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Lawmakers Consider a No-Fault Birth Injury Fund

The state of Maryland is considering a measure that would protect hospitals and doctors within the state from birth injury lawsuits. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the state no-fault injury fund would compensate parents for birth injuries, in lieu of personal injury lawsuits.

During the past two years, Maryland birth injury juries returned several verdicts for awards in excess of $15 million in malpractice lawsuits. In addition, one jury awarded more than $50 million to a birth injury plaintiff against a Maryland hospital. Despite these large verdicts, medical malpractice claims are capped at $740,000 in the state of Maryland. However, officials assert that the frequency of these lawsuits is putting an undue strain on hospital resources. The Frederick News-Post reports that some hospital officials claim they are considering the closure of their maternity units, in response.

Supporters of the fund assert that it would decrease the financial risk for hospitals, while creating an ongoing source of financial compensation for parents. According to reports, they argue that it will also maintain vital medical services for the women of Maryland. Projected funding for the program is $23.1 million, which would be funded by premiums from state hospitals and OBGYN physicians. Parents who agree to utilize the fund would have 21 years to file a claim and would be prohibited from seeking any relief in the courts against the responsible hospital or the physician, regardless of the specific case facts.

The Argument Against the Fund
Opponents of the fund assert that most Maryland jury awards are reduced or overturned. Birth injury plaintiffs are already receiving award amounts that are considerably less than the court verdicts. They further argue that the fund is unnecessary and only set up to protect medical professionals at the expense of the injured party. The available payments under the fund would be insufficient to adequately cover the significant pain and suffering of injured babies and their parents.

Illinois Compensation Regulations
The state of Illinois does not utilize a no-fault injury fund. Injured parties file medical malpractice lawsuits in hopes of securing compensation through various types of damage awards. Compensatory damages cover tangible economic losses, like deprivation of income and medical costs. The award of non-economic damages is a controversial topic within the state of Illinois. These would include pain, suffering and the loss of companionship that often accompanies a birth injury. Though the state legislature voted for a $500,000 cap in 2005, judges consistently allowed judgments in excess of the cap. In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the cap was unconstitutional.

If you or your baby experienced a birth injury, and you believe the doctor or hospital may be responsible, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti for aggressive representation.

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