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Click on an image below to see the full video. Birth Injury Lawyer

Did you know that more than 20,000 babies are born in the Philadelphia area each year? According to data from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, this number has been on the rise over the last decade. While no expecting parents like to think about the risk of a serious birth injury, birth injuries and defects impact newborn babies much too frequently in Philadelphia. In many cases, the injuries could have been prevented. While avoidable birth injuries typically do not result from a healthcare provider’s intentional act, they can occur when a medical professional is careless, or negligent, during the birth process.

According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), birth defects account for about 20 percent of all infant deaths. Of every 1,000 babies born, between six and eight will suffer a birth injury. The rate of birth injuries is higher among baby boys (about 6.6 per every 1,000 infants born) than for baby girls (about 5.1 per every 1,000). For mothers giving birth in the Northeastern United States, the risk of a birth injury rises by anywhere from 24 percent to 32 percent. While some birth injuries are not preventable, in many cases, the attending physician or another healthcare provider may be liable.

At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we have decades of experience handling birth injury claims, and we work tirelessly to ensure that we advocate for our clients to the very best of our abilities. In handling birth injury lawsuits, we work closely with medical experts and experienced physicians who can assess the medical aspects of your claim to support your case.

How Long Does a Birth Injury Lawsuit Take? What to Expect in a Birth Injury Lawsuit

Expecting parents do not want to think about potential complications during the birth of their child, especially when those complications are preventable. However, far too often, newborn babies suffer birth injuries and defects due to negligent medical professionals.  Approximately 20 percent of infant deaths are attributed to birth injury, and of every 1,000 babies born, roughly between six and eight will be impacted by a birth injury.

By taking legal action when medical malpractice occurs, parents can seek compensation for injuries suffered by their children. So how long does a birth injury lawsuit take? We’ll explore what to expect in a birth injury lawsuit. From timelines and settlement negotiations to finding the right birth injury lawyer to handle your case. 

Timeline to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit

It is important to get started on your birth injury case as soon as possible. The earlier an investigation into medical malpractice is started, the records are more assured of being available, the more witnesses and parties are able to be identified, and the better the witness memories. And if there is a meritorious claim, starting a claim will move you towards resolving your claims and potentially obtaining financial compensation for common birth injuries in a timely manner.  

When to File a Birth Injury Lawsuit

It is important to file your case as soon as possible. If you wait too long, it may become more difficult to locate important witnesses or preserve records and other evidence needed to prove your claim. Similar to filing a police report, it is also important to file when your memory is still sharp from the incident. 

The Statute of Limitations on Birth Injury Lawsuits

Each state has a different statute of limitations or the “time limit” for how long you have to file a lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, for example, the statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits to recover damages for the child is two years from the date your minor child becomes an adult.  In other words, a child injured during birth usually has until the age of twenty to bring a lawsuit.

However, it is often beneficial to file a claim closer to the date the injury occurred. 

Your Options If the Statute of Limitations on Your Birth Injury Lawsuit Has Passed

Unfortunately there is not much that can be done once the deadline has passed. However, there are some exceptions. For example, some birth injuries do not present themselves until long after birth. In these cases, the statute of limitations could start at the date a birth injury is discovered. 

Fortunately in Pennsylvania, birth injury lawsuits seeking damages for the child can be filed up until the date of the child’s 20th birthday, which normally allows significant time to evaluate and file a claim. The time period or statute of limitations in other states may be shorter than in Pennsylvania and so it is important to consult an attorney promptly.

Timeline for Settlement Negotiations for a Birth Injury Lawsuit

Birth injury litigation can take anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on various factors. An investigation into a birth injury claim is necessary to establish proof that the defendant was negligent and liable for potential damages. What is found during the investigation can also, along with other factors, determine potential settlement and jury verdict amounts. 

How Settlement Amounts in Birth Injury Lawsuits Are Determined

Settlement amounts are determined based on a variety of factors. The birth injury lawyers must compile all medical records and review them with expert physicians to investigate the birth injury claim. This includes prenatal and postnatal care, and delivery, as well as any type of lab report, radiology or fetal monitoring data.

