Sunday, February 1, 2009

Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Children - Facts, Figures & Statistics

Children who are victims of medical malpractice often suffer significant injury or death during the birthing process. Birth injuries are generally caused by something that went wrong during pregnancy or during delivery, while birth defects usually are harms to the child that arose prior to birth and were often caused by genetic abnormalities or infection during pregnancy. Some studies have shown that birth injuries occur in five out of a thousand births (0.5%). Most birth injuries occur when a doctor, nurse or mid-wife fail to adequately assess or respond to conditions that occur during pregnancy and/or the child's delivery.

To pursue a medical negligence claim for harms suffered by a child, the injuries usually have to be severe if not catastrophic. This is because it takes enormous resources and expense to pursue the claim. Experts have to be hired to review the records and testify that the child suffered harm because the treating physician or other healthcare professional violated the standard of care. Usually the cost of bringing a medical negligence claim will easily exceed six figures, and sometimes exceed $500,000.*

Some medical negligence cases involving children include death, permanent brain damage, Cerebral Palsy, Erb's Palsy, and Shoulder Dystocia. Many times medical negligence cases are settled or resolved confidentially so there is no reliable data base to show just how many children are victims of medical negligence. Many times the negligence goes unreported due to the parents' unawareness and/or because the child's injuries are less than catastrophic or severe.

These are just a few categories of accidents that involve children. Of course, there are many others - too many for this book to provide an exhaustive list. But what should be apparent, however, is that children face many different types of risks that can cause serious injury or even death. Parents should be aware of these risks so proper precautions can be taken to protect their children. Many risks can be drastically reduced or even eliminated just by teaching parents and their children about injury prevention devices, like seatbelts and helmets. Other risks of harm can be lowered with proper supervision of children and teaching children to watch out for certain risks like moving vehicles, aggressive dogs, and hazards located inside the home.

* The "cost" of bringing the case refers only to the costs of litigation, like hiring experts, conducting depositions, creating exhibits, etc. This does not include the fees owed to the lawyer for his or her time and expertise. Most lawyers however are hired on a contingency fee in birth injury cases.

Christopher M. Davis is a Seattle medical malpractice attorney. He is also known as a child accident lawyer and has written the the book 'Little Kids, Big Accidents' as a resource for parents of injured children. You can learn more about Mr. Davis by visiting his website at:

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