Clovis, NM Birth Injury Lawyer

Millions Recovered for Medical Negligence Victims

Birth injuries are tragic experiences that can come with tremendous emotional, physical, and financial consequences. When these injuries could and should have been prevented, families may have grounds to seek legal action and financial compensation for their losses.

At James Wood Law, we’ve been fighting for medical negligence victims across ---- and the state of New Mexico for over 60 years. We’re backed by a caring and compassionate legal team and led by one of the region’s most respected medical malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyers, James Wood. Armed with this experience and insight, we’ve helped clients recover millions of dollars in compensation in claims brought against doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers and institutions. 

If you believe your child suffered a preventable birth injury, we want to help. Our Clovis birth injury lawyers offer FREE consultations and work on contingency, which means there’s no fee unless we win. Call (505) 906-6774 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.

What Is a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

A birth injury lawsuit is a legal action taken by the family of a newborn who has suffered harm before, during, or shortly after delivery. This type of lawsuit asserts that the injury was a result of medical negligence, meaning that the healthcare professionals involved failed to adhere to a recognized standard of medical care. The "standard of care" is a legal concept that refers to the degree of caution and attention a skilled and competent healthcare professional, with a similar background, would reasonably provide under similar circumstances.

In the context of birth injuries, this standard of care is crucial because it sets the benchmark against which the actions of healthcare providers are judged. Whether it involves monitoring fetal heart rates, deciding when a cesarean section is warranted, or correctly using birth-assisting tools, every step in the management of labor and delivery is subject to established medical protocols. Deviation from these protocols may be considered negligence if it directly results in harm.

For plaintiffs (the family filing the lawsuit) to successfully prove a birth injury claim in New Mexico, the following elements must be proven:

  1. Duty of Care: Prove that the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient. In the context of childbirth, this is generally established by the patient-provider relationship.
  2. Breach of Standard of Care: Show that the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care. This involves proving that the actions or inactions of the provider deviated from what is considered acceptable medical practice in similar situations.
  3. Causation: Establish a direct link between the breach of the standard of care and the injury sustained. This means proving that the injury was a direct result of the healthcare provider’s actions or lack thereof, rather than another cause.
  4. Damages: Demonstrate that the injury led to specific damages. This can include physical harm, financial loss (such as medical expenses or lost earnings), and emotional distress.

Understanding these components is crucial for families considering a birth injury lawsuit. It underscores the complexity of proving medical negligence and highlights the importance of working with experienced lawyers who can adequately investigate, secure expert testimonies, and construct winning claims. 

Examples of Birth Injuries 

There are many types of birth injuries, including some that result through no fault of a medical professional. However, there are also injuries that are often caused by medical negligence before, during, and after birth. Some examples include:

  • Cerebral Palsy: This condition can arise from a lack of oxygen to the baby's brain during labor and delivery. Negligence may be involved if there was a failure to monitor the fetal heart rate adequately, delays in performing necessary interventions like a C-section, or misuse of birth-assisting tools. Children with cerebral palsy may experience impaired movement, coordination, and muscle tone, requiring lifelong care and therapy.
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries (Erb's Palsy): These injuries occur when the nerves in the baby's neck are damaged, often during a difficult delivery, such as with shoulder dystocia. If the medical team applies excessive force or fails to employ proper techniques to resolve the dystocia, it could lead to Erb's palsy. Children affected may have weakness, loss of function, or paralysis in the affected arm.
  • Fractures: Bone fractures, particularly of the collarbone or clavicle, can happen during delivery, especially in breech positions or where there is rough handling of the baby. While many fractures heal, the injury can cause significant pain and distress for the newborn and anxiety for the parents.
  • Perinatal Asphyxia: This condition is caused by a deficient supply of oxygen to the baby around the time of birth. It can result from delayed C-sections, inadequate monitoring of the baby's heart rate, or failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord. Consequences can range from temporary breathing problems to permanent brain damage.
  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): HIE is a severe form of brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation. Like cerebral palsy, it can stem from failures to act on signs of fetal distress. HIE can lead to cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, epilepsy, and developmental delays, imposing profound impacts on the child's and family's quality of life.

How Do I Know When Medical Negligence Caused a Birth Injury?

Determining if a birth injury was caused by medical negligence and whether there are grounds for legal action involves a close examination of the circumstances surrounding the birth and the healthcare providers' actions. A crucial step is understanding what medical negligence means in the context of childbirth. Simply put, medical negligence occurs when healthcare professionals provide care that falls below the accepted standard, leading to harm.

