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Birth trauma blamed for child's cerebral palsy

The arrival of a new life into the world is supposed to be cause for special celebration. Whether you are parents in Maryland or anywhere else, it is normal to depend on the expertise and experience of the medical professionals you engage for the whole term of the pregnancy and the delivery. It's a bitter pill when the child suffers a debilitating birth injury and it takes years to resolve resulting legal disputes.

For a couple in New Hampshire, the fight has finally hit a watershed moment. Two and a-half years after the birth of their daughter they have agreed to settle their suit for $730,000. The parents claimed that the midwife who managed their case overlooked the fact that the mother had shown signs that she was a higher-than-normal-risk patient.

They say despite the evidence, the midwife didn't refer the woman to an obstetrician. And during delivery, when the midwife couldn't locate the baby's heartbeat, she failed to send the mother to the hospital. The baby ended up being hospitalized for three weeks and now has cerebral palsy.

Under terms of their settlement, about half of the total payout will be used to create a trust for the child. Money in the trust will be able to be used to pay for special needs she might have because of her condition. The parents will receive $40,000. Other moneys from the agreement will go to reimburse Medicaid for expenses incurred during the birth in January 2009.

The midwife has given up her license to practice, but admits no wrongdoing under the terms of the deal. It still needs to be approved by a judge.

The kind of trust established in this case is not uncommon. Experienced birth injury lawyers know it is often used in malpractice cases as a way to be sure the child can remain qualified for public assistance - thus making it possible for the family to limit the financial burden it must incur for care.

Source: Concord Monitor, "Midwife settles suit for $730,000," Maddie Hanna, Aug. 23, 2011

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