Damages that May be Recovered in a Birth Injury Claim in New Jersey
The birth of a child is supposed to be a joyful and inspiring time for any family. And yet, birth injuries sometimes occur when a physician or other medical professional is negligent. When joy is substituted for tragedy and trauma due to the negligence or error of a medical professional, the resulting impact can last a lifetime.
A child and family who has experienced a birth injury does not only have to worry about additional medical treatment to right a wrong. Contrarily, such an injury could result in the child’s need for years of therapy and medical support. A child may suffer long-term from a significant birth injury and may need life care and even the necessity of a parent to give up their career to help the child full-time. The burdensome payments for a child’s medical, therapeutic, educational, and life needs can be enormous for their parents. Fortunately, the law provides rights and options for medical malpractice and birth injury victims. They can sue the party or parties responsible for their injuries. They may receive compensation for losses and ongoing expenses due to another’s negligent acts through a lawsuit.
A birth injury at the hands of a negligent medical practitioner is a huge event, both emotionally and financially, for any family. The consequences are unquestionably heartbreaking. Considering the challenges ahead, contact the birth injury attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group to find out more about your potential avenues to recoup damages for harm done and the long-term effects of such an error. Read on to learn more about what birth injury compensation is, what may be included in a settlement or jury award for childbirth-related injuries and trauma, and how our lawyers can help your family in this difficult time. Contact (973)-435-4551 to speak with a member of our New Jersey firm now.
Fundamentals of Birth Injury Financial Compensation
Birth injury awards cover a child’s needs throughout their life, even as those needs change. When determining the amount that one may be able to recover in damages, it depends on the severity of the injury. Some injuries are temporary and resolve with treatment or time, such as minor bruises and fractures or brachial plexus injuries from neck trauma and shoulder dystocia. Others persist for months or years. A birth injury settlement or jury verdict considers the financial and life quality losses attributed to the injury.
For example, a newborn with negligently induced cerebral palsy or brain damage may need physical, occupational, and speech therapists for years or a lifetime. The financial costs for therapy, medical procedures, and medications likely needed to address muscular and neurological disorders are recoverable. The price for care can reach over a million and maybe millions, depending on the disability. Thus, the economic damages claim may be extraordinarily high. More temporary injuries may not require as much money to compensate the child’s damages.
Recoverable Economic Damages for the Child in a Birth Injury Claim
Economic damages include costs to treat the birth injury. It also provides rehabilitation costs, including various therapies the child may need as they grow, such as physical, speech, and occupational therapies. The therapeutic aim is to rehabilitate children to improve their lives, including using medical devices to complete daily tasks, like eating and bathing. Other costs are for help, such as nurses and devices that help children walk, learn, and speak. In addition, different daily needs, such as wheelchairs, ramps, and special vehicles to accommodate wheelchairs, are economic costs for birth injuries. The projected loss of earning potential when a child’s physical or cognitive impairment limits or eliminates their income prospects is considerable.
Parental Economic Damages that may be Included in Birth Injury Compensation
Economic losses to parents include lost wages due to tending to a disabled child’s needs. With the numerous doctor appointments, pharmacy pickups, and therapy appointments, among a myriad of other child-related tasks, one parent may need to stop working. That parent’s lost wages are recoverable in a lawsuit. Should a jury allow mileage and time driving to and from the doctor and other appointments for the child, the damages add up quickly, especially if the child suffers a lifelong injury. Parents’ lives change irreparably when their child suffers a birth injury. The financial and emotional toll is immeasurable, although judges, lawyers, and insurance companies put a figure to the loss.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Noneconomic Damages for the Child
Noneconomic damages include physical and mental pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are an estimated monetary value for physical pain from an injury or condition and the suffering from enduring treatments for the condition. Mental suffering includes the distress of living daily with pain and an illness that makes life more complicated than other children’s lives. Anguish and anxiety resulting from the life quality loss and a physical and cognitive condition that plagues the child with struggle are components of noneconomic damages. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other troubles resulting from a severe illness or condition are all considered mental suffering.
Noneconomic Damages Parents May Recover
Other noneconomic damages belong to the parents. For example, parents expect a relationship and companionship with a child. As for parents of a birth injured child, loss of consortium is another noneconomic damage. Parents may recover the equivalent in monetary damages when someone causes the loss. In some cases, parents may recover from the trauma they suffered witnessing their baby being injured or being born with a congenital disability. It is painful to watch a beloved child suffer physical and mental pain. Though emotional distress is not typically awarded in a personal injury lawsuit for a birth injury, witnessing the injury is permissible damage for parents in some instances.
Though challenging to put a dollar amount on intangible damages like pain and suffering, it is a large part of noneconomic damages that may be recovered through a birth injury lawsuit.
Punitive Damages an Option for Birth Injury Compensation
Less commonly, a family may be entitled to punitive damages. This damage is a sum to punish an extremely or grossly negligent medical professional who deviated wildly from acceptable medical practices or intentionally caused a child’s injury. And when it comes to a suffering, innocent child, jurors may wish to set an example by awarding punitive damages. While there is no formula for punitive damages, they can be substantial. Financial punishment is relative to a defendant’s income and worth. Thus, punitive damages may be appropriate when a baby suffers from hypoxia or infection because an obstetrician fails to order standard pregnancy tests that reveal treatable conditions. New Jersey caps a punitive damages award at $350,000.00 or five times the value of compensatory damages, whichever is higher.
Call a Birth Injury Attorney to Seek the Damages Your Family Deserves
If your child suffered a birth injury, you probably understand the financial strain and the costs you could never have imagined would arise. An injured baby’s needs evolve as they grow. Unfortunately, calculating your child’s needs now and in the future can be challenging but necessary. A lawsuit is a one-shot claim for damages, so you need to determine all possible costs you may incur and losses you anticipate. Under New Jersey law, you have until your baby turns 13 to file a birth injury lawsuit so that you may have some idea of the costs, but you should not wait for the financial hardship to become too much.
Fortunately, you can get help from the professional birth injury lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group in New Jersey. Our experience handling medical malpractice actions involving babies, children, and mothers makes us fully prepared to assess and pursue all of the damages for your birth injury lawsuit. You may need to consult with various experts with specialties in medicine, special needs, education, occupation, and economic losses, which is why we have them on call and at the ready to assist with preparing your child’s settlement demands. We also consult with life care planning experts to help calculate an accurate total for your child’s needs. Most importantly, we care about your and your family and it guides our path forward as we fight for your fair compensation.
Call (973)-435-4551 to discuss your child’s birth injury and how we may be able to help you recover damages.