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Birth Injury


It never ceases to amaze and disappoint us how poorly doctors and hospital staff communicate with patients, especially after an unexpected and tragic event like a severe birth injury. Many of our  clients came to us for help because they were not getting straight answers, and in some cases no answers at all. We understand your frustration in simply wanting to know whether your baby’s injury was caused by a preventable mistake (i.e., medical malpractice) or by one of life’s natural results. We successfully answer that question for many parents, and will answer it for you, too.



Perhaps a birth injury has happened to a newborn in your family.  If you or someone close to you recently suffered a difficult labor or delivery and injury to the newborn, act quickly to preserve evidence.  The only way to determine if the injury was avoidable is to have prenatal, delivery, and newborn medical care attentively reviewed by qualified professionals who understand the medicine during gestation, stresses the baby undergoes during the birth, mechanisms to cope with the stresses, adjusting the newborn to life outside of the womb, and requirements and responses to conditions and factors in the environment.

At Buchanan & Buchanan, our combined legal-medical team has decades of experience handling medical malpractice cases, especially birth injury and birth trauma. We have experienced medical professionals on staff to talk with you right away and review your claim. We quickly and efficiently assess the medical facts and take immediate action to protect your rights.  And, if we find malpractice caused injury, we will take the wrongdoer to court to secure fair and just reimbursement for the injured child.


During the Birth Process:

  • When the baby is not receiving enough oxygen during the labor or birth (fetal distress).  The fetal monitor visually alerts healthcare providers of this danger before the baby suffers injury.
  • Obstructed flow of blood through the umbilical cord to the baby, because of an uncorrected pinch point, impingement, or blockage (e.g., umbilical cord compression, prolapse, or occlusion). The fetal monitor visually alerts healthcare providers of this danger.
  • When the exiting baby gets stuck in the birth canal on the way out (because of size or position) and the condition is not timely corrected by a healthcare provider (i.e., dystocia).
  • When the organ that supplies the baby with nutrients, oxygen, and waste elimination (the placenta) gets damaged or disconnected from the uterine wall during the labor process (e.g., placenta previa, placental abruption), and a healthcare provider does not timely rescue the infant from danger.

During the Newborn Period:

  • Seizures of a newborn not timely treated by a healthcare provider.  If they remain untreated, they will eventually cause injury.
  • Babies born at less than 37 weeks gestational age are “preterm” or “premature” births.  The more premature the baby, the more likely an organ or system has not developed fully.  Premature newborns, for instance, may have a problem with the heart, blood pressure, circulation, breathing, digestive system, nutrition, hydration, temperature, infection, liver (e.g., yellow color of the skin, called jaundice), or bleeding.
  • Hereditary conditions which interfere with the baby’s digestion.

During Pregnancy:

  • The placenta can get damaged, disconnected, or malfunction during the pregnancy (e.g., placental abruption, intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), etc.).  If a healthcare provider does not timely rescue the baby from the danger, injury and even death can occur.
  • The mother’s high blood pressure (e.g., preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or diabetes).  If high blood pressure is not timely treated and corrected by a healthcare provider, it may injury or cause death to the baby.
  • Certain infections can occur during a first pregnancy, including toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex, or group B strep.  If infection is not corrected, it may injury the baby.
  • Certain prescription or non-prescription drugs.
  • Burns to the baby.
  • Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or harmful environmental hazards.
  • Severe malnutrition of the mother.
  • Certain genetic defects or syndromes.


Some birth injuries occur naturally, even under the best medical care.  Unfortunately preventable errors by healthcare providers cause many of the others.  In many births injury could have been avoided or considerably less severe if a healthcare provider gave timely medical treatment.  Common medical mistakes that severely injure babies around the time of birth include:

  • Improper use of labor-stimulating medicine (e.g., Pitocin, Cytotec).
  • Not watching, or misreading, the fetal monitor strips.
  • Excessive or improper use of extraction force during delivery.
  • Misuse of forceps (a handheld, hinged instrument used for grasping) during delivery.
  • Misuse of a vacuum extractor (a vacuum pump put on the crown of the baby’s head to pull) during delivery.
  • A nurse or nurse midwife not timely seeking help from a physician.
  • Not responding timely to fetal distress by delivering the baby quickly through a caesarian section (a surgical incision).
  • Withholding medical treatment for abnormal bleeding.
  • Delaying a needed cesarean section.
  • Withholding correction of an umbilical cord obstruction or impingement.
  • Withholding supplemental oxygen needed by the newborn (e.g., putting a tube in the baby’s windpipe to maintain an open airway).
  • Incorrectly performing steps to resuscitate a newborn.
  • Withholding treatment for a newborn’s medical situation (e.g., high or low blood sugar, high or low blood pressure, blood loss, low oxygen, yellow color skin (jaundice), high bilirubin level).

In severe cases, the child will suffer developmental disorders, brain damage, muscle dysfunction, or nerve injury.  Severe birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral palsy (a neurological disorder) which can permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination.
  • Brain injury.
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Injury to the brachial-plexus nerve (a nerve that runs from the neck to fingers) which causes arm paralysis.
  • Bone fractures.
  • Cranial-nerve injury.
  • Laryngeal-nerve injury.
  • Intra-abdominal injury.
  • Group-B Strep disease.
  • Soft tissue injury (e.g., abrasions, lacerations, cephalhematoma or subgaleal hematoma (a collection of blood in the skull), caput succedaneum (bleeding below the scalp), subcutaneous fat necrosis (firm, inflamed, lumps in the fat).


Birth injury occurs during the birthing process and can damage nerves, break bones, or injure the brain.
Cerebral palsy is a permanent movement disorder that can be caused by injury to a child's brain during the birthing process.
Complications after surgery can be from a surgeon's negligent conduct in surgery.
A missed diagnosis often means a delay in proper treatment, often with devastating consequences, for example, medical cancer cases.
When a healthcare provider, in acting or failing to act, does not comply with the standard of practice in medicine.
Many medical malpractice claims occur because of procedures or treatment given to patients in hospitals.
A doctor must in advance adequately inform a patient of diagnosis, nature and purpose of treatment, and benefits and risks of procedures.
Doctors and healthcare providers are not automatically required to treat or provide care to everyone they meet.
Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C.
171 Monroe Ave. N.W. Suite 750
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
voice: (616) 458.2464
toll free: 1-800-272-4080
fax: (616) 458.0608
email: mail@buchananfirm.com