A settlement is a negotiated amount of money that is agreed upon between the plaintiff and defendant outside of court.
Within a cerebral palsy lawsuit, the plaintiff is usually the parents or caregivers, or those who have decided to file a case. The defendant is usually the physician or medical center that is being sued for medical negligence.
Cerebral palsy lawsuits are usually filed if parents believe a lack proper medical care caused their child to develop the condition due to a brain injury at birth.
Examples of birth injury cases include:
- An obstetrician failed to detect fetal distress or fetal heart rate
- A newborn suffered from a lack of oxygen or asphyxia during the birth
- An emergency cesarean section (c-section) was not performed
There are various reasons that a cerebral palsy lawsuit can end in a settlement.
Parents are not obligated to accept a proposed settlement amount at any time.
Oftentimes, if there is a strong amount of evidence against your doctor, nurse or other health care provider, they will decide to offer a settlement. This entails proposing an amount of damages that the defendant feels is an acceptable amount. Your lawyer will then be able to negotiate this figure on your behalf. If both parties are unable to agree on a settlement amount, the medical malpractice case will proceed to trial.
Many parents decide to settle because it tends to be a faster, less stressful way of obtaining financial compensation. This is because within a settlement, there is no uncertainty regarding the amount you will be awarded. If your case goes to trial, the amount of damages will be up for deliberation by a jury.
If parents are debating whether to settle their case, the best person to consult with is your cerebral palsy lawyer. They will have the most complex understanding of the details of your lawsuit, as well as past experience with other CP lawsuits. Your lawyer will be able to advise whether your family would benefit most from accepting a settlement, or if you should take your case to trial.
Benefits Of Settling
Many cerebral palsy lawsuits end in a settlement. One of the major advantages of a settlement is that it ensures parents are compensated appropriately for the costs associated with their child’s injury. Legal compensation can significantly help to relieve the financial strain that comes with continued care for CP.
Arriving at a settlement is also beneficial because it can significantly reduce the length of a lawsuit. The average timeframe of a CP lawsuit depends entirely on the details of your case and the state in which you are filing. However, these cases typically take up to several years to be resolved.
By deciding to settle, this would allow parents who are dealing with issues stemming from their child’s CP diagnosis to spend less time with legal proceedings. This would give parents the ability to focus exclusively on finding medical treatment, therapy and continued care for their child.
Additionally, within a settlement, both parties would avoid the risk that comes with arguing their case in court. Defendants will typically offer to settle if there is a substantial amount of evidence against them. However, just because this may be the most logical option for the defendant does not mean that parents should accept an amount they feel is unfair.
Settling in a CP medical malpractice lawsuit can also be a favorable option because it is less emotionally draining on everyone involved. For many parents, the process of going to trial and fighting for their child’s case can be mentally and physically exhausting. It may be painful to relive moments or situations where medical mistakes were made that have impacted their child’s future.
Juries in trials can also be unpredictable. There is no way to guarantee a jury verdict will be in favor of the family affected by cerebral palsy. Further, the jury awards may be less than what a family might have received through a settlement.
For these reasons, settling outside of court may be the best option to obtain financial compensation needed to manage your child’s cerebral palsy.
Risk Factors Associated With Settlements
While there are many benefits to settling your case, parents should also be aware of any downsides that can come with this type of agreement. These include:
- Clearing the defendant of any further liability
- Typically being required to maintain confidentiality regarding the amount and terms of your settlement
- The defendant is not required to admit liability for medical errors, as the negotiation takes place off public record
By working with your cerebral palsy attorney to weigh the risks and benefits of negotiating your case, parents will be able to determine if a settlement is right for you.
Negotiating a Settlement
Negotiating a settlement usually takes place during the mediation step of a CP lawsuit. Mediation is an opportunity for both parties to openly discuss the details of the case. Unlike some of the other steps in the CP lawsuit process, mediation is seen as a chance to have an honest conversation about the events that took place and work towards a resolution.
When determining whether you should settle or not, both parties will compare the risks and rewards of going to trial. If you decide that going to trial will take too much time or become too draining on your family, you may decide to settle.
Similarly, the defendant will usually agree to a settlement if they conclude they have a higher chance of losing the case if it goes to trial. For example, if there are various head studies that show evidence of brain damage causing a birth injury due to forceps or vacuum extractors, the defendant may realize the odds are stacked against them.
The details of a settlement will be handled by your cerebral palsy law firm. However, parents are ultimately the deciding factor in whether a settlement takes place or not. If you don’t agree with the amount being offered as financial compensation, there is no requirement to settle at any stage.
Determining Case Value
A large part of a cerebral palsy settlement is agreeing on an amount of legal compensation to be awarded. Unfortunately, there is no way to predetermine the amount of damages you will be rewarded This depends entirely on the facts and evidence present in your specific cerebral palsy case.
For example, one lawsuit might be a clear-cut case of medical malpractice, while another may be harder to prove. These issues will factor into the amount of any settlement. Lawyers will calculate many variables, such as medical expenses and loss of future earning potential, to determine how much a CP medical malpractice claim is worth.
Your lawyer may consider the following factors when determining a reasonable amount of compensation:
- The strength and weakness of the medical evidence
- Past and future medical costs
- Physical deformities
- Emotional distress (where permitted)
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of future earning potential
Cerebral palsy lawsuits have many variables. After evaluating the details of your case, your lawyer will be able to provide you with a general estimate of its value, and whether a settlement would be advisable.
Deciding to File a Lawsuit
Reaching a settlement depends on your lawyer’s ability to determine exactly what happened in the delivery room and present those facts as evidence in court.
It’s important for parents to find a lawyer experienced with cerebral palsy lawsuits because these lawyers can secure the maximum amount of compensation when negotiating a settlement.