Life Care Plans & Damages in Birth Injury Lawsuits
Some devastating birth injuries lead to permanent disabilities that affect physical and mental functions. These may require a multifaceted treatment plan. For example, a child who suffers from cerebral palsy may need a combination of therapies, medications, surgeries, and assistive devices. Developing a life care plan can help the family of a child with a disability strategize to cover these costs and others.
Medical experts familiar with a certain health condition can work together to create a life care plan. They can estimate costs for medical procedures and therapies, in-home care, adaptive equipment, home modifications, education, transportation, and other expenses essential to health and comfort. Experts can adjust these costs for the anticipated rate of inflation. Life care plans are designed to reduce the financial pressure of caring for a child with a permanent disability throughout the course of their expected life span.
Costs for Parents
Sometimes a life care plan covers costs incurred by parents who need to care for a child with a disability. If a parent needs to quit their job to stay home with the child, a life care plan can account for lost wages. This document also may provide for the costs of respite care, which provides planned short-term breaks for family caregivers.
A life care plan also may address non-financial concerns. For example, the document may identify the doctors and other medical staff who will care for the child. If they suffer from a disability that affects their development, the plan may provide for developmental milestones that they should reach. These goals may be attached to certain time intervals and may be defined as specifically as parents choose. If a child does not reach milestones, this may indicate that the life care plan and possibly the treatment plan should be adjusted.
How a Life Care Plan Affects a Birth Injury Case
In addition to providing parents with financial clarity, a life care plan can help calculate the damages sought in a birth injury lawsuit. This is a type of medical malpractice case brought by parents against any health care providers who were at fault for a disability affecting their child. For example, a baby may have developed hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy if a doctor failed to promptly recognize and respond to signs of oxygen deprivation during childbirth. In another situation, a doctor who applied too much pressure when using forceps to assist with delivery may cause nerve injuries that result in paralysis.
If a family prevails in a medical malpractice claim, they can recover damages for past, present, and future medical treatment. However, any settlement or verdict awarding compensation generally provides a final resolution to their claims. Since they cannot get more compensation later, parents should ensure that they include all the expected costs in the lawsuit. This is not always straightforward when a child suffers from a permanent disability. However, a life care plan can document the full scope of damages in a well-organized and persuasive way.
Medical experts who help develop life care plans may provide testimony to explain the likely prognosis for the child and the impact of the condition on their life. Expert testimony also will be needed to prove liability. Doctors or other specialists in the field can describe the appropriate practices for handling a similar pregnancy or childbirth, and they can identify the actions by the defendant that departed from these practices. Furthermore, experts can offer opinions on causation. This involves tracing the malpractice to the specific consequences suffered by the child.
Hire an Attorney
Presenting a birth injury case is not a simple task. Parents who suspect medical malpractice should set up free consultations with attorneys in their area. Birth injury lawyers typically handle their cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that they do not collect payments for their services unless they recover compensation for a client.