What would you do if a doctor harms your baby at birth, creating millions of dollars in medical bills to treat the injury?
Would you sue? Or would you quietly pay for a lifetime of costly medical care due to something that isn’t your child’s fault – or yours?
These are the kinds of questions I ask people when they complain about seeing yet another high-dollar award for a medical malpractice lawsuits in the news. We should always get the facts before we judge. Never assume that the plaintiffs are just money hungry or suing for frivolous reasons.
It’s often quite the opposite. The personal stories behind many medical malpractice lawsuits are absolutely horrifying. Those involved are usually facing bleak medical and financial circumstances.
This is certainly true for the Maryland family in a recent news story about a record judgment in a medical malpractice case right here in Baltimore.
Erica Byrom, who was 16 at the time of her daughter’s birth, was in labor at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. Because her baby was at just 25 weeks of gestation and Erica had suffered from severe preeclampsia for weeks, hers was considered a high-risk birth.
During the confusing and stressful period when Erica went into labor, her doctor erroneously advised her that a C-section could put the baby at risk of brain damage or death. With this in mind, she declined to let the doctors perform a C-section. During the 22 long hours Erica was in labor, her daughter, Zubida, was deprived of oxygen and as a result, she was born with brain damage and cerebral palsy. Her head is smaller than normal and she suffers from condition called microcephaly, has seizures and experiences significant pain, Zubida will need a lifetime of expensive medical care, which was the focus of the lawsuit Erica brought against Johns Hopkins.
The lawyers for the hospital argued that Erica’s decision not to have a C-section essentially stopped her doctors from providing the care that was needed to prevent Zubida’s injuries. However, the jury disagreed and awarded Erica a record $229.6 million.
In stories like these, one important fact is sometimes overlooked:
Maryland caps the damages awarded to plaintiffs in injury lawsuits, even though costs can and often will exceed court judgements. Erica’s actual judgment is likely to be limited to $200 million by state law. In addition, the defendant appealed this case in an effort to have the judgment reduced more substantially by the courts.
There is a lifetime of costs For example, let’s look at cerebral palsy, which is the form of permanent brain damage Zubida Byrom now faces. According to a birth injury study by the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the lifetime cost of medical care for cerebral palsy is at least $921,000
And that’s for basic medical costs alone. It doesn’t factor in other common costs like out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages due to caregiving, in-home equipment, medical devices or emergency room visits.
Why should the injured person and their family suffer for the rest of their lives without adequate compensation? It’s outrageous that someone can be injured due to a doctor’s negligence and not receive the resources they desperately need. These are the kinds of cases that inspire people to attend law school and make a career fighting for the rights of people who suffer injury from medical malpractice.
If someone you love is suffering from a medical mistake, don’t stay silent and allow medical bills to make the situation worse. Contact an attorney who can give you a voice in Maryland’s legal system.
Have a Legal Question About Medical Malpractice in Maryland? We Have Answers.
When you’re facing the life-altering effects of medical malpractice, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law can help answer your questions and guide you through the challenging process of understanding Maryland’s medical malpractice laws. We can help you hold the right person responsible for your injuries and file suit for damages. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our medical malpractice attorneys today.