Some examples of how medical negligence can lead to preventable birth injuries:

  • Failure to Monitor Fetal Heart Rate: Failing to monitor the fetus’s heart rate can cause providers to miss signs of distress, leading to delayed intervention and injuries such as cerebral palsy, HIE, or other forms of brain damage. 
  • Improper Use of Birth-Assisting Tools: Forceps or vacuum extractors, when used incorrectly, can cause physical injuries like skull fractures or brain damage.
  • Delay in Ordering Necessary Procedures: A delay in deciding to perform a cesarean section when it's clearly indicated can result in oxygen deprivation to the baby, causing conditions like cerebral palsy or brachial plexus injuries.
  • Lack of Attention to Maternal Health: Ignoring or mismanaging maternal health conditions, such as preeclampsia, which can affect oxygen and nutrient delivery to the fetus, potentially leading to birth injuries.
  • Inadequate Response to Labor Complications: Failing to act swiftly and effectively when complications, such as umbilical cord prolapse or shoulder dystocia, arise can lead to preventable injuries.

The best way to determine whether you have a viable claim is to have it reviewed by legal counsel. And because medical malpractice cases are highly complex and fact-specific matters that not all lawyers are equipped to handle, you want to be sure that you’re reaching out to a lawyer with proven experience in this field. 

At James Wood Law, we have that experience. We’ve been litigating medical malpractice cases for over six decades and have built a record of success that includes over 50 medical negligence jury trials and more than 150 successful settlements. We’re available 24/7 to take a closer look at your case and legal options. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injury Lawsuits in Clovis, NM?

New Mexico generally requires that legal action be initiated within a specific time frame after an injury occurs or after an injury is discovered. Typically, this period is three years for medical malpractice cases. However, exceptions to this rule can extend or affect the deadline, especially in cases involving minors or when the injury was not immediately apparent.

Because the statute of limitations can vary depending on the unique circumstances surrounding each case, it's crucial to consult directly with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice and birth injury cases. An experienced attorney can evaluate the specifics of your situation, including the timing of the injury's discovery and any factors that might influence the applicable statute of limitations. Seeking professional legal advice ensures that your case is assessed accurately, and you are informed about the deadlines by which you need to act to preserve your right to seek justice and compensation for your child's birth injury.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Birth Injury Lawsuit?

Damages in a birth injury lawsuit are intended to compensate for the losses and impacts experienced by the child and their family. These can include:

  • Economic Damages: These are quantifiable costs directly resulting from the injury.
    • Medical expenses (past and future) for surgeries, medications, therapies, and any necessary medical equipment.
    • Lost earnings, if applicable, especially in cases where a parent must reduce work hours or cease employment to care for the child.
    • Costs for special education services or accommodations needed due to the injury.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These pertain to the more subjective, non-monetary consequences of an injury.
    • Pain and suffering experienced by the child and their family.
    • Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and trauma.
    • Loss of enjoyment of life for the child, especially if their abilities to partake in normal childhood activities are impaired.
  • Punitive Damages: Although less common, punitive damages might be awarded in cases where the defendant's actions were especially egregious or reckless.

In New Mexico, there are caps on damages in medical malpractice cases that limit the amount plaintiffs can recover, but these caps specifically exclude punitive damages and certain types of medical and rehabilitative care costs. As of the last update:

  • The cap is set at $600,000 for non-medical and non-punitive damages in most medical malpractice cases.
  • Costs for past and future medical care, including rehabilitation and custodial care, are not subject to these caps.

What Is the New Mexico Medical Review Commission?

New Mexico is one of several states with a process for vetting medical malpractice actions before they can be filed in court. Specifically, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 41-5-28 makes it mandatory for all victims pursuing claims based on medical malpractice – including birth injury lawsuits – to first submit their case to the New Mexico Medical Review Commission.

Comprised of several health care professionals and an attorney, the NMMRC is an impartial panel that evaluates claims, submitted evidence, and the quality of care provided. If the panel finds that a medical practitioner failed to meet the standard of care, victims can proceed with their lawsuits.

Because evaluations by the Medical Review Commission are mandatory and critical to your right to recover damages, you’ll want to ensure that your submission is supported by evidence and testimony from other medical experts. At James Wood Law, we have extensive experience preparing claims for the Medical Review Commission panel and can assist you in gathering and presenting the strongest possible evidence. 

Have Questions? Our Clovis, NM Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help.

At James Wood Law, we know that preventable birth injuries can take an immense toll on families and introduce difficult questions about their ability to bear the burden of extra expenses. As such, we’re passionate about leveraging our decades of experience, special certifications, and extensive resources to position clients for the resolutions they need.

If you have questions about a birth injury case in Curry County, NM, our attorneys can help. Give us a call at (505) 906-6774 to request a FREE case evaluation.

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Why We Should Be Your First Choice

  • Multiple Verdicts and Settlements Obtained of $1 Million or More
  • Tried More Than 50 Cases to a Jury & Settled More Than 150 Cases
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