Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects your child’s central nervous system. Cerebral palsy affects a child’s ability to control their muscles, and may cause a lifetime of medical expenses and permanent disability for your child. Many cases of cerebral palsy are preventable, they are related to complications during birth.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you think a doctor’s error may be responsible, please contact AccidentAttorneys.org today to talk to one of our birth injury attorneys.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is probably the most serious birth injury that can be caused by a simple doctor’s error.
Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 cases are diagnosed every year. Seven out of 10 cases are linked to congenital problems and develop in the child as he or she grows in the womb. Approximately two out of every 10 cases of cerebral palsy occur due to an injury suffered by the child at birth. In such cases parents of the affected child may be able to sue the responsible medical professionals for the compensation they will need to help care for their child over time.
Those diagnosed with cerebral palsy may suffer from a variety of neurological disorders which prevent them from developing muscle coordination and bodily movements on time. Children can be diagnosed with the condition as early as several months of age, but are often diagnosed as late as two or three years old.
Cerebral palsy isn’t just a single disorder, it’s a blanket term that covers many different types of disorders with several potential causes. Cerebral palsy may cause rigidity or floppiness of the limbs, unsteadiness, poor reflexes, and other muscle function problems. It is typically diagnosed on the basis of several symptoms, such as:
Not reaching developmental milestones
Delayed crawling or walking
Unusual style or difficulty crawling or walking
Stiff or floppy muscles
Lack of coordination
Your child may also have additional disabilities unrelated to the cerebral palsy.
Do Medical Mistakes Cause Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage to your child during development before birth or shortly after birth. Sometimes this occurs spontaneously because of a mutation or a fetal stroke. However, your child may have developed cerebral palsy due to any number of injuries suffered during birth, including:
- The attending medical professionals not properly treating the mother for infections during pregnancy.
- The attending medical professionals not properly scheduling or performing a caesarean when necessary.
- The attending medical professionals failing to identify a proplased umbilical cord.
- The attending medical professionals not properly using medical instruments while delivering the baby.
In addition, when a baby is deprived of oxygen during birth, cerebral palsy may result. In fact, this may account for 8-10% of cerebral palsy cases, and is often the result of medical malpractice. When doctors and nurses don’t respond properly to birth complications, it may result in a brain injury that can develop into cerebral palsy.
Compensation for Your Child’s Injury
Cerebral palsy can result in a wide range of symptoms. Some children with cerebral palsy may show few obvious symptoms. They may be able to walk, sometimes with aids, and generally be able to live a normal life. Other times, cerebral palsy can result in almost complete disability. It may prevent your child from walking and may lead to restricted function of their arms as well. Children with cerebral palsy may have additional disabilities, including epilepsy, blindness, or deafness.
The costs of coping with cerebral palsy can be extremely prohibitive to victims and their families. Accordingly, many families sue for compensation when the disease occurs as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Families that win cerebral palsy damages are able to use the proceeds in order to help their child cope with his or her limitations, and pay for such treatment as:
- Medical treatment
- Prosthetics and medical equipment
- Lifetime benefits
Lifetime Benefits for Cerebral Palsy Victims
The costs associated with caring for a child with cerebral palsy over his or her lifetime can be staggering. In such cases your family may be entitled to significant compensation to help you cope with the serious financial burdens which will be incurred as the child grows. Fortunately, the law allows for compensation to cope with many kinds of expenses incurred by families raising a child whose birth injury resulted from another’s negligence. One of these benefits is called lifetime benefits.
