In developed countries like the United States, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs in 1.5 to 2.5 out of 1,000 newborns. Unfortunately, despite its low numbers, the reality is that HIE’s dangerous and complex nature can often lead to devastating outcomes for both parents and the affected children.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the damage can be mild or can lead to lifelong health problems, like cerebral palsy or brain damage (25% suffer lifelong brain damage). These conditions can be very expensive and costly to treat. This is why you need all the help possible to help you seek the appropriate compensation.
If one or more medical professionals’ negligence resulted in your child’s condition, you have a right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them. Our hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyers in Alaska can help make that a reality.
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Compensation Claims You Can Seek in an Alaska HIE Case
It’s essential to understand the damages you can recover when filing a medical malpractice suit in Alaska. Some of these include:
- Lost earning capacity attributed to taking care of the child
- Lost income to date
- Medical expenses for both past and present treatments
- Loss of support
- Home and vehicle modification costs
- Cost of household services
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Physical impairment
- Mental distress
- Wrongful death (15-20% lose their lives)
These economic and non-economic damages are often available for recovery where necessary. And to qualify for the compensation, parents must file the lawsuit within two years of diagnosis.
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How Much Can You Get in an Alaska Birth Injury Lawsuit?
Alaska Statutes § 09.55.549 shows that there’s a $250,000 cap on the non-economic damages that you can claim in Alaska. However, that cap can be raised to $400,000 if the injury sustained because of medical negligence leads to 70% disability.
However, there’s no limit on economic damages like medical expenses, loss of income, lost ability to work, and other problems arising from the birth injury that can be valued at a certain dollar amount. Therefore, the court can award whatever it considers fair as compensation.
Also, the cap doesn’t apply if there’s proof that the defendant’s intentional or unintentional actions were reckless and caused the child’s hypoxia.
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Proving Negligence in a Birth Injury Case
Before you can win a hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawsuit in Alaska, you’ll have to show that the medical personnel caused your child’s birth injury through their reckless or negligent misconduct.
Because of the often complex nature of medical malpractice lawsuits, Alaska Statutes § 09.55.540 specifically requires you to prove the following:
- That there was a defendant-plaintiff relationship when the birth injury occurred
- That there was an established medical standard of care
- That the medical personnel didn’t provide the baby with the required standard of care
- Because the medical personnel failed in their care, it led to injuries and damages that would not ordinarily have occurred
Establishing these four elements is crucial to the success of your medical malpractice lawsuit. Whether this was done by mistake, negligence, or reckless actions will be determined by an experienced HIE attorney in Alaska. Your birth injury lawyer will look at these elements and present them to the court during the civil suit.
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Contributory Fault in an HIE Medical Malpractice Suit in Alaska
When it comes to medical malpractice cases in Alaska, the state also takes comparative negligence or contributory fault into consideration. This means that the court will check to see if the fault was solely one-sided or involved both parties.
It will try to determine if the child’s hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy could have been caused by negligence on the part of the child’s parents. For instance, if the parents didn’t come in on time for the birth procedure, the delay can cause hypoxia (lack of oxygen), which can affect the child’s brain too.
If the court finds that the parents of the injured child contributed in some way to the child’s brain injury, it can affect the compensation payout to the degree that the court determines they are also at fault.
For example, if the court awards $500,000 in damages against the defendant, but establishes that the parents were culpable by 20%, the court will deduct that 20% from the total settlement amount and ask the defendant or their insurance provider to pay the parents the rest—in this case, $400,000.
Is HIE Considered a Disability?
HIE (also known as perinatal hypoxia) occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. This oxygen deprivation can lead to a ton of conditions, including brain damage and cerebral palsy. And since cerebral palsy is a disability, HIE can be categorized as a disability—depending on whether it’s mild or acute.
Over time, children can make a partial or full recovery from mild or moderate HIE. And even then, they may still have some mild disability for the rest of their lives. But babies who undergo severe oxygen deprivation during birth are more likely to lead a life of permanent disability.
So, if you’re concerned about claiming disability as part of your damages, this can be a yardstick to follow. However, a consultation with an experienced HIE lawyer in Alaska can help clarify things and help you see if filing a disability claim is in your child’s best interest.
Contact an Alaska Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyer
Birth injuries like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy can have lifelong outcomes on the child. As for the family, the condition can be financially, emotionally, and mentally draining. You need all the help you can get, including that of an experienced birth injury lawyer, to hold the at-fault party responsible.
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our experienced Alaska HIE lawyers can help you seek compensation and get you and your child the money that you deserve. This way, your family and the child can get to live as near a normal life as possible.
Contact us today to discuss your case for free. Please fill out our contact form so that we can contact you or you can call us for a free consultation.
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