The NICA Claims vs Medical Malpractice Claims
Florida created the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Act (NICA) in 1988. The NICA establishes a special fund that allows parents to seek financial compensation for their child’s birth injury. NICA funds provide an exclusive remedy that can only be used for certain types of birth injuries. Figuring out if you eligible to file an NICA claim or whether you should pursue a medical malpractice claim can be complicated. If you are attempting to figure out options after your child’s injury, there are a few important things you should know about NICA claims.
Eligibility to File an NICA Claim
Recovering under an NICA may be simple for your family. There is no need to prove that injuries were caused by a doctor or other medical personnel. Your family will need to file a claim for benefits with the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings. You will also need to demonstrate that your baby’s injuries occurred at, or near, the time of birth.
However, the NICA only allows for recovery in a very specific and narrow set of circumstances. You may file a NICA if the circumstances around your baby’s injury meet the criterion below:
- Your baby was born alive in a hospital;
- Your baby weighed at least 5.5 pounds;
- Your baby must have suffered brain or spinal cord injury caused by oxygen deprivation or mechanical trauma;
- Your baby’s injury occurred during labor, delivery or immediately after birth;
- Your baby has severe and permanent physical and mental impairments or injuries; and
- The doctor who attended your delivery was a member of NICA at the time of the delivery.
Recovery Under the NICA is Limited
If your baby’s injury meets the criteria, then your family may be entitled to financial compensation for actual expenses, which may include:
- Hospital bills;
- Rehabilitation and therapy;
- Professional in home medical services;
- Specialized equipment; and
- Travel expenses.
While the NICA allows families to recover for their loses in a simpler fashion, the NICA only provides compensation for reasonable and medically necessary expenses. This means the NICA does not provide monetary provide compensation for the types of non-economic losses that a medical malpractice claim would allow. Families are not able to ask for punitive damages, pain and suffering or any expense deemed “unreasonable.” Additionally, compensation under the NICA is limited to certain amounts. Furthermore, if you meet the criteria to receive NICA funds you family may not be able to pursue other remedies to recover for your losses.
Contact An Attorney
It can be difficult to decide the next steps when your child sustains a birth injury. The NICA presents on option while a medical malpractice claim presents another. If you believe your child was injured during birth as a result of a doctor’s or medical professional’s carelessness, then you should contact the Miami birth injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. We can help you determine whether you should seek compensation under NICA or pursue a medical malpractice claim. Please contact us today to discuss the details of your child’s injury.