Birth injury suit now at U.S. Supreme Court

While waiting for the outcome of medical malpractice cases, patients and family members may be facing medical bills in excess of $100,000. Because these individuals simply do not have the funds to pay such bills, they may apply for Medicare or Medicaid relief to help pay the bills. Such a scenario is now the subject of a United States Supreme Court case.

A child that was reportedly injured at birth due to medical malpractice was awarded $2.8 million is a settlement with the treating medical providers. The reason for the award in part came about because the child is now deaf, blind and suffering from cerebral palsy – presumably due to birth injuries she suffered because of medical malpractice.

The state in which the young girl resided allegedly since has paid out more than $1.9 million in Medicaid funds. That state would now like to recoup the costs of the Medicaid payment by placing a lien on the medical malpractice award that the girl and her family received.

It’s difficult to know whether the family would have settled this lawsuit for this amount if it was known that the state would seek to place a lien upon settlement amount. Medical malpractice attorneys have to take these liens into account when counseling clients on whether such a settlement should be accepted.

And though many should question whether taxpayers should be on the hook for medical malpractice on the behalf of a medical facility, one does need to consider what could occur if the funds from even a $2.8 million settlement run out.

The financial costs alone for this child as a result of medical malpractice likely will exceed several million dollars. This does not even cover the amount such a child deserves as to compensation for her suffering.

Source: ABA Journal, “Supreme Court Considers State’s Quest for One-Third of Girl’s Med-Mal Settlement,” by Debra Cassens Weiss, Jan. 9, 2013