Parents who have recently learned that their child has suffered a birth injury may have difficulty grasping exactly what that means from a financial standpoint. It can be very easy for concerned parents to underestimate the kind or resources that are necessary to care for a child with special needs. But what initially sounds like a fair settlement may actually account for only a small percentage of what you and your child have lost.
- In 2003 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that the average lifetime costs for a person living with cerebral palsy were $921,000 higher than those of a person living without such an impairment. For those with substantial cognitive delays, such costs were estimated at $1,014,000. These numbers only represent direct costs such as health care and medical aids.
- The CDC also estimated that indirect costs associated with these impairments were between two to five times the direct costs. In other words, the average person with cerebral palsy can expect to incur between 1.8 million and 4.6 million dollars in indirect economic losses over the course of their lives due to diminished earning capacity and other indirect effects of their impairments. This is in addition to the direct expenses previously noted.
- While there is no way to put a value on intangibles such as embarrassment, pain and suffering and loss of life’s pleasures, these types of loses are compensable under the law and are largely left to the judgment of the jury in birth injury lawsuits.
When examined in this manner, it quickly becomes clear just how extensive the financial effects of a childbirth injury can be. For this reason, it is extremely important to seek legal advice before entering any type of settlement agreement. Even if the doctor or hospital offers an immediate settlement and even if the offer sounds substantial at the time, there is a strong chance that it is substantially less than what you and your child may be entitled.