After the investigation, medical experts review the compiled documents and determine if the birth injury was in fact caused by medical malpractice. There are many birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, that can result from medical negligence. However, there are other injuries that may not be so evident such as trauma in pregnancy.

This is why it is necessary for medical experts, such as gynecologists and obstetricians, to review all medical records. This entire process can take several months to a year. Damages in a birth injury lawsuit are comprised of economic elements including medical expenses, costs of therapies and equipment, and care an injured child may require.

Damages include less tangible, but equally significant damages including physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of life’s pleasures the injured child may endure. 

How Long It Takes to Determine a Settlement Amount in Birth Injury Lawsuits

An average birth injury claim takes approximately two to four years from beginning to end. There are some cases that last even longer, between six to ten years, and some cases that are settled in a matter of months. The length of time is dependent on how difficult it is to prove medical malpractice, the jurisdiction the case is pending in and whether the defendant or their insurer recognizes the risk they face of trying the case before a jury. 

How Long It Takes for Plaintiffs to Receive the Settlement in a Birth Injury Lawsuit

It is difficult to place a definitive timeline on when or if you will receive financial compensation in a birth injury case. Each case is unique and its resolution depends on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. In some cases, the defendant (or the medical professional), will agree to the terms and within months a case could be settled.

However, it is rare for a birth injury case to settle so promptly, as the parties need to engage in the discovery of the case (described below) in order to be fully apprised of the claims and defenses in the case. 

Court Process for a Birth Injury Lawsuit

After a lawsuit is filed, the next stage in a lawsuit is the discovery phase. In discovery, the parties ask questions in writing called interrogatories and request the production of documents or things that may be relevant to the case. Parties and witnesses can be questioned under oath and in what are called depositions.

The discovery process is designed to let each party learn about the claims and defenses in the case and to avoid surprise at trial. Once discovery is completed, with each party understanding better the risks of their positions, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations. If you or the medical defendants do not agree to a settlement of your birth injury claim, the next step is going to trial.

The judge and jury will listen to the arguments from both sides and deliver a judgment. If your case is successful, a jury may enter a verdict in your favor and award monetary damages.  If a jury does not find medical negligence was the cause of your child’s birth trauma, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file an appeal. 

What to Expect in a Birth Injury Lawsuit

While each case is different, the following process is what to expect in a birth injury lawsuit:

  1. The Demand Letter – In rare cases, the medical malpractice is evident, and your lawyer may send the potential defendants and their insurer to discuss a settlement. This letter is sometimes sent by your attorney prior to filing a formal lawsuit. The letter will explain the nature of the case ie the claimed medical malpractice and the resulting damages in an attempt to reach a settlement and receive compensation from the medical professional. 
  2. Building a Strong Case – If the demand letter is rejected, and it usually is, the next step is to begin building your case, as mentioned above. This is the step in the process when your attorneys marshal the evidence found in medical records and supported by expert witnesses to prepare a lawsuit. 
  3. Filing the Lawsuit – Your personal injury lawyer will then file your case in a court of law. This is the point in the process where you will officially become the “plaintiff” and the medical professionals will become the “defendants.” If the defendants do not reply to the court notice of a filed lawsuit, you may take a “default judgment” against the defendant. 
  4. The “Discovery Phase” – This is a deep dive into all aspects of the medical treatment in question and the damages claimed via review of hospital bills and medical records as well obtaining witness testimony via depositions. 
  5. Settlement Negotiations – The best-case scenario in a birth injury lawsuit is to reach a settlement. If a fair settlement is reached, you and your family will be compensated through an official agreement, and the lawsuit is legally over. 
  6. The Trial and Appeal – A judge and jury will listen to your case from both sides and make a decision. If you do not win your case, you can potentially appeal.  

The Length of an Average Birth Injury Lawsuit

Similar to the settlement process, every lawsuit is different. However, the average length of a birth injury lawsuit is normally between two and four years, though, as noted earlier, it can last far longer.  

