NICA and Birth Injuries in Florida

NICA and Birth Injuries in Florida

There were 223,763 beautiful babies born in Florida in 2015. Of those births, it is unclear how many children suffered from birth injuries. Regardless, most can agree that the number is too high.

In 1998, Florida created the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA) to curtail costly medical malpractice litigation. While it is generally agreed that the no-fault program is innovative, almost twenty years later, it is still unclear how effective it is. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help all injured children and plenty are left behind.

What Is NICA?

NICA is a no-fault compensation that helps cover medical costs for children harmed during birth. Its criteria are very specific and only some of those children with birth injuries qualify.

To qualify for NICA, a parent or guardian must apply before the injured child turns five. A parent or guardian will need to illustrate that:

  • The child was born in the hospital;
  • The child weighed at least 2500 grams when he or she was born (2000 grams for a multiple birth);
  • The child was born alive;
  • The child sustained an injury to their spinal cord or brain;
  • The child’s injury was caused by lack of oxygen or a mechanical injury during the birth process or immediately after birth;
  • The child’s injury has led to permanent and substantial physical and mental impairment;
  • The child was attended to by a participating physician; and
  • The child’s injuries are not due to a genetic or congenital issue.

Physicians voluntarily pay into NICA. This money is then paid to parents and guardians of injured children to cover their actual medical costs. To apply, parents must pay an application fee, send in their application, and have a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Is NICA Like Medical Malpractice?

NICA is similar to claiming medical malpractice in that the basis of both is the negligence of a medical professional. NICA, however, only covers specific birth injuries. NICA allows for a particular payout and does not punish the medical professional who may have negligently harmed a child during birth.

On the other hand, medical malpractice lawsuits are tried in civil court before a judge or jury, usually against the medical professional, their insurer, or their employing hospital. There is no limit on jury awards and the medical professionals who are found liable for injuries due to malpractice may be forced to pay a punitive award in addition to other compensation.

In some cases, injuries that are not covered by NICA are better dealt with by starting a medical malpractice claim. A Tampa personal injury lawyer can help you decide which type of claim to pursue.

In addition, for those parents who have already applied for NICA and had their claim rejected, filing a medical malpractice suit is still an option.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Apply For NICA?

You don’t need a lawyer to apply for NICA benefits, however, your physician must be a part of NICA for your family to qualify for benefits. Because of the strict requirements for qualifications and the hearing before an administrative judge, if you choose to apply for NICA, having a knowledgeable Tampa birth injury lawyer by your side can help successfully steer you through the process.

How Can a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?

If your child was injured at birth by a medical practitioner, you have legal recourse. If someone’s negligence led to lasting harm that has left you and your family responsible for mounting medical bills and future medical care, consulting with a Tampa personal injury lawyer may be helpful.

A Tampa personal injury lawyer with experience with birth injuries can help you determine whether legal action or NICA is your best option. In addition, a Tampa birth injury lawyer will investigate your claim to help provide evidence for liability and negligence.

Your child’s quality of life matters. Making sure that he or she is able to receive continuing medical support is of the utmost importance. Consulting with a Tampa birth injury lawyer can give you the chance to secure a better future.