In a remarkable medical malpractice case, a Louisiana jury recently decided a young man should receive $10 million in damages after a series of medical errors treating his broken arm when he was a toddler left him with permanent damage to his arm. It was reportedly the largest award in a Louisiana medical malpractice case since 2003, but it helps highlight some of the limits of the law in the state.
According to the lawsuit, the man was injured at age 2 when he fell off a trampoline in 2002. At Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, a doctor set his arm in a cast. Soon afterward, the boy’s arm began to swell badly and within a few days the arm was left permanently disabled. According to the lawsuit, the problem was that the doctor improperly set the boy’s arm in a bad cast that cut off blood flow, leading to permanent muscle and nerve damage.
The $10 million award is intended to compensate the family for past and future medical expenses related to the injury, as well as lost income and other damages. Ordinarily, Louisiana law puts a cap on the amount of damages that can be recovered in medical malpractice cases. However, in this case the doctor was not registered under the state law, and so there was no cap on the damages allowed.
Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law, and it is further complicated by Louisiana’s damages cap. Under the law, health care providers are liable only for the first $100,000 of any medical malpractice award. Beyond that amount, any remaining damages should be covered by the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. However, the fund only covers up to $500,000. In cases where the damages exceed these amounts, the injured and their families may have to shoulder the burden of the remaining costs. The result can be frustrating and tragic in many cases.
With medical care getting ever more expensive, the damages suffered by the injured and their families are getting more extreme all the time. It’s important for them to speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about their options to recover the maximum amount of compensation they can.