Factors That Can Prolong a Birth Injury Lawsuit

There are many factors that can prolong a birth injury lawsuit. For example, hospitals can take months to return all the necessary medical records and lab reports. If settlement negotiations are not reached, the lawsuit is prolonged by going to trial. Courts in different jurisdictions have different backlogs of cases that affect when cases come to trial.

And lastly, if the defendant wants to appeal the court’s decision, the lawsuit may continue until all appeals are exhausted. 

How an Attorney Can Assist during a Birth Injury Lawsuit

Your attorney and legal team are there for you and your family during one of the most challenging times in your life. They will ensure that your case is strong enough to get you the financial compensation you deserve.

What to Look For in a Birth Injury Lawyer

It is important that your lawyer has extensive experience in birth injury claims. A birth injury lawsuit requires relationship building and broad knowledge of the medical malpractice world. Without the right experience, your case can become more challenging and prolonged.

Lastly, it is important to hire an attorney who supports and understands the special-needs community. 

The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney in a Birth Injury Lawsuit

Hiring an experienced birth injury attorney can bring peace of mind during challenging times. A birth injury attorney will be able to determine if there is a claim, how strong the claim is, and the potential for monetary damages. They will then fight for your case to ensure the appropriate compensation is delivered and navigate the legal world so you don’t have to. 

How to Hire a Birth Injury Lawyer

It is best to look for birth injury lawyers who are recommended by members of the community and who have a high success record. It is important to do your research, conduct interviews, and assess fees and costs.


For over four decades, the lawyers at Cohen, Placitella & Roth have brought an unwavering commitment and dedication to the legal representation of individuals and families devastated by injury or death caused by unsafe products, professional malpractice, or negligent and reckless misconduct.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Client-Centric Firm is Always Focused on Excellence

LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell® annually reports Cohen, Placitella & Roth’s peer rating-the highest AV®-—” a testament to professional excellence.” Since the inaugural U.S. News & World Report ‘Best Law Firms’ edition in 2010, Cohen, Placitella & Roth has been rated by its peers as one of the top tier class action, personal injury, and mass tort law firms in the country.


“Mr. Cohen, thank you for everything. From the moment our daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy it changed our lives forever. We saw a number of lawyers before we met you, but you listened and you fought for our family. Your work and the money has made all difference in our lives. You will always be in our prayers.”

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Medical Negligence

A $14.5 million recovery in a medical negligence case for a child who suffered brain damage as a result of the physicians’ failure to properly manage post operative care.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

What are some of the most common types of birth injuries? A fact sheet from Stanford Children’s Health and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital explains some of the more frequent birth injuries that impact babies. At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we handle a wide variety of birth injuries, including but not limited to:

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is the group of nerves in the arms and hands. When the brachial plexus is injured, an infant can develop brachial palsy. Depending upon the severity of the injury, the baby can lose the ability to flex and to rotate its arm, or in more severe cases, a tearing of the nerves can lead to permanent nerve damage and paralysis. Typically brachial plexus injuries result during delivery and when there is difficulty removing the baby’s shoulder, which is called shoulder dystocia.

Broken and/or Fractured Bones

Broken or fractured bones are another common type of birth injury. Most often, the baby’s clavicle or collarbone will break during labor and delivery. When the healthcare provider has difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder, the clavicle can break. This can also happen during breech delivery. When a baby’s clavicle breaks, it is rarely able to move the arm, although healing often occurs relatively quickly.

Spinal Cord Injuries

When an infant undergoes blunt force trauma or is subject to a particularly difficult birth, a spinal cord injury can result. Although spinal cord injuries are not especially common among infants, they can result in life-long damage and even paralysis. Sometimes spinal cord injuries occur in infants as a result of undiagnosed spina bifida.


This is a type of birth injury that refers to bleeding under the bones. Specifically, a cephalohematoma refers to a particular place of bleeding underneath one of the baby’s cranial bones. In some cases, a particularly large area of bleeding can cause jaundice. Sometimes these injuries result from the use of forceps or other birth tools.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is most commonly caused by a brain injury while a baby’s brain is developing. When a birth is particularly difficult, an infant may sustain head trauma or may suffer from a lack of oxygen to the brain. Such conditions, as well as other incidents such as infection or meningitis, can lead to cerebral palsy. This condition is characterized by the child’s loss or impairment of motor function.

