A Pennsylvania Jury Awarded $6.5 for an Infant’s Catastrophic Brain Injury
In February 2020, a Pennsylvania judge approved a $6.5 million settlement for a catastrophic brain injury. The medical malpractice lawsuit involved an infant who sustained permanent brain injuries during a routine hernia repair surgery. The infant was born prematurely, went home, and then returned for inguinal hernia surgery. A week after the surgery, her parents came back to the emergency room after noticing a recurrent bulge. Doctors intubated her in preparation for emergency surgery the next day.
The lawsuit named the anesthesiologist of the surgery and his medical group as well as the hospital in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that the medical staff improperly and negligently intubated the infant and did not adequately monitor her oxygen and breathing levels. The infant now suffers from chronic static encephalopathy. She struggles with seizures, vision problems, learning disabilities, and motor control that were caused by a lack of oxygen to her brain.
The defendants argued that the infant’s catastrophic brain injury was caused by her premature birth along with a bacterial infection she suffered shortly after birth. The settlement included $4.5 million for injuries, $1.91 million for attorneys fees and costs, and $1 million to establish a trust for the victim, naming her as the beneficiary. Additionally, her parents received $250,000 and the court awarded $90,000 to satisfy various liens the parents underwent due to their daughter’s medical condition.
Common Catastrophic Brain Injuries in Infants
Giving birth is one of the most natural and beautiful processes. However, when medical professionals fail to provide an adequate duty of care, the birth process can result in catastrophic brain injuries. The brain is incredibly sensitive and even a short period of lack of oxygen in the brain can result in serious, permanent brain damage.
Brain Bleeds (Intracranial Hemorrhages)
Brain bleeds or intracranial hemorrhages can cause severe brain damage in infants and babies. intracranial hemorrhages can be caused by several different factors, including excessive force to the brain or skull of the baby. When doctors misuse forceps or vacuum extractors, the baby can suffer from brain injuries. Labor and delivery doctors have a duty to perform an emergency c-section when labor is prolonged. Other complications can in delivery contribute to brain bleeds. For example, when the baby’s blood pressure is not well-controlled, and intracranial hemorrhage can result.
Infection can Cause Catastrophic Brain Damage
Not all catastrophic brain injuries are caused by blunt trauma to the head. Internal problems can cause brain hemorrhages as well. Meningitis is one of the most dangerous medical conditions. A thin mucus surrounds the brain as well as the spinal cord. Meningitis takes place when the membranes become inflamed. Typically, the inflammation caused by meningitis is caused by bacteria or a virus. When medical professionals fail to diagnose meningitis and treat the condition aggressively, it can quickly cause catastrophic brain injuries and death.
Encephalitis is somewhat similar to meningitis. Encephalitis happens when the tissue of the brain itself becomes inflamed. Typically a virus or bacterial infection causes encephalitis. Once again, when doctors fail to quickly and accurately diagnose a serious infection, they can be held liable for that person’s brain injuries or death.
Lack of Oxygen to the Brain
The infant who suffered catastrophic brain damage suffered the damage because of a lack of oxygen to her brain. Anytime the brain does not receive enough oxygen, a hypoxic brain injury can occur. Hypoxic brain injuries take place when the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Anoxic injuries happen when a certain part of the brain receives zero oxygen and is completely cut off. There are several different causes of lack of oxygen to the brain:
- Birth injuries caused by negligent medical professionals
- Near drowning accidents
- Severe asthma attacks
- Smoke inhalation from a fire
- Heart problems
- Inhalation of too much carbon dioxide
Recovering Compensation for Catastrophic Brain Injuries in Pennsylvania
When someone else’s negligence or recklessness causes the victim’s brain injury, the victim may be able to receive compensation. Under Pennsylvania law, a defendant who negligently or intentionally causes an accident that results in the victim’s brain injury has a duty to compensate the victim for his or her losses. To recover compensation or damages for catastrophic brain injuries, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The plaintiffs will need to prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant breached his or her duty, and that the breach caused the brain injuries. In the case of the infant who suffered catastrophic brain injuries, the anesthesiologist owed her a duty of reasonable care when preparing her for surgery. The jury found that the anaesthesiologist breached the duty of care by negligently intubating the infant. This breach of the duty of care caused the lack of oxygen to the brain that resulted in the infant’s catastrophic brain injury.
Compensation Available for Catastrophic Brain Injury Victims
Catastrophic brain injuries can cause memory loss, difficulty concentrating, personality changes, seizures, pain, depression, and chronic headaches. Additionally, catastrophic brain injuries often require long-term care, which is incredibly expensive. The trauma of brain injuries can be a significant challenge for both the injured person and his or her family members. The financial burdens that come with treatment for severe brain injuries only add to the burden. Successful personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses related to your brain injury
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- The cost of home medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in some cases
Contact Our Skilled Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you have suffered a severe brain injury, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. At Benedum Law, we have a proven track record of successful personal injury cases. We fight hard for your right to compensation. Contact our legal team today to schedule your free initial consultation.