Birth injuries are among the most tragic injuries because the tiny victims are vulnerable to severe outcomes, and the effects of their injuries can last a lifetime. That is why the average birth injury settlement or verdict in Maryland is significantly higher (approximately 50% higher) than other types of medical malpractice.The average medical malpractice that goes to trial has an average verdict of $1 million; whereas, the average for a birth injury case is closer to $1,500,000. Many birth injury cases in Maryland settle for much more than this. When cases do settle, the settlement figure is often kept confidential, especially the cases with the largest settlements, so the actual average settlement for birth injuries is unknown, and likely much higher than the average estimates. Additionally, of the birth injury cases that go to trial in Maryland, many have had verdicts higher than this. One case recently received a verdict of $205 million (under appellate review). Another case recently received a $34.7 million verdict.Why Do Birth Injuries Get Bigger Damages?In cases of medical malpractice, including birth injury cases, the payment figure is based on non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) and economic damages (medical care, equipment, lost wages, etc.). There are caps that limit the maximum amounts for non-economic damages, but economic damages do not have these maximum cap numbers. Economic damages take into consideration the cost of care for the victim over their lifetimes as well as their lost wage potential. For a child who has suffered a birth injury, that could mean a lifetime of care and lost earning potential.Some common birth injuries that can affect a child with lifetime of disability and medical care include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Brachial Plexus
- Erb’s Palsy
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
- Hypoxic Injuries
- Spinal Birth Injuries
In addition to past and current medical expenses, a birth injury victim can be looking at expensive medical care throughout their lives, depending on the type of injury. They could need a variety of specialists through different periods of their lives, including physical and occupational therapists. There is also the possibility that they need mobility accommodations, such as wheelchairs (likely multiple wheelchairs throughout their lives) and accessibility alterations to the home and transportation. A special expert is consulted to determine the needs of the specific victim and calculate the cost associated with those needs over the lifetime of the child.
There is also the reality of lost wages. The child victims of birth injuries might be unable to work or can be limited in their capacity to earn a living. This lost earning potential can be factored into any medical malpractice, and for the victim of a birth injury, it could mean compensation that covers the lost wages for their entire adult lives.
Parents can also secure monetary damages for their own economic and non-economic hardships due to the birth injury. For instance, many victims need assistance with daily activities and require frequent trips for medical care, which could mean that a parent needs to stay at home to attend to the needs of the child, resulting in significant loss of income for the family.
What if you suspect a preventable birth injury?
Birth injuries occur more often than people think, and it can be difficult for the average person to determine if the child’s birth injury was unavoidable or the outcome of an avoidable medical error. The first step is establishing the appropriate medical standard of care that should have been applied in the situation versus what actually happened. An expert, usually a doctor of obstetrics, will examine the medical records and determine if there is evidence that a medical error or malpractice has occurred. If there is evidence to support a case, your attorney and special experts will work with your family and your child to determine the care the child will require, the cost associated with that care, the potential lost wages, and any other associated costs that might be necessary. Together, they arrive at a payment figure that is fair and ensures the best possible quality of life for the victim.