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On August 7, I posted a blog about a few recent medical malpractice lawsuits in the news that focused on the settlement when innocent victims suffered devastating injuries. Today, I read about another case that shows further evidence of the kind of injuries one must suffer to be awarded $24.2 million. This headline read: “Jefferson Parish jury awards $24 million in medical malpractice case.”

In 2005, a child underwent surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. The child suffered cardiac arrest when an infusion pump malfunctioned and delivered epinephrine, an adrenalin drug, into the child's body resulting irreversible brain damage.

Like the others, this case is not “frivolous”; a child has permanent brain damage. The news headlines continuously downplay the devastating consequences – physically, emotionally, and financially that innocent victims and their families suffer. They also downplay the negligent acts by the wrongdoer. Instead, they constantly highlight and focus upon the amount the jury awards. Why did the family need to file a lawsuit? What caused this child’s traumatic brain damage? What will it cost to provide lifetime care for a child with irreversible brain damage? Why wouldn’t the negligent party (parties) do the right thing, in the first instance, without a lawsuit? Someone is permanently disabled, suffers from a traumatic brain injury, or has died; lives have been shattered. The case drags on for years and is finally decided by a jury when the perpetrator, the negligent party, had the capacity to offer a reasonable settlement, but refused for year, to do so. Who deserves criticism, the jury, which was forced into a decision by an unwilling defendant, or the defendant who forced said decision?

As I indicated in my previous post, I don’t know who would trade places with these victims who have received seven and eight figure jury awards. I don’t know anyone who would trade the ability to walk, feed themselves, drive, get married, have kids, or fulfill career dreams for $24 million, but I do know many fine trial lawyers who continue to battle, in courtrooms all over this country, to make the guilty accountable and to make this country a safer place. By fighting for justice and safety, attorneys are fighting for your future, your security. Can you say that about a repeated drunk driver or the insurance company that defends him, over and over again? What about a hospital facing several lawsuits? What about a nursing home facility that fled the state because of five wrongful death lawsuits? What about a doctor who fled the country after being sued nine times for medical negligence?

How much is your life worth; what amount of money is worth being permanently disabled or disfigured? What financial windfall would be acceptable in exchange for giving up your basic life functions? You may never walk again, never feed yourself again; you may be in a vegetative state for life. You won’t use your “windfall” to go to college, buy a sports car, buy a house, or travel the world. Over a lifetime of suffering, compensation may not even be enough to pay your medical expenses or the attendant care needed for the rest of your life.

The next time you read a similar headline, think about the victim, not the awarded compensation. Would you trade places? I am certain the victim would.

One Comment

  1. Most people see an article like this and feel manipulated. Another "claim" but is there really a person out there beyond the story? Can we hear from parents who have gonme through this? As usual, Mark, you bring substance to the debate. You turn on the lights and you stand up to the spin doctors. Why don't the parents of this child and so many others speak up? Have they been gagged by the insurance companies through secrecy Orders?

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