Readers in the Houston, Texas, may be interested to know about a recent United States Supreme Court decision that now protects victims of medical practice. The case involved a girl who suffered from severe birth injuries in 2000 and now has cerebral palsy. The girl’s family sued the doctor responsible for medical malpractice and obtained a settlement worth $2.8 million. Afterwards, Medicaid came knocking at their door demanding one-third of that amount. In a major victory for medical malpractice victims, the US Supreme Court sent Medicaid home empty-handed.
It looked as if Medicaid had a valid claim. They were relying on a state law that entitled them to recover the amount of money it spent on a patient’s care, or in the alternative, one-third of the medical malpractice settlement, whichever amount was less. In the girl’s case, Medicaid spent $1.9 million for her treatment. Therefore, it asserted it was entitled to one-third of the settlement, amounting to $933,333.33.
Eleven other states agreeing with the law filed briefs in support of it, including Texas. However, according to the US Supreme Court, the state law was too arbitrary to uphold. The court found no logical reason why the state could not later demand half, three-quarters or all of a tort recovery if it was currently allowed to collect one-third.
The decision in this case is not only a positive outcome for those who have recently suffered from birth injuries and other forms of medical malpractice, but it helps protect anyone who may have to receive care from a medical professional. Medical malpractice can affect just about anyone, because when doctors and hospitals fail to apply the appropriate standard of care, patients can become seriously injured. When this happens, the victims may be entitled to compensation for injuries they sustained. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help victims obtain such compensation, and as the case above demonstrates, help to keep that money in the hands of the victim.
Source: Charlotteobserver.com, “Supreme Court trims N.C. share of disabled child’s malpractice settlement,” Michael Doyle, March 20, 2013