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Birth Injuries

Do not hesitate to call our Carmel injury lawyers at (317) 526-4467 to review your case. Our team works on a contingent fee basis, which means that you do not pay us unless and until you win. You focus on healing – we handle the rest.

Indianapolis Birth Injury Lawyer

Holding Medical Providers Accountable for Birth Injuries

Medical professionals who treat pregnant mothers and their babies are obligated to provide an acceptable level of care. Unfortunately, some providers fail to meet accepted standards and cause preventable birth injuries that can have profound and permanent consequences.

If you or your child suffered harm due to medical negligence before, during, or after birth, you may have the right to recover compensation for your damages under Indiana law.

At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, we’re known for handling high-stakes claims involving medical malpractice and preventable birth injuries. Led by Attorney Lance D. Cline, one of only two Indiana trial lawyers to hold membership in the prestigious, invite-only Inner Circle of Advocates, our firm has helped families across the region secure millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. 

If you have questions about a potential case and your legal options, our Indianapolis birth injury attorneys want to help. Based in Carmel, we serve clients across Marion County, the state of Indiana, and beyond, and offer FREE consultations. Call (317) 526-4467 or contact us online to request yours.

What Defines a Birth Injury?

Birth injury is a general term used to describe any physical harm suffered by a baby or mother shortly before, during, or immediately after childbirth. These injuries can range in type and severity and may have outcomes ranging from minor physical injuries for which full recoveries are possible to profound and permanent harm. 

Common birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral Palsy: A group of disorders affecting movement and muscle coordination, often caused by brain damage or abnormalities before, during, or shortly after birth.
  • Erb's Palsy: Damage to the brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder region, typically resulting from excessive force during delivery or improper positioning of the baby.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation during birth, leading to cognitive and developmental impairments.
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries: Nerve damage affecting the movement and sensation in the arms, often occurring during difficult deliveries or when excessive force is applied to the baby's head or shoulders.
  • Bone Fractures: Fractures of the collarbone or other bones may occur during birth due to the baby's position or the use of delivery instruments such as forceps.
  • Facial Paralysis: Damage to the facial nerves during delivery, resulting in temporary or permanent paralysis of facial muscles.

Medical Negligence & Preventable Birth Injuries

In the legal field, when we talk about birth injuries, we’re referring to birth injuries that could and should have been prevented. This is an important distinction, as childbirth has inherent risks that are, in many cases, beyond the control of attending medical professionals. 

In some cases, however, these injury risks are created or mismanaged by obstetricians, nurses, midwives, and other providers who care for mothers and their babies. Typically, this happens when providers negligently fail to meet the standard of care.

What’s the standard of care? It’s a legal benchmark that allows us to determine when a medical professional’s actions or omissions constituted medical negligence and, subsequently, when they can be held liable (or financially responsible) for resulting injuries and losses. In Indiana, the standard of care is defined generally as:

  • The level of care and treatment that a reasonably competent healthcare provider, with similar training and experience, would have provided under similar circumstances.

Healthcare professionals, including obstetricians, nurses, and midwives, are expected to adhere to this standard when providing medical services to pregnant women, during labor and delivery, and in postnatal care. When they fail to meet the established standard of care and cause preventable birth injuries as a result, it may be considered medical negligence, and victims may be able to hold them liable for medical malpractice by filing a birth injury lawsuit. 

To establish medical malpractice in a birth injury case, victims generally need to prove the following claim elements:

  1. Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care by acting in a manner that a reasonable professional would not have. This can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, or decision-making during childbirth.
  2. Causation: There must be a direct link between the healthcare provider's breach of duty and the birth injury suffered by the infant. It must be shown that the injury would not have occurred if the provider had met the standard of care.
  3. Damages: The birth injury resulted in measurable damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, or long-term disability.

In birth injury lawsuits, expert testimony from medical professionals is often used to establish what constitutes the standard of care in a particular case. 

At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, we’ve built a network of connections with consulting medical experts who assist us in reviewing medical records, assessing the actions of involved healthcare providers, and providing their opinions on whether the care provided met the accepted standards within the medical community. This evidence is invaluable for strengthening our clients’ claims during both settlement negotiations and trial. 

Common Causes of Preventable Birth Injuries

As a firm that has secured more than 40 verdicts and settlements in high-stakes birth injury cases, our team at The Cline Law Firm, LLC has seen firsthand how medical negligence (meaning deviations from the standard of care) can cause devastating birth injuries. 

