Birth injury lawsuit settled for $5.3 million

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Apr 19, 2012 in Medical Malpractice

Last week, the parents of a baby who was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy agreed to settle their birth injury lawsuit against one East Coast hospital for $5.3 million. Although jury awards and settlements of this size are not uncommon in birth injury cases -- and do help the families affected -- mere compensation cannot begin to make up for a life-changing injury or the wrongful death of an infant or mother.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice cases involving birth- or pregnancy-related injuries remain all too common, both nationally and here in West Virginia.

As in many birth injury and pregnancy-related injury lawsuits, the plaintiffs in this case alleged that the hospital's medical staff did not provide adequate medical care. According to the complaint, the mother visited the hospital for treatment and observation during her pregnancy on several occasions but still gave birth a full eight weeks early. The family contended that result could have been prevented had the hospital's staff taken appropriate steps.

Generally speaking, plaintiffs cannot win a birth injury lawsuit or any other type of medical malpractice claim unless they can prove the harm was caused by the negligence of a medical provider. In practical terms, this means plaintiffs must have some evidence that the hospital or a staff member deviated from the medical community's own accepted standard of care and that the deviation or failure caused in the injury.

Lawyers for the hospital apparently felt the plaintiffs would be able to prove their case and opted to settle.

On a final and somewhat related note (as we discussed in a medical malpractice blog post last week), the medical community seems to be focusing its efforts to eliminate the problem on legislative solutions that limit plaintiffs' rights and the damages they can recover rather than on legitimate ones that will prevent more of these tragic events from occurring.

Source: Reuters, "NY Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Settled for $5.3M," Stephanie Rabiner, April 13, 2012

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