Around 6 to 8 per 1,000 babies are born each year with a birth injury, meaning approximately 28,000 infants are born with some kind of birth injury on an annual basis. In the majority of cases, these birth injuries could have been prevented with proper and attentive medical care. When birth injuries occur, loved ones are often left not only with mounting medical bills, but an entire change in their lifestyles and future planning. Birth injury compensation claims are a way for families to recover the overwhelming expenses associated with caring for an infant with birth injuries, and also a way for the culpable parties to take responsibility for their actions.
What are Compensation Claims for Birth Injuries?
Birth injury compensation claims, also known as a birth injury lawsuit, are cases which are filed against healthcare providers and/or the hospital that acted in a medically-negligent way, resulting in infant developing birth injuries. Compensation for these types of claims are typically for economic as well as non-economic damages. In general, non-economic damages consist of compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any similar damages that aren’t considered economic. Economic damages, on the other hand, are damages for things such as medical costs, physical and occupational therapy costs, lost wages, and anything other kind of economical factors that happen because of the baby’s birth injuries.
Before filing a compensation claim for birth injuries, it’s important to ensure that you indeed have a valid case. If you feel that your physician acted in a negligent way, be certain that the following factors apply:
- There must have been a doctor/patient relationship established when the injury took place. In most instances, if a physician delivered your infant, then a doctor/patient relationship has been established. However, let’s say you were given advice by a physician while you were in the waiting area of a hospital, yet the physician has never treated you before. In cases such as these, you cannot file for damages against the physician, even if you were given wrong advice, as there was no prior doctor/patient relationship.
- The doctor must have been medically negligent while treating you, and
- The negligence must have resulted in the birth injuries
How Can I Determine if My Healthcare Provider Caused My Baby’s Birth Injuries?
There are various way in which a healthcare provider can act negligently, leading to birth injuries. The most common types of negligence including a physician and/or medical staff that fails to:
- Observe and monitor fetal and/or maternal distress
- Diagnose medical issues or provide the correct diagnosis
- Use correct methods when applying birth-assisting tools
- Scheduled and carry out an emergency C-section
- Take measures to help prevent preterm labor
- Treat maternal infections and medical issues such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes
Who is Allowed to File for Birth Injury Compensation Claims?
In general, the parents or the legal guardians of the injured infant can file for damages. In some states, those who were injured during birth can file their own lawsuit shortly after their 18th birthday. It’s recommended, however, that the parents or legal guardians file on behalf of the infant due to the simple fact that medical costs and other expenses that come along with a birth injury can get quite costly, and a birth injury compensation claim is a way to get financial compensation to help out with these costs as soon as possible.
It’s important to note that each state has its own statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits. If you plan to file a claim, be certain to do so within the specified that your state allows. For more information, refer to our article Birth Injury Statute of Limitations.
How Much Can I Expect to Receive from a Birth Injury Compensation Claim?
This is one of the leading questions that most loved ones have. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer as to how much compensation you may be entitled to. Since each case is different and has its own set of unique circumstances, it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact figure. As mentioned earlier, however, in the majority of birth injury cases, you can expect to receive compensation, if applicable in your situation, for:
- Medications, doctor visits, hospital visits, and any form of medical treatment associated with the injury
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Home accommodations
- Counseling, psychological services, and special education costs
- Non-economic damages, such as emotional turmoil, pain, and suffering
Another important factor to remember is that many states have caps on non-economic damages, meaning that there is a limit on the maximum amount of compensation that can be claimed. These caps will vary according to each state, but keep in mind that non-economic caps do not pertain to economic damages. Currently, at least 15 states have no non-economic caps at all. For more information, refer to our article Birth Injury Lawsuits: Non-Economic Caps.
What if I Can’t Afford an Attorney to Help With My Claim?
Most experienced birth injury attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that there is no need to pay anything at all up-front. Your attorney doesn’t get paid until you win your case. At that point, a percentage of your overall compensation will be used for attorney fees. The percentage amount will vary, but generally, birth injury attorneys charge anywhere from 10% to 40%. It’s recommended to speak with your attorney beforehand regarding fees so that there will be no surprises later on.
Will My Claim Go to Trial?
Most birth injury lawsuits are settled out of court after both sides (plaintiff and defendant) reached a settlement agreement. In the chance that your attorney doesn’t negotiate a settlement amount or if the defense wants to settle for lower than your case is worth, there is a chance that you will need to go to trial.
How Soon Will I Receive Compensation?
Unfortunately, there is not set schedule in which compensation is awarded in birth injury cases. Sometimes it may take many months, and in other instances, it may take a few years. Be certain to keep documents of all medical expenses associated with your infant’s injury. The good news is that in most cases, compensation for medical expenses includes both past and estimated future expenses.