Caput Succedaneum

Caput Succedaneum is a condition that refers to swelling in the newborn’s scalp after birth, which often results due to prolonged pressure from the dilated cervix, and may be the result of negligence on behalf of the attending doctor during birth.

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal Asphyxia occurs when the newborn baby has been deprived of adequate oxygen during the birthing process. This generally results in damage to the brain, which can have lifelong detrimental effects.

Intracranial Hemorrhage/Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

These types of hemorrhages involve bleeding within the skull, either inside of the brain, or between the brain and thin tissues that cover the brain. This may result from trauma during the birthing process, and is considered a life-threatening emergency.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

A Subconjunctival Hemorrhage results from the bursting of a small blood vessel beneath the clear surface of the eyes. This often results due to physical trauma during the birthing process. This may heal itself within a period of time, or, in other cases, it may have lasting effects.

Facial Paralysis

During an especially traumatic birth, newborns may experience facial paralysis, often as a result of incorrect use of forceps or other actions taken by the medical provider.

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If your child suffered a birth injury, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced birth injury attorney in Philadelphia can assess your case today. Contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. today to learn more about how we can help.

FAQ's about Birth Injury

A birth injury is a personal injury that occurs during the process of labor and delivery. In many cases, birth injuries are preventable and result from a healthcare provider’s negligence or lack of training.

There are many different types of birth injuries that can lead to successful lawsuits. At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we handle a wide variety of birth injury claims including those connected to brachial palsy, fractures, spinal cord injuries, cephalohematoma, and cerebral palsy.

Many different parties may be liable for birth injuries, including any healthcare provider present during the process of labor and delivery. For instance, an obstetrician or a midwife or a nurse may bear some responsibility for a birth injury.

Under Pennsylvania law, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. As such, it is extremely important to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia as soon as possible.

Many birth injury cases do involve a situation in which a healthcare provider’s negligence resulted in the baby’s injuries. However, there are some cases in which your physician or nurse may not be liable for injuries. Your Philadelphia birth injury attorney can assess your case and discuss your options with you.

Generally speaking, birth injuries can lead to two different types of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages provide compensation for specific losses such as hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitative treatments, and medications. Non-economic damages are intended to provide compensation for more subjective losses, such as the infant’s loss of enjoyment of life of limited lifespan as a result of the birth injury.

Birth injury cases can vary in length, depending upon whether the defendant(s) will agree to an appropriate settlement or whether we will need to take your case to trial. A Philadelphia birth injury lawyer can discuss the specifics of your case with you. Regardless of the length of time your case takes, we will advocate for your right to compensation every step of the way.

Parents of children who are harmed during birth have a single pressing question: Will my child get better? The truth is that whether or not your child will improve, and whether or not they will be able to live a normal, healthy life depends entirely upon the extent of injury and the type of medical care and treatment they receive. Consider the following common birth injuries and outcomes:

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves in the shoulder. When it is impacted, the result can be weakness or paralysis of the upper arm, lower arm and hand, or both. In many cases, brachial plexus injuries will heal completely with time. Sometimes, surgery may be necessary. In severe cases, the child may suffer from long-term disability.


A baby may suffer a fracture during the birthing process, most commonly a fracture of the clavicle. Fortunately, most infant fractures will heal completely with proper treatment.


Asphyxia refers to the lack of oxygen to the child, and can have permanent consequences. Fetal asphyxia may lead to brain damage, causing permanent cognitive deficits and affecting educational achievements, behavior, and neuropsychological functioning.

In most cases, injuries to the brain or spinal cord are the most serious and have the most severe long-term consequences. In general, other injuries may heal fully, or may heal to the point that the child is able to live a full, happy, and mobile life.

Giving birth to a child with any type of disability is an emotional experience. Whether the disability is physical or cognitive, knowing that your child may be limited in their life as a result is a difficult thing to cope with.

