Your new arrival has a broken bone. It’s painful for the baby and upsetting for you. Worse, most broken bones are caused by doctors and other medical care providers in the course of delivery. While some of these breaks are unavoidable, others are the result of negligence. If your child was injured by medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
Compensation For Medical Malpractice
When you’re injured by the negligence of another person, you have the right to sue for compensation for your loss. If the negligent party is a doctor or other medical care provider, it’s called “medical malpractice.” When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be suing the doctor, the hospital, the nurse, another care provider, or any combination of these. We’ll use doctors for purposes of explanation, but the process is the same for each type of defendant.
The point of a medical malpractice suit is to get compensation for the injuries suffered. This compensation comes in the form of monetary “damages.” Damages may be economic, such as past and future medical expenses and future lost wages. Damages may also be non-economic, such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. If the medical malpractice lawsuit goes all the way to trial, the jury will decide the amount of damages due. If you settle before trial, the amount will depend on what each side believes the jury would award at trial, considering the strength of the case.
Medical Malpractice Case Elements For Broken Bones
In order to win a medical malpractice case, you’ll need to prove several things to the court. First, you’ll need to prove that the doctor had a legal duty to you. If the doctor treated you at all (including performing and evaluating tests, assisting in your labor, etc.), the doctor had a legal duty. That’s an easy element to prove.
Next, you’ll need to show that your little one was injured. In the case of a broken bone, that’s easy to do. You’ll just need an x-ray.
Third, you’ll need to prove that the doctor was “negligent.” That’s a legal term that means the doctor did not treat you or your child with the appropriate standard of care. The standard of care is a tricky concept; it’s not actually written down anywhere as a set of hard and fast rules. Instead, the standard of care is a sort of best-practices standard. Usually, a doctor who works in the same field will testify as an expert witness about what doctors should do in a given situation and about how your doctor didn’t do that. Of course, your doctor will present expert witnesses to argue the opposite side.
Finally, you’ll have to link your doctor’s negligence with your child’s injury. For example, if your child suffered a fracture due to brittle bone disease, your doctor isn’t liable. In contrast, your doctor is liable for using forceps improperly and fracturing your child’s skull.
Filing A Lawsuit For Your Child’s Broken Bones
Fortunately, most broken bones don’t cause lifelong trouble. In the short term, however, treating those injuries can be expensive and time-consuming. You may choose to file a lawsuit against your doctor or other care provider to recoup the cost of the care your child needed because of the fracture and the pain and suffering associated with it.
If you believe a doctor or other care provider’s negligence caused your little one’s bone fracture, gather all of the relevant medical records and make an appointment with an experienced local attorney. Most attorneys offer free consultations and case evaluations so you can decide whether a lawsuit is the best choice for you. You should ask about what damages you can expect to win, how long the case is going to take, how often you’ll need to appear in court (if at all), and how much the lawyer will charge for her services.
Remember that you have a limited amount of time to file a suit. A law called the “statute of limitations” gives you a certain amount of time in which to sue. After the statute of limitations has run, you no longer have the right to sue. State law determines the statute of limitations but most states allow a couple of years after you become aware of the injury. If you think your child may have been injured by a doctor, it’s best to talk to an attorney sooner rather than later to ensure that you have enough time to make a decision.