Your child’s birth should be a moment of joy, not one marred by a preventable injury like shoulder dystocia. These injuries have immediate medical risks for both mother and baby as well as lasting emotional and financial consequences for the family. The effects of a poorly managed shoulder dystocia case can reverberate through your family’s life for years to come.
At Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we understand the many challenges you face and are here to help. Our award-winning, veteran-led law firm has more than 30 years of experience helping families like yours hold negligent medical providers to account. We are prepared to handle every aspect of your shoulder dystocia injury case, from collecting evidence to representing you in court. Let our Morgantown medical malpractice attorney fight for the compensation you deserve.
Start the process of healing and securing your family’s future now. Contact Robinette Legal Group, PLLC anytime, 24/7, for your free initial consultation with a Morgantown birth injury lawyer.
What Is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia is a severe birth-related medical condition that occurs when the baby’s shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone when passing through the birth canal. This can result in a complicated and stressful birthing situation that requires immediate medical intervention. Shoulder dystocia poses risks to both the mother and the baby, including birth trauma, fractures, and, in severe cases, permanent injury or even death.
The term “dystocia” comes from the Greek words ‘dys,’ meaning difficult, and ‘tokos,’ meaning birth, essentially describing a difficult labor or delivery. Shoulder dystocia is considered an obstetric emergency that requires swift and expert action to deliver the baby safely. In these cases, medical professionals may employ various techniques and maneuvers to release the baby’s shoulders and complete the delivery, like the McRoberts maneuver or gentle traction.
Healthcare providers must recognize the signs of shoulder dystocia and act quickly to mitigate risks. Failure to do so can result in significant medical consequences for which they may be legally liable. If your child suffered a birth injury from shoulder dystocia, consult a medical malpractice attorney immediately to discuss your legal options.
What Causes Shoulder Dystocia?
The causes of shoulder dystocia can be difficult to pinpoint, as it often results from a combination of factors. However, several known risk factors increase the likelihood of this condition, including the following:
- Maternal Factors: Mothers who are overweight, have gestational diabetes, or have a history of shoulder dystocia in previous deliveries are at an increased risk.
- Fetal Factors: Larger-than-average babies are more prone to experiencing shoulder dystocia.
- Labor Factors: Prolonged labor, especially in the second stage, and certain birthing positions can contribute to this condition.
- Medical Interventions: Using forceps, vacuum extractors, or epidurals increases the risk of shoulder dystocia during labor.
- Multiple Births: Twins, triplets, or higher-order multiples are more likely to suffer shoulder dystocia than single births.
It’s worth noting that shoulder dystocia can also occur unpredictably in births without any of these risk factors. Given the severe nature of this condition, medical providers should prepare for its possibility in every delivery and act swiftly if it occurs. Legal action might be appropriate if providers deviate from the proper procedures and hurt either the mother or the baby by doing so.
Complications Associated with Shoulder Dystocia
Shoulder dystocia is an obstetric emergency that can lead to various complications for both the mother and the baby. The most immediate risk for the infant is a lack of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage or even death if not quickly resolved.
Other potential shoulder dystocia complications for the baby include:
- Brachial Plexus Injury: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves controlling the arm and hand muscles. An injury here could lead to permanent disability or paralysis of the arm.
- Fractures: The collarbone or arm bones can break during efforts to dislodge the shoulders.
- Facial Injuries: Forceps or vacuum extractors can cause temporary or permanent facial injuries.
For the mother, complications may include:
- Postpartum Hemorrhage: The excessive pulling and manipulations to free the baby can cause uterine tearing, leading to severe bleeding after childbirth.
- Tearing: The intense force applied during delivery can tear the vaginal tissues or even the cervix, requiring surgical repair.
- Emotional Trauma: The stress and anxiety associated with a complicated delivery can have long-lasting emotional and psychological impacts.
These complications are serious, and families impacted by shoulder dystocia can seek compensation for the harm they endured.
Compensation Available in a West Virginia Shoulder Dystocia Claim
Depending on the particular nature of the harm you and your child suffered, shoulder dystocia compensation in your case might cover:
- Medical Expenses: Past and future medical costs for treatments, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation associated with the injury
- Pain and Suffering: Physical and emotional distress from the shoulder dystocia injury
- Lost Income: Lost income from missed time at work and losses in future earning potential due to permanent birth-related impairments
- Legal Fees: Many cases also allow you to recover for any legal costs you incur during the lawsuit
How Can a Shoulder Dystocia Attorney Help?
If you know or suspect you have a shoulder dystocia case, a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney can make all the difference. Your lawyer can protect your rights and maximize your compensation by:
- Evaluating the merits of your case and explaining your options
- Gathering relevant medical records and documentation
- Securing expert medical witnesses for testimony
- Reviewing the mother’s prenatal and delivery records
- Conducting depositions of medical professionals involved
- Establishing the standard of care that your medical team breached
- Determining the complete extent of your losses, current and future
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
- Engaging in mediation or arbitration efforts
- Taking your case to trial, if necessary
- Filing appeals if the case outcome is unfavorable
Keep in mind that there is a deadline to file these claims. In general, West Virginians have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim.
Contact Our Shoulder Dystocia Lawyers in Morgantown, WV Today
Time is of the essence in a shoulder dystocia case. The sooner you act, the stronger your case can be. Trust your case to Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, a firm with a proven track record and considerable experience with shoulder dystocia claims.
Schedule your free initial consultation with our Morgantown personal injury lawyer today.