What can be even more challenging is not knowing why your baby was born with a disability – Is the disability a natural defect, or did it occur as a direct result of a birth injury caused by negligence?

Did Your Doctor Inform You of the Disability Before Birth?

Technology these days is amazing, and the majority of disabilities and birth defects are known before the mother even gives birth. If you received ultrasounds and blood work during your pregnancy and a defect was suspected, the doctor was legally obligated to relay this information to you. As such, if your doctor told you before you gave birth that your baby would have a disability/birth defect, it is unlikely that the disability is the result of a birth injury.

Working with an Attorney

If you aren’t sure whether or not your child’s disability is the result of an act of malpractice/birth injury or a birth defect, you should contact an attorney. A consultation is completely free, and an attorney can help you to decide what actions to take next. In many cases, experts may need to be called upon to determine the precise cause of your child’s disability and rule out natural causes.

Birth injuries are tragic, leaving a child with disfigurement or disability that could be permanent. While not all birth injuries are preventable and may occur as a result of unpredictable factors that even the best medicine cannot remedy, most birth injuries should never occur. The following considers some things that physicians could do to prevent birth injuries from occurring:

  • Better communication. Poor communication amongst the delivery team is one of the top causes of birth injuries in the U.S. Communication errors can result in a misdiagnosis, a failure to relay important information about a patient’s condition, or a medication or treatment error.
  • Appropriate use of delivery tools. One thing that contributes to the prevalence of birth injuries is the inappropriate use of delivery tools such as forceps and vacuum extractors. While these tools can be helpful in certain situations, they should be used with caution.
  • Better monitoring of mother and baby. The failure to properly monitor a mother and baby in order to detect for complications that could affect the birthing process and the baby’s health is a common cause of birth injuries. Blood tests, ultrasounds, heart rate monitoring, and more are all essential.
  • Appropriate use of force. A common birth injury is an injury to the brachial plexus, the collection of nerves located in the shoulder. An injury to the brachial plexus is common when the baby become lodged in the birthing canal, and in order to remove the baby, the doctor tugs aggressively on the baby’s head, neck, arm, or shoulder. This excessive use of force is dangerous, and can have serious consequences.

If your child is the victim of a preventable birth injury caused by malpractice, our lawyers can help you prove it and recover compensation for losses.

It is important to know that if you are thinking about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages for your child’s birth injuries, doing so involves a large commitment of time. This is especially true when a settlement cannot be reached out of court in mediation/negotiations, and therefore must be litigated.

Timeline for a Medical Malpractice Claim

Once you hire an attorney and the lawyer investigates your case and calls upon experts, the negotiations process will begin. This is when the attorney goes to the defendant’s insurer (most settlements come from a physician’s malpractice insurer) and demands recompense. The insurance can accept or counter.

This process alone can take months; gathering evidence and documents essential to your case is very time consuming. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit, engage in the discovery process, and re-negotiate. If settlement can still not be reached, your case will be litigated.

Timeline Once a Lawsuit is Filed

Once your lawsuit has been filed, you may need to wait months – or even up to two years or more! – in order for a court to actually hear your case. A trial generally lasts a day or two, but can be shorter or longer depending upon the details of your case and its complexities. In all cases, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of injury.

In short, knowing how long your case will take to settle or litigate is unknown. Once litigation begins, it may take less than a week. However, getting to the point of litigation could take months or years. It is best to meet with a medical malpractice attorney who can provide you with a better idea of how much time you should expect to commit to your claim.

One of the biggest deterrents to filing a lawsuit after a birth injury is the fear that a lawsuit will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a parent is worried about their child’s recovery, this expense is the last thing that they want to deal with.

However, when you work with an attorney who charges on a contingency fee basis, you incur no upfront legal fees or charges. Here’s how it works:

Free Consultation

The process begins with a free consultation with no obligation to hire our law firm moving forward. During the consultation, you can ask any questions that you have, and we can learn more about your case moving forward. If you decide to hire us, then we will begin the next phase.


