No couple in West Virginia wants to be told that their child has either a birth injury or a birth defect. Although some such conditions are relatively minor and easily cured, others are debilitating and could leave an infant unable to function without special care for the rest of his or her life.
However, whether a condition is a birth injury or a birth defect can make a huge difference as to whether a Morgantown, West Virginia, doctor or hospital is liable for medical malpractice because of the condition. A birth defect usually arises before the child is born and even before a mother gets pregnant.
While some are completely natural and simply unfortunate, negligence can play a role in the rise of a birth defect. For example, many drugs have been tied to birth defects, and mothers who in good faith used those drugs during pregnancy may be able to recover compensation.
However, a victim's family will rarely be able to pursue the delivering doctor or the staff at the hospital, as birth defects emerge long before the actual birth of the child.
On the other hand, a birth injury usually comes about as a direct result of the mother's labor and delivery. A birth injury can occur because a doctor physically mishandles the child or the child's mother or because the doctor does not recognize and treat a problem promptly, such as in the case of an infant who does not receive enough oxygen.
However, the mere fact that a child has suffered a birth injury as opposed to a birth defect does not mean that the parents automatically have a medical malpractice claim. While many injuries are preventable, in other cases, even a careful doctor cannot reasonably be expected to avoid hurting a child.
Birth injury cases in West Virginia are often highly fact sensitive, and the advice and expertise of legal counsel may prove very helpful to a family trying to get compensation from a negligent doctor.