Damages in Birth Injury and Pediatric Malpractice Cases in New Jersey
Compensation for Infant and Child Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence
If your child suffered a birth injury or condition resulting from pediatric malpractice, they are often forced to cope with complications caused by the trauma for the rest of their life. If pediatric or obstetric malpractice caused permanent harm to your child, you have the right to seek compensation for damages. Damages is the legal term used to describe the loss a victim suffered as a result of medical negligence. In medical malpractice cases involving children, damages can encompass medical expenses, rehabilitative treatment, costs of future medical care, lost wage-earning abilities, necessary future accommodations, and pain and suffering. In the case of infant or child wrongful death, damages also include loss of consortium or companionship, meaning you and your family lost the opportunity to have a relationship with your child. Obviously, there is no true economic value that can be placed on a child’s life or their suffering. However, monetary compensation can be absolutely necessary for you and your family when shouldering the burden of a child with a medical condition or recovering from a child’s tragic death.
What do Damages for Pediatric Malpractice Include?
Damages always amounts to a dollar value but the way this amount is calculated varies on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the total compensation in a pediatric malpractice case will be composed of a variety of parts. Notably, malpractice payments in pediatrics are among the highest of all medical malpractice cases. This has been attributed to the fact that victims are forced to cope with the costs of lifelong medical care resulting from their injuries and may be unable to earn income for the rest of their lives.
There are two broad categories of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. Although both are assigned a number eventually, the factors included under each umbrella are distinct. Economic damages are damages that can be calculated exactly. Non-economic damages are more intangible in nature. Continue reading as we delve deeper into the concept of damages and how they may apply to your child’s case.
Economic damages, or special damages, are intended to reimburse the child and their family for previous and future financial losses. In a pediatric malpractice or birth injury case, economic damages may include:
- Medical bills: any costs associated with treatment of the child’s injuries, including future costs of care
- Rehabilitative treatment: includes physical therapy, speech therapy, and many other measures that may be required to improve the child’s condition and facilitate recovery
- Costs of lifelong care: includes costs for nurses, household aids, and medical devices
- Costs for necessary accommodations: such as wheelchair ramps, handicap-accessible vehicles, etc.
- Lost income: the loss of earning power if a child cannot pursue a career or is hindered by complications of a medical condition (i.e. developmental delays, cognitive impairments)
As you might expect, non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate. They include things like pain and suffering. Although it is hard to assign a dollar amount to pain and suffering, it is an important component of a pediatric malpractice claim. Pain and suffering can be physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering is the actual pain or discomfort caused by the child’s injuries. Mental pain and suffering includes emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the myriad of traumatic mental effects a serious illness or medical condition can cause. Loss of consortium is also considered part of non-economic damages. This refers to the loss of relationship between a child their parent/family.
One other form of damages is punitive damages. Punitive damages are different from the compensatory damages explained above because the purpose is to punish the medical professional or hospital for grossly negligent or intentional misconduct that caused the child’s injury. Punitive damages don’t apply in all cases. Some examples of grounds for punitive damages in pediatric malpractice cases include anesthesia errors, failure to order necessary tests, and failure to obtain informed consent from a parent before a child’s procedure.
Want to Sue Your Child’s Doctor for Damages in New Jersey?
If you think you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit against your child’s doctor, it is highly advisable speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You may have limited time to file an infant or pediatric injury lawsuit. Our lawyers can provide you with more information about the legal process and assist you with formulating a comprehensive claim for maximum damages. Call 866-708-8617 now or contact us online for your free case evaluation. With offices in Newark and Manhattan, we serve communities throughout New Jersey and New York, including in Hackensack, Paramus, Wayne, Toms River, Jersey City, and Livingston.
Resource: Malpractice Risk Among US Pediatricians, Pediatrics. 2013 Jun; 131(6): 1148–1154.