Some examples of how medical negligence can lead to preventable birth injuries include:

  1. Failure to Monitor Fetal Distress: Healthcare providers are responsible for continuously monitoring fetal heart rate during labor. Failure to promptly recognize and respond to signs of fetal distress, such as abnormal heart rate patterns indicating oxygen deprivation, can lead to birth asphyxia and brain damage.
  2. Delay in Ordering a C-Section: In cases where fetal distress or complications arise during labor, a timely C-section may be necessary to prevent birth injuries. Delay or reluctance in ordering a C-section when medically indicated can result in oxygen deprivation, leading to conditions like cerebral palsy or HIE (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy).
  3. Misuse of Assisted Delivery Tools: Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery can cause trauma to the baby's head, leading to skull fractures, bleeding inside the skull (intracranial hemorrhage), or nerve damage.
  4. Failure to Detect and Treat Infections: Maternal infections, such as Group B Streptococcus (GBS), can pose risks to the baby during childbirth. Failure to screen for and treat maternal infections in a timely manner can lead to neonatal sepsis and other serious complications.
  5. Incorrect Administration of Medications: Errors in administering medications during labor and delivery, such as incorrect dosages or administering the wrong drug, can harm mother and baby. For example, administering excessive oxytocin / Pitocin to induce or augment labor can cause uterine hyperstimulation, leading to oxygen deprivation for the baby.
  6. Improper Handling of Shoulder Dystocia: Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby's shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother's pubic bone during delivery. Healthcare providers must follow established protocols to safely resolve shoulder dystocia. Failure to do so can result in brachial plexus injuries like Erb's palsy or permanent nerve damage.
  7. Disregarding Maternal or Fetal Risk Factors: Healthcare providers must consider maternal and fetal risk factors when planning and managing labor and delivery. Ignoring factors such as maternal age, obesity, or a history of previous birth complications can increase the likelihood of adverse outcomes for both mother and baby.
  8. Neglecting Maternal Health Conditions: Certain maternal health conditions, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, require close monitoring and appropriate management. Failure to diagnose or adequately manage these conditions can increase the risk of complications during childbirth, including fetal distress and birth injuries.

Prenatal Care Malpractice

Prenatal care plays a vital role in ensuring the health and well-being of both the expectant mother and the developing fetus. When healthcare providers fail to uphold the standard of care when treating pregnant mothers, it can give risk to prenatal care malpractice claims. 

These claims generally involve allegations of negligence or medical errors that occur before childbirth, impacting the outcome of the pregnancy and potentially leading to birth injuries or other complications.

Examples of prenatal care malpractice in birth injury lawsuits:

  1. Failure to Screen for Maternal Health Conditions: Healthcare providers are responsible for conducting thorough screenings and assessments during prenatal visits to identify any maternal health conditions that may affect the pregnancy. Failure to screen for conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or infections can lead to undiagnosed complications that pose risks to both the mother and the baby.
  2. Misinterpretation of Prenatal Tests: Errors in interpreting prenatal tests, such as ultrasound scans or maternal serum screening, can lead to misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose fetal abnormalities or developmental issues. Misinterpretation of test results may result in delayed or inappropriate medical interventions.
  3. Failure to Refer for Specialized Care: In cases where high-risk pregnancy factors are present, healthcare providers have a duty to refer expectant mothers to specialists or tertiary care centers equipped to manage complex pregnancies. Failure to make timely referrals for specialized care can result in inadequate monitoring or management of pregnancy complications, increasing the risk of adverse outcomes.
  4. Inadequate Genetic Counseling: Genetic testing and counseling are essential components of prenatal care, allowing expectant parents to make informed decisions about their pregnancy and potential genetic risks. Providers have a duty to accurately discuss and offer genetic testing options to identify genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities. Failure to provide adequate genetic counseling or offer appropriate testing options may constitute negligence, especially in cases where genetic conditions could have been detected and managed before birth.

In addition to birth injury lawsuits, negligence during the prenatal stages may give rise to other types of claims, including wrongful birth and wrongful life lawsuits. 

  1. Wrongful Birth Lawsuits: These claims are brought by parents who allege that healthcare providers failed to diagnose or disclose prenatal abnormalities or birth defects, depriving them of the opportunity to make informed decisions about the pregnancy. Wrongful birth lawsuits seek damages for the emotional and financial burdens associated with raising a child with disabilities or genetic disorders.
  2. Wrongful Life Lawsuits: In some jurisdictions, wrongful life lawsuits may be brought on behalf of a child born with disabilities or genetic conditions, alleging that healthcare providers' negligence deprived the child of the opportunity to be born free from suffering or disability. These claims seek compensation for the child's pain and suffering, as well as the costs associated with medical care and support services.

Prenatal care malpractice claims encompass a range of allegations involving negligent care or failures to properly screen, diagnose, or counsel expectant parents. Like other birth injury claims, they are complex and fact-specific matters that demand the attention of experienced attorneys. If you believe that substandard prenatal care caused your child’s preventable injuries, our award-winning Indianapolis birth injury lawyers at The Cline Law Firm, LLC are available to discuss your rights and options.

