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Birth Injury Attorneys in Memphis, TN

Helping injured victims and families recover compensation for medical negligence

Find Out If You Have a Case

Were you or your baby injured during labor or delivery?

You should know that you may be entitled to compensation for preventable birth trauma.
Our award-winning law firm has represented Tennessee families for over 40 years.

Giving birth is a life-changing experience that has thankfully gotten much safer in recent decades thanks to medical advancements in technology and best practices. However, every birth is unique and complications can (and do) still arise.

Despite the fact that Memphis is home to some of the most prestigious hospitals and nationally recognized medical facilities, Tennessee has the 6th highest infant mortality rate in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In 2019, approximately 7 newborns died per 1,000 births—adding up to 563 infant deaths that year alone. Countless more babies were injured during labor and delivery.

What's more, Tennessee ranked as the 10th highest state for preterm births and 13th in low birth weight. In fact, prematurity was the leading cause of death among Tennessee infants (139 infant deaths, 30 percent of reviewed infant deaths), followed by congenital anomaly (76 infant deaths, 19 percent) in 2019.

Of course, there are many possible reasons why a baby can be injured or worse—all of which are devastating for the parents. However, a vitally important question to ask in such tragic situations is:

Was the birth injury preventable?

The answer to this question is the linchpin that birth injury cases hinge on.

At Gilreath & Associates, our Memphis birth trauma attorneys have decades of experience getting to the bottom of this important question by interviewing medical experts and uncovering key evidence to determine if the medical professional was negligent. We aren't afraid to take on major healthcare organizations and malpractice insurance companies with deep pockets to dispute your claim.

Our law firm exists to give parents a fighting chance at justice and compensation for their child.

If your baby was injured during labor or delivery, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact our Memphis birth injury lawyers to discuss your legal options and seek justice in your case.

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Types of Birth Injuries

Often, the severity of an injury at birth is not obvious until years after, when a young child begins to show developmental delays or physical abnormalities. However, some injuries are apparent immediately after birth. For instance, infants that exhibit signs of a birth injury may be pale or blue in color, have difficulty breathing, have an irregular heart rate, be sluggish or lethargic, have low APGAR scores after 1 minute or later, have seizures or favor one side of their body.

Injuries connected with labor and delivery can range from mild to severe. Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:

  • Birth asphyxia occurs when there is a lack of oxygen to the baby's brain, typically caused by umbilical cord compression or strangling, uterine rupture or when the placenta separates from the uterine wall (known as abruption). Injury from asphyxiation is preventable as long as a doctor or other medical professional takes swift and proper action.
  • Traumatic birth injuries occur when external forces like compression or contraction during labor cause an injury, most commonly in the baby's brain, spine, nerves or bones. Examples of traumatic birth injury can include brain hemorrhaging, brachial palsy and fractured or broken bones.
  • Premature birth can be caused by a weakened cervix (when pressure from the infant forces the mother's cervix open before the baby is ready to be born) or an untreated birth canal infection leading to permanent brain damage of the infant. Medical professionals are required to diagnose and prevent preterm birth, if possible.
  • Bruising and forceps marks occur from contact with the mother's pelvic bones and tissue, or passing through the birth canal. If forceps are used during delivery, they may leave temporary marks or bruises, or in extreme cases cause depressed skull fractures.
  • Caput succedaneum is swelling of the baby's scalp, usually as a result of vacuum or forceps extraction, or prolonged labor. While this condition typically goes away within a few days, it can lead to infection and jaundice in severe cases.
  • Cerebral and Erb's palsy are groups of congenital disorders that affect movement, muscle development and/or posture. Often caused before or during birth due to lack of oxygen, symptoms of these birth injuries generally appear in early childhood and include involuntary reactions and reflexes, rigid or floppy limbs and lack of mobility.
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a broad category of birth injuries resulting from oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow.

Additional injury to a baby can arise as a result of poor care after the birth as well, such as during circumcision or failure to treat an infection.

Birth Defect vs. Birth Injury

The difference between a birth injury and a birth defect is an important legal distinction.

A birth defect usually develops when the unborn baby is still in the womb, often within the first trimester. Defects are typically caused by genetics, chromosomal abnormalities, toxic exposure, maternal health, drug and alcohol use, untreated infections or poor nutrition (lack of vitamins).

A birth injury typically occurs when the baby is being born, during labor and delivery. Various factors can cause a birth injury, including maternal and fetal health conditions or medical malpractice (negligence). For example, if a doctor incorrectly uses forceps or a vacuum extractor and causes the baby to suffer physical brain trauma, the baby may be born with a serious health condition.

Not all birth trauma is necessarily the result of medical malpractice. Numerous injuries are caused by the unavoidable effects of a difficult childbirth. However, medical errors can, and do, take place in hospitals all around the country, some of which may complicate or intensify these natural risks.

