There is always some risk of injury to mothers and children during hospital births. However, negligence by doctors and other medical staff members is the cause of many injuries to mothers and infants. Injuries that occur during birth can have a lifetime of consequences for you and your baby. Many of the most common injuries can put your or your newborn’s life in immediate danger and can cause debilitating physical conditions. Some can permanently stunt your baby’s development, leaving him or her unable to mature mentally and emotionally and preventing him or her from living a full, happy life.
Many birth-related injuries occur because of negligence on the part of your doctor or maternity staff. Doctors who are not properly prepared, hospital staff who do not properly sanitize instruments used and nurses who do not carefully handle your baby after birth can all cause drastic injury with long-lasting complications to you and your child.
If your child has been injured during birth procedures, you may be able to seek compensation from the hospital where your birth took place. Many people whose babies develop crippling physical and mental disabilities have to pay burdensome medical costs and provide frequent care to their children. Medical devices, special education, home nursing care and other expenses can be prohibitive, and insurance companies often have a cap on how much care they will pay for. For a baby with a lifetime of therapy and care ahead, this limit can be exhausted within a few years, leaving parents with no options to care for their disabled children. The medical bills associated with ongoing care can cause families to go bankrupt within a few years of the child’s birth.
Hospitals are often quick to respond to claims of birth injury and malpractice. They often offer sizable settlements to families who are pursuing a birth injury suit. Parents are often quick to take these settlements because they have accumulated medical bills and other expenses that need to be paid off. However, studies have shown that when birth injury lawsuits go to trial, the parents are often awarded a judgment that is twice what the hospital or other responsible party offered during settlement talks.
What is the Average Birth Injury Settlement?
It is difficult to calculate an average settlement for birth injury cases because each case is unique. Factors like the severity of the injury, the extent of the baby’s disabilities and what type of care the child will need throughout his or her life all affect the amount offered in a settlement. In addition, some states have established a limit on the amount that people can seek for non-medical damages such as emotional trauma.
Personal injury and birth injury laws in most states allow parents to seek damages of an amount that will cover healthcare and other injury-related expenses over the course of their child’s life. Medical bills, treatment and life-support devices and in-home nursing care can all cause the cost of a child’s care to reach tens of millions of dollars. Many high-profile birth injury trials have resulted in a judgment for families in these amounts.
When Should I Call a Birth Injury Lawyer?
Contacting a birth injury law firm as soon as you are able to do so after your child’s injury is critical. Your state may have a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. Attorneys can help you in the process of gathering the documentation that will be necessary to prove your case. An attorney will also represent you in any discussions with representatives from the hospital or other responsible party.
Your hospital’s team may be proactive in offering you a settlement after your child is injured during birth. Representatives may tell you that what they are offering you is a fair settlement and that it is unlikely that you will receive a higher judgment if you take the case to court. They will tell you these things for a few reasons.
- Settling out of court is less expensive than going to court because attorney’s fees are lower and there are no court costs to pay.
- The hospital knows that you have a clear case for their liability in your baby’s birth-related injury.
- The hospital can usually convince plaintiffs to accept a settlement that is lower than a judgment awarded during a trial would be.
Even if the hospital comes to you offering a settlement, it is always a good idea to contact an attorney to represent you in any discussions with the hospital and their legal team. Hospitals usually have excellent attorneys and it is in your best interest to ensure that you have adequate representation as well. An attorney will review the hospital’s settlement proposal and, if necessary, fight for a fairer amount that will cover your child’s medical expenses and ensure that he or she can receive the best care.
There are several advantages to settling out of court rather than taking your case to trial.
- Settlements proceedings are usually fast, whereas medical malpractice trials can last for months.
- You will have immediate access to your settlement winnings, which gives you a chance to pay bills and secure immediate care for your child.
- Attorney fees are less expensive since you will only be retaining your lawyer for the duration of the settlement discussions.
However, it is occasionally necessary to take your case to court, especially if the hospital’s legal team feels that you will be unable to prove that the hospital exercised negligence in caring for you and your baby.
When you or your child experience a birth-related injury, the consequences can be far-reaching, causing your child disability and drastically reduced quality of life. It is important that you are represented by an experienced birth injury lawyer. Experienced attorneys can represent you in all interactions with the hospital after your injury and can fight to ensure that you and your child receive fair compensation so that you can begin providing the proper care for him or her from an early age.