Investigating a case and hiring experts takes time, resources, and money. At the law office of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. we handle all of these costs for you. We have the resources and experience that your case deserves, and will never ask you to pay for costs associated with an investigation or hiring of experts.

Contingency Fee

Our legal fees are contingent on your case being successful. This means that if your case is not settled in your favor, our lawyers are not paid. If you do receive a settlement amount, we will collect a percentage of your winnings (agreed upon in advance).

We never want your economic situation to prevent you from filing a claim when your child is injured. Contact our law office today to learn more.

Watching as your child is harmed as a result of a birth injury is traumatic for a parent. And while prioritizing your child’s care after injury should be at the top of your list, you should also start thinking about contacting a legal professional as soon as possible. In fact, if you are wondering when you should contact an attorney as a parent of a child with a birth injury, the answer is now.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

One reason why you should contact a birth injury attorney as soon as possible after your child is harmed is because the state’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims places a cap on the amount of time that you have to take action after an act of malpractice. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury.

Gathering Evidence as Soon as Possible

In addition to ensuring that your claim is filed within the statute of limitations, another reason why you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible is that evidence critical to your claim can be preserved. After months or years, the full account of what happened and who was involved may become distorted, and medical records could even be lost or destroyed. When you hire an attorney, they will immediately begin investigating your case and working with other experts who can testify on your behalf. An attorney can also help you to determine early on whether or not your case is worth pursuing.

Birth defects form during a baby’s development within the womb. While some birth defects occur for unknown reasons or because of genetic factors, and may be unpreventable as such, others occur because of environmental factors, such as the developing fetus’ exposure to certain chemicals or medications.

Rate of Birth Defect in the United States

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of birth defect in the United States is one out of every 33 babies born, or about three percent of all live births in the country. The CDC also reports that birth defects are the leading cause of infant deaths, and account for ⅕ of all infant deaths.

Most Common Birth Defects

The CDC keeps records of the rate of each type of birth defect that babies are born with. That data suggests that the most common birth defects are:

  • Central nervous system defects affecting the brain or spinal cord;
  • Eye defects;
  • Heart defects;
  • Orofacial defects;
  • Gastrointestinal defects;
  • Musculoskeletal defects; and
  • Chromosomal anomalies.

The CDC states that when it comes to birth defect prevention, taking folic acid, which is a type of B vitamin, can help to prevent neural tube defects. It is also important to avoid certain medications during pregnancy.

Like a birth injury, a physician may be held liable for a birth defect if they failed to exercise the proper standard of care when treating the mother. For example, if a doctor prescribed the mother a medication with a known connection to birth defects, and her baby was born with a defect as a direct result, the doctor may be held liable.

If your case goes to trial as a result of the inability to obtain an out-of-court settlement from the defendant, the jury will be responsible for determining whether or not the physician in your case should be held liable for your harm.

The jury’s job is determine whether or not the defendant breached the accepted medical standard of care. The medical standard of care is the level of care that another doctor of the same training would execute in a similar circumstance. If a doctor failed to use the skills, knowledge, and care in treatment of a patient that another doctor would use, they have committed an act of malpractice. In order to determine whether or not this breach occurred, the jury will turn to experts’ opinions.

The Value of Experts’ Opinions

In a medical malpractice case, one of the most valuable types of evidence is that of opinions of experts. A jury will ask to hear testimony from other medical professionals who can speak to the duty of care and whether or not, in their expert opinion, the duty of care was breached. Because jury members will unlikely have any medical training or familiarity with the standard of care during the birthing process, their opinions will be formed by the testimonies of experts.

Keep in mind that the person (physician) who testifies at trial does not need to be the same doctor who supplied testimony in the Certificate of Merit submitted to the court. You may call multiple experts to the stand to prove negligence. It is essential that you choose an expert to testify who has the appropriate background and education, training, knowledge, and experience to provide expert testimony that is credible.

While birth injuries are not common, when they do occur, the outcome can be tragic for the affected children and their families.

Rate of Birth Injuries

According to data collected in 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available), the rate of birth trauma in the United States ranges between 0.2 and 37 per 1,000 live births. Other sources state that the incidence of serious birth injury is six to eight per 1,000 live births, resulting in two percent of neonatal deaths and stillbirths.

The three most common birth injuries in the original study, which was published in Paediatric Perinatal Epidemiology, were injuries to the scalp, other injuries to the skeleton, and fracture to the clavicle.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that increase the risk of a birth injury. Some of these factors are controllable, and include:

  • The weight of the infant – an infant who is larger than normal, particularly those who weigh more than nine pounds, have an increased risk of birth injury. Birth weight may be affected by the mother’s health, and gestational diabetes could have an effect.
  • The use of instruments during the birthing process, including forceps and vacuum extractors. 
  • The baby being in the breech position.
  • Abnormal traction during the delivery process.

You should talk to your doctor about the above risk factors before your delivery and be aware of the risks. If your child does sustain a birth injury that is the result of your doctor’s negligence, you may be able to pursue a civil action for damages.

Before a parent files a lawsuit to recover compensation for harm caused to their child during the birthing process, the parent wants to know what their chances of success will be. The crux of a birth injury case is being able to prove that, whatever harm has been done to your baby, the harm occurred as a direct result as a medical provider’s error and deviation from the medical standard of care.

There are four components of a lawsuit that must be established in order to be successful. If one of these criteria is not satisfied, the lawsuit may be unsuccessful.

  1. Existence of duty of care – Which is implied if the defendant was indeed your obstetrician;
  2. Breach of duty of care – This breach is that of the medical standard of care. Other doctors will need to testify to prove that the defendant acted in an unreasonable manner.
  3. Causation – You must prove that the breach of duty of care was the direct cause of your child’s birth injuries.
  4. Damages – It is important to demonstrate the full extent of damages that your child has incurred.

It is impossible to know if a lawsuit will be successful in advance. However, seeking a free consultation with a birth injury lawyer can be helpful; an attorney can assess your case and provide an idea of what your chances are of recovering damages. An attorney will also consult with medical experts who can provide an opinion on whether or not the doctor acted negligently (in fact, to even file a malpractice claim in Pennsylvania, a Certificate of Merit must be filed, which is a document that contains a physician’s sworn testimony that, in their opinion, negligent more likely than not occurred).

If your child has suffered a birth injury and you are thinking about pursuing a civil action on your child’s behalf to recover compensation, you surely want someone on your side whom you can trust. As you begin the process of looking for an attorney, here are some important things to weigh:


Perhaps more than anything, you want an attorney who is experienced in birth injury law handling your case. What’s more, if you can find an attorney who has handled a case involving the same type of birth injury that your child suffered, this is even more ideal.

An experienced attorney will not only know how to gather evidence and build your claim, as well as how to file your claim and navigate the legal system, but will also have developed effective negotiation skills that may be essential during the settlement process.


Can you imagine working with an attorney who didn’t have compassion for your child and your family? An attorney without compassion will not have the drive and gumption that it takes to pursue your case tirelessly and advocate to get you the full amount of compensation possible. A compassionate attorney cares about what you’re going through and wants to put your needs first.

Legal Fees

If you’re a parent who is caring for a child with a birth injury, our guess is that you don’t have millions of extra dollars that you’re ready to commit to a lawsuit. At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we charge on a contingency fee basis so you never have to worry about how you’ll afford our services.

Birth injuries occur more often than they should – which is never – in the United States. A lawsuit for a birth injury may be appropriate when a medical professional’s deviation from the accepted medical standard of care leads to harm. The medical standard of care is the same degree of care that a reasonable professional of the same training would exercise in a similar situation. Some common situations that may lead to injuries and give rise to a lawsuit include:

  • An obstetrician failing to monitor a mother and baby’s vital signs;
  • An obstetrician failing to perform a cesarean section when an emergency, such as the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck, warrants one;
  • A medication administration, dosage, or type error;
  • A nurse’s failure to record import medical data about the patient, leading to an error;
  • An obstetrician’s excessive use of force during delivery, i.e. using forceps or a vacuum extractor without cause or improperly; and
  • A doctor’s failure to respond appropriately to a situation in which either mother or baby are displaying signs of distress.