Compensation for Birth Injury Lawsuits in Indianapolis

Birth injury victims are entitled to financial compensation for damages arising from the injuries. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages:

  • Medical Expenses: Past, present, and future medical expenses related to the treatment and care of an injured child. This includes costs associated with hospitalization, surgeries, medications, therapies, assistive devices, and ongoing medical monitoring.
  • Rehabilitation and Therapy Costs: Expenses associated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other specialized interventions.
  • Lost Earnings: In cases where the child's injuries result in permanent disability or impairments that limit their ability to work in the future, families may recover compensation for lost earnings or diminished earning capacity. This includes both the child's potential lost income and any financial support the child would have provided to their family.
  • Home Modifications and Accessibility: Costs of making necessary modifications to their home to accommodate the child's mobility needs or to provide accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, or specialized equipment.
  • Special Education and Tutoring: Costs of special education programs, tutoring, or educational aides necessary to help the child succeed academically.

Non-Economic Damages:

  • Pain and Suffering: Children who experience birth injuries may endure physical pain, emotional distress, and a diminished quality of life because of their injuries. Non-economic damages seek to compensate the child for their pain and suffering, as well as the emotional distress experienced by their family members.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Birth injuries can impact a child's ability to participate in activities they enjoy and lead a fulfilling life. Damages may include compensation for the loss of the child's ability to engage in recreational activities, pursue hobbies, or participate in social interactions.
  • Emotional Distress: Parents and family members may experience profound emotional distress and anguish as they cope with the challenges of caring for a child with a birth injury. Damages may provide compensation for the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish endured by family members because of the injury.

In Indiana, state law imposes a statutory cap on damages in medical malpractice cases, including birth injury lawsuits. This cap applies to total damages (including both economic and non-economic damages and is presently $1.8 million for injuries that occurred after July 1, 2019.

Statute of Limitations for a Birth Injury Lawsuit in Indiana

In Indiana, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is typically two years from the date of injury. However, exceptions exist for cases involving birth injuries like cerebral palsy:

  • Minor Victims: If the injured individual was a minor under the age of six at the time of the injury, Indiana law provides additional time to file a claim. Generally, parents or legal guardians must file claims by the child's eighth birthday.
  • Discovery Rule: Many birth injuries are not diagnosed immediately after birth. Sometimes, it can take months or years for symptoms and developmental delays to become apparent and for parents to fully understand the ramifications of their child’s injury and its underlying cause. In cases of delayed discovery, where the condition is not detected until later, exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations may apply.
  • Pending Medical Complaint Review: In Indiana, victims with medical malpractice cases seeking more than $15,000 in damages must first submit a proposed complaint to the Indiana Department of Insurance. This complaint is reviewed by a panel of legal and medical professionals to determine the viability of the lawsuit. Importantly, the statute of limitations is paused (tolled) during the review period. This means that even if the original statute of limitations expires during the review, victims retain the right to file a claim as long as the complaint review is pending. Once the panel issues a decision, victims have 90 days to file their lawsuit.

Determining the statute of limitations in a specific birth injury case can be complex. Because this deadline can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation, it's essential to seek legal guidance promptly. Our team strongly recommends that any family considering a birth injury lawsuit reach out to us as soon as possible for a comprehensive evaluation of their case. Understanding the applicable deadline is critical to protecting your legal rights and pursuing the compensation your family deserves.

Birth Injury vs. Birth Defect

Birth injury and birth defect are distinct terms used to describe different conditions affecting newborns, each with its own causes and legal implications.

  • Birth injuries refer to physical harm sustained by a newborn during labor, delivery, or immediately after birth. These injuries typically result from medical negligence or complications during childbirth. Common causes include oxygen deprivation, improper use of delivery instruments, and delayed C-sections.
  • Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities present at birth, resulting from genetic, environmental, or unknown factors during prenatal development. Birth defects are often hereditary, meaning that they aren’t usually caused by negligence. 

Because birth defects are generally beyond the control of attending medical professionals, they don’t usually form the basis of birth injury malpractice claims (although there are some exceptions in specific cases involving wrongful birth/wrongful life in some jurisdictions). However, there are some situations where families may have grounds to pursue justice and compensation through other types of legal claims. This may include products liability or toxic exposure claims if the defect was caused by exposure to a harmful product or substance during pregnancy. 

