Judge rules against federal government

New Jersey residents may have heard about a court decision that ordered the federal government to pay $41.6 for a botched forceps delivery. The clinic was federally-funded, and the baby had brain damage as a result of negligent forceps use by a obstetrician employed there. A Pennsylvania judge was able to reach this verdict because of a medical malpractice waiver in the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Although the case was against the federal government, state financial damage caps were in place during the suit. Furthermore, punitive damages cannot be sought from the federal government. According to the lawsuit, the doctor used excessive force and incorrectly applied the forceps to the baby’s skull. Experts who testified at the trial noted that the use of mid-forceps delivery should be reserved for extreme circumstances. It was also noted that the forceps caused skull fractures as well as bleeding of the brain.

Those who wish to take legal action under the FTCA have two years from when an injury is discovered to file a claim against the relevant federal agency. The two-year window also applies from the time an individual should have known about the injury. From there, the agency has six months to respond, and an individual then has six months to decide whether or not to file a lawsuit.

Individuals who are hurt because of the negligence of another party may take legal action against the responsible person or entity. In the event that a minor is harmed, his or her parent or guardian may pursue legal action. An attorney can advise of the relevant statute of limitations.

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