Cerebral Palsy – What’s the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?

Cerebral palsy, or CP, is an expensive medical condition without a current cure. It’s estimated that a family will spend around $1 million on treatment for CP over the course of a child’s life, which is about five times as much as they would spend on a child without the condition. For most families, those medical bills – not to mention rehabilitation, therapy and lost wages from time away from work – can add up quickly. Worse, there’s the emotional pain of watching your child grow up with a condition that could have been prevented if it weren’t for medical negligence or malpractice.

If your child suffered a birth injury or was injured before, during or just after birth as a result of medical malpractice or negligence, then you may be able to sue the responsible party. A successful suit would then allow you to cover the exorbitant cost of medical bills and other lost money as you raise your child. There are two primary types of financial awards in a cerebral palsy case that you should know about: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages cover a variety of costs associated with cerebral palsy itself, the primary one being medical bills that you’ve paid or are likely to pay over time. When you sue for compensation, you’re suing for payment of:

  • Medical care, therapy and rehabilitation bills
  • Home health care and counseling services
  • Home modifications and medical equipment that you’ve made for CP
  • Loss of wages due to time away from work

When you hire a cerebral palsy attorney, you’ll create a Life Care Plan. This plan outlines all of the costs associated with caring for your specific child and his condition over the course of his life. It should account for inflation as your child ages. Compensatory damages award caregivers for the direct cost and impact of caring for a child with cerebral palsy.

Punitive Damages
Parents who sue for damages against a medical provider whose negligence caused their child’s birth injury may simply want to hold the responsible party accountable. But you can take your lawsuit to the next level by showing the responsible party that their behavior was unacceptable. To do this, you would also seek punitive damages, which is monetary compensation designed to punish the defendant. Punitive damages go above and beyond the money that you need to care for your child with CP. Successfully suing for punitive – also called exemplary – damages can:

  • Send a message to the responsible party
  • Reinforce the case you’re making against the defendant
  • Ensure that future patients don’t experience the same mistakes
  • Provide retribution on behalf of your child and you

In a CP case, you do not have to choose between compensatory and punitive damages as these are typically both covered in the lawsuit. Only you, your current medical team and your attorney can decide which kinds of costs and what types of damage should be pursued in your specific case. For more information about damages that you may be entitled to in a cerebral palsy lawsuit, talk to the birth injury specialists at Diez-Arguelles & Tejedor today.