Damages Available in Birth Injury Claims

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When a birth injury occurs, it can lead to profound emotional, physical, and financial challenges for the child and their family. In legal terms, addressing these hardships often involves pursuing compensation through a birth injury claim. This form of legal action aims to provide the family with financial redress for a range of losses stemming from medical negligence or malpractice during childbirth.

Each category addresses different aspects of the injury’s consequences, helping the affected family manage the significant burden a birth injury can impose.

Medical Expenses

These encompass the immediate and direct costs associated with the birth injury. The compensation covers all hospital charges from the initial stay during birth, any surgical interventions required immediately or as part of ongoing care, and prescribed medications to address symptoms or prevent complications. It also includes anticipated future medical expenses, which can be significant if the injury is severe. This forward-looking aspect requires careful calculation to ensure all potential future needs are accounted for, such as repeat surgeries, updated medications, and routine medical check-ups throughout the child’s life.

Future Medical Care and Rehabilitation Costs

Birth injuries that result in long-term or permanent disabilities often necessitate continuous medical attention and rehabilitative therapies. These costs can include physical therapy to improve motor skills, occupational therapy to assist in daily living activities, and speech therapy if communication issues exist. For severely affected children, this category might also encompass specialized medical treatments and ongoing care programs necessary for the child’s development and well-being.

Special Equipment and Home Modifications

Compensation in this area addresses the practical aspects of living with a disability. It can include the cost of wheelchairs, orthotic devices, specialized feeding equipment, and more. Home modifications might include installing wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, accessible bathrooms, and other changes that make the home suitable for the child’s needs. These modifications ensure that the child can live independently and that their environment supports their health and safety.

Pain and Suffering

This category compensates for the non-economic damages associated with the injury. It recognizes the physical pain and discomfort experienced by the child due to their injuries, as well as the emotional and psychological distress that can accompany such traumatic experiences. For parents, witnessing their child suffer and adjusting to a life altered by injury also contributes to significant emotional distress, which is compensable under this heading.

Loss of Earning Capacity

This form of damage anticipates the potential economic impact of the birth injury on the child’s ability to earn an income in the future. Calculating such damages involves considering the severity of the disability, the child’s projected life path before the injury, and how their capabilities to work and earn a living have been affected. Economists or vocational experts often provide testimony to project these losses accurately.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Also known as hedonic damages, this compensation is for the diminished quality of life experienced by individuals with disabilities resulting from the injury. It accounts for the limitations on the child’s ability to engage in and enjoy daily activities and life experiences that were likely without the injury, recognizing that the child’s experience of life will be fundamentally different and potentially more restricted.

Punitive Damages

Awarded not as compensation for losses but as a deterrent to prevent future misconduct, punitive damages are applicable in cases where the actions of the medical staff were not just negligent but recklessly indifferent or intentionally harmful. These are less about the victim’s loss and more about punishing wrongful acts and setting a public example.

Parental Damages

Parents of a child who has suffered a birth injury may seek damages for their own psychological trauma, emotional pain, and the practical financial impact of caring for a disabled child. These damages might cover the costs of counseling services for the parents, lost wages if a parent has to reduce work hours or stop working to care for the child, and other related non-economic losses like loss of companionship and increased marital strain.

Final Thoughts

The spectrum of damages available in birth injury claims is designed to address the multifaceted impacts of such traumatic events comprehensively. From covering extensive medical and rehabilitative costs to compensating for emotional distress and future financial losses, these damages ensure that affected families receive the necessary support to navigate the challenging aftermath of a birth injury.

While no amount of money can reverse the effects of a birth injury, compensation plays a critical role in facilitating the best possible quality of life for the injured child and providing relief to their caregivers. It underscores the importance of holding healthcare providers accountable and highlights the legal avenues available to protect and compensate those impacted by medical negligence.

If you or your baby have experienced birth injuries as a result of medical negligence, get in touch with Gray and White today. We can discuss your case and help you determine options going forward. Call (502) 210-8942 or fill out our online form to request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.