Mothers who are expecting, as well as the babies waiting to be born, are extremely vulnerable during childbirth and active labor. It is true that giving birth is leaps and bounds safer than in previous years due to modern advances in medicine, but complications can still happen that may cause serious birth injuries to infants. Certain birth injuries cannot be prevented, despite the level of care provided. However, if your child has suffered severe injuries at birth caused by the negligence of a medical practitioner, medical staff, pharmaceutical manufacturers, or the hospital itself, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold a party accountable.
A majority of defendants would much prefer to settle a medical malpractice case out of court, minimizing bad publicity and avoiding an expensive and lengthy trial. You may also decide that, as a parent, settling a birth injury claim is more favorable than a frustrating litigation process, particularly if your case has ample evidence. But, it is important that you consider that the severity of the injuries will probably result in costly physical therapy, specialized equipment, in-home care providers, lost income, and other financial damages associated with the injury. This article will discuss birth injury lawsuit settlements and how to get your claim started.
The Basics of Birth Injury Claims
Birth injuries happen during the childbirth process and should not be confused with birth defects, which are abnormalities that take place before birth — usually during or before pregnancy. In order to provide evidence of a birth injury claim, the plaintiff is required to show that the defendant — possibly multiple in a birth injury lawsuit — breached a legal duty or standard of care by failing to act as a reasonably competent person would have under similar conditions and that this breach resulted in injury to the child. The medical facility — likely a hospital or birthing center — will likely be the primary defendant in a birth injury claim under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,” but it is also possible that individual practitioners can be involved as well.
Birth injuries may be caused by inadequate oxygen flow to the baby’s brain, which is what happens in cases involving cerebral palsy; nerve damage caused by excessive force, which happens in cases involving Erb’s palsy; and a variety of other injuries that could be due to a baby’s shoulder getting stuck inside the mom, commonly referred to as shoulder dystocia.
The first thing you have to do reach a settlement is to file a lawsuit, making certain that you carefully research the extent of financial damages caused by the injury, such as lost income from time missed from work and the costs over a lifetime of special care and ongoing medical treatment.
Determining a Settlement Amount: Creating a Life Care Plan
In the event that your child has sustained serious birth injuries, you may be offered a settlement amount by a representative of the medical facility early on. These settlements may initially seem like a substantial amount of money that will cover the costs associated with the incident, but you should do the necessary research — with the aid of an experienced Utah birth injury attorney — to accurately determine the value of your current and future monetary damages. Your legal representation will probably help you draft a thorough “life care plan” to document these expenses. Even if there is no lawsuit at play and the insurance company offers an upfront settlement, you will want to create a life care plan prior to agreeing to any settlement amount.
There is a checklist provided by the Cerebral Palsy Family Network that outlines the various factors that should be included in a life care plan. These factors could include required care in a specialized medical facility or at the home; ongoing medical treatment and therapy; specialized equipment or modifications to assist normal living; and numerous other costs. Furthermore, a surviving parent who now must remain at home to care for the injured child can also file a claim for lost income.
Whatever costs are determined in the life care plan will account for a majority of your birth injury settlement amount, but you should also attempt to recover lost compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. It is important to remember that Utah has a limit on medical malpractice cases regarding pain and suffering compensation. This limit is set at $450,000. This will be reflected in the final settlement amount, but it will be adjusted to account for inflation and other cost increases.
The needs of an individual case will vary tremendously, depending on the requirements of the child and the willingness of the at-fault parties to reach a settlement regarding the claim. If you think that the offered settlement is inadequate to cover the costs associated with the incident, you may choose to pursue a legal trial.
Birth Injuries in Salt Lake City
There are many disabilities caused by birth injuries in the United States. Studies show that 1 in 9,714 people in the country is born with a birth injury of some kind. This equates to 28,000 per year, 76 per day, and 3 each hour. You may think that birth injuries are not common, but statistics show that isn’t the case.
These birth injuries can cause lifelong adversity for children who will likely need ongoing and specialized treatment throughout their lives. This can present any family with a significant financial strain, and it may be frustrating worrying about how you and your family will deal with this hardship. In some cases, the parents of victims may be eligible to regain lost compensation associated with accident damages by contacting a qualified Salt Lake City birth injury attorney.
The legal team at Siegfried & Jensen has been helping our clients for over 30 years in the aftermath of a traumatic birth injury. If your child has been injured due to the negligence of a physician or hospital, resulting in significant birth injuries, call us today at 801-845-9000.