A California medical malpractice jury awarded a now 6-year-old boy $8.4 million on October 18, 2017, for the severe physical and emotional injuries he suffered as a result of alleged child abuse by family members when he was seven-weeks-old that was not timely reported to the proper authorities, leading to his permanent paralysis as a result of continuing child abuse.
The California medical malpractice case began on September 5, 2017 and finally concluded on October 18, 2017, after three days of jury deliberations.
The child was only seven-weeks-old when his teen-aged parents and maternal grandmother brought him to the defendant hospital on January 27, 2011, suffering from bruising, an eye injury, and blood in his mouth that his mother claimed were self-inflicted. No one contacted Child Protective Services despite the infant’s serious injuries and the illogical and nonsensical explanation regarding how the infant sustained his injuries.
Three weeks later, the infant was returned to the same defendant hospital with bruising on most of his body and having suffered a serious spinal cord injury that resulted in permanent paralysis from his chest down. The defendant hospital contacted Child Protective Services at that time and the child was finally removed from the home.
The California medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that had the defendant hospital contacted Child Protective Services at the time of the first emergency room visit, the infant would not have suffered the catastrophic spinal cord injury resulting in permanent paralysis. The California medical malpractice lawsuit named as defendants the hospital where the negligence occurred, the medical group that provided physician services in the defendant hospital’s emergency room, an emergency room physician, a nurse practitioner, and four members of the child’s biological family, for their failure to report the child abuse.
The California medical malpractice jury’s award for past and future noneconomic damages suffered by the child in the approximate amount of $4 million may be reduced to $250,000, pursuant to California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. However, it is anticipated that the plaintiff’s lawyer will argue on appeal that the medical malpractice cap on noneconomic damages does not apply to the jury’s award of noneconomic damages in this case because the legal requirement to contact Child Protective Services regarding suspected child support is not medical care, and there is no cap on damages that may be awarded for the failure of others who are required to report suspected child abuse when they fail to do so.
The California jury’s award of the remaining $8 million in damages were allocated by the jury as follows: 20% from the defendant hospital; 10.5% from the defendant emergency room physician; 10.5% from the defendant nurse practitioner; 9% from the defendant emergency room physician’s medical practice; and, 12.5% from each of the four defendant biological family members.
A spokesperson for the defendant hospital stated after the verdict was rendered, “This case offers us the opportunity for analysis and to learn as much as we can about how to improve. Our goal is to deliver the highest quality care and to treat all our patients with compassion and dignity.”
In the event that the 6-year-old child’s award for his pain, suffering, metal anguish, and all of his other lifelong noneconomic damages is reduced to $250,000, the question that must be asked and for which the answer is rhetorical: Is $250,000 fair and adequate compensation for the life-long paralysis suffered by this 6-year-old child as a result of negligence?
If you or a family member suffered serious injury as a result of emergency room malpractice in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in California or in your state who may investigate your emergency room medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case against the hospital and/or the emergency room physician, if appropriate.
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