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Debate Begins for the Maryland Birth Injury Fund

Efforts to create a statewide birth injury compensation fund took another step forward as Maryland lawmakers listened to opposing testimony from medical professionals and trial lawyers, who advocated for their injured clients. The bill, which was introduced about a year ago, seeks to create a fund that would provide limited compensation for victims of birth related injuries. Though the legislation is limited to the state of Maryland, its passage or failure can have far-reaching implications for citizens of various other states.

The Baltimore Post Examiner is reporting about the legislative hearings that are currently taking place in consideration of the bill. Three medical doctors are included among its sponsoring delegates. Under its provisions, area hospitals will pay a mandatory amount into the fund each year based on an estimate of qualifying injuries. Proponents assert that seven injured babies are likely to qualify for compensation each year. Based on that information, the collective contribution will equal about $25 million.

Opponents of the bill argue that the proposed funding amount is inadequate to compensate qualified victims. They assert that the number of estimated birth injuries is far less than actual numbers suggest. The Maryland Association for Justice lists yearly birth injury rates at 150 incidents per year. If these numbers prove accurate, more than 140 injured babies could go without monetary compensation under the fund.

What is Covered

Conditions that are generally covered under a birth injury fund include:

**Erb’s palsy
**Temporary paralysis
**Cerebral Palsy
**Brachial Plexus Palsy
**Brain Damage

The families of injured babies must not only prove the existence of the injury, but also the fault of the hospital and physician in causing it. If the parties are successful, they are awarded a limited payment from the fund in exchange for their agreement to not pursue any further legal recourse.

In determining individual compensation amounts, fund managers claim to consider the following injury costs:

**Medical care and anticipated hospitalization
**Rehabilitation and physical therapeutic services
**Medically necessary residential care
**Current lost earnings for caregivers
**Future lost earnings for infants
**Legal fees

States with Birth Injury Compensation Funds

Several states maintain birth injury compensation funds. Virginia was the first to develop one of these programs, with an implementation date of 1987. The fund is managed by a governor appointed board and is funded by payments from state licensed doctors. Participating hospitals pay a specified amount into the fund for each live birth within their facility. The Florida legislature followed suit with the creation of the Birth-related Neurological Injury Compensation Fund. The program is only available to babies with certain neurological injuries.

While medical professionals frame these funds as positive and necessary, it is important to consider the substantial number of victims and expenses that go without adequate compensation under these programs. The financial burden that medical malpractice places on even one injured child can far outweigh the balance in a state compensation fund.

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 of Levin & Perconti for aggressive representation. Call Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.