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Statute of Limitation Unclear: Teen can Sue over Birth Injury

According to authorities, statues of limitations for malpractice cases in Wisconsin don’t adequately address injuries incurred by developmentally disabled children. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that a teenager with a birth injury, then, could still be allowed to file a lawsuit against his health care providers.

The parents of a fourteen-year-old boy alleged that his doctor and the St. Clare Hospital were responsible for his cerebral palsy because they allowed his brain to be deprived of oxygen for too long during before and after his birth creating a birth injury.

The doctor and hospital, instead of settling, tried to have the case dismissed because it was filed past the statute of limitations.

The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, reversed the court of appeals decision and said the family should be allowed to proceed with their lawsuit. The family’s suit returned to Circuit Court for trial.

The ruling was like a sigh of relief for this family who had undergone tremendous additional stress and financial obligations since their son’s birth injury. They finally got their day in court after years of legal wrestling.

This case had broad implications in Wisconsin (and eventually the U.S. as a whole) and followed legislation that eliminated the maximum amount plaintiffs could be awarded because of ‘pain and suffering.’

The courts’ majority opinion in this 2005 case said the state Legislature left a gap in state law that the court urged they address. A reporter remembers the judgment saying, “The Legislature has not provided a statute of limitations for claims against health care providers alleging injury to a developmentally disabled child. This determination is the only determination the court is able to reach without either rewriting the statutes or working an absurd and illogical result.”

The family had known about their son’s cerebral palsy from very early in his life, but they did not learn until recent years of the connection oxygen deprivation had to his condition. When they began asking questions and seeking answers, they eventually followed the information through to filing a lawsuit.

Hospitals in Nassau and Suffolk Counties try to avoid these situations.

Whenever you discover the possibility of medical malpractice, seek out legal help. New York Birth Injury Attorneys are available to help you sift through the details to help you determine if you have suffered unnecessarily and deserve compensation. Contact a New York City Birth Injury Law Office today.

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