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We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.

Premature Delivery Complications

During normal pregnancies, babies develop for about 40 weeks. That gives them plenty of time to grow strong before leaving the womb. A premature birth can put all that at risk. It exposes infants to lifelong, and sometimes life-threatening, medical problems. That’s why it’s vital to get the right care during a premature delivery—and to hold medical providers accountable when they fail, putting you or your family at risk. 

The basics of premature delivery

A baby is premature when delivered three or more weeks before its due date, or before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. About one in ten babies are born this way, and preterm births, along with low birth weight, contribute to about 17 percent of infant deaths in the U.S.

In many cases, premature births are unexpected, and doctors are still trying to understand what causes them, but a number of factors can increase a mother’s risk of an early delivery.

General Health Issues

Things that compromise a mother’s general health are associated with premature births, including:

  • Smoking and drug use
  • Chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Being over- or underweight 
  • Eating disorders
  • High level of stress
  • Traumatic life events like the death of loved ones or domestic violence
Maternal Health Issues

Additionally, specific challenges surrounding the pregnancy or the mother’s reproductive health can contribute, too:

  • Infections to amniotic fluid and lower gential tract
  • Previous miscarriages, premature births, or abortions
  • Family history of premature births
  • Being pregnant with twins, triplets, etc.
  • An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Preeclampsia (high maternal blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Preterm rupture of membranes including the amniotic sac or fluid leaking from the vagina 
  • Bladder, kidney, or urinary tract infections 
Socioeconomic Status

Unfortunately, like so much else in the world, premature births and the risks that come with them disproportionately harm mothers from more vulnerable socioeconomic groups. Women of color are more likely to experience them, and black women in particular have a nearly 50 percent higher risk than white women. Additionally, women who work long hours, work on their feet, or are exposed to hazardous environmental conditions like lead paint, radiation, or secondhand smoke have higher chances of a preterm birth.

It’s a lot to keep track of, but that’s your doctor’s job.

If your medical provider is following the proper standards of care, they will seek out and seek to address each of the factors that might cause you a premature delivery.

Unfortunately, doctors don’t always spot the signs. Because premature babies are entering the world without their vital systems fully grown, they can experience a wide range of acute health challenges right as they are born, including respiratory difficulty, heart failure, low blood pressure, brain injuries, problems keeping warm, and damage to the intestines. As a result of these early complications, premature babies might eventually face ailments such as cerebral palsy, impaired learning, vision problems, neurological disabilities, deafness, dental problems, behavioral or psychological impairments, and other serious chronic health issues.

Guiding a mother through a healthy pregnancy starts long before delivery day, and continues on afterward, which means there’s the potential for negligence at numerous steps along the way.

Before Delivery

Doctors have a whole toolbox of options to monitor, de-escalate, and even prevent early birth. They should be diagnosing and treating infections in the mother with antibiotics. Proper prenatal screening, such as transvaginal ultrasounds, can reveal problems early on. If women have a history of preterm births or a short cervix, doctors sometimes use Progesterone hormones to reduce the risk of early delivery. Alternatively, some perform a surgical procedure to address this, stitching the cervix together to provide extra support, then removing the sutures during delivery. Steroidal medicines can speed up lung development in premature babies, while medicines called tocolytics can delay labor until a mother gets extra treatment.

Spotting the Signs of Early Labor

Sometimes these measures aren’t enough, but adequate treatment also means doctors spot the signs of early labor—rapid contractions, change in vaginal discharge, pelvic pressure, backaches, abdominal cramps—and act quickly.

Malpractice During and After Birth

Once a premature birth begins, it’s a hospital’s responsibility to have the right equipment, training, and facilities, such as a properly resourced neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Then, it’s on doctors and nurses to put these to work and make the right calls.

As mentioned, premature babies face numerous health challenges, which means providers must be ready to use a variety of treatments during the birth process. That includes ventilators for lung problems, incubators to maintain body heat, nutrients delivered through IVs or feeding tubes for GI issues, and surgery for conditions like damaged eyes (retinopathy) or infected bowels. Failure to take these steps could constitute malpractice. Afterwards, if you’re harmed because providers fail to adequately check up on you, that can be malpractice, too.

Under Minnesota law, you usually have 4 years to bring a malpractice case against your doctor or hospital. 

Malpractice robs a child and their mother of their health and peace of mind, and a medical malpractice suit can help take back some of what you’ve lost. There are no caps on damages in Minnesota, and you are eligible to recover resources which help you meet a number of challenges, including:

  • Medical bills and costs
  • Lost income
  • Past bodily and mental harm, including:
    • Pain
    • Disability
    • Disfigurement
    • Embarrassment
    • Emotional distress
  • Future bodily and mental harm, including:
    • Pain
    • Disability
    • Disfigurement
    • Embarrassment
    • Emotional distress

Minnesota birth injury malpractice lawyers help mothers with premature delivery complications.

It can be confusing, painful, and time-consuming to sort out what went wrong, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you schedule a free consultation with us, we can eventually use our network of lawyers and medical experts to review your records and help get you the relief you need, including compensation for medical bills, future treatment, lost income, and pain and suffering. And we’ll recommend other trusted firms if you want a second opinion.

You’ve already been let down once, which is why we operate under a contingency fee structure for maximum fairness: we only receive payment if we help you get what you deserve, either a settlement or victory at trial. 

Get in touch with us here if you’re ready to have allies who understand.

THE MADIA LAW WAY

We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients. 

We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely.  We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case.  We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well.  We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case.  We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial. 

Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward.  Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.

If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit.  Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required.  We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points.  Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims.  A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations.  Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.

Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions.  Not us.  Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity.  We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case.  Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections.  We view this as a wonderful opportunity.  In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on.  We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t.  The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts.  We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny.  Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true.  And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA.  That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.

One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery.  We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery.  This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses.  This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.

This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible.  So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true.  That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes.  We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is.  We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.

The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases.  We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery.  We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.

Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.

After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.

This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries.  We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials.  At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct.  As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.

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