Every lawyer hopes that a case will settle for a fair amount—it provides some certainty, limits case expenses, and means that the victims will not have to go through the trial ordeal. Sometimes, however, birth injury cases cannot (or should not) be settled. The defense may believe that have a good defense against claims of negligence, or else they only offer a small sum in an attempt to “buy off” the victims. That is not the end of the road—the next step is taking the case to trial.
Preparing For A Birth Injury Trial
Your trial lawyers begin preparing for a birth injury trial from the moment they first meet you. They must assume that the case will go to trial in order to be ready. They will take care of most of the work—contacting and working with experts, reviewing medical literature, conducting depositions and filing motions with the court.
Your Role At Trial
A birth injury trial is a long process, usually lasting between one and four weeks. The most important thing a parent can do at trial is to attend every day and to be alert. The jury will view a parent who does not attend as someone who is not invested in the trial. If the jurors have to be there, you should be there. We will recommend other child care arrangements for the duration of trial so that you can be at trial every day.
A parent will also have a brief speaking role at trial, somewhat like the deposition. As the child’s caregiver, it is important for the jury to hear from you about the effects of the medical malpractice on your child—they will want to understand a typical day-in-the-life of your family, and they will want to know what challenges your child is overcoming. Most importantly, they will want to know what challenges your child has that can be overcome with help—more nursing care, better speech therapy, or other assistive devices, for example.
Your lawyer will prepare you for this direct examination. You will practice it, and you will know the types of questions that your lawyer will ask. More importantly, your legal team will also prepare you for the types of questions that the defense will ask on cross examination. These are the questions that the defense lawyer will ask you during trial. Depending on the facts of your case, the defense lawyer may ask you questions about your medical history, what happened during the pregnancy, the labor and delivery process, and your child’s medical condition. The most important thing is to answer all of these questions truthfully.
Your Child’s Role At Trial
Even though some of the damages are for the parents (like medical expenses incurred before the age of 18), the majority of the focus will be on your child’s needs. However, a child is unlikely to attend much of trial.
Your lawyers will introduce your child to the jury in the way that they decide is best for the case, with the permission of the judge. According to the law of most states, the client typically gets to attend trial as they see fit, with a few exceptions. Where a child suffers from a disability and is unable to contribute or assist in his or her defense, some courts may limit the child’s involvement. In fact, the defense strategy will often rely on the visibility of your child’s injuries. If your child’s disability (whether because of physical injuries or behavioral issues) is open and obvious, the defense may either try to completely prevent the child from coming to trial (in an attempt to avoid sympathy from the jury), or else they may seek to restrict and limit the child’s appearance. Because this is your child’s case, your lawyers will argue to the court if necessary for control over your child’s role in the case.
Our medical malpractice lawyers have taken innumerable cases to trial, and we are fortunate to have represented such deserving clients over the years. If you believe that your child was a victim of birth injury malpractice, contact us at (440) 252-4399 or fill out our online contact form for more information.