Birth Injuries: Is it Medical Malpractice?

For many women, one of the few times they will visit a hospital in the early part of their lives is to give birth. Childbirth is a wonderful thing, but problems can—and do—arise in some cases. Occasionally, these birth injuries are the result of negligence by medical professionals who have been entrusted with the health and wellbeing of both mother and child. This is referred to as medical malpractice and could entitle you to damages if you file a claim and win in court (or settle). 

Ways Birth Injuries Can Occur

While it is possible for medical malpractice to be committed while a fetus is in utero, the much more common instance occurs during labor. Some of the ways a birth injury can happen include:

  • A failure to diagnose fetal distress or recognize the signs quickly enough to prevent injury
  • Negligent prenatal care (such as a failure to diagnose a situation where alternative birthing methods like c-sections should be used)
  • Giving the mother an epidural at an inappropriate time
  • Not responding to problems or complications that arise during delivery
  • Improper use of forceps, vacuum assist, or other medical instruments used during delivery

Potential Results of Birth Injuries

There are a number of conditions that can arise due to negligence of medical professionals during the birth of a child. Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, cephalohematoma, intracranial hemorrhage, and numerous other ailments are possible, along with bruises, lacerations, fractures, and broken bones. In the most severe cases, these can result in lifelong health complications or death of the infant. 

If permanent damage occurs during childbirth, the parents will be on the hook for constant doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, medical procedures, round-the-clock care, specialized durable medical equipment, or other (expensive) accommodations. In rare cases, birth injuries may present weeks, months, or years after the fact. 

What Can You Recover?

There is a relatively high bar to clear when trying to prove that a medical professional committed malpractice. Additionally, there is a statute of limitations (usually two years) for bringing a malpractice claim. If you are successful in your claim, you can recover damages (monetary compensation) for future lost wages of your child, physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, and other damages. Alabama is one of the few states that does not place a cap on damages won in a medical malpractice suit. 


The unfortunate truth is that there are many opportunities for things to go wrong during childbirth. In some cases, the cause is due to negligence from a trusted medical professional. If you suspect that this happened to you during the delivery of your child, our firm will thoroughly investigate the matter and fight for the compensation you ultimately deserve. For these types of cases, we offer free consultations. Call us today at 256-233-2025 to get started.

John M. Totten