Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Questions the Sincerity of Hospitals Offering Pre-Litigation Settlements

Having a child with cerebral palsy can create a significant financial burden over time. Even if a person reliable insurance, out of pocket expenses can still accumulate very quickly. Lee Memorial Healthcare System leaders are trying to pass a policy that offers a settlement to victims of medical negligence before they go to court. These kinds of settlements can lead to the family of a child whose cerebral palsy is the result of medical malpractice not getting proper compensation to provide for the full cost of medical care over the course of the child’s lifetime.

A settlement would decrease the hospital’s costs by offering a sum that is lower than what it would likely pay out if the case went to court. This would benefit the hospital but the settlement would fail to cover the cost of a child’s care over the course of his or her lifetime if he or she has cerebral palsy. Steve Brown, a physician at Lee Memorial Hospital, wanted to add an amendment to the pre-lawsuit settlement policy that would require cases be brought to the board for approval. His motion was denied.

Lifetime Cost of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a life altering condition that impairs a child his or her entire life. Parents have to make major sacrifices such as leaving their jobs, making necessary accommodations to their homes, or buying vehicles that can transport wheelchairs, if needed. Special education or early interventions are not only costly, but eat up more of the parent’s time. This can create emotional stress that may also affect the parent’s relationship.

Special education services can be of benefit to the child, but they come at a cost. In 1981, children who were enrolled in special education from the time of birth through high school were enrolled in classes at an average annual tuition of nearly $37,000. If parents waited to enroll the child until he or she turned six years of age, the cost went up to $50,000 per year. When we consider inflation relative to today’s cost, $37,000 becomes $82,000 and $50,000 becomes $111,000.

Medical expenses are also a factor that needs to be considered when agreeing to a settlement involving a child with cerebral palsy. Examinations, surgery, medication and special equipment are required as the child grows and develops. Just as children outgrow shoes and clothing, they outgrow wheelchairs and braces, which need to be replaced eventually. The basic cost of a wheelchair begins at $300, and accessories can quickly add to the cost. Insurance companies do help with the cost of wheelchairs, but many insurance policies have coverage limits.

When a child with cerebral palsy reaches adulthood, the cost of care may not be as significant, but it costs much more for an adult to live with cerebral palsy than the cost of living for most people. Adults with cerebral palsy are more prone to illness and have shorter lifespans. One study showed that 77% of people with cerebral palsy died from pneumonia. Another study conducted in Denmark showed that the lifetime cost for an individual with cerebral palsy, was approximately $1,083,255 and does not include compensation for a life of pain and suffering.

Lawsuit Case Against Lee Memorial Hospital

Mitzi Roden, mother of Aaron Edwards, who was delivered at Lee Memorial Hospital, filed a lawsuit against the hospital for malpractice that resulted in his cerebral palsy. Aaron has suffered from Cerebral Palsy since birth and has been confined to a wheelchair. Healthcare providers deny responsibility for the child’s injuries, claiming that not enough evidence was provided at the trial. She won the case and was awarded damages in the amount of $15 million.

Medical professionals are trying hard to cut their expenses by offering a settlement instead of going to court. However, medical malpractice can cause lifelong injury to individuals who will need to continue paying for the mistake of a medical professional for their entire lives. Children who suffer from cerebral palsy will suffer their whole lives and the cost of care can add up quickly over time. Victims of medical negligence should do what they need to get the proper compensation to help aid with the cost and be wary of any settlement that is offered.

When in doubt, contact a medical negligence lawyer that specializes in cerebral palsy cases to determine the true cost of your child’s injury.