A birth injury settlement is a monetary award that a parent may legally win on behalf of a child that was injured due to the fault of a medical caregiver during or shortly after birth. Birth injuries are often lifelong conditions that a child must face for years to come. Families of these children face high costs, both monetary and emotional, for the special needs of their children.
When a birth injury has been caused by medical malpractice, it is the right of a parent to sue the person or institution responsible. This legal action can bring the accused person to justice, set safer standards that will protect children in the future, and provide the settlement that will help a family provide the best care possible for an injured child.
Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
A settlement for a birth injury may be awarded to a child if it is determined that the injury was caused by medical malpractice. If a doctor or other caregiver, expressly given responsibility for the child and mother, makes an error in judgment during labor and delivery, it may cause a birth injury. A doctor, for instance, may make the wrong decision about performing a Cesarean section, leading to a complicated delivery that harms the baby.
Other examples of negligent birth injuries include excessive force used with instruments like vacuum extractors or forceps that can break bones and cause brain damage, a failure to diagnose an illness in the mother that impacts the health of the baby, or making a mistake in diagnosing a condition that the child is born with and then failing to treat it adequately or at all. For instance, a child born with jaundice must be treated right away to avoid brain damage. Failure to recognize it can have severe consequences.
What is a Birth Injury Settlement?
A settlement is a monetary award given either ahead of a trial, by agreement between both sides of a lawsuit, or by a jury after a trial. A birth injury settlement serves several purposes. One may be to award punitive damages, the recognition that a medical professional or medical institution did something wrong and is being punished. The settlement is also used to cover the costs incurred by a family with a child suffering from a birth injury. From medical bills to lost wages, the settlement covers tangible costs. The settlement may also be used to compensate a family and child for intangible things like the inability to live a normal life or emotional suffering.
How to Get a Birth Injury Settlement
The first thing you need to do to seek and win a birth injury settlement is to get a good lawyer to represent you. You need to select a lawyer with expertise in medical malpractice law, and better yet to get a lawyer that specializes in birth injury cases. This lawyer or legal team will have the experience and knowledge you need to make a strong case.
Once you have selected the right lawyer, your legal team will do most of the work for you. It will be up to you to record all the expenses related to your child’s condition, including medical appointments, travel to those appointments, medications, treatments, therapy, and any medical or adaptive equipment.
You may also need to help your lawyer by recollecting exactly what happened when your child was born. Your lawyer will investigate the incident and collect evidence, but your memory of the events is crucial. This is why it is so important to file lawsuits seeking a settlement as soon as possible after the birth of your child. With all the information about what happened when your child was born, your lawyer will be able to help you win a settlement.
Examples of Birth Injury Settlements
It may seem like an insurmountable battle to take a doctor or an entire hospital to court or to try for a settlement. However, the payoff can be well worth the fight. Not only does bringing the guilty person or institution to justice protect children from future harm, it also gives you the chance to get the money you need to provide your child with the best care and treatment for life. Other people have fought this battle and have won.
In 2016, a family won an enormous $53 million settlement for their child born with cerebral palsy in Chicago. This represents the highest amount won in Cook County ever for a child with a birth injury. The case went to trial and the jury awarded various amounts for disfigurement, a shortened life expectancy, emotional distress, loss of a normal life, pain and suffering, medical expenses, future medical expenses, and even loss of earning capacity for the child, 12 at the time the settlement was won.
The money is a huge relief to the family that has faced big expenses in caring for the boy. He was born after being in fetal distress and being suffocated in the womb when a Cesarean section should have been performed. The hospital was blamed for malpractice and for not caring properly for the mother and her child.
In another less sensational case, a family won $1.3 million for their child born with a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs from the spinal cord to the arm. The baby’s shoulder got lodged in the womb during delivery and the doctor, failing to recognize this, pulled on her too hard, causing the nerves to stretch and be damaged. The baby suffered Erb’s palsy as a result and will have complications from it for the rest of her life.
If you have a child that was injured during birth and you believe that someone can be blamed for it, you may have the evidence you need to win a birth injury settlement. Be sure to choose the right legal team and to act quickly, as there are statutes of limitation. Your lawyer can help guide you and give you the best chance of winning the money that your child really needs.