Our Past Verdicts & Settlements

Birth Injury FAQ:
Common questions and answers about birth trauma

What is considered a birth injury?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between a difficult birth and medical negligence. A number of biological factors can disrupt the birthing process, such as the baby's size and position, the shape of the mother's pelvis and "dystocia" or prolonged labor. These labor and delivery disruptions don't necessarily indicate that a doctor acted inappropriately or negligently.

But doctors are only human, meaning they too are susceptible to human error just like anyone else. Some common examples of negligence that can substantiate a birth malpractice claim include:

  • Failing to anticipate complicated births (such as a larger baby or in cases involving maternal health issues)
  • Failing to appropriately treat bleeding or infection
  • Failing to recognize and respond to umbilical cord entrapment
  • Failing to identify and treat fetal distress
  • Failing to order a timely c-section when necessary
  • Misuse of delivery instruments (forceps, vacuum extractors, etc.)
  • Failing to diagnose or stop preterm birth
  • Medication and prescription errors

What damages can I recover in a birth injury lawsuit?

Under Tennessee law, compensation for a number of losses may be available to you following the success of your birth injury lawsuit, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Additional healthcare costs (physical and occupational therapy, counseling, in-home care, special home/vehicle modifications, etc.)
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment

How long do I have to file a birth injury claim?

In most personal injury and medical malpractice cases, plaintiffs have a limited amount of time in which to file a claim. This legal deadline—known as the "statute of limitations"—varies by state and case type.

In Tennessee, birth injury lawsuits must be filed within 1 year from when the injury was discovered—either at birth or later. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-116)

For instance, if your baby was injured during labor, you have until your baby's 1st birthday to file a claim. However, if you didn't become aware that a birth injury occurred until much later due to development delays or learning difficulties, you have 1 year from when the injury was discovered and your child is diagnosed to file a lawsuit.

Under no circumstances can you bring a lawsuit more than 3 years after the birth injury happened, which is why you should consult with an experienced Memphis medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.


How do you prove a birth injury?

One of the first and most important tasks when pursuing compensation for a birth injury is proving that your baby's trauma was preventable—in other words, showing that a doctor or medical provider was negligent in providing proper care. To accomplish this, your attorney can help establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship between you and the doctor, gynecologist, obstetrician, surgeon, hospital or another healthcare provider. Establishing this relationship means that the doctor owed you a duty of care.

Next, you'll need to demonstrate that this duty of care was "breached"—or broken—by gathering evidence, obtaining medical records and interviewing expert witnesses in the same medical field. We'll also look into the healthcare provider's history to look for a history of prior complaints. This step is known as establishing negligence.

After determining a breach of duty of care, we'll work to establish an undeniable and direct link between your baby's injury and the negligence that occurred. Causation is an essential step to successfully winning your birth injury case. The defense will likely try to make the argument that your baby's injury or condition would have happened regardless of the defendant's actions (or inaction), so it's vital you and your attorney prove otherwise by establishing a causal link.

Lastly, once we've demonstrated that a duty of care was breached and causation exists, we'll show how the negligent act resulted in actual damages. Damages can be economic (such as medical bills, lost wages, disability expenses, rehabilitation and long-term assistive care) and non-economic (such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of quality of life).

Why Hire a Memphis Birth Injury Attorney?

If your baby was injured or worse during birth, we understand that this may be a challenging time for you and your family as you learn to adjust to the new "normal." But this difficult situation can become even harder if you don't take action immediately to preserve your legal rights and protect your financial future. Caring for a child with a severe birth injury is costly, and you shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of this expense on your own.

Since birth trauma and birth-related negligence involve complex laws and statutes—not to mention going up against well-funded healthcare organizations and malpractice insurance companies—it's vital that you seek advice or representation from a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in medical malpractice litigation.

At Gilreath & Associates of Tennessee, our Memphis injury attorneys have specialized in birth trauma cases for many years. We will carefully review your baby's prenatal, birth and neonatal care records, consult with other medical professionals in related fields and research your case to determine if the cause of injury could have been prevented.

Even if a birth injury happened years ago, we may still be able to help you pursue a claim. But your right to fair compensation diminishes the longer you wait.

By hiring an experienced and professional attorney to represent you, you can even the playing field and turn the odds of winning in your favor. From our law office in the heart of downtown Memphis on Jefferson Ave., we serve people in West Tennessee and across the southeast by securing the best possible outcome in their personal injury and accident cases. When you're ready to learn more about how we can help you, we invite you to reach out.

To find out if you are owed compensation for birth trauma malpractice, fill out our free case evaluation form to contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys today.

Ready to discuss your case?
Contact our Tennessee personal injury attorneys today for your free consultation.


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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you recover financially from an injury stemming from someone else's negligence.