Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is an extremely dangerous birth injury, causing death or severe disability in 60% of moderate-severe cases. Medical negligence can cause it. If we can prove it, you have the basis for a birth injury lawsuit.
If you believe your child was a victim of HIE, speak with our hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy lawyers in Delaware. We will investigate what happened and see if the evidence shows medical malpractice. We have recovered over $750 million for our clients.
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What Is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)?
This is a complicated medical term, but it’s easy to understand once you know what the words mean.
- Hypoxic – Not enough oxygen in the blood.
- Ischemic – A shortage of blood flow to the brain.
- Encephalopathy – Brain damage because of these.
If a baby at birth cannot get enough oxygen or something blocks blood flow to the brain and causes brain damage, they suffer from HIE. It happens in about one to two babies out of every 1,000 births.
The medical diagnosis of HIE requires that the child must be older than 35 weeks in the womb and show symptoms in less than six hours after birth. This type of brain damage falls firmly in the window for birth injury cases.
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The Terrible Consequences of HIE
The moments when a baby switches over from getting oxygen from their mother to their lungs are a critical time for the brain. When there is oxygen deprivation, the cells of the brain start to die off. Those dead cells can start a chain reaction of brain damage long after the baby breathes again.
Some of the terrible consequences of HIE include:
- Seizure disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Learning disabilities
- Speech disabilities
- Sensory issues
- Behavioral and emotional disorders
Anything that the brain controls could be affected by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, including life itself. The costs of helping your child deal with the consequences of HIE are enormous. You shouldn’t be forced to pay for them if your child’s injury was the fault of a medical professional.
How Medical Professionals Miss HIE Symptoms Due to Medical Malpractice
When a medical professional is negligent, it opens babies up to birth injuries. The challenge in any birth injury case in Delaware is proving whether their care fell under the standards of care or if they were negligent in following them.
For instance, if a fetal monitor is incorrectly used or warnings get ignored, that’s a sign of negligence. Another sign is failing to perform tests like Apgar to check the health of a newborn right after birth. It’s hard for a layperson, especially mothers just after birth, to tell when something is wrong with their care.
Our HIE lawyers in Delaware know what to look for and what should have been done. We also have a team of medical experts we can consult with for advice on how to proceed with your case. HIE isn’t always preventable, but there may have been things the doctors should have noticed or treated differently.
All medical care providers have a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care to their patients. When they fail to provide this level of care, they are considered negligent. If this negligence results in injury to a patient, the patient may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
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Types of HIE Medical Malpractice Compensation in Delaware
When an infant’s brain is deprived of oxygen, even for a short time, this can lead to permanent damage, which can impact their entire life, making it vital to seek compensation for their injuries. Damages refer to monetary compensation that you can receive due to an HIE medical malpractice claim, and unlike in some states, the state of Delaware does not limit the amount of compensation that you can receive in a medical malpractice claim. There are two main types of damages awarded in a malpractice claim under Delaware’s General Assembly code, as described below.
The aim of compensatory damages is to try to put you in the position you would have been in if the malpractice had not happened. There are two types of compensatory damages:
- Economic damages include past and future medical bills, treatments, therapy, equipment for specialized care, and loss of earnings. These damages are easily quantifiable.
- Noneconomic damages include pain, suffering, reduced quality of life, and loss of future earning capacity. These damages are more difficult to quantify.
Punitive damages refer to an additional amount that the court can impose as punishment for the gross negligence that caused an injury. In Delaware, punitive damages can only be awarded if the injury was caused maliciously or was the result of willful misconduct. Therefore, for you to receive punitive damages in Delaware, you will need to prove that the injuries were caused intentionally or resulted from a total disregard for the wellbeing of your child.
A Birth Injury Lawyer Consults a Network of Experts
One benefit of working with a Delaware hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy attorney is that they can consult a network of experts who can provide guidance regarding the potential future costs of medical care and treatment to assist you in valuing your claim. Specialists can help you determine the monetary value of your child’s lost ability to provide for themselves in the future. There are several professionals that your lawyer may consult before deciding on the amount of compensation to pursue:
Medical and Rehabilitation Experts
These experts are critical to your Delaware medical malpractice claim because they help determine the approximate level of future care and rehabilitation needed. Additionally, the Delaware code states that all medical malpractice suits must be accompanied by an affidavit of merit, which must be signed by a medical expert in the same field as the defendant and state the reasonable grounds upon which your malpractice accusations are based.
Quality-of-life experts help place a monetary value on the future difficulties your child may face that can reduce their quality of life. These experts can help determine their specialized educational needs, the frequency of care they will require, and their future ability to work and earn money to support themselves. The quality-of-life specialists your Delaware hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy attorney may call on include:
- Special Education Experts to help you determine if your child will require specialized educational accommodations, or if they will be able to attend school.
- Vocational Experts to assist in assessing the financial impact of your child’s potential future inability to work and financially support themselves, which can reduce their quality of life.
- Economic Experts to adjust the claim value to account for inflation.
The Time Limit to File an HIE Lawsuit in Delaware Is State Regulated
The Delaware General Assembly code (title 18, chapter 68, statute 6856) states that there is a two-year limit for filing all personal injury claims, including medical malpractice claims, unless a minor child files the claim. This means you must either file a claim within two years of your child’s birth or your child must file by their sixth birthday. If the injury is not immediately apparent, you must file a claim within three years of the date of discovery.
Why it Is Important to File a Malpractice Claim
If your child suffered HIE due to the negligence of a medical care provider, it is important to file a medical malpractice suit to hold the medical care provider accountable for their negligence. These claims also remind medical care providers that they owe a legally binding duty to provide a reasonable standard of care to their patients.
A Delaware Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyer Can Help Ease Your Burden
The parents of a child who suffered HIE must dedicate their time to caring for the child while balancing their responsibilities to the household and paying medical bills. The demands of a medical malpractice investigation and the required filing deadlines can quickly become overwhelming. A HIE attorney can offer some relief from these daunting and complex tasks.
How Much You Could Win in a Birth Injury Case for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
The damages in a birth injury case can be quite high. Children with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy may need lifelong care with many specialists. The economic damages of these medical costs could grow into millions of dollars.
There is no way to know how much your claim may be worth until you speak to a lawyer who can examine your evidence and give you an estimate. A birth injury lawyer in Delaware will be able to tell you what kind of damages you can claim in your case and prevent you from accepting a settlement that may not be enough to cover the full value of your claim.
Speak With a Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Attorney in Delaware
If you notice symptoms like seizures, poor muscle tone, breathing problems, feeding problems, or missing reflexes in your child, they could have HIE. See a pediatrician immediately if you suspect it, then speak with one of our hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy lawyers in Delaware.
Find out if your child has a case. Call us at the number on your screen or use our contact form to get connected with a qualified birth injury lawyer in your area.