Should States Set Up No Fault Birth Injury Funds?

common birth injuriesIn Maryland, state officials have been arguing for years that the state needs a no fault birth injury fund, and now, a state task force is once again urging lawmakers to pass HB377.

The contentious bill would create a highly controversial state fund for babies born with birth injuries. The proposed fund would finance a lifetime of medical costs if necessary. Similar birth injury funds already exist in states like Florida and Virginia; however, there’s no indication HB377 will be any more successful in 2016 than it’s been in year’s past, and once again it’s stirring up an intense debate between victims’ families, the legal profession, and hospitals.

Many birth injury lawyers say that such a fund would deny families and victims of common birth injuries for babies their constitutional right to a trial. Not only that but by shielding negligent doctors and healthcare providers from legal consequences, the fund would eliminate much-needed accountability in the state’s healthcare system.

While no one expects doctors to be perfect 100% of the time, negligent providers should be answerable to victims of common birth injuries for babies. On the other hand, Maryland hospitals say that in the long run, lawsuits erode access to obstetrical clinics.

Understanding Common Birth Injuries for Babies and Examples of Medical Malpractice

Birth injury lawyers hear about tragic deliveries far too often, stories of newborns injured during what should have been a joyous occasion. Every year in the U.S., 28,000 babies on average are born with a birth injury. That’s 2,333 per month, 538 a week, and 76 every day. In total, seven out of every 1,000 newborns will suffer from a birth injury, which can often cause lifelong disability or even death.

And according to a famous report from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the combination of medical negligence and physician error is the third leading cause of death among Americans, behind only cancer and heart disease.

Common types of birth injuries for babies include:

  • Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Skull fractures, head and brain injuries
  • Perinatal asphyxia (oxygen deprivation)

When a family believes that a healthcare provider, obstetrician, or physician’s negligence or incompetence caused a birth injury, then a medical malpractice lawsuit may be the only option available to them to cover sky-high medical bills.

States with no fault birth injury funds set aside millions of dollars to provide for families like these. The Maryland law seeks to do the same, but no one there can agree on who will finance the fund.

Once again, this means that most families only have one option: birth injury lawyers.

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