Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm knows that verdicts in these cases are sometimes significant. Depending on the scope of the harm, the effects on the individual’s life, and many outside variables, the final verdict is often staggering. The amount always seems particularly large when delivered at the end of a case because it seeks to account for the consequences of the harm over the course of a lifetime in a single amount. That means that younger victims sometimes lead to higher verdicts, because the actual consequences will last for decades.
That was likely the case in a new brain injury case involving a birth injury on a newborn. The trial in the case recently ended with the jury reaching a large verdict for the plaintiff.
The Pott’s Mercury recently summarized the situation. According to the story the mother of the child in the case went to the hospital a few weeks before her due date. Medical records indicate that she was showing signs of placental abruption. This occurs when the placenta-which provides nutrients to the child-leaves the uterine wall. Of course, a fetus in the womb must have those nutrients; when there is a problem with the placenta, the consequences for the child can be life-threatening. That necessitates quick action on the part of medical professionals when dealing with the matter.
In this case, before taking any steps, the woman’s doctor performed an ultrasound. However, when performing the ultrasound the doctor did not detect a fetal heartbeat. That led him to conclude that the child was not alive. He even told the mother that the child had died.
In reality that child was still alive, but the ultrasound machine itself or the administration of the test was faulty, leading to the mistaken reading. The consequences for the child were severe. It wasn’t until over eighty minutes later-after an ultrasound technician uncovered the error-that emergency steps were taken and the child was born. But the baby did not survive unscathed from that significant delay. He was born with severe spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. He will require costly and significant care throughout his life.
In addition to the ultrasound equipment issues, part of the problem was hospital negligence. Attorneys during the case argued that it was unacceptable for the facility to not have an ultrasound technician in the hospital at the time needed. This added to the delay and contributed to the underlying harm the resulted.
The family contacted a medical malpractice lawyer and filed a brain injury lawsuit. The jury in the case was presented all of the evidence about the ultrasound equipment, the doctor’s conduct, and all possible defenses presented by the hospital and medical professional. After weighing all of that the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. Specifically, the jury felt that the overall conduct and harm necessitated a verdict for $78.5 million dollars.
Of course, the size of this verdict will undoubtedly be taken out of context and used as a rallying cry by some to try to pass legislation that takes away the rights of all plaintiffs using the civil justice system. Hopefully that tendency can be avoided.
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