Medical malpractice, brain injury and punitive damages

In a state outside of Pennsylvania, that state’s highest court has overthrown the state’s cap on non-economic damage awards by juries. In a case that concerned a severely brain injured child that came about due to medical malpractice, the high court stated that the state cap limiting non-economic damages to $500,000 or five times what was determined to be compensatory damages violated a party’s rights to a trial by jury.

It is yet to be seen what the consequences of such a ruling would be nationwide, but it does show that many courts are rethinking their stance concerning specifically punitive damages and generally medical malpractice cases. Courts may be reluctant to take verdicts away from juries, and juries appear to be sympathetic to the plights of individuals injured due to medical malpractice. Especially when it comes to brain damaged children, it is difficult for juries not to be sympathetic and understand how difficult a medical mistake will likely make a child’s life.

For example, many children suffer cerebral palsy due to the brain of the child being deprived of oxygen during labor – often due to a medical mistake. Such children will likely require lifetime medical and rehabilitative care, will require other services, will have impaired mental functioning, may suffer from seizures and, in some cases, also suffer from blindness.

Attorneys, experienced in the medical malpractice field, will continue representing such children because of the severity of harm caused by medical malpractice. Such attorneys will attempt to make a determination as to how such an injury occurred, and will do everything in their power to hold the negligent medical provider responsible for what has occurred.

Source: Ozarks First, “High Court Overturns Caps on Medical Malpractice Damage Awards,” July 31, 2012