Why Enter A Settlement Agreement?
The real power in settlement is certainty. No one know what’s going to happen at trial. The plaintiffs might lose and be forced to pay all of their court costs out of pocket (most birth injury attorneys, including our own here at Birth Injury Advocate, work on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay no attorney fees unless your case is successful). Or the defendants could lose and be ordered to pay financial compensation, but of course, no one can predict how much compensation the jury will award.
That’s a lot of uncertainty. A settlement agreement eliminates all of that risk. Once an agreement has been hammered out, both sides in the dispute know exactly where they stand. The plaintiffs know, without any doubt, how much many they’ll receive. Likewise, the defendants know exactly how much they’ll have to pay. And everyone knows that they will no longer have to pursue the case any longer.
The benefits of settlement should be clear: it’s quicker, less stressful and less expensive than taking a lawsuit to trial. It can be a big relief to know that your case is over and you can return to putting your sole focus on what really matters – the health of your child.
Why People Refuse Cerebral Palsy Payouts
Of course, settlement isn’t always the right option. While most medical malpractice lawsuits end in settlement, some go to trial and are decided by civil juries. Families have no obligation to accept a settlement once it’s offered. That’s your choice, and your choice alone. You have every right to refuse the offer and take the defendant to court.
If you think the offer is too low, and believe you have a good chance of prevailing at trial, turning down a settlement agreement might be the right choice for your family. And there are usually some downsides to settling that you’ll have to take into account before making your decision.
The vast majority of settlement agreements include a confidentiality clause; after signing, you won’t be allowed to speak out about the terms of the agreement or how much compensation you received. Civil court awards, on the other hand, are a matter of public information. Most settlements don’t require that the defendant accept any liability. In effect, the doctor, nurse or hospital can simply walk away and continue to claim that they did nothing wrong.
At the same time, settlement agreements release defendants from all further liability; after you’ve settled, you can’t pursue the defendant in the future over the same issue. The case is done.
Many families are perfectly happy to overlook these downsides in light of the benefits of settling, but these are all factors you’ll have to think about before making any big decisions. How do you know that a settlement offer is enough?
Cerebral Palsy Compensation Considerations
It can be hard, given the life-long challenges your child may face, to evaluate their needs well into the future. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the point of securing financial compensation is to make your family “whole” again. It’s meant to make up for all of the losses you’ve sustained due to the medical professional’s negligence, along with the losses you’re likely to incur in the future.
Planning For Lifetime Care
To evaluate these difficult questions, most cerebral palsy attorneys hire a life care planner. These professionals will consult with your child’s doctors to estimate the amount of medical care, including home modifications, your child will need during the entire course of his or her life. Then, their focus will expand to include special education costs, in-home care and the cost of a long-term assisted living facility if it’s unlikely that your child will be able to live on their own later in life.
The resulting document, sometimes known as a lifetime cost of care assessment, outlines the estimated amount of compensation (taking inflation into account) that will be required to provide your child with a comfortable life. Your attorney can use the report to begin negotiating a settlement agreement, but compensation doesn’t end with medical bills and nursing care expenses.
Your lawyer could also factor in so-called “non-economic” damages, which are designed to compensate your family for forms of loss that are difficult to quantify. “Pain and suffering” damages are an example you’ll hear often; this compensation is meant to compensate your child for the sheer physical experience of pain and emotional trauma.
It’s important to note that some states have laws to limit the amount of non-economic damages available in a birth injury claim. These restrictions are likely to come to play in settlement negotiations, too, because every settlement offer is being gauged (in the defendant’s mind, at least) against the maximum amount of money that could be lost at trial.
Defendants are looking to reduce their financial risks as much as possible, so every decision in settlement talks will be compared to the worst-case scenario before a jury.
What Is The Average Settlement For Cerebral Palsy?
It should be clear at this point that there’s no way to predict how much any cerebral palsy lawsuit is worth before your family’s damages have been thoroughly evaluated. While malpractice claims that involve diagnoses of cerebral palsy often reach into the millions of dollars, there’s no sense in guessing at this point.
How Strong Is Your Case?
At the same time, any compensation payout will depend on additional factors. The strength of your case is paramount. If you have medical evidence that shows a clear-cut example of medical negligence, you’ll be able to leverage that evidence in negotiations, since the defendant has good reason to believe that a jury won’t look kindly on their defense arguments.
While some cases of cerebral palsy are almost undoubtedly the result of medical malpractice, the range of additional factors that could contribute to the neuromuscular disorder is large. A murky case in which the standard of care is unclear would likely fetch a lower settlement amount, because the defendant knows they have a better chance at trial.
Explore Your Options In-Depth
Remember that the best resource for answering all of these questions is your cerebral palsy lawyer. No one else has a better understanding of the details that will directly affect your case than your attorney. And whether it’s success or failure, everything in a medical malpractice lawsuit comes down to the details.
If you haven’t yet filed a lawsuit, feel free to contact our experienced birth injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We’d be happy to help you learn more about your legal options – at no charge and no obligation.