The last thing a new parent wants to worry about is their baby being injured during delivery. Fortunately, most babies are born without complication and most birth-related traumas resolve. Although, doctors, hospitals or delivery teams make mistakes that cause lifelong neurological injuries, Florida’s legislation stepped in to protect them legal accountability by establishing Florida’s Birth Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA).
NICA,created in 1988, established a plan to pay for the certain limited care of babies born only under all of the following circumstances:
2. Spinal or brain injuries
3. Birth weight of at least 2500 grams
4. Injured due to oxygen deprivation
5. Birth in a participating hospital
6. Suffered a permanent or substantial impairment
7. Not caused by a genetic abnormality
8. Delivered by a qualified doctor.
The determination of whether a child is covered by the NICA plan is made by an Administrative Judge. Our South Florida birth-related injury law firm recommends that any expecting parents verify whether the doctor and hospital has registered with the plan before the child is born. Florida law requires doctors and hospitals to provide all patients with notice that they are in the plan and a brochure that outlines its benefits. NICA has its own website where it lists participating physicians. Sadly, it has not been updated since 2009.
One of the primary “benefits” of NICA is that it provides parents with a lump-sum cash payment of $100,000. While this may seem like a significant amount of money, it very rarely will compensate parents for the lifetime of emotional and financial stress that taking care of a severely injured child requires.
As a Miami hospital malpractice attorney, I believe that NICA serves to deprive those who have the greatest need for compensation from obtaining needed justice by insulating those who cause harm from accountability.
Florida’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan’s rights and remedies are outlined in 2005->Ch0766->Section%20303#0766.303″>Florida Statute §766.303 as the exclusive remedy for infants injured during labor, delivery or immediate post delivery as a result of medical malpractice except when there is “clear and convincing evidence” of a “willful and wanton” disregard to human life or safety.