What to do if you suspect that your baby has suffered a birth injury in Ontario

Birth is a violent process that often results in trauma or injury to the baby. Some of the more common birth injuries that occur include bruising, damage to the baby’s facial nerve or the nerves serving the baby’s arms (brachial nerves), and fracture of the collarbone. Most of these birth injuries will resolve themselves within a few months of the baby’s birth, although more severe nerve damage may require surgery and may lead to a permanent disability. Larger babies, premature babies or babies who go through a prolonged or difficult labour are more prone to birth injuries.

A smaller percentage of births result in more serious and permanent birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, spinal cord damage and death. While all birth injuries can occur for reasons that are outside of anyone’s control, some birth injuries can be attributed to errors made by the doctor or hospital staff before, during or after the birth, such as:

  • failing to detect complications or fetal distress,
  • improper use of forceps or other medical or surgical instruments,
  • waiting too long to perform a cesarean section, or
  • using the wrong medication or too much medication during labour.

If your baby has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, you and your baby might be entitled to compensation. If you wish to pursue the possibility of obtaining compensation for your child’s birth injury, it is important that you consult a lawyer specializing in birth injury as soon as possible once you are aware that a birth injury has occurred. Many brain injuries, such as cerebral palsy, are not evident until several months or years after the baby’s birth. Typically medical malpractice claims must be brought within 2 years of the date that you become aware of the facts leading to your claim. In the case of an injured baby, this limitation period may be extended until the child reaches 18 years of age and can pursue the claim on its own without the help of its parents. However, the law governing limitation periods can be complicated and you should always consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you do not lose the opportunity to bring your claim.

It is important to consult a lawyer who has experience with medical malpractice cases, specifically birth injury cases, as these lawyers will be better able to advise you regarding whether you have a legal claim to compensation. You should know, however, that your lawyer might not be able to provide you with solid advice about your case without first obtaining your baby’s medical records and seeking the opinion of a medical expert.

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