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Medical Malpractice Cases May Be Tried Twice, Malpractice Attorney Ozcomert Says

While unusual, it can happen – instances where medical malpractice cases are ultimately tried twice.

“This case that we read about recently involved a young girl who suffered severe birth injuries – brain injuries. It was interesting in that it proves that these kinds of cases are always radically different, just sometimes similar, and that to get justice, a plaintiff needs the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer,” said Stephen M. Ozcomert, who handles personal injury cases, accidents, and malpractice law in Atlanta, Georgia.

The first jury that heard the initial case in 2008 handed down a “shockingly low” award, particularly given the extreme severity of the girl’s injuries, Ozcomert said. The first medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the hospital in 2002. It took six years for a verdict.

The parents of the young girl stated that their obstetrician, an anesthesiologist and a nurse were negligent for not properly monitoring and managing the mother’s labor. This ultimately resulted in a delayed C-section, which in turn caused severe and permanent neurological injuries to the baby because she was deprived of oxygen.

The baby was 6 years old when the case went to court and the mother provided testimony that the child could not crawl (only wiggle and kick her feet), feed herself (she is intubated to be fed), speak or walk and that she would be in diapers her whole life. The child’s assessed cognitive age was set at between two and three months. The girl was diagnosed with permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia and developmental retardation. She couldn’t hear very well and had regular seizures. The pediatric expert witness at trial said no improvement is expected and that she may live until the age of 28 years old.

“The defense in this case tried in another state insisted the condition happened due to a prior in utero event that was so severe that earlier delivery wouldn’t have made any difference. While that may be hard to believe that something so drastic would have happened without the mother knowing, it was what the defense argued. In the final analysis, the jury found the doctor negligent and that her negligence was a significant factor that caused the baby’s injuries,” Ozcomert said.

“Here’s where things got a bit hazy as to reasoning for the award. The child was awarded $3,807,832 for future life care expenses, zero for the loss of future earning capacity and $150,000 for her pain and suffering and disability. The parents were awarded $527,284 for past expenses and $150,000 for past and future loss of their child’s companionship and society. These are very low awards, and both sides appealed,” Ozcomert said.

On appeal, the court agreed with the parents that the damage award was unreasonably low and shocking and a new trial was ordered. The child in this case is effectively frozen in time and unable to move forward and will never be more than an infant. The $150,000 award(s) were painfully low and abhorrent, as was the jury decision to not award money for lost earnings, according to Ozcomert. The new trial is yet to be scheduled.

“This type of case happens more often than you might think and in situations like this, it’s vital to have a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer handle your case. The family will need maximum compensation to care for their child. It’s just that simple and obvious. If you are in a situation like this and your child has been injured due to medical malpractice, you will have questions about your case. If you choose to call my office, I would be happy to explain the law to you and what your rights are,” Ozcomert said.

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