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Birth Related Neurological Injuries: NICA FAQ

FAQ: Birth Related Neurological Injuries and NICA

Q: What is NICA?
A: NICA or the Neurological Injury Compensation Association is a state organization that provides financial support for eligible infants and their families. In exchange for a guaranteed payment stream, NICA eliminates the victim’s right to sue negligent doctors in a court of law. The law is an attempt by the medical establishment to reduce its liability in these most emotionally sensitive cases where infants sustain neurological damage at birth

Q: Is my child eligible for NICA benefits?
A: If your physician participates in NICA and is protected by the program, your child may be eligible for NICA benefits if his or her injuries are considered qualifying. All doctors are required to notify expecting parents if they are protected by NICA in advance of the baby’s birth so that you can make a well-reasoned decision as to whether you want to choose a doctor not protected my NICA.

The Florida legislature has defined the birth-related neurological injuries that qualify an injured child for NICA benefits. An Administrative Law Judge decides if your child’s neurological injury meets the legal definition. You can learn more by reviewing Sections 766.301-766.316 of Florida law. You can see a list of current participating physicians on NICA.com.

Q: Do we need an attorney?
A: You may not need an attorney, but before you choose an attorney or decide you do not need one, get the free books and information available here to learn about prosecuting a Florida medical malpractice claim. NICA does not require you to use a lawyer to file your claim for benefits. NICA will help you complete the necessary forms and file it with the proper agency.

Q: Is the doctor notified when I file for NICA benefits?
A: Yes. The Division of Administrative notifies the hospital where the child was born and the physician named in the petition, in addition to the necessary administrative agencies.

Q: How does NICA help me?
A: While NICA eliminates your right to sue your doctor, NICA also steps in to provide the certainty of state-funded assistance with medical care, co-pays, equipment, therapy, nursing care, supplies, medications, transportation and handicap modifications that are considered medically necessary and are not covered by Medicaid or insurance. NICA benefits last for the duration of the injured child’s life.

Q: Is there a time limit on filing a claim?
A: Yes. If the petition is not filed by the child’s fifth birthday, the child permanently loses eligible for NICA.

Q: Who can file a petition?
A: Only the child’s legal parent or guardian can file a petition.

Q: How do I file a claim?
A: Go to NICA.com. Find the form that is most appropriate for your situation, complete it and submit it. If you need help, call NICA toll free at (800) 398-2129. Send your completed, signed petition to:

Ann Cole
Division of Administrative Hearings
1230 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3060

Also include a $15.00 filing fee, payable to: Division of Administrative Hearings. It should be included with the petition. Send copies of all the medical records you have for both the mother and child with your petition. Fetal monitor strips must be included.

Contact Zimmet & Zimmet Law Firm today, for further questions and concerns on this matter.


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