How much is a hand worth? What about a foot? An eye?
All of these body parts are invaluable, but when it comes to the law, they have a price. For Tabitha Mullings, that price is $17.9 million. The mother of three sued New York City and Brooklyn Hospital Center for a medical error that left her a quadruple amputee and blind in one eye.
After three years, the defendants agreed to settle the claim, worrying that the so-called NYC amputee would garner too much sympathy from a jury.
Tabitha Mullings' story starts in 2008, when she went to the Brooklyn Hospital Center's emergency room. She was diagnosed with kidney stones and given painkillers, reports the New York Daily News. But she was in so much pain the next day, she called 911 twice. NYC medics refused to take her to the hospital both times.
By the time Mullings' fiance took her in, a sepsis infection had spread throughout her body. She fell into a coma, and the infection caused gangrene. When she woke up, she had no hands, no feet and had lost sight in one eye.
A portion of the $17.9 million settlement compensates Mullings for her pain and suffering and future medical costs. But what about her limbs and eye? How does one value a body part?
As strange as it may be, a body part's initial value is commonly calculated in terms of lost wages. How does the loss of the body part affect future earnings? This calculation is often based on the victim's wage before and after the injury.
Attorneys may also consult workers' compensation fee schedules, which govern employee injuries. Each body part has been assigned a value rating, and each rating corresponds to a designated amount of pay based on the employee's current wage. These schedules even place different values on each finger.
These calculations seem very detached -- and they are. As Tabitha Mullings told the Daily News, the money does not change what she has been through and what she will go through for the rest of her life.
- Tabitha Mullings, NYC Multiple Amputee, Wins $18 Million In Settlement (Associated Press)
- Medical Malpractice (FindLaw)
- Parents Awarded $22.3M For Boy's Lost Leg (Chicago Personal Injury Law)