The controversial ‘birth injury fund’ bill is back on the table in Maryland. Modeled after similar funds in Virginia and Florida, Maryland’s proposed fund would provide compensation to families of babies with certain types of birth injuries. At first glance, the program sounds great. What could be wrong with compensating families who’ve already been through so much? But the reality is more complicated. By accepting these funds, families may be forfeiting their constitutional right to a trial by jury. Even worse, the existence of a birth injury fund may allow negligent doctors to avoid legal responsibility, which could result in a slow erosion of the standard of care.
The Maryland bill’s sponsor, Del. Dan Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat, thinks that Maryland can learn from Virginia and Florida. Proponents of the HB 377 bill say it would help victims avoid expensive, drawn-out, emotionally-taxing lawsuits. “Maryland’s medical environment has worsened significantly over the last handful of years as a result, in part, due to several large awards in birth injury cases,” said Carmela Coyle, President and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association. “Maryland hospitals and doctors and other providers are, in fact, deeply concerned that if the environment continues to worsen, access to care, in fact, will be reduced. We need a birth injury fund to address that threat.”
The Fund Ain’t Free
Of course, a fund such as this would have significant costs. According to the Department of Legislative Services, Maryland hospitals would need to pay approximately $7.8 million by fiscal year 2021, up from the projected $3.1 million in 2018. These projections are based on the estimated number of babies that would qualify for this fund every year. In Maryland, that’s about six to seven babies annually, according to Robert Walling of Pinnacle Actuarial Resources. Opponents disagree, claiming that the added cost would fall on the tax payers, not the hospitals.
Beyond the Cost
In addition to concerns about tax payer dollars, opponents are also worried that an alternative to litigation would allow medical professionals to get away with negligent behaviors. Victims would be subjected to an administrative law judge, who may not be trained to make decisions of this nature. The chance of victims being undercompensated and the negligent parties being under-punished is almost a certainty.
The Goldwater Law Firm – Nationwide Birth Injury Lawyers
If your child was injured at birth, the physical, financial, and emotional toll can be overwhelming. If the negligence of a physician or other medical professional contributed to your child’s injuries, you have a constitutional right to a trial by jury. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Birth injury funds undermine this right and could have a negative impact on the level of care provided by obstetricians, midwives, and the entire labor and delivery team. If you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, we can help. Contact the Goldwater Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.