How to Prove Medical Negligence in a Birth Injury Case: Key Elements to Consider


In order to prove medical negligence in a birth injury case, your birth injury attorney in Philadelphia or wherever you’re located must prove the following four elements:

     1. DUTY

A professional duty is the first element in a birth injury claim. The attorney has to establish that there was a relationship between the doctor (or healthcare staff) and the mother and baby. In order to do this, they might ask: was this medical provider charged with taking care of the mother and baby? If the answer is yes, then duty has been established.


The next element in the claim is breach of duty. Once the birth injury lawyer has proven that the medical professional had a duty to care for the mother and baby, the attorney must next prove that the

medical professional breached that duty. In other words, they have to prove that the medical professional failed to provide the standard of care expected of them. An example of breach of duty is when the doctor fails to perform a cesarean section (c-section) when it is indicated that they should do so. A c-section is where the doctor strategically cuts the mother’s abdomen and uterus so as to remove the baby safely from the uterus. A c-section may be indicated, for example, where the mother has a medical condition that prevents her from safely delivering her baby vaginally and/or if the delivery needs to occur urgently due to a non-reassuring condition of the baby.  If the doctor fails to perform the c-section where and/or when it is indicated, they have breached their duty of care to the mother and baby.


The next element the birth injury attorney must prove is causation. If they can establish that the baby’s injury would not have occurred if it were not for the defendants’ actions or inactions, then they have proved causation. In other words, in order for the birth injury claim to be successful, the attorney must prove that the medical provider’s mistake – their negligence – led to the baby’s injuries and/or increased their risk of harm of sustaining their injuries.  For example, in Pennsylvania, it’s not necessary to prove that the medical provider’s negligent actions were the only cause of the baby’s injuries. It’s only necessary to prove that the medical provider’s negligence increased the risk of harm to the baby.

     4. DAMAGES

The last element the birth injury attorney must prove is damages. The attorney will need to establish that, as the result of the medical professional’s medical negligence, the baby suffered injuries. Common “damages” claims in birth injury lawsuits include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and brachial plexus.


If the birth injury attorney can prove the above four elements, the client’s claim will have all the essential elements of medical negligence to move forward in a court of law. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of a medical provider’s mistake, contact the experienced birth injury lawyers at VSCP LAW.


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