There are no two birth injury cases that are identical, so calculating the amount of compensation you are due can be quite a challenge. You can only get a rough approximation after taking into consideration all your case’s particular circumstances, and even that approximation might not get awarded in court.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive for a Birth Injury?
In the case of a birth injury, there are several types of compensation you can pursue, including:
Cost of care: Your child may require around-the-clock care or he or she may need access to therapists, doctors, counselors, and other specialists to regain all or part of his or her motor function. You will need to keep all the receipts and evidence of any out-of-pocket expenses with your child’s care. Plus, an expert will be able to calculate the total care costs (past, present, and future) based on your child’s diagnosis and his or her current needs. The cost of care is usually assessed by taking into account the expenses with hiring external help to care for your child such as daytime and nighttime carers, independent massage therapists, case managers, etc.
Therapy: Serious birth injuries require special therapy such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to improve the child’s quality of life and level of independence.
Loss of income: Parents of disabled children need to take time off for doctor visits, therapy sessions, school meetings, and caring for their kid on a day-to-day basis. Some of them may even need to renounce their job to properly take care of their child. Also, the disabled child may not be able to work at all during adult years, so his or her lost income needs to be taken into account too.
Special equipment and accommodation: A child with severe physical disability may need mobility aids, assistive devices, and other gear to make their (and your) life easier. Also, you may need to make some changes in your home or move to another home to meet your child’s mobility needs. All these costs are included in your birth injury compensation claim.
Pain and suffering. Your kid has likely undergone a lot of pain and suffering because of his or her diagnosis, including physical pain, mental anguish, trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. These are the so-called non-economic damages as they don’t come with a price tag and they are roughly estimated. Many states have caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, while a few have caps on both economic and non-economic damages, like Colorado, in a bid to shield doctors from liability. But the compensation still remains significant even in those states.
How Much Compensation Can I Get?
Several websites claim that their birth injury compensation calculators can give you a rough approximation of the value of your case. However, a birth injury case is so complex and there are so many factors to consider that no machine can come with the right number.
The variables of a birth injury case include:
- The extent of your child’s injuries
- The extent of the medical negligence or incompetence
- Cost of medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses (including future special needs care)
- Lost income
- Amount of pain and suffering caused by the diagnosis
- Your child’s expected recovery time
- Tort reform laws in you state (some states have caps on damages)
- Extent of insurance coverage
- The possibility of further developmental issues to appear in your child or other complications such as post-impairment syndrome in cerebral palsy patients, which may require extra care, etc.
Each birth injury case is unique and the amount of compensation you are due vary greatly based on each of these factors. On average, the final payment for a neurological birth injury is $1.03 million, but there were severe cases, such as those involving a cerebral palsy diagnosis, which raked in more than $50 million in compensation.
In such high-stakes cases, insurance companies and doctors’ lawyers may try to devalue your claim and give you a fraction of what your case is worth. That’s why it is a good idea to let a birth injury attorney negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf instead of putting your trust in an insurance adjuster.
Also, only a lawyer will be able to offer you an approximate value of your case after you have offered him or her all the details of your case. It is worth noting that some birth injuries may become obvious at some point after delivery, so keep in mind that injuries that happen shortly after birth are also legally considered birth injuries. So, have a talk with an attorney first to see whether you have grounds for legal action.