How Our Indianapolis Birth Injury Attorneys Can Help

The Cline Law Firm, LLC is devoted to fighting on behalf of birth injury victims, and providing the comprehensive representation they deserve. This includes support and counsel to: 

  • Evaluate the merits of your potential claim and right to legal action.
  • Conduct independent investigations and consult with relevant experts who help us prove claims, establish negligence and liability, and illustrate your damages.
  • Construct and submit a compelling proposed complaint for review by the Indiana Department of Insurance and preserve your right to file a claim. 
  • Handle communications with insurers and defendants and key court processes such as discovery, depositions, motions, and more.
  • Negotiate out-of-court settlements that reflect the severity of your losses – including losses you’ve already suffered and losses you’re likely to suffer in the future.
  • Litigate at trial when defendants dispute claims or refuse to offer what you deserve

Why Choose The Cline Law Firm, LLC?

For over 40 years, The Cline Law Firm, LLC has been the choice of representation for clients and colleagues with cases they couldn’t afford to lose. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Leadership: Our Founding Attorney Lance D. Cline is regarded among his peers as one of the region’s leading medical malpractice and birth injury lawyers. Mr. Cline is also one of only two Indiana lawyers invited into the Inner Circle of Advocates, a prestigious invite-only organization comprised of the nation’s top 100 plaintiffs’ trial lawyers. 
  • Results. Our firm has amassed a proven record of success litigating complex and high-stakes cases. This includes millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, over 40 successfully resolved birth injury cases, and countless victories in claims across Indiana, Kentucky, and Georgia. 
  • Personalized Service. We know families deserve to be treated as more than numbers. It’s why we’re passionate about providing personalized support as we guide them through their legal journeys and why we’re committed to devising custom-tailored legal strategies that position them for the maximum compensation possible. 
  • Contingency Fees. We believe that families seeking justice shouldn’t be limited by their finances, especially when they’ve already suffered considerable losses through no fault of their own. That’s why we handle all birth injury cases on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire our team and no fee unless we win. 

If you have questions about a birth injury lawsuit anywhere in Indiana, our Indianapolis birth injury lawyers are here to help. Give us a call at (317) 526-4467 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.

Millions of Dollars Recovered For Our Clients

Real Results

The Cline Law Firm, LLC exists for the sole purpose of listening to and advocating for individuals and families who have sustained great harm and losses as a result of the negligent, intentional, or other wrongful conduct of others. It is the sole type of legal work that attorney Lance D. Cline has done during his 40-year legal career. Every lawyer and employee of our team is solely and fully dedicated to helping victims of such conduct in our society.

  • $5,634,669 Verdict for a Wrongful Death Caused by Pneumonia

    Lance D. Cline obtained a jury verdict of $5,634,669.84 for the wrongful death of a fifty-two-year-old Indian female married to a sixty-four-year-old Indian male at the time of her death. The couple had no children. The decedent developed MRSA pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia.

  • $4,100,000 Verdict for Birth-Related Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries

    Lance D. Cline tried this case to a jury in 2012. The plaintiff was a minor male who sustained injuries to brachial plexus nerves in his right arm at the time of his birth. A shoulder dystocia occurred during the vaginal delivery.

  • $3,500,000 Verdict for a Brachial Plexus Nerve Injury During Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Lance D. Cline tried this lawsuit to a jury in a conservative, northern Indiana county in 2018. The sixty-five-year-old plaintiff had a history of multiple dislocations in his left shoulder between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five that led to the performance of a Magnuson-Stack procedure upon his left shoulder at the age of twenty-five that prevented further dislocations.

  • $1,285,000 Verdict For a Minor Who Sustained Permanent Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries at Birth

    Lance Cline presented expert witness testimony from two board-certified obstetricians and a biomechanical engineer with expertise and knowledge regarding physician-applied forces during child delivery. The Defendant made no offer of settlement before the trial. The jury deliberated for ninety minutes before ignoring the medical review panel opinion and returning a verdict in favor of the client in the amount of $1,285,000. That was a record verdict in the county where the case was tried.

Award-Winning Representation of Injured People

Nationally Recognized, Locally Focused

  • The Inner Circle of Advocates
    The Inner Circle of Advocates
    Founding member, Lance D. Cline, is one of only two Indiana lawyers ever invited into this most prestigious and selective organization of plaintiff trial attorneys.
  • Best Lawyers
    Best Lawyers
    Lance D. Cline has been voted by his peers as a Best Lawyer in America in the fields of medical malpractice and personal injury every year since 1997, as the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer of the Year three times and as the Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year in 2019.
  • Super Lawyers®
    Super Lawyers®
    Lance D. Cline has been selected by his peers as an Indiana Super Lawyer and as one of Indiana's Top 50 Lawyers since the inception of the award in 2004. He has also been selected as one of Indiana's Top 10 Lawyers in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Lance D. Cline has been a member of ITLA's Board of Directors since 1984 and was selected by his ITLA peers as the Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2018.
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Our Golden Rule

  • Triumphant in Complex Injury Cases
  • A Record of Client Satisfaction
  • A Legacy of Success in the Court Room
  • Membership in the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates
  • 40+ Years of Collective Experience