It’s common to hear a lawyer crow about how they helped a client recover millions of dollars in a claim. It’s great advertising, but it makes potential clients want to know if they can get a similar amount of money for their birth injury claims.
While it is possible to get a settlement over a million dollars, getting that money isn’t so easy. To know how much you can recover in a birth injury claim, you need to know how courts and insurers decide how much cases are worth.
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The Three Categories of Damages
When you file a claim for compensation, you’re demanding to get paid for legal damages that someone did to you. There are three broad categories of damages that you could receive in a birth injury claim.
Economic damages are the financial costs of your birth injury claim. The most obvious economic damages are the costs of medical care for your child’s birth injury claim, but that’s not the only one you could receive because there are more financial consequences than those.
You might have to take time off work or even quit your job completely to care for your child’s needs. This money wouldn’t have been lost if your doctor paid more attention, so you can claim these lost wages or lost potential income as part of your lawsuit.
If there was a financial cost you wouldn’t have had to take on if your child was uninjured, you may get awarded compensation for it. A birth injury attorney will help you calculate how much these are. Note that we can also ask for money you may have to pay in the future, like for ongoing medical care.
The harm from a birth injury goes beyond the financial. You and your child may still suffer intangible losses because of the injury. These are called non-economic damages, and you can get paid for them as well.
The most well-known is pain and suffering. The physical pain of your child’s injury wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t injured and you can get compensation for your child’s pain. You can also get compensated for the emotional distress you’ve suffered from watching your infant struggle with their injury.
Permanent disabilities and disfigurements are also eligible for non-economic damages. There may only be so much medical science can do to heal your child and they may suffer physically and emotionally because of it.
Punitive damages are a punishment given to defendants whose actions are grossly negligent. The court will force the defendant to pay you extra money to deter other people from acting the same way in the future. A court can only award these damages, and your lawyer will have to argue that you should receive them for your birth injury claim.
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When your lawyer builds a case, they have to provide evidence to show the insurers and the court how badly you were harmed. The root for any amount you can recover are the economic damages. The more evidence they can bring forward of the costs of your child’s injury, the more you can receive.
Non-economic damages are usually calculated in one of two ways:
- Multiplier Method – Depending on the severity of the injury, victims will receive a multiple of the economic damages, usually ranging from 1 to 5. So $200,000 in economic damages could also come with $200,000 to a million in non-economic damages.
- Per Diem Method – This is a flat rate a victim receives for each day they’ll suffer from the injury now and in the future. They usually set this as a day’s wages for the victim. Of course, this isn’t possible with an infant but a fair amount could be negotiated.
Punitive damages are awarded at the discretion of the court based on previous cases and the actions of the defendant. There is no maximum cap, but most courts limit the amount to a maximum of four times the other damages except under extraordinary circumstances.
Damage Caps for Birth Injury Claims
Some states pass “tort reform” laws to limit the amount of money that a victim can get from a personal injury or medical malpractice claim. Even if we can prove you deserve more, the state may say that victims can get a certain amount.
Each state is different, and the Birth Injury Lawyers Group practices across many states. There isn’t enough space to say how each one is different. Some states, like Arizona, do not allow any kinds of caps. Others have strict overall limits on what a victim can get, or they put limits on certain kinds of damages.
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Insurance Policy Limits
All insurance policies have a limit to how much they can pay. It’s the maximum amount the insurer is legally obligated to pay. If you’re awarded more than that by the court, you will have to find another way to seek the money. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this.
In a birth injury case, there are at least two defendants. These are the people who harmed your child and the hospital you were in. You can pursue compensation with all of them at once and get up to the limits of each applicable policy.
A defendant might also have an umbrella policy. This is an insurance policy that pays out when the policyholder owes more than the policy limit. This amount will also have a cap, but it gives you more ways to get money.
Finally, you may be able to get money directly from the defendant’s assets if there is no other way to get your compensation through an insurer. This may be difficult, though it’s easier for medical malpractice cases than other personal injury situations because the defendants will probably have a lot of assets.
You can now see why it’s hard to determine how much you could recover in a birth injury claim. Between the specific circumstances of your case, the possible damages under the law, legal caps that vary between states, and insurance policy limits, there are too many variables.
However, a skilled birth injury lawyer can give you an estimate based on what evidence they have and previous cases similar to what you have. When you work with a birth injury lawyer, their investigation will uncover just how much you could get from your child’s birth injury.