In response to high medical malpractice insurance premiums in Virginia in the 1980s, the state set up a fund that provides financial relief to physicians, insurance companies and patients themselves. When a medical mistake in delivery causes a child to suffer learning and physical disabilities, this state fund can cover costs relating to those disabilities.
In the decades since it was developed, the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program has largely been considered a success at its main goals:
- Reducing medical malpractice insurance costs to physicians and hospitals
- Keeping more obstetricians in the state because malpractice insurance premiums are lower
- Providing needed funds to children and families, which in some cases exceed Virginia’s $2 million cap on malpractice awards imposed on other types of injuries
To be eligible, a child has to have been delivered by a participating physician or midwife at a participating hospital. When receiving medical care before delivery, doctors are required to inform their patients whether they participate in the program (most do). Injuries must be to the brain or spinal cord as incurred during delivery. Claimants receive compensation for providing care in the home (up to 40 hours per week). And the program is administered through the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (WCC).
Why use an attorney for the neurological birth injuries program?
While it is not necessary to use an attorney to file a petition to enter the program, legal counsel is advised to work through the complexities of the application process. The WCC may award reasonable extra compensation to cover attorney’s fees if the child is admitted to the program.