What to Expect With a Birth Injury Lawsuit
When your child suffers from a birth injury, you have to embrace a different parenting journey than the one you probably envisioned while you were pregnant or dreaming about your child. In addition to adjusting to your new reality, you also have to deal with a lot of medical bills and other expenses. To manage these challenges, many parents file a birth injury lawsuit.
The specifics vary from case to case, but here’s an overview of the process and a few tips to help you along the way.
Consider Rejecting the First Offer
If the hospital or medical team knows they caused your child’s injury, their insurer may offer you a payout. Often, these payments sound generous, but when you compare them to a lifetime of medical bills and birth injury expenses, these offers are often quite small.
If an insurance company is offering to make a payment, that usually means that someone knows they are guilty of negligence. To protect yourself financially, never accept one of these offers without consulting an attorney first.
When talking with medical professionals, be careful about what you say. You don’t want to inadvertently imply that the birth injury was your fault. In particular, consider suspending all communication between yourself and the medical team who was involved with your pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Consult with an Attorney
If you’re thinking about filing a birth injury lawsuit, you should always consult with a professional. Personal injury lawyers, and in particular medical malpractice attorneys, understand the laws related to these specific types of cases. They know how to negotiate settlements with insurance companies, and they can help to ensure that you get the best settlement for your and your child’s needs.
Typically, the initial consultation is like an interview. The lawyer asks you a lot of questions about your pregnancy, labor, and delivery as well as about your child’s condition. That helps the lawyer to understand the merits of your case. Remember, you can also ask questions during this meeting. In fact, you may want to jot down a few questions before your meeting to ensure you’re prepared.
Gather Information for Your Birth Injury Lawsuit
To fully assess the merits of your birth injury lawsuit, your lawyer will usually spend some time gathering documents, and you may also be involved in this process. Basically, you need documents that show how the injury happened and who may be at fault. That includes medical records and statements from witnesses.
Send a Demand Letter
Before filing a formal birth injury lawsuit, your lawyer will usually start by sending a demand letter. This letter explains your child’s birth injury and details why the hospital or medical team was responsible for the injury. Then, it demands a monetary payout.
In some cases, your birth injury attorney may wait a bit before sending the demand letter. Some attorneys delay the process until your child reaches maximum medical improvement. That helps the attorney create a realistic idea of how much funding you need to cover your child’s medical bills and other expenses.
Prepare for the Discovery Process
In a birth injury lawsuit or any other type of lawsuit, there is a discovery period. During this process, the lawyers on both sides have to share information with each other. This includes depositions, documents, and information from expert witnesses. The discovery process can take several months or even over a year.
Based on the information that surfaces during the discovery period, your lawyer may urge you to accept a settlement, or they may encourage you to move forward with a trial. If you accept the settlement, the process is more or less complete.
Explore Options for Trial
If the case goes to trial, you may have to testify. Your lawyer will also present information, but your expert witness will be one of the most important players. They explain the accepted standard of care to the court, and they show how your medical team failed to meet that standard. That difference is critical in medical malpractice cases.
After all the information has been presented, the jury decides the outcome of your case, and the judge enters a judgment based on the jury’s verdict. If you don’t agree with the outcome of the case, you have the right to appeal. However, appeals can be a long and grueling process. That’s why it’s critical to have a skilled attorney in your corner from the beginning.
Accept the Settlement
If you receive a settlement from a birth injury lawsuit, you usually get to choose between a lump sum or a structured settlement. The lump sum comes to you all at once, while the structured settlement consists of several payments made over time. Generally, the lump sum is less than the total of the structured payments, but if you invest it, interest accrues over time, bringing the total in line with the value of the structured settlement.
Pay Your Attorney
Finally, you may be wondering how your attorney gets paid. With a birth injury lawsuit, most attorneys work on a contingency basis. That means that they don’t get paid unless you win. However, if you receive a settlement, you use a portion of that to pay your attorney.
If your child has suffered from a birth injury, don’t try to handle everything on your own. Contact the The Mellino Law Firm today. We can start with a free consultation of your case and help you identify your potential settlement.
However, it’s important to act quickly. The statute of limitations in Ohio for medical malpractice cases is complex and you do not want to miss your window to file your case. If you miss this window, you may forfeit your chances to bring a case forward.