A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was with her family when a jury announced that they had decided to award a $130 million verdict to compensate them for the brain damage that she suffered during delivery.
The child, in this case, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after she was born. Her doctors have confirmed that she cannot walk, speak, feed herself, or even swallow on her own. But in the lawsuit, her family notes that “she hears and understands and is exquisitely aware of everything that is going on around her.”
Her family alleges that the hospital where her mother gave birth failed to adhere to the accepted medical practices used during labor, and as a result, she was deprived of oxygen. This lack of oxygen resulted in damage to her brain and caused her cerebral palsy.
The Long Road
The litigation process started nearly 10 years ago. The first time the case went to trial the jury sided with the hospital and the family was given no award. Dissatisfied with this decision, the family took the matter to an appeals court.
The appeals court overturned the first decision and ordered a new trial. Once again, the plaintiffs went through the emotional turmoil of going to trial. This time, the jury was unable to come to a conclusion and it ended in a hung trial.
The third trial was thankfully much more successful than the first two. The jury determined that the hospital had indeed made serious mistakes and that they should be held liable. They awarded $130 million in damages. The family rejoiced at this decision and have said that they are pleased because this sum will cover her medical expenses for the rest of her life.
The path that students must take to become a doctor of any kind is not an easy one. It takes years of study and practice under superiors in order to qualify for testing which, if passed, will give the new doctor a board certification. This arduous process is necessary, however, because when doctors make mistakes the result can leave their patient permanently altered or dead.
Whenever a doctor fails to make medical decisions that are in line with the generally accepted form of treatment, they can be held liable for their actions, if those actions cause harm.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are how patients can hold their physician responsible. These lawsuits can be filed against any medical professional with a license, including nurses, physical therapists, EMT’s, and more. Hospitals can also face this type of complaint.
In order to show that medical malpractice occurred, the following must be proved:
- that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the two parties
- that the doctor acted in some way that was negligent
- that this negligence resulted in an injury to the plaintiff
- that the injury lead to damages – such as physical pain, emotional trauma, medical bills, or lost work / lost earning capacity
The three most common types of complaints deal with a failure to diagnose, improper treatment, or the failure to warn a patient of known risks.
The Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time the law allows you to pursue legal action against the party whose negligence caused your injury. In New York State, victims are allowed two years from the date of the injury, or from the end of a continuous treatment which caused harm, to file a complaint.
What Can Be Gained From Filing?
When you or a loved one have been injured, the damage done may be so severe that returning to work is not an option. On top of this, additional medical treatments may be required, sometimes for the rest of the life of the victim. With no regular income and medical bills piling up, filing a complaint may be the only option and the only way to get the compensation needed.
It isn’t just monetary sums, such as medical bills and lost earnings, that can be requested. Non-monetary sums can also be obtained. If the victim has been scarred, disfigured, or lost the use of a limb or organ, they may also receive compensation for pain and suffering, as well as emotional turmoil.
Once the a settlement or favorable verdict has been obtained, many plaintiffs have also reported that pursuing legal action helped them to feel that justice was served. They often also hope the medical community will be reminded that their actions can change lives.
Thanks to our friends at Ralph Petty Law, Utah wrongful death lawyers, for their contributions to this post.