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If your child has suffered a birth injury, it’s natural to want to know what type of medical malpractice settlement or verdict you might expect to receive. Birth injuries often mean ongoing medical care and other support for the child, which can be very expensive.
Of course, the average birth injury settlement amount won’t necessarily apply in your case. The best way to get specific information about the possible value of your claim is to speak with an experienced Ohio medical malpractice attorney who is knowledgeable about birth injury cases.
Birth Injury Settlements and Verdicts
Medical malpractice settlements and verdicts in Ohio topped $88,000,000 in 2019. That put Ohio at #11 in terms of most dollars paid out in connection with medical negligence claims. Obstetrics cases account for about 10% of that total.
According to the first study cited above, the average medical malpractice payout in Ohio was $391,346. But, that includes all types of medical malpractice claims. The average for birth injury claims is slightly higher, at over $400,000.
Average medical malpractice settlement: $348,065
Average medical malpractice settlement: $391,346
Factors that play a role in birth injury settlements
The type of settlement or award that may be available in a specific birth injury case will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The type of injury
- The severity of the injury
- Whether the injury is temporary or permanent
- The costs associated with treating the injury or resulting condition
- The cost of non-medical care, assistance, equipment or adaptation made necessary by the injury
The range can be significant. For example, for medical malpractice claims overall, the average payout for claims involving quadriplegia, brain damage, or requiring lifetime care is more than $1 million. But, the average payout for “insignificant injury” is $35,000. The continuum between those two extremes includes an average of more than $700,000 for major permanent injury, more than $500,000 for significant permanent injury, and more than $200,000 for minor permanent injury.
Temporary injuries tend to result in lower payoffs, in large part because the injured person isn’t expected to be burdened with the cost of long term medical care and adaptations, and because any interruption in earning capacity of the injured person (or, in the case of a temporary birth injury, of the caretaker parent) would be limited.
Average settlements don’t tell the entire story
Even within a category of injury, the value of the claim can vary significantly. For example, brachial plexus injury is one of the most common types of birth injury. A brachial plexus injury involves damage to the nerves that pass through the shoulder. They often occur as a result of pulling or compression during birth. But, some brachial plexus injuries are temporary, and full use of and feeling in the arm is restored with physical therapy. Others require surgical intervention. And, still others may result in permanent weakness of the arm, paralysis, or other long-term limitations.
So, the average value of a brachial plexus injury claim doesn’t tell a parent very much about the potential value of their own claim.
The settlement value of a birth injury case will also be impacted by other factors, such as:
- The likelihood of success at trial–a strong case is more valuable when negotiating a settlement because the responsible party has more to lose by going to trial
- How egregious the defendant’s actions were–Ohio law allows for punitive damages of up to twice the compensatory damages in a medical malpractice case, meaning that an Ohio jury that wanted to punish the healthcare provider could up to triple the award amount
The value of your claim may even be impacted by factors such as the county where your case is filed, the judge assigned to your case, the insurance carrier responsible for payment, and the attorneys on both sides of the case. Some of these variables impact the likelihood of success at trial and the likely amount of a jury award. Others impact the willingness of the insurer to enter into a reasonable settlement.
For example, an insurance company may be more willing to offer a reasonable settlement if its attorney knows that the plaintiff’s lawyer is willing and able to take the case to trial if they don’t make a fair offer.
An Experienced Ohio Birth Injury Lawyer Can Be Your Best Resource
If your child was injured at birth and you are unsure of whether you may have a valid birth injury claim, or what your claim might be worth, the next step is to consult an Ohio birth injury attorney.
Though no lawyer can promise you a specific settlement amount or jury verdict, an attorney who is experienced in handling birth injury and other medical malpractice cases in your area will be able to explain how the factors above and others may impact the value of your claim, and what local juries have done in similar cases in the past.