California Birth Injury Lawsuits: What Are They & Who Can Bring A Claim?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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California birth injury lawsuits are a type of medical malpractice claim involving any injury to either a mother or a child in connection with the delivery of a baby. To find out more about these types of cases and who can bring them, we asked J. Niley Dorit, a California attorney whose practice represents birth injury victims.

What are California birth injury cases?

California birth injury cases involve any injury to either a mother or a child in connection with the delivery of a baby. According to Dorit:

There are conditions which affect mothers during the period of pregnancy and delivery which can result in serious or catastrophic injury or death to the mother that do arise on occasion. However, the bulk of these kinds of cases really involve catastrophic injuries to the child. Generally what we’re talking about here is cerebral palsy caused by a loss of oxygen due to a delay in delivering the baby.

There are other injuries that occur during the birthing process and during pregnancy. For example, probably the next most common kind of a problem is a child who is born with a nerve injury. These can sometimes be the result of medical malpractice, although frequently they are not.

If a mother has a child with a profound delay in meeting developmental milestones, which is to say that they’re not functioning properly (they’re not walking, talking or they require full-time care), those children sometimes have the condition because of a loss of oxygen due to neglect during the birthing process.

Who can make a California birth injury claim?

The claim is made primarily by the child, but the mother can also have a claim. Generally the father does not have a claim because he’s not the patient and is not receiving healthcare directly from the doctor. However, regardless of who brings the case, Dorit says that these types of cases are quite unique. He explained:

What’s unique about it is that, because the injury occurs at birth, they tend to be really serious injuries that will then require a lifetime of extra care and attention that wouldn’t otherwise be required. So they have a unique, special package of features that involve tremendous cost in terms of taking care of a child for its natural life expectancy because of its serious injuries. ttt

They’re quite distinctive from other California medical malpractice cases in terms of the damages in that respect. Of course they’re also distinctive because it’s an obstetrical malpractice situation that requires an understanding, not only of California law, but of obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics has its own language and even the records relating to obstetrical and perinatal care have different features from other commonly viewed medical records.

If you’ve been injured due to a hospital or HMO’s negligence, contact an experienced California birth injury attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to compensation.

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