Indiana Family Secures Damages in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

Shay Morrigan | March 12th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News, Recent Settlements

Cerebral Palsy LawsuitCerebral palsy is a life-changing disorder that typically results in long-term medical and therapeutic costs. Families with children who suffer from cerebral palsy are often burdened with overwhelming expenses that include not only medical and pharmaceutical care, but occupational therapy, supportive technological equipment, and more.

A family with a boy who suffers cerebral palsy symptoms won their initial cerebral palsy lawsuit, but were allowed to recover only $250,000 in damages against healthcare practitioners. They recently won their subsequent case against the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund (PCF) in the Indiana Supreme Court, which allows them to pursue additional damages.

Family brings cerebral palsy lawsuit in Indiana

All parents with children who suffer from cerebral palsy face difficulties in meeting the financial burden of care. Most can file a cerebral palsy lawsuit and, if that case is successful, may receive millions in damages to help pay for the child’s ongoing medical needs.

Indiana residents who believe their children suffered cerebral palsy symptoms because of medical negligence during the delivery process face additional difficulties, however, because of the laws governing the recovering of damages in that state.

A family may file a lawsuit, but the damages available to them are capped at $1,250,000—and that must be recovered in two separate steps. First, the plaintiffs must file a cerebral palsy lawsuit, through which they can recover, at most, $250,000 from healthcare providers. If they succeed with that case, they must bring a second claim against the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund (PCF) to recover the rest of the money—a total of $1 million.

Those who manage to recover the entire amount may still find themselves coming up short when it comes to caring for a child with cerebral palsy. The condition requires a lifetime of supportive therapies and equipment, with costs usually exceeding one million dollars.

Parents seek compensation for child’s birth injuries

In this case, the family sought a birth injury settlement or jury award in Indiana against the healthcare providers who were responsible for the boy’s delivery. The parents claimed that the doctors were negligent during the labor and delivery process, and failed to respond appropriately to signs of fetal distress. And because of these alleged actions, the boy ended up with cerebral palsy.

The doctors agreed to a birth injury settlement of the allowed amount of $250,000. The parents then moved forward with their claim against the PCF. At this stage, the questions of liability are not supposed to be in dispute—only the amount of remaining damages that should be paid. In this cerebral palsy lawsuit, however, PCF fought the charges, and named five experts who stated that the doctors were not responsible for the boy’s condition, or that the child didn’t have cerebral palsy to begin with.

The trial court agreed with the plaintiffs, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the decision, sending the case to the state supreme court.

Indiana cerebral palsy lawsuit goes to Supreme Court

The Indiana Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs, and held that once a claimant had successfully recovered the first $250,000, the PCF had no grounds to further dispute liability, but only had to decide how much excess money the plaintiff should receive. The parents are now allowed to move forward with their claim against the PCF.