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Child allowed to attend her own birth injury lawsuit

Many medical malpractice cases come about because of birth injuries suffered while the mother was in labor. Because there have been so many multi-million dollar verdicts for these kinds of lawsuits (including one in Pennsylvania totaling $78.5 million), hospitals understandably are jittery every time a birth injury case is being tried in front of a jury.

In a recent lawsuit where a child contracted cerebral palsy allegedly due to the mistakes of physicians that delivered her, attorneys for the hospital asked that the child not be allowed to attend the trial. The reason for this request was the concern that the child's severe physical and mental disabilities might influence the jury to decide against the hospital.

Because of the purported malpractice, the 13-year old girl is now confined to a wheelchair, has a feeding tube inserted into her abdomen, and relies upon others to clean her airway tube every day. She is unable to speak, frequently suffers seizures and cannot speak.

The trial judge ruled in favor of the hospital and did not allow the child to attend. However, the Georgia Supreme Court (for the state in which the case was tried) reversed the trial judge's ruling, and stated that the child should be allowed to attend.

The Supreme Court stated that parties are almost without exception allowed to attend a trial that will so profoundly affects them. Per the court's opinion: "The right of a natural party to be present in the courtroom when her case is being tried is deeply rooted in the law of this nation and, if anything, even more embedded in the law of this state."

Birth injuries cases are complex, and the damage that can be caused by a medical mistake can be enormous. That's why it is recommended that injured patients retain attorneys experienced in the medical malpractice area. For a case of this magnitude, the parents of such a child deserve only the best legal care.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Court says disabled child can attend trial," by Bill Rankin, June 18, 2012

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