Medical malpractice compensation: first glances can be deceiving

Sometimes when a Phoenix TV station airs a story about a medical malpractice case settlement, some viewers react as if the plaintiff just won the lottery. The reality is that if the person who filed the lawsuit alleging hospital or doctor negligence receives significant compensation, it is only because they have suffered significant damage.

For example, consider a recent $17.5 million settlement in a medical malpractice case. The plaintiffs in the case were a young boy and his mother. Some might mistakenly believe the two are now set for a life of luxury, but that is far from the truth.

The truth is that the boy, born in 2007, faces life with a devastating brain injury. A previous newspaper article described his injury as “spastic quadriplegia, which is a form of cerebral palsy.” He also has ” global developmental delay, epilepsy” and other medical issues caused by the negligence of the hospital where he was born, according to the Kentucky jury that heard the case a few months ago.

The mother and her medical malpractice attorney agreed to a slight reduction in the jury’s order for the hospital to pay $18.27 million, in exchange for the facility agreeing not to appeal the decision.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but when you factor it out over the course of life expectancy, (the boy is) going to need it,” the attorney said.

The settlement will pay for hospital and medical expenses incurred to date, as well as those expected in the future. It is also intended to offset the losses in his future ability to earn an income, as well as the pain and suffering he has endured in his young life, and in the years ahead.

The boy requires “persistent care” and faces a life of physical therapy, speech therapy, sign language and other medical and social obstacles. He didn’t win anything when the hospital injured him, but at least now, with the settlement, he will be cared for when his mother is no longer able to do so.