Caps in birth injury award wouldn’t affect Illinois plaintiffs

State law once capped non-economic damages awarded to Illinois medical malpractice plaintiffs. Non-economic harm is associated with emotional trauma suffered by Cook County medical negligence victims and their loved ones – spouses, children or parents.

The $500,000 general damages limit was approved by state lawmakers in 1995 and overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2010, when the limit was found to be unfair. Economic losses, known as compensatory damages, have never been capped.

A $12.9 million jury award for a child birth injury case in nearby Michigan will be compromised by cap laws, limiting general damages to just over $433,000. The parent who filed the claim will walk away with about $4 million, once the jury award is adjusted.

The 38-year-old Flint parent proved the hospital where she gave birth in 2008 caused serious injuries to her newborn daughter. The complaint said the baby suffered disfigurement and nerve damage during a rough vaginal delivery that could have been prevented.

The claim alleged negligent doctors did not consider an alternative delivery method like cesarean section for the infant, whose arm became trapped against the mother’s pelvic bone. Hospital residents apparently persisted in pulling on the baby’s head, causing the child harm.

The girl, now 5, wears a brace on her misshapen, permanently nerve-damaged arm. She’s had several surgeries. The child will require assistance indefinitely to perform everyday tasks like dressing and grooming.

Attorneys for the medical facility argued the injuries occurred during the natural birthing process. The jury was unconvinced of hospital claims that doctors performed the delivery properly and did not make mistakes during the child’s birth. An appeal is possible.

Birth injury due to medical malpractice is compensable through civil claims. Plaintiffs in Illinois, unlike Michigan, may collect unlimited damages for infant harm due to doctors’ negligence. Illinois does prohibit plaintiffs from requesting additional punitive damages in medical malpractice claims.

Source:, “Genesee County jury awards nearly $13 million verdict in birth trauma lawsuit against Genesys” Gary Ridley, Oct. 05, 2013

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Caps in birth injury award wouldn’t affect Illinois plaintiffs