The reasonable standard of care for your particular situation
- The ways in which the provider violated the standard of care
- That their negligence caused you harm
If your case fits the above criteria and falls within the statute of limitations, we can help you file a claim. Establishing the standard of care and proving that it was violated are usually the most important pieces of the puzzle. An experienced lawyer can also help you access expert opinions and witness testimony to prove your case.
What Can You Recover for a Birth Injury in Oklahoma?
Under Oklahoma law, the family of a baby with a birth injury may be able to recover both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages can include monetary compensation for:
- Medical and rehabilitation bills
- Future medical care
- Lost income
- Emotional pain and suffering
Punitive damages aren’t always awarded, but if your provider engaged in particularly egregious, or bad, behavior, or the case involves a wrongful death, the court may award additional compensation.
When to Hire a Birth Injury Lawyer in Oklahoma
If you or a family member suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence or malpractice, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced attorney to guide you through the claims process. A birth injury attorney in Oklahoma will:
- Evaluate your case and Oklahoma law to determine if you have a claim
- Review medical records, interview witnesses, and work with expert medical professionals to help you prove that the provider is at fault
- Conduct discovery to obtain information through subpoena or deposition
- Communicate with the defendant, which are often well-funded and well-prepared hospitals and insurance companies
- Negotiate for the amount of damages you deserve
The Bottom Line
Birth injuries are a traumatic experience that can leave you with staggering medical bills–and leave your baby with lifelong disability. While compensation can never turn back the hands of time, it can help you move forward and provide for you and your baby’s needs. If you’re ready to start the process, contact the Oklahoma Injury Guy today to get started with a case evaluation.