Parents get 2.9Million in wrongful birth suit
, Mar 21 2012 10:00 AM
61 replies to this topic
Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:50 AM
mtilly, fair enough point on the calculations.
And yes, some insurance coverage in the U.S. is quite generous and will cover just about everything. One of my good friends & work colleagues had a son with DS who also had very serious heart issues and suffered from seizures (he passed away last year at age 8).
He spent about half of his life in the hospital. Thankfully, their insurance coverage was first rate, as the little boy amassed millions and millions in medical costs. Our company is known for providing the gold standard in insurance coverage, so even though my friend didn't want to keep working during her son's various battles, she HAD to keep working to keep the coverage.
Here are some possible scenarios with the family who received this $2.9 million "windfall:"
* They have no insurance
* They had
insurance, but it was tied to one parent's job. That parent is providing full time care to the daughter.
* They have
insurance, but it is tied to one parent's job. With staggeringly high unemployment in the U.S., there is the very real chance that that parents might lose their job (and thus their insurance)
* They have insurance, but it isn't very generous
ALL of these scenarios in the U.S. are very plausible.
If the child has any sort of medical issues (operations or hospital stays), that $120,000/year or even the entire $2,000,000 could be gone overnight. You don't have to look far in the U.S. to find story after story of people losing EVERYTHING in order to cover the health or care needs of loved ones.
It could be that this is a horrible couple who wanted the perfect baby & is now p*ssed off that they didn't get her.
But for all of the emotionally draining work that comes from a long law suit, and for all of the demonizing in the press that they are opening themselves up to, I just can't help but think that these are DESPERATE people driven by DESPERATE circumstances.
Edited by baddmammajamma, 22 March 2012 - 09:55 AM.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:04 AM
As usual BMJ has hit the nail on the head.
The other thing to remember is that if they didn't have insurance then, they sure as hell won't have it now. There is not an insurer, not here, certainly not in the US, who will insure a person who has a pre-existing condition for issues assocaited with that condition. They just don't do it, because it would cost too much and they would get too little back.
Insurance, first, last and always, is there to make a profit for insurance companies. They will pay out too, but they are not altruistic, they are not benevolent, they are there to make a profit.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:16 AM
I'd have thought it might be like here too - that a child is only covered under insurance till they are a certain age? So it might be nigh on impossible to get insurance for an adult? I don't know how that works in the USA for people with disabilities.
Also, most people in the general public would probably be amazed at the service costs for someone living out of home and needing support. Although certainly there are some people with DS who may not need 24 hour support, many do. Once you are in the position of needing 24 hour carers, the costs are enormous.
As far as health needs, yes they'd probably know whether the girl had heart problems (ie whetehr they needed funding for surgeries). But there are a number of other health problems (including early onset dementia) that only become apparent later in life. There is a higher risk of autism and hearing and visual impairment. As well as mental health problems which include depression, anxiety and psychosis.
I don't wish to weigh in on the moral debate of suing for this situation. But from a financial point of view, I don't think the figures are particularly outrageous when you consider all of the above.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 11:03 AM
Nothing to add except to agree wholeheartedly with BMJ!
Its very easy to get our judgy hats on and say 'that's disgusting'...it's harder to develop some bloody empathy and think about the realities of down syndrome. I applaud the parents for taking action to ensure their child would have something there to help ensure they are looked after.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 08:53 PM
In Australia, your settlement firstly pays back Medicare for any related care - yep, that includes all those supposedly free hospital stays. You also have to repay centerlink for any benefits. You are then precluded fom claiming on Medicare and centerlink for a period of time depending upon the amount of the settlement. Again, no free medical care in Australia in those circumstances.
$2.9million won't cover lifetime care for someone with a severe disability. We live in a world where wheelchairs are $40k (and kids grow), modified vehicles are $60k, standing frame $5k-10k, supportive seating and bedding $10k. Then you have hoist, commodes, communication devices, adaptive equipment, house modifications, paid carers, medications, appointments, therapy - the list goes on and on. The parents now have one less thing to worry about - I wish we all could be relieved of that stress.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:14 PM
This assumes that you in no way invested the money. Even if you just stuck the money into high interest savings accounts earning 6% that is already $174,000 per year (or over 14,000 a month!) BEFORE you've even used any of the principle. I feel sad for the family but I think it is a ridiculously large amount of money to award.
