Who can be held responsible for a birth injury?

Friday October 17, 2014

Injury at birth can plague a child forever. Therefore, immense care needs to be taken to ensure that a child is not injured either before or during the birthing process. Unfortunately, every now and then an infant is injured and that injury may have long-term consequences for that child and his or her parents. Connecticut laws permit an infant’s parents to seek legal recourse if their child is injured at the time of birth due to someone’s negligence.

Like other medical malpractice lawsuits, the parents of an infant who sustained a birth injury can hold a doctor, a hospital, a medical staff as well as other health care providers or pharmaceutical companies responsible for their child’s injury. However, their claims of negligence toward the child have to be established in court in order to obtain compensation.

Hospitals can be held liable for birth injuries in two ways: for hospital negligence and for vicarious liability.

Hospital negligence means that a medical care provider was negligent toward its responsibility to check the credentials of its staff including doctors, nurses and assistants. Inadequate on-duty staff also accounts for negligence on the hospital’s part. Moreover, having under-qualified staff can also be considered negligence. Additionally, federal statutes require a hospital to provide medical care irrespective of race, color, religion and nationality; any breach of this rule can be considered negligence by the court.

In the event of an infant being injured due to a hospital staff’s negligence, that hospital can be held vicariously liable per the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.” This doctrine is very important because it ensures that there is a financially responsible party that can compensate a plaintiff, if required. It is important to note that doctors are often treated as independent contractors and; therefore, the “respondeat superior” doctrine does not apply to them.

In the event of a birth injury caused by a drug or medical equipment, parents can hold a pharmaceutical company responsible for the injury. However, that is only possible if the drug or medical equipment manufacturer failed to warn a doctor about its potential dangers. In such cases, a drug is considered “unreasonably dangerous” per product liability laws and the parents of an injured infant can seek damages from the manufacturer.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Responsible Parties in Birth Injury Cases: Who Can Be Sued?” Accessed on Oct. 8, 2014

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