Do I Have a Case?

An attorney should review your case in depth, and consult with medical professionals to determine whether or not a doctor acted within the accepted standard of medical care, or deviated from the standard of care in an act of negligence. If you think you have a case, you will need to prove that the deviation from the standard of care was the proximate cause of your child’s harm. Our attorneys can help.

If you are pregnant and are planning to give birth sometime in the next nine months, you are surely excited about what the future will bring. You also most certainly want to protect both your health and the health of your child, and are curious about what you should do to guarantee the best medical experience possible. Because medical malpractice during gestation and delivery is too common, consider these important things that you can do to prevent an act of malpractice:

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what’s going on or what you should expect. If something’s off or you’re not feeling well, talk to your doctor and don’t accept their dismissal of your concerns. Always ask for a thorough explanation for any symptoms that you are having, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

Check Out Your Doctor in Advance

Before you decide upon an obstetrician to aid you in the birthing and delivery process, make sure you do a check on your doctor’s background first. If your doctor has been named in a medical malpractice suit or has been penalized before the state board in the past, you should rethink your choice. Further, talk to your doctor about their experience with difficult births and ask them to share some success stories with you.

Have a Plan and Know What to Expect

When doctors are busy with multiple patients, you could get overlooked. This is why it is essential that you know what to expect during the process so that you can identify when something is wrong and call a nurse or doctor for help.

Birth injuries and birth defects are both tragic events that can have a huge physical or cognitive effect on a newborn child and development. Because both can be traumatic and usually are discovered at birth, the two terms are often confused and used interchangeably. However, a birth defect and a birth injury are very different.

Defining a Birth Defect

Birth defects are problems that occurs when the baby is developing within the mother’s uterus. Birth defects are physical, and can affect both the body’s function and ability or the body’s appearance.

Birth defects can be caused by a number of factors. explains that birth defects are often caused by:

  • Exposures to certain medicines;
  • Exposures to certain chemicals;
  • Lack of essential nutrients, like folic acid; and
  • Genetic factors.

What Is a Birth Injury?

Unlike a birth defect which occurs during development, a birth injury is sustained at birth. These injuries can be severe or minor; in fact, many newborns sustain very slight injuries at birth that do not lead to any long-term problems. The risk of a birth injury is higher when:

  • The baby is larger-than-average;
  • The baby is in the breech position;
  • The umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the child’s neck;
  • The mother has health complications, such as preeclampsia; or
  • The doctor uses excessive force, forceps, or a vacuum extractor to remove the baby.

Sadly, many birth injuries would not occur but for an act of negligence on the part of a medical professional. Similarly, many birth defects are also completely preventable.

Contact us for your consultation (215) 567-3500


Birth Injury Fact Sheet: When The Unthinkable Happens During Delivery

  • In the United States, for every 1,000 babies born, between 6 and 8 of those children suffer a birth injury. This means that approximately 1 out of every 9,700 babies is born with a birth injury.
  • Birth injuries are more common in baby boys, at approximately 6.6 out of every 1,000, while birth injuries are slightly less common in baby girls, at approximately 5.08 out of every 1,000.
  • Birth injuries are more likely at public hospitals and are more prevalent in rural areas than urban areas.
  • In the United States, there is a 24-32% higher likelihood of birth injuries occurring in the Northeast, as compared to the South, Midwest and West.

Many babies are born in Philadelphia each year. Some of these babies suffer injuries during birth including brain-related injuries, muscle and physical injuries, and infections, as well as injuries from a difficult delivery. While it is unfortunate, statistically some of the newborns starting their lives in Philly will suffer a birth injury.

Birth Injury Attorneys

Stewart L. Cohen

Stewart L. Cohen

Whether in the courtroom or the community, Stewart L. Cohen...

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Christopher M. Placitella

Christopher M. Placitella

Mr. Placitella has developed an award-winning reputation for his commitment...

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Harry M. Roth

Harry M. Roth

Mr. Roth also represents individuals, government entities, and companies seeking...

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Contact us for your consultation (215) 567-3500