Firstly, this type of case is not unique to the US - they happen here all the time, and not just for DS. Secondly, if a child is awarded a pay out due to medical negligence in Australia, you don't just get the whole lump in one go. It's held by the court, and you need to "apply" for money and to show them what it's for - this is to ensure the child is adequately provided for their whole lives, and that the parents or carers don't fritter the money away. So you can't live off the interest I'm afraid. Thirdly, a lifetime of care for child with severe SN can be massive - 2.9 mill is actually not a lot.
It doesn't open flood gates, the gates are already open. Most of these cases don't even get to court - they settle before that needs to happen. If an error has been made, the evidence is clear, there are experts to back it up, etc, etc, the insurers will generally pay once a figure has been agreed upon. It's not a straight forward process and it can take years and years as the child needs to reach a certain age before the extent of their disability can be established. These parents love their children dearly, and only want to make their lives more comfortable, and to be able to give them everything they deserve.
Edited by Mel1609, 22 March 2012 - 09:36 PM.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:17 PM
So? I would think you could safely presume the court knew the type of testing. Had all sorts of experts who know far more than DR Google would and they decided there was sufficient fact and evidence to conclude the parents were misled.
Unless, of course, some key specialist in the field of genetic testing is on EB (which is quite possible), the general public can presume safely there were probably facts beyond many people's average understanding and comprehension presented to the court and the court was satisfied.
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe some lay person should check over the shoulders of the courts to 'tut' their moral objections to the facts.
And they're not suing for some undiagnosable condition. They're suing for a diagnosable one. One they were guarenteed their child didn't have. There's a massive difference.
Ahh, a breath of fresh logic. Well said.
The Court case is done and dusted and they won. No point discussing what tests may or may not have been undertaken. If a doctor had told them the test was inconclusive or not 100%, we wouldn't be here discussing it.
I hope their lives are made somewhat easier.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:43 PM
Can't find anything more recent..This is back in 2006...
The report shows that the cost of accommodation support services per user in institutional or residential settings in New South Wales ($107,124) was similar to some other major jurisdictions, being Victoria ($112,643), and Western Australia ($117,712).
That is just accommodation per year and doesn't include adult day program support or any medical or therapy expenses.http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocumen...df.aspx?Embed=Y
Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:43 PM
There's a lot of sense being made in this thread - ahh refreshing...
Just another pp agreeing with BMJ and the like.
As an aside, is this the feminist Ariel Levy the author of Female Chauvinist Pigs?...
Posted 25 March 2012 - 10:28 PM
I am glad they won that money. I do hope that it would make their lives easier.
That's actually not correct. Again, you are assuming that the money was not invested. Let's assume 2,000,000 remaining after legal fees, if invested in say a high interest account (I'm sure there would be better options for that amount of money but for now this will do), at 6%, that leave $120,000 per year even if you NEVER spent the principle.
I don't think there is anywhere in the world that you can get an interest rate of 6% at the moment. In the US, the interest rate is.. 1%?
Obviously if they are financially savvy then they'll be able to invest their money wisely. Either way, they are now in a better position than before.
Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:52 PM
I'd sue in a heartbeat if I were hellbent on not raising a child with SN and I went through a process like amnio and was assured my child did not have the condition being tested for.
Kids with SN have significant impacts on the parents ability to earn and cost serious money to raise. I cannot see the problem with wanting someone else to meet those costs after the parents did what they could to prevent the condition they were unwilling to deal with.
And I do not think it does not mean they do not love the child they are raising. In some ways you can see this as assuring the child's future financially as either it means there is enough money that the parent/s do not need to return to work while they are needed or there is enough money to take care of the child's future.
Childbirth and pregnancy are risky. Genetic conditions which can be tested for are less risky--if they were assured the baby did not have DS, then they had the right to sue IMO.
I was about to comment with basically this exact response.
Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:55 PM
At the same time it breaks my heart when parents start legal action over an existing child. I don't think it requires 2.9 million dollars extra to raise a SN child so it makes me feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are seeking compensation for having a child they don't want at all.
We are talking about America though, a country with a 'user pays' medical system where a condition such as cancer can send you bankrupt and force a family to sell their home and live on welfare.
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