A number of things can go wrong during childbirth, putting your baby at risk of temporary or permanent injury. If your child has suffered a birth injury due to the action or inaction of a medical care provider, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and recoup the costs associated with long-term treatment and rehabilitative care.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS UNDER ARIZONA LAW
Arizona has a two-year statute of limitations for all medical malpractice cases, including birth injury cases. Your case must be filed no later than two years from the date of injury. In many cases, a birth injury is immediately apparent. Parents receive a troubling diagnosis, notice that their child has an unexplained broken bone, or go through a lengthy NICU stay. In the event that a birth injury is immediately visible, you must file before the two-year statute of limitations is up.
Not all birth injuries are immediately recognizable. Some may take years to become known, particularly if they cause your child to miss milestones or experience delayed growth. In these situations, the discovery rule applies. The discovery rule indicates that the statute of limitations does not apply insinuations where the victim could not reasonably have known about the injury when it occurred.
DOES ARIZONA HAVE DAMAGE CAPS OR SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY?
In some states, those filing medical malpractice cases have damage caps that limit how much they can receive from a successful lawsuit. Arizona does not have damage caps for victims of medical negligence. Furthermore, Arizona does not have sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity typically protects hospitals owned by a government agency from lawsuits. Arizona law does not offer sovereign immunity.
PROVING A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE
In a medical malpractice case, you must show that your medical care providers did not meet the accepted standard of care during labor and delivery. The accepted standard of care is how a reasonable care provider with equivalent training would act under similar circumstances. This requires substantial evidence, including expert testimony. It’s important to keep all of your medical records to show exactly what happened during the birth process and where care providers deviated from the acceptable standard of care.
COMMON BIRTH INJURIES
Since the statute of limitations is relatively short for medical malpractice cases, it’s important to listen to your instincts and get a second opinion if you suspect that your child has suffered a birth injury. Common injuries include:
- Forceps marks or bruising
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
- Facial paralysis
- Clavicle fracture
- Brachial palsy
- Cerebral palsy
Some birth injuries cause short-term discomfort but do not have any long-term effects on your child’s health. For a medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove that the care team did not follow the standard of care and that you have measurable damages.
YOUR CHILD HAS SUFFERED A BIRTH INJURY—NOW WHAT?
If you believe your care team has acted negligently during labor and delivery, it’s important to advocate for your child and find out if you’re within the birth injury lawsuit statute of limitations. Call the Phoenix office of Miller Kory Rowe, LLP at (602) 648-4045 to discuss your case.