There are several factors which may be taken into account when calculating lifetime benefits, including:
- The nature of the child’s ailments and disabilities
- The severity of the child’s ailments and disabilities
- The child’s expected lifespan
- Medical expenses
- Compensation for the child’s inability to care for him or herself
Lifetime benefit compensation is intended to help you care for your child and provide him or her the best chance at living a substantial and productive life. While it is always best to speak with an attorney regarding your individual situation, you may be eligible to collect compensation for such damages and expenses as:
- Medical equipment
- Expenses related to modifying the home for the child’s needs
- Expenses for a personal care assistant
- Expenses related to daily living
If you have a child who is suffering from cerebral palsy as a result of a birth injury, you have undoubtedly found yourself questioning how you will be able to care for your loved one and continue to make ends meet. A lifetime benefit can help provide you with the peace of mind that you will always have the financial resources needed to care for your child. Additionally, when invested into safe and secure investment instruments, lifetime benefits can continue to grow over your child’s lifetime.
Statute of Limitations
The timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit for a personal injury or medical malpractice claim, is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim varies by state, but it generally is a specific number of years (often two years) from the time the injury occurred or from the date you first discovered the injury. If you fail to file suit until after the statute of limitations has expired, your case may be barred by the statute of limitations.
It should be noted that in the case of an injury to a child, such as in a cerebral palsy case involvin a baby who was injured during labor and delivery, there may be an exception to the strict statute of limitations applicable in other cases. For example:
- Special Allowances for Children – The law in most states makes special allowances for medical malpractice claims involving children, due to the fact that ailments affecting babies and young children may not be immediately diagnosable. If your child’s cerebral palsy resulted from the negligence of a medical professional, some states extend the statute of limitations for up to eight years. Many states also require that the lawsuit be filed before your child turns 22 years of age, even if eight years have not yet passed.
- Special Allowances for the Disabled – One additional consideration regarding the statute of limitations is that the law often allows for those with disabilities to file suit for the entire duration of time that they continue to suffer from their conditions. Should the disability ever be corrected, only then would the statute of limitations clock began to tick. Under such a scenario a person with cerebral palsy may not run into a specific statute of limitations if his or her disability is never corrected.
- Seek the Advice of a Qualified Attorney – Because of the complexity in how statutes of limitations apply in cases of cerebral palsy and because of the potential of being barred from pursuing the case altogether, you should always retain the services of an experienced birth injury lawyer. Your attorney will be in the best position to help you determine whether or not your child’s case is still within the statute of limitations, and help you file all necessary paperwork on time. An additional factor to consider is that even if the statute of limitations has not expired, you should still consider bringing suit sooner rather than later to ensure that your attorney has access to all relevant evidence.
Choosing a Cerebral Palsy Attorney
Learning how to deal with a child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis is enough to cause any parent anxiety for his or her child’s future. Not only will your child have to learn how to deal with special developmental delays, but as a parent you must figure out a way to pay for the expenses needed to give your child his or her best chance at proper development. Your child may face an additional $1 million or more in costs associated with his condition over his lifetime.
If your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis comes as the result of medical malpractice or negligence, an experienced birth injury attorney can help you fight for the compensation you will need in order to help your child adjust live a full life. Choosing the right birth injury lawyer to help you fight for damages is an essential of part of ensuring your child has the brightest future possible.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Birth Injury Attorney
Some questions you should ask when interviewing a birth injury lawyer include:
- What is his or her experience in winning damages for cerebral palsy cases?
- What do prior clients have to say about his or her legal services?
- Will he or she treat your case as if it were his or her own, fighting for every nickel you deserve?
- Does he or she have an outstanding reputation among his or her peers?
While it is important to select an attorney who has experience litigating medical injury cases, it is important to remember that in any given birth injury case various aspects of the law may come into play. For this reason, choosing a lawyer who has a wide body of experience in several areas of related law may provide you with an advantage over an attorney whose practice area has been relatively limited and specialized.
Your Initial Consultation with a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Most medical injury attorneys will offer you an initial consultation in order to review your case and give you information relating to his or her services. This initial consultation will provide you with important information about your prospective lawyer, including:
- His or her evaluation of whether or not your case has merit
- His or her evaluation of the monetary value of your case
- General information about the legal process and what to expect
To learn more about a cerebral palsy lawsuit and getting lifetime benefits as compensation for your child’s injury, please contact AccidentAttorneys.org to talk to a local expert cerebral palsy lawyer.