Infant Traumatic Brain Injuries: Assessing a Child’s Lost Future Earning

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Some of the most tragic accidents involve victims who are children. When trying to make the children whole in the damages portion of a case, it is imperative to establish a child’s lost future earnings if their injuries were severe enough to implicate such harm. This may seem difficult to do for an individual of a young age, but a Vocational Expert can establish a child’s potential lost earnings using labor market data.

For a Traumatic Brain Injury case in documenting the potential loss of earning capacity of an infant or child is the diminution of intellectual capacity as a result of the injury.

The Vocational Expert can assess the child’s pre-injury educational attainment based on his/her own intellectual level or the parent’s achieved academic level. The post-injury educational level is determined by the results of the vocational evaluation. The difference in salaries of the pre- and post-injury educational level provides the loss of earning capacity.

Another method is to the have the Vocational Expert determine the child’s potential educational level prior to the accident and compare it to their post-accident potential educational level using U.S. Government national earnings statistics. The difference of these two numbers represents the diminution of earning capacity.

Case Study: Infant and Major Medical Center

An infant that was born premature in April of 2012 returned to the same medical center, three months later, to undergo repair of an inguinal hernia. A week after the operation the baby’s parents brought her to the emergency room for treatment of a recurrent bulge. At that point she was intubated and underwent emergency surgery. The surgery was later canceled.

While still under the anesthesiologist’s care, the infant suffered oxygen deprivation, which resulted in a severe brain injury. The patient, now 7 years old, is blind, nonverbal, and has profound neurological deficits, including seizures.

The child and her parents the Doctor, his medical group and the hospital alleging negligent intubation. The family asserted that the anesthesiologist had placed the tube too deeply into her throat preventing sufficient oxygenation. The defendants denied liability and argued the child’s injuries resulted from her prematurity and bacterial infection.

The parties agreed to a structured settlement totaling $6.5 million.

[i]Roman v. Rahal, No. MON-L-4550-13 (N.J. Super. Ct. Monmouth County).

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