Des Moines, IA – Birth injuries are always a possibility from the time a mother starts to go into labor until the baby is able to leave the hospital and return home with their family. When a family has to take legal action against a negligent doctor or hospital system for a birth injury, they will have to follow the state’s laws related to medical malpractice claims. The main difference between a negligence case for personal injuries and a medical malpractice case is that there needs to be a certificate filed at the beginning of the lawsuit which meets specific requirements under Iowa law.
Definition of a certificate of merit under Iowa law
Like many other states in the country, Iowa also has requirements related to basic investigations that must be done before the lawsuit is formally filed and can be accepted. Iowa law states that the defendant must be given a copy of a certificate of merit related to the lawsuit before the discovery process can begin.
This certificate essentially needs to have someone who would qualify as an expert witness in court affirm the veracity of the victim’s claims and say that they believe that the doctor who is the defendant breached their standard duty of care. The expert witness must have worked in a similar field to the defendant for at least five years prior to the action being brought.
Medical negligence cases
After this initial filing, a medical malpractice lawsuit has a structure much more like a standard negligence case. The plaintiff needs to prove that the deviation from the accepted standard of care for the procedure in question was the actual cause of their injuries, and that they suffered various damages as a result of these actions.
Damages for various losses
Civil lawsuits are focused on compensating a victim rather than punishing a defendant as in criminal cases. The main way that a plaintiff in a civil case shows that they are entitled to damages is by giving specific evidence of tangible losses. This can include the bills which show the costs of medical treatment, a person’s lost wages and income, and other costs incurred directly because of the defendant’s actions.
Iowa law also allows non-economic damages for emotional pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. However, these damages are capped at $250,000 total in each case. While this seems like a large amount, civil cases where someone experiences permanent or life changing injuries will sometimes award much larger amounts of non-economic damages.
Getting legal advice related to birth injuries in Iowa
USAttorneys.com contains listings on lawyers who can assist after birth injuries and various other medical problems in Des Moines and other cities. Users can browse the directory and find a professional who matches their needs based on their location and the lawyer’s practice area.