Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Birth injury funds cause controversy

Birth injuries can shatter expectant parents’ hopes and dreams of bringing home a healthy baby. But what’s perhaps most disheartening about birth injury cases is that in many instances, the baby would have been healthy if negligence had not occurred.

Birth injuries can result in brain damage, oxygen deprivation, shoulder dystocia and many other serious conditions caused by delayed c-sections and other negligent treatment. The lives of the child as well as the family can be changed forever.

In Pennsylvania, when a family goes through the trauma of a birth injured caused by negligence, they are often able to sue the responsible parties, such as hospitals or doctors, for damages stemming from the economic and non-economic injuries they suffered as a result.

However, a neighboring state is considering creating a fund for children who suffer permanent birth injuries in exchange for a promise from their parents not to sue. Maryland lawmakers are hearing testimony from both sides of the issue.

On the one side, some lawmakers and hospitals argue that the fund is necessary to help support victims of birth injuries, who often require lifelong care around the clock. They say the fund, which would be financed by doctors, hospitals and insurers, would reduce the hefty litigation costs that come along with birth injury lawsuits.

But funds such as this one are also highly controversial because many people argue that they allow negligent hospitals and doctors off the hook after causing birth injuries. Critics also argue that it denies families who have suffered birth injuries from obtaining fair compensation in lawsuits.

At this point, only a few states including New York and Florida have implemented birth injury funds, and there are already movements in both of these states to terminate the programs.

Source: WBAL TV, “Legislators push Maryland birth injury fund,” David Collins, Feb. 28, 2014

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