California Law: Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects

As California birth injury attorneys, we are often asked how birth injuries differ from birth defects. For families assessing potential legal claims, grasping this distinction proves critical. Below we’ll outline how California law differentiates these two categories.

Stalwart Law Group has decades of experience guiding clients through birth injury cases. Our talented and dedicated attorneys can give you personalized and strategic attention. Call our offices today at 310-954-2000 for your free consultation. 

Defining Birth Defects vs. Birth Injuries in California

Birth defects reflect anatomical, chromosomal, or genetic abnormalities already present when an infant is born. They originate prenatally as the fetus develops, frequently in the first trimester as organs form. Common examples include spina bifida, cleft lip/palate, Down syndrome, and clubfoot. The causes vary but often involve genetic mutations, infections, drug/alcohol abuse by the expectant mother, or unknown reasons. Families with a history of birth defects face higher risks.  

In contrast, birth injuries represent traumatic physical harm occurring to a baby during labor and delivery. They do not predate the birthing process like defects do. Instead, birth injuries typically stem from preventable medical errors committed by a physician, nurse, or other provider. Bone fractures, nerve damage, and oxygen deprivation reflect some common birth injuries.

Why the Legal Difference Matters

There are three key legal distinctions between birth defects and injuries: 

  1. Origin – prenatal defects prenatal vs. injuries during birthing   
  2. Causation – biological factors vs. medical negligence
  3. Legal options – defects rarely enable lawsuits while birth injuries canreflect provider negligence – allowing injured families to pursue compensation potentially.

In California medical malpractice law, birth defects typically don’t establish grounds for litigation since they originate unexpectedly or from biological variables outside a provider’s control and duty of care. But birth injuries canenable legal action since they frequently arise from improper medical treatment that could reasonably have been prevented. 

By understanding these core differences in origin, causation factors, and family compensation options under California law, parents can make better-informed choices during an already languishing time. Those wanting personalized legal guidance should contact an accomplished California birth injury lawyer immediately to safeguard their rights.

Documenting Evidence to Support Your Claim

Building a persuasive birth injury lawsuit requires extensively documenting all evidence tied to labor/delivery errors and resulting impairments. As your cerebral palsy attorney, we systematically collect items like:

  • Medical records from prenatal visits through postnatal pediatric care
  • Labor/delivery hospital charts 
  • Billing/payment records
  • Radiology/imaging scans  
  • School district evaluations on cognitive deficits, speech and language skills, and physical and occupational abilities 
  • Eyewitness accounts from parents and medical staff present at birth
  • Expert medical reviews pinpointing negligent acts behind injuries

Photographic and video evidence depicting impairments can prove useful too. By gathering such documentation early on, families strengthen litigation prospects before memories fade and paper trails disappear. But without proper evidence, even the most egregious medical errors inflicting serious infant harm may still fail in court regardless of their injustice.  

Establishing Liability: Key Questions to Answer

Additionally, working with specialists, we strive to pinpoint what negligent medical missteps caused injuries precisely – both acutely and down the line. But merely identifying liability alone doesn’t guarantee legal victory. The defendant’s negligent actions or inaction must have factually triggered subsequent impairments through a direct breach of accepted safety protocols. 

For instance, were vacuum or forceps utilized for over 20 minutes against guidelines? Did staff fail to perform an urgent C-section despite clear signs of fetal distress? Were excessive lateral traction forces applied to the baby’s head during delivery? 

Such clear departures from medical standards of care directly harming an infant establish plausible grounds for a birth injury claim. But without demonstrating factual causation between negligence and impairment, prospects stay doubtful – no matter how catastrophic the outcome proved for your child.

Anticipating and Overcoming Defense Arguments

Savvy attorneys further account for defense angles aimed at undercutting birth injury allegations, which we strive to defeat through extensive pre-trial discovery and litigation strategies. For example, arguments like:

  • “All care protocols were properly followed.” 
  • “The defects predated labor itself.”
  • “Subsequent cognitive deficits stemmed from separate pregnancy complications.”
  • “The delivery room team obtained proper consent from parents beforehand.”

By comprehensively disproving such angles, plaintiffs can defeat medical defendants, establish a breach of duty, and ultimately prevail for the injured child’s sake. But overlooking potential rebuttals often cripples otherwise strong cases.


Calculating Damages to Secure Maximum Compensation

Beyond demonstrating liability, quantifying the full scope and costs of an injured child’s present and future medical, educational, and living needs is imperative when negotiating settlement offers or litigating court judgments. Exacting financial pros often get retained to develop accurate life care plans forecasting necessities like:

  • Ongoing rehabilitative and behavioral therapies 
  • Long-term prescriptions + assistive devices
  • Caretakers 
  • Special education programming 
  • Loss of future income 
  • Accessibility of home/vehicle modifications

Robustly documenting all facets of care prevents families from securing inadequate results failing to fully cover years of medical bills and other costs that could quickly devastate parents’ finances.

Frequently Asked Birth Injury Questions

Any avoidable physical harm occurring to a newborn during the birthing process stems from provider negligence. Rather than prenatal developmental defects, they originate from medical errors committed during labor or delivery itself.

Yes, sometimes infants experience both prenatal defects advancing independently alongside physical trauma stemming from medical malpractice during birth. In such cases, differentiating the precise origin and causation of each impairment is critically important.

While minimizing certain risks, emergency C-sections still require skillful adherence to safety protocols. Many birth injuries occur due to reckless errors during surgical deliveries, not simply vaginal childbirth.

Potentially yes. Certain neurological, orthopedic, and other progressive disorders stemming from perinatal oxygen loss, motor nerve damage, and connected factors may remain subtle initially before worsening or becoming more noticeable as a child grows.

Plaintiffs typically have until the child’s 8th birthday to file a birth injury malpractice claim (or 3 years from the date of injury discovery if longer). Missing this deadline forfeits all legal rights no matter how compelling and well-documented the case ultimately was. However, the deadline can vary and be as little as six months to file a claim. Therefore, you should contact a Birth Injury Lawyer as soon as possible.

Choosing a Birth Injury Lawyer

Don’t hesitate to contact our talented and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Stalwart Law Group to protect your rights and your child’s future. Our attorneys have graduated from top law schools and are prepared to support you and your case. Justice may be a long process, but the outcome and results our attorneys achieve can make a tremendous difference for your family. Call us today for more information at 310-954-2000.

* The articles provided on the Stalwart Law website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used as professional legal advice or as a substitute for legal consultation with a qualified attorney.  

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