Spinal cord damage that occurs during or immediately following birth can leave your newborn with lifelong challenges and require ongoing care and therapy. If your infant suffered a birth injury that involved the spinal cord, you may be eligible to hold the doctor who delivered him or the hospital where he was born liable.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Lawsuits & Injury Cases
Spinal cord damage can occur during the birth process when the doctor or another caregiver pulls or twists the infant with too much force, when using forceps or vacuum devices, or if the baby falls or gets dropped after delivery. To hold the doctor or hospital liable for this type of injury, you will need to show the injury occurred because of medical negligence.
To prove medical negligence and malpractice, you need to show the doctor failed to provide the acceptable standard of care. This means they did not follow proper protocols, failed to take the right precautions when using forceps and other devices, or failed to call for a cesarean section when necessary. Your attorney will help you identify a medical expert witness who can testify to these things on your behalf.
If you can prove medical malpractice, you are eligible to recover a wide range of damages. This may include:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing care costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Mobility and assistive devices
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
There are deadlines for how long you have to file a birth injury lawsuit, so we encourage you to reach out as soon as possible to discuss your case with a lawyer near you.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Types
There are two primary types of spinal cord injuries:
- Incomplete: Some nerve signals may continue to pass from the brain to the areas of the body below the damage and back to the brain.
- Complete: No nerve signals pass from the brain to the parts of the body below the injury.
The paralysis and loss of feeling caused by an incomplete injury can vary significantly. Some babies may recover almost fully while others appear to have a near-complete injury.
Spinal cord injuries are further classified into two types, depending on how they affect the body:
- Tetraplegia: The baby has a loss of movement and sensation in both arms and both legs, as well as the trunk muscles. They may require a ventilator for assistance breathing. This most often occurs with spinal cord damage to the neck or upper back.
- Paraplegia: The baby has a loss of motion and sensation in both legs.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Causes
Birth injuries involving the spinal cord and significant enough to cause spinal cord damage may occur because:
- A doctor uses too much force to pull the baby out or pulls the baby’s head using too much force when trying to deliver the shoulders.
- A doctor’s inexpert use of forceps or vacuum.
- A doctor’s failure to opt for a c-section delivery when the infant is large, and the mother is especially petite.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Symptoms
Spinal cord injury symptoms might include:
- A loss of feeling below the level of injury
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation
- Difficulty breathing
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Diagnosis and Treatment
In most cases, birth injuries that damage the spinal cord affect the baby’s neck. If your baby has symptoms of a spinal cord injury, the doctor will likely use CT, MRI, and other medical imaging to get a better look at the injury.
The treatment necessary and prognosis depends greatly on whether the injury is complete or incomplete. With incomplete injuries, the child may require intensive rehabilitation to strengthen muscles and help nerves heal. Infants with complete injuries may require ongoing therapy and rehabilitation, and some may require lifelong care.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has infant spinal cord damage?
Spinal cord damage is often diagnosed immediately after birth when the nurses or other care providers note a normal response to touch and little or no movement in the legs or all four limbs. In some cases, the baby also has difficulty breathing because of a spinal cord injury at the neck or chest.
If you notice your newborn appears to have a loss of muscle function or strength in their legs or arms and legs, talk to a trusted doctor immediately.
Can infant spinal cord damage be fatal?
Yes, without immediate medical care, severe spinal cord injuries can be fatal. Injuries to the neck can affect the baby’s respiratory muscles. This type of paralysis may make it impossible to breathe on their own.
Who is liable for infant spinal cord damage?
An obstetrician or another doctor who delivers a baby may be liable for infant spinal cord damage that occurred during labor. Alternatively, the hospital may be liable because other care providers failed to do their job.
What is the statute of limitations for infant spinal cord damage?
There is a deadline for how long you have to take legal action against a negligent doctor or hospital, but it varies from state to state. Each state has its own laws regarding time limits. Your state may allow you to wait for a certain period (tolling) because of your child’s age, but there may be an absolute deadline (statute of repose). Your attorney can help you understand the time limits in your case.
Infant Spinal Cord Damage Glossary Terms
- What is Spinal Shock? Spinal shock is the temporary loss of feeling and muscle control after a spinal cord injury.
- What is Tetraplegia? Tetraplegia is paralysis that affects all four limbs as well as the muscles of the trunk. The condition was formerly known as quadriplegia, meaning affecting all four limbs.
- What is a Transection? A transection is a complete injury, meaning the two parts were separated or torn in two.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney About Your Infant’s Spinal Cord Damage Birth Injury
If your newborn suffered spinal cord damage during or shortly after birth, you may be able to pursue damages by holding the doctor or hospital liable. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at 1-800-222-9529. Connect with a spinal cord damage birth injury attorney in your state for a free case review.