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Can Punitive Damages be Awarded in Birth Injury Cases?

When birth injuries occur the results can be catastrophic, requiring a lifetime of medical care and therapy. Where the injury is the result of negligence, the family may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and recover damages. Types of damages allowed include economic damages (such as medical expenses), and non-economic damages (emotional distress/pain and suffering), and punitive damages. Punitive damages are allowed in rare circumstances, but apply to those situations where the care was particularly reckless and egregious.

In a recent birth injury case, the child and mother were awarded over $40 million in punitive damages where a jury determined that evidence presented at trial showed that the doctor who had delivered the child acted recklessly. Evidence included failing to take recommended tests when indications showed that the infant may need further evaluations, and that a cesarean section maybe warranted due to indications that the mother was at high risk for delivering a too large baby. At the time of delivery, the infant weighed 11.5 pounds and became lodged in the birth canal. The infant was deprived oxygen for 10 minutes, until it was "forcibly dislodged" via aggressive use of a vacuum extraction device. The boy suffered a brachial plexus injury and hypoxic ichemia.

As a result of the complications at birth, the child will have lifelong injuries and will be unable to function independently.

For more information or if you believe your child suffered harm due to medical errors during labor and delivery please contact the experienced California birth injury lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.
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