Texas Birth Injury Facts
Tragedy in the Lone Star State
Birth Related Injuries in Texas are More Common Than You May Think
According to the National Healthcare Quality Report, nearly 7 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States suffer from a birth injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that around 378,000 babies are delivered in Texas each year, which equates to 2,646 birth injuries in the lone star state each year.
Additional birth injury statistics
- Johns Hopkins University, a world leader in medical research, published an article that referenced a study concluding that the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. is medical errors 
- Stanford published the statistic that more than 1,000 babies are injured during childbirth each year 
Preventable Injuries Are Often Concealed by Culpable Parties
Many preventable medical errors occur when hospitals and medical professionals neglect the standards of care or are negligent in their actions, and birth injuries are no exception. When mistakes are made that cause injury to a mother in delivery or an infant, medical staff are quick to redirect any blame.
This results in situations where mistakes are cast off, leaving families that are victims of these transgressions unaware of what has really transpired. For this reason, if your child was injured at a Texas hospital or during a clinician-managed birth, you should consider having a skilled medical lawyer review your medical records. If it’s discovered that a preventable medical mistake caused your child’s birth injury you may have options for litigation to pursue compensation that you and your family deserve.
The laws in Texas regarding medical injuries are incredibly complicated and have many exclusions, so it is best to consult with an attorney to help you determine the best course of action.
Signs of a Birth Injury Can be Immediate or Delayed
While many injuries to an infant during delivery are detected immediately, some injuries are not realized until later in life. This is especially true with brain or neurological issues as the symptoms do not manifest until the child is older.
“… it is important for clinicians to remain alert to the possibility that birth injuries may become apparent even after newborns are discharged from the hospital” 
What is Considered a Birth Injury in Texas?
The definition of a “birth injury” under Texas law is a trauma sustained during pregnancy, birth, or directly after birth. While there is no degree of trauma required to meet the definition, most minor injuries are not pursued legally due to the cost of litigating medical malpractice claims in Texas.
Certain Medical Situations Increase the Risk of a Birth Injury
When it comes to actual injuries sustained during labor and delivery, there are a few medical situations that increase risk for an injury, these include:
- Premature before 37 weeks 
- Having a generally difficult or prolonged childbirth 
- Use of vacuum or forceps 
The Most Common Preventable Birth Injuries in Texas
- Head Injuries – Includes cuts, bruises, fractures, and blood loss (internal or external)
- Skull Fractures – Often resultant from vaginal births involving medical instruments. If an injury is suspected, an immediate CT or MRI of the brain is needed. If left untreated, severe long-term disabilities or death are serious possibilities.
- Bleeding outside the skull – Extracranial Hemorrhages
- Bleeding in the mouth – Cephalohematoma, common when a vacuum or forceps are present. Complications include calcification, deformities, infection, and bone swelling (osteomyelitis).
- Bleeding Under the Scalp – Subgaleal Hemorrhage, occurs when there is too much pulling on the baby’s head. It can result in excessive blood loss, organ failure, and death. Intensive hospitalization is required for treatment.
- Bleeding inside the skull – Intracranial Hemorrhages. There are many types of these conditions induced by trauma. All are serious and can result in potential impairment and fatality. A Subdural Hemorrhage is the most common type of intracranial trauma in newborns. They are more likely to occur during certain surgical deliveries. Signs and symptoms include a swollen forehead, impaired cognition, mood changes, breathing issues, slow heart rate, skin color changes, and seizures. A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage is the second most common. It’s due to similar causes, but newborns often don’t show symptoms unless the bleed is severe.
- Brain injuries – Cranial Nerve Injuries
- Facial nerve injury – Most common brain injury in childbirth. Signs include reduced facial movement. Clinicians catch it through the asymmetry of babies’ crying faces. A substantial connection exists between the use of forceps and this condition.
- Peripheral nerve and spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder Nerve Bundle Injury – Brachial plexus Injury, results from overstretching the baby’s neck. Assisted deliveries can cause this injury.
- Spinal cord injury – Spinal cord injuries are almost always the product of excessive pulling or twisting of the baby during delivery. Often, these are deadly injuries.
- Skeletal injuries
- Bone fractures – Signs include creaky bones, swelling, and lessened movement of the injured area.
Proving Responsibility for a Birth Injury is Difficult
Genetic influences, unforeseen natural events, and accidents during pregnancy or birth can be challenging to explain sufficiently in pursuing legal action.
Furthermore, Texas law does not make lawsuits accommodating to victims. The Tort Reform Act of 2003 passed, placing a cap on the compensation amount that could be awarded for non- financial damages like pain and suffering. It is widely agreed upon that this cap is a roadblock for patients and families seeking restitution for emotional damages. 
