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How Long After a Birth Injury Can You Sue in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2022 | Birth Trauma

In Indiana, generally, an injured party has two years from the date of the alleged neglect, act, or omission to file a lawsuit. However, Indiana has made an exception for injuries to children. In Indiana, a special statute states that a minor less than six (6) years of age has until the minor’s eighth birthday to file a lawsuit. If a claim or lawsuit is not filed within the specified time frame, the victim may be barred from recovering compensation.

Circumstances Can Extend the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Birth Injury Claim or Lawsuit in Indiana

Sometimes certain circumstances may extend the statute of limitations. This is why it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

By obtaining a free consultation with an Indiana birth injury attorney as soon as they notice physical symptoms or developmental delays that may have been caused by medical negligence, parents can protect their right, and the right of their child, to recover compensation.

Why Are There Limits on How Long a Victim Has to File a Birth Injury Claim in Indiana?

A statute of limitations applies to birth injury lawsuits to ensure that legal matters are handled promptly. Courts consider it essential to pursue a legal case while the physical evidence is still intact and available, and witness accounts of events and details are still fresh.

Why Are There Exceptions that Apply to How Long a Victim Has to File a Birth Injury Claim in Indiana?

While some birth injuries show up immediately after childbirth or in the toddler years, many are not identified until the child begins walking or talking. During preschool years, a child may start to exhibit signs of physical or cognitive impairments that stem from birth injuries. Sometimes, however, parents may not realize their child suffered birth injuries until the child reaches school age.

Fortunately, Indiana recognizes these extenuating circumstances and makes exceptions, so the statute of limitations can be extended. The clock starts ticking toward the two-year deadline from the date the injury is discovered or when the child turns six, whichever is later. Types of birth injuries that may not be discovered right away include, but are not limited to:

  • Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Neonatal Infections and strokes
  • Umbilical cord problems

Determining Whether Medical Malpractice Is to Blame for Birth Injuries

Roughly 7 in every 1,000 births result in some type of birth injury in the United States. In Indiana, approximately between 550 and 600 infants are born with birth injuries each year. Medical errors are responsible for a large percentage of birth injuries that occur. Every year, approximately 28,000 infants suffer birth injuries that are preventable.

Each phase of labor involves compression, twisting, and tensing of the body. Even infants who are delivered by Cesarean section (c-section) often endure the stress of prolonged labor before surgery is performed. Many mothers also experience physical trauma during labor and delivery. Some of these birth injuries cause symptoms, like severe pelvic pain after birth.

Even when the birthing process goes smoothly, infants and their mothers face significant hazards during delivery. Timing and action are two crucial elements for preventing birth injuries caused by physical trauma and oxygen deprivation.

Physical Trauma

Birth injuries caused by physical trauma may occur when a doctor or nurse uses too much mechanical force during delivery. Excessive force results in bruises and lacerations, broken bones, swelling, burst blood vessels, and damaged nerves. Although some of these injuries heal on their own, others result in serious side effects for months to come. Some do not heal at all. Severe nerve damage, like a brachial plexus injury, can result in life-long disabilities. Common causes of physical trauma include:

  • Failing to recognize fetal distress
  • Improper use of forceps
  • Improper use of a vacuum extractor
  • Excessive pulling or traction on the baby
  • Giving medications to the mother shortly before or during delivery
  • Failing to perform an emergency C-section when needed

Oxygen Deprivation (Hypoxia)

Babies require a steady, reliable flow of oxygen before, during, and after delivery. It can take as little as 6 minutes for a child to suffer brain injuries or brain death from lack of oxygen. Common reasons babies do not receive enough oxygen include maternal infections, a uterine rupture, a placental tear, or an umbilical cord that gets wrapped around the baby’s neck. A lack of oxygen and buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood, tissues, and organs is serious. It can cause perinatal asphyxia, cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and other types of lifelong brain damage.

Birth injuries can happen during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn aftercare procedures. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have a duty  to follow “standards of care” to protect patients from preventable injuries. When they fail in that duty and someone gets hurt, medical professionals and facilities can be held liable for damages that occur.