Although we are now in the 21st Century and modern medicine is improving and extending the lives of millions of people, mistakes during childbirth lead to a number of birth related neurological injuries. In most cases, these injuries resulted in careless or even negligent behavior by the attending medical staff. These birth injuries affect the child and his or her family for the rest of their lives, in many cases costing the family hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical, rehabilitative, and equipment costs.
Types of Birth Injury
There are varying degrees of birth injury, some are minor and heal over time. Others however last a lifetime and may severely retard the development of the child. Minor birth injuries include:
• Temporary paralysis
Fortunately, these injuries will heal over time and the child will not experience long-term deficiencies.
Other more severe birth injuries include:
• Cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, which adversely affects basic motor skills. It also causes seizures, lack of smooth muscle control, and difficulty breathing. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability.
• Erb's palsy is paralysis caused by damage to the brachial plexus nerve near the shoulder. This may be a temporary, but is often a permanent birth injury.
• Hypoxia is the lack of oxygen to the brain to a varying degree. Brain damage may be evident right away, but may also present itself years later when development is seen to be lacking.
Neurological Injury Compensation Association
The state of Florida created the Neurological Injury Compensation Association, NICA, to assist families with children when neurological birth injuries. It helps pay for the care of infants born with neurological defects. The association was made to eliminate the costs of litigation and get compensation to the family as quickly as possible. The family must apply for the program, with eligibility determined by a federal law judge. Here are some criteria for enrollment:
• Spinal cord injury
• Brain injury
• Infant must be born alive
• Injury caused by mechanical injury or hypoxia
• The child must have permanent disability
Compensation from NICA may help with actual expenses for reasonable care, including:
• Medical expenses
• Hospital bills
When enrolling with NICA, the family waives the option to bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible, but not all birth injuries are covered, so litigation may still be an option. The child must be enrolled by age five to be eligible.
Birth Injury Litigation
Compensation for birth injuries may be possible in the event that the injury was caused by medial negligence or medical malpractice. In order to collect damages in a birth injury case, the plaintiff must prove that the obstetrician, hospital, or staff was liable for damages. When seeking legal counsel, it is a good idea to retain an experienced birth injury attorney who is familiar with all the legal options to make a strong case.