The duration to file a claim is generally two years, with exclusions and amendments for varied circumstances and conditions. This is not a long time to execute your claim, especially considering the speed of the legal system. An attorney will navigate this claim process to expedite matters and help you meet the deadline.
Identifying the Liable Parties for a Birth Lawsuit is Difficult
Birth injuries can have a variety of causes; therefore, who you can sue is a complicated question. Some cases are unambiguous, with a direct connection between the equipment, provider, or administrative failure and the injury. Others may be less cut and dry due to complexities of the situation, environmental influences, pre-existing conditions, etc. 
With attorney collaboration, you can determine if the birth injury sustained was at the fault of an entity that you can file a claim against.
Texas Statute of Limitations on Birth Injury Claims is Complex
The laws regarding the time to file a claim, known as the Statue of Limitations, are intricate.
Generally, parents have two years to file a claim. A host of additional statutes, clauses, amendments, etc., complicate things. In some circumstances, children up to the age of 20 can have suits filed.
Texas’ Statute of Repose was put into place primarily to give leeway to address the birth injury outcome of cerebral palsy. With an inability to see side effects for a lengthened time, the cutoff was extended to age ten for filing suits.
Time for minors for general medical errors is 14 years and under (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 74.251) 
The time by which a file must be claimed is complex, but lawyers can clarify the regulations so you can act.
Many Texas Birth Injury Lawsuits Go to Trial
While some of the more obvious cases of birth injury due to malpractice are settled out of court, the complexity of the cases generally lead to defendants taking their chances in court before a jury.
If you have a successful case you are entitled to compensation in three possible forms.
Non-Economic Damages – Typically known as “pain and suffering”, these are damages awarded for emotional hardships which cannot be easily quantified into a dollar amount. Texas has a cap of $250,000 from a maximum of three liable parties, for a total cap of $750,000.
Economic Damages – These include past and future medical and care expenses related to complications of birth and any long-term effects of the trauma of birth injury. This compensation is meant to provide as normal a quality of life as possible for your child. Some examples of quality of life care for children who have suffered life-altering birth injuries include:
- Physical therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Regularly scheduled treatments (dialysis, infusions, shots, etc.)
- Medical assisting devices
- Aid for special educational essentials (facilities, teachers, etc.).
Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant’s action are deemed malice, or they are guilty of repeatedly committing acts of negligence without regard.
A Childbirth Injury Lawsuit Requires an Experienced Texas Law Firm
If you believe your child was unnecessarily injured at birth by a doctor or hospital, then contact our Texas birth injury attorneys for a free case review. During your consultation, one of our childbirth attorneys will go over your case details, including what may have caused the injury. We then review medical records and scrutinize them, looking for evidence of of negligence or other signs that the injuries could have been avoided.
While birth injury cases are very difficult to win in Texas, there is hope. Contact one of the best medical malpractice attorneys in Texas now to get the answers you deserve.
1 “Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.-05/03/2016.”n.d.Accessed June 28, 2022. www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_suggests_medical_errors_now_third_leading_cause_of_death_in_the_us.
2 “Stanford Children’s Health – Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.” n.d. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/.
3 Sardesai, Smeeta. 2019. “Newborn Birth Injuries.” In Common Problems in the Newborn Nursery: An Evidence and Case-Based Guide, edited by Gilbert I. Martin and Warren Rosenfeld, 13–26. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
4 Dumpa, Vikramaditya, and Ranjith Kamity. 2021. “Birth Trauma.” In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
5 Wormington, and Bollinger. n.d. “Examining the Effects of Texas Tort Reform.” Accessed June 30, 2022. https://www.wormingtonlegal.com/2021/01/22/examining-the-effects-of-texas-tort-reform/.
6 Cano-Urbina, Javier, and Daniel Montanera. “Do Tort Reforms Impact the Incidence of Birth by Cesarean Section? A Reassessment.” International journal of health care finance and economics 17, no. 1 (2017): 103–112.
7 Paik, Myungho, Bernard S. Black, David A. Hyman, and Charles Silver. “Will Tort Reform Bend the Cost Curve? Evidence from Texas.” Journal of empirical legal studies 9, no. 2 (2012): 173–216.
8 Lin, James S., and Julie Balch Samora. 2022. “Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries.” The Orthopedic Clinics of North America 53 (2): 167–77.
9 “Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 74. Medical Liability.” n.d. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CP/htm/CP.74.htm. Lin, James S., and Julie Balch Samora. 2022. “Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries.” The Orthopedic Clinics of North America 53 (2): 167–77.
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