Supreme Court Considers Birth Injury Case On Malpractice Awards

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In most birth injury cases, lawsuits end with a settlement or jury verdict in favor of the victim and his or her family. A recent case has made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. This case could help thousands of injury victims in Ohio and around the country when the Court issues its decision.

The importance of this case involves a common tactic that many states bring in more revenue. A North Carolina law allows the state government to automatically claim up to a third of any medical malpractice award to pay itself back for helping cover the victim’s costs with Medicaid funds.

So after a 12-year-old victim of severe c-section related birth injuries received $2.8 million in a settlement, North Carolina promptly claimed its third. The government says that it is entitled to this sum to reimburse it for the Medicaid funds that it spent to help pay for the girl’s care before the settlement. Because the parties intended for this settlement to finance the girl’s lifelong care costs, the government’s share took a big chunk out of her much-needed long-term financial security.

This case is now looking at whether state governments can impose these kinds of automatic deductions without looking at the individual facts of each case. A more fact-specific look at this case might have caused the state to agree that it could not in good conscience take such a large portion of this family’s settlement.

If the Supreme Court issues a favorable decision, it could help thousands of plaintifffs around the nation receive more compensation for medical malpractice injuries.

Source: Miami Herald, “Supreme Court weighs case of disabled child and medical malpractice award,” Michael Doyle, Jan. 8, 2013

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