Issue: April 2016
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A Spectrum of Risks Related to Autism: Liability Issues and Litigation

Introduction

Autism-Related Liability Risks

About 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Worldwide, it has been said that about one percent of the population is “on the spectrum.” The diagnosis and treatment of ASD is often challenging. 

 

The financial and personal costs related to these disorders pose a major burden to the families of those struggling with an ASD as well as to society as a whole. The impact of the condition is expected to grow as many more people are being diagnosed with these disorders.

 

The diagnosis, care, treatment, and related injuries of persons with an autism spectrum disorder can give rise to litigation. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with injuries related to autism spectrum disorders.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish liability for an autism-related injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to autism? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the injury involving autism spectrum disorder? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ? 

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an autism-related injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving the diagnosis or treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice or negligence involving the diagnosis or treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s injury related to an autism spectrum disorder could be considered “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.” 

Expert Analysis

Why Is Universal Toddler Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder Necessary?

Diana L. Robins, PhD

What Legislative Initiatives Are in Process to Require Autism Insurance Coverage?

Lorri Shealy Unumb, JD

What Issues Do School Districts Face When Considering Students With Autism?

William Dikel, MD

What Employment Issues Do People with Asperger's Face?

Troy Crumrine, JD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving autism spectrum disorders?



Medical Examples

Autism Spectrum Disorder

This section provides detailed medical information on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the causes, screening and diagnosis, and treatment. Also discussed is the prognosis and ability to work of a person on the autism spectrum.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on autism.


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A Spectrum of Risks Related to Autism: Liability Issues and Litigation

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Diana L. Robins, PhD
   Lorri Shealy Unumb, JD
   William Dikel, MD
   Troy Crumrine, JD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Law and Medicine Resources