A Reluctant Parent Files a Pediatric Malpractice Case
One of the reasons many victims of medical or pediatric malpractice fail to pursue a claim is because they like their doctor and do not want to get them in trouble.
Such was the case in this story, involving the neighbor of one of our attorneys. The neighbor had a son who was soon turning ten years old. The child was blind in one eye from a common birth condition called hemangioma. A hemangioma forms at birth and can completely block the vision in one eye. With proper treatment, parents and doctors can correct this condition and avoid permanent blindness.
Unfortunately, the pediatrician never informed the child’s parents that they could do anything for the condition and their son was left permanently blind in one eye.
Convincing a Parent to File a Claim on Behalf of their Child
We sat down with the family to discuss their options and informed them that the New York statute of limitations only allows for 10 years from the date of the injury to pass before a claim is no longer valid. With their son’s tenth birthday fast approaching, we knew we had to convince them to file the medical malpractice claim quickly.
The father expressed reluctance to make this into a malpractice case; he did not want to sue his son’s doctor. We told the client that we understood that he did not want to jeopardize his relationship with the pediatrician, but as he already knew, sometimes being a parent meant making difficult decisions. Finally, he agreed to let us obtain his son’s pediatric records and see if the doctor ever discussed any treatment for the hemangioma.
As we suspected, there was no reference to the hemangioma in the child’s birth records or subsequent pediatric records. There is a well-known fix for hemangioma that simply requires covering the good eye to “train” the bad eye. By blocking the sight in the good eye, the bad eye must compensate, which effectively fixes the hemangioma. This doctor never explained the process to our clients and now their child will be blind for the rest of his life.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in the Nick of Time
When we presented our findings to the parents there was barely any time left to file their claim. After much discussion, the father finally allowed us to proceed with the lawsuit with only days to spare within the statute of limitations. We presented the child’s medical records, noting the absence of the standard treatment for hemangioma. Our argument was that the eye-patching treatment was the standard of care for cases of hemangioma and the child’s pediatrician failed to follow that standard, resulting in permanent blindness in one eye.
The case settled for $2,000,000 and secured our client a college tuition and money to get him started in life. Even though he will be permanently blind in one eye, he now has financial security when he reaches adulthood. More importantly, he has the knowledge that his parents cared enough for his future to seek the medical malpractice claim on his behalf.