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NICA Allowed To Cap Birth Injury Payments To Parents At $100k

The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Fund, or NICA, was set up to provide an alternative to a medical malpractice lawsuit after a mistake during delivery causes serious injury to a newborn. Infants who were deprived of oxygen during birth – which can lead to severe brain damage and is often diagnosed as hypoxic brain injury or Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), or those who suffered a spinal cord injury may be eligible for the program.

One Florida family recently tried to contest the recovery limits mandated by NICA. After a serious birth injury, NICA provides for a one-time payout of $100,000 to the parents or legal guardians of the child that suffered a birth injury. The couple who brought the case is raising a daughter who is dealing with substantial impairment due to a birth injury in 2007. Rather than receiving $200,000 as compensation for their losses, the couple received only $100,000. This was challenged as inadequate because there were two parents involved, violating their right to equal protection under the law.

The Florida Supreme Court did not agree with the parents. The payment from NICA is the same regardless of whether there is only one parent, or as in this case, two parents.

NICA provides for lifelong care and rehabilitation for a child who suffers from a birth injury but limits any additional recovery through a medical malpractice lawsuit or settlement. Whether this is an appropriate remedy if your baby suffered from a health care professional’s mistake during deliver that has left him or her substantially impaired is something you should discuss with an experienced birth injury lawyer.

Source: AMED News, “Payout limits upheld for birth-related brain injuries,” June 17, 2013

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