There are 360,000 new babies born every day. Out of those babies, roughly 2,880 are born with some type of birth injury.
If your baby sustained an injury at birth, you may be able to hold your doctor responsible for the injury and receive compensation. But it all depends on your circumstances.
Because of this, you should meet with a New York birth injury attorney to determine if you have a case. During this meeting, you should make the most of your time by asking a lot of questions.
We’ve put together this guide to walk you through the five most important questions you shouldn’t forget.
So let’s get started.
1. Do I Have a Case?
The first thing you should ask your birth injury lawyer is if you even have a case.
Just because your newborn has a birth injury doesn’t mean you have can file a lawsuit against the hospital or doctor. In fact, your doctor can follow all the right precautions, and your child can still end up with a birth injury.
Sometimes injuries like this are unpreventable.
But that’s not always true. There are many times your doctor or the hospital can be held responsible for your baby’s birth injury. To figure out if you have a solid case or not, your lawyer will take a look at the following things.
The Type of Birth Injury
There’s a difference between birth injuries and birth defects. If your baby is born with a birth defect, there’s not much a birth injury lawyer could do to help you. It’s important to know which your child has.
Some of the most common birth injuries include the following:
- Infant brain damage
- Bone fractures
- Erb’s palsy (or shoulder dystocia)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial paralysis
- Prenatal Asphyxia
- Fetal lacerations
- Caput Succedaneum
- PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn)
There are other several other types of birth injuries that might also affect your newborn. Even if your child doesn’t have one of these specific injuries, you might want to talk to a birth injury lawyer about your case anyway.
Whether or Not There Was Negligence Involved
Your birth injury lawyer will then look at your case and determine if there was any negligence involved. If there’s no negligence on the doctor’s part, you’ll have a hard time filing a lawsuit against them.
Make sure you bring any and all evidence with you when you talk to your lawyer. This includes things like paperwork, pictures, videos, etc.
If you aren’t sure there was negligence involved or not, you can even talk to a third-party doctor. They might be able to examine the case and let you know if your doctor was negligent.
You should also show your lawyer the results of this conversation if you choose to go this route.
2. What Will You Do to Help Me and My Baby?
After they determine you have a cause, your birth injury lawyer should be willing and able to walk you through the next steps of the lawsuit. If your lawyer doesn’t answer your questions, explain the process, or have open communication you might want to look for another lawyer.
Here are the basic steps you should expect in your birth injury lawsuit.
During this time, your lawyer will search for and collect additional evidence. This can include things like hospital documents, witnesses, and expert testimony.
Your lawyer might also talk to you about a settlement. But even if you agree to the settlement amount, the defense might not agree. And depending on your circumstances, you might not want to settle.
This is the part when your lawyer will formally file a complaint against the defendant in civil court. The defense will then have a set amount of time to issue a formal response.
The discovery stage starts when the defense answers your complaint. During this time, the defense has the right to see all the evidence you’ve compiled against them.
Many defendants decide to negotiate a settlement at this point to avoid going to trial.
If you don’t negotiate a settlement, you might have to go to trial. But again, the defense might decide to settle even after the trial has begun.
You should never try to go through this process on your own. A birth injury lawyer will help you understand your rights and give you the best representation you can get. Winning a birth injury case without a lawyer is nearly impossible.
3. How Much Do You Charge?
Between worrying about hospital bills and taking care of the medical expenses for your new baby, a lawyer might be the last thing you can afford. Because of this, the money question is an important one.
But most lawyers will understand your circumstances, and many will work on a contingency fee. In other words, they won’t get paid unless you win the case. This means you won’t have to worry about expensive fees upfront.
You should always find a lawyer who works on a contingency fee. This will not only make them more affordable, but it will also ensure they are motivated to win your case.
If your lawyer doesn’t want to tell you how much they charge, you might want to take your services somewhere else.
4. How Long Will You Work on My Case?
Your lawyer might not be able to answer this question with an exact time frame. Every case is different, so there is no set amount of time in which your case will be done.
Many birth injury cases are long.
Most birth injury cases take several months to resolve. Your lawyer should work with you and stay in constant communication through all of it.
But don’t be concerned if the process is taking longer than you anticipated. Your lawyer might need time to put together a strong representation for you.
5. How Much Compensation Can You Win for Me?
Again, there is no set answer to this question. Don’t expect your lawyer to promise you a certain amount of money. In fact, if they do, you should take it as a warning flag.
Your lawyer should, however, be able to tell you what types of compensation you’re entitled to. This might include things like medical expenses associated with injuries, therapy and rehabilitation, pain and trauma, lost wages, emotional pain, in-home care costs, and punitive damages.
What to Ask Your New York Birth Injury Attorney
When you first meet your New York birth injury attorney, you should take the time to ask them lots of questions about your case. If they can’t answer your questions or dodge around them, you might want to find a new lawyer.
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