Both mothers and babies are at risk for injury before, during and after labor and childbirth. These incidents, defined as birth injuries, often cause mental and physical disabilities that last for years or even a lifetime.

While not all birth injuries constitute medical malpractice, you may be eligible for legal compensation if negligent action or lack of action by a health care provider directly contributed to the injury.

Common birth injuries

** Some of the most frequent injuries associated with provider negligence during labor and childbirth include:

● Lack of proper fetal monitoring

● Failure to diagnose a contagious disease, birth defect or ectopic pregnancy

● Lack of appropriate care for life-threatening conditions, including but not limited to the need for a cesarean section, complications with the umbilical cord, limited oxygen and uncontrolled bleeding

● Erroneous or improper use of medical devices such as a vacuum or forceps during delivery

Defining negligence

** If you sue a health care provider for medical malpractice, you must prove that he or she acted negligently by failing to meet an appropriate standard of care. In Pennsylvania, you must obtain a certificate of merit from a licensed professional indicating that this standard was not met before your case may proceed. This professional must also affirm that the breach in care contributed to injuries to the mother and/or infant.

Pennsylvania malpractice regulations

** You must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years from the date the injury occurred or from the date of diagnosis for injuries that were not immediately evident. After this clock runs out, the court will dismiss your case. Even when you did not receive an immediate diagnosis, you must file your lawsuit within seven years of the alleged malpractice.

** Pennsylvania does not limit the available damages in successful medical malpractice cases. After a birth injury, you can seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other associated costs of the negligent incident.