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Birth Injuries Involving Brain Damage

Syracuse Lawyers Helping Medical Malpractice Victims

A baby’s brain is delicate. It can be damaged during gestation, labor, or after delivery. The brain controls cognition, movement, balance and memory. Even a little bit of harm inflicted as the brain is developing or during the baby’s birth can result in serious, ongoing difficulties performing the daily tasks of living. If your baby sustained birth injuries involving brain damage during pregnancy or labor and delivery, you may not have enough saved to pay for the care and special services the baby needs over the course of his or her life. Most families don’t. It may be appropriate to bring a lawsuit for damages. You should discuss your situation with the seasoned Syracuse birth injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano.

Birth Injuries Involving Brain Damage

Many different types of birth injuries involve brain damage, including hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain bleeds, subgaleal hematoma, cephalohematoma, hydrocephalus, and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). As one of the most serious kinds of brain injuries, HIE occurs when oxygen supply is disrupted such that cells begin to decay and die. The result is hypoxia. Any damage to the brain will be permanent with limited options for treatment. The baby will likely face major mental impairments or even pass away.


Birth injuries may be the result of a health care provider’s failure to abide by the professional standard of care. To establish liability, you need to prove to an insurance adjustor or jury by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) you and your baby were owed a professional standard of care by the defendant, (2) departure of the professional standard of care, (3) the departure caused injuries, and (4) actual damages. The professional standard of care is the accepted medical practices that a reasonably competent health care provider should use when faced with a set of circumstances. New York follows the locality rule, which means that the professional standard of care can vary depending on the geographic region and specialty in which the defendant practices.

In order to work up your case, your lawyer will need to consult with an expert doctor about what the professional standard of care was given the circumstances, whether your OB/GYN departed from the professional standards, and whether the departure caused injuries.

For instance, if a reasonably competent Syracuse obstetrician would have ordered a C-section, but yours improperly used a vacuum extractor instead, resulting in your baby’s subgaleal hematoma, you may be able to establish a departure from the professional duty of care. Subgaleal hematoma involves the pooling of blood between the skull and scalp. Improper use of a vacuum extractor can result in the rupture of emissary veins around the skull such that a baby’s head sustains trauma as it moves through a mother’s pelvis. Serious harms that may result include developmental disabilities and kernicterus, which can be expensive to treat.


If you can establish liability for a birth injury, compensatory damages may be recovered. These can include a range of losses sustained by the baby and mother. For instance, PVL occurs when white matter around the brain ventricles becomes damaged due to reduced oxygen and blood circulation such that there is decay. The decay leaves cavities within the brain that are flooded with fluid, resulting in cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other developmental delays. Severe cerebral palsy or epilepsy may require long-term medical care and special education that most families can’t afford. These expenses and costs may be recovered. Noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of earning capacity may also be recovered.

If a baby dies due to severe brain damage, it may be appropriate to pursue wrongful death damages. In New York, only pecuniary losses can be pursued in a wrongful death action.

Consult a Knowledgeable Syracuse Attorney

If your baby sustained birth injuries involving brain damage, you should talk to our experienced lawyers about your case. We represent babies and their families across upstate New York in Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Lowville, Oswego, Auburn, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Ithaca, Lyons, Oneida, Cooperstown, Utica, Elmira, Herkimer, and Binghamton. Complete DeFrancisco & Falgiatano’s online form or call us at 833-200-2000.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY