Cerebral palsy is the result of brain or nerve damage, often caused by medical errors, birth injuries, or medical neglect. If your child suffered injuries during gestation, labor and delivery, or birth that led to their cerebral palsy diagnosis, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
To talk to someone about your case, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at 1-800-222-9529. You can connect with an attorney in your state who will review your case and pursue the damages your family deserves at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits
To have a viable medical malpractice case based on your child’s cerebral palsy, you must be able to show:
- Your child has a cerebral palsy diagnosis; and
- This diagnosis occurred because of an injury during gestation, delivery, birth, or immediately after birth; and
- The child’s birth injury occurred because of a failure to uphold the standard of care.
While medical records will serve to prove many of the facts of your case, you will likely also need to enlist the help of a medical expert witness. In fact, many states require an expert to sign an affidavit confirming you have a valid case before you can pursue damages. Your attorney can identify and enlist the help of an expert for your case. This expert will testify to:
- The acceptable standard of care based on the facts of your child’s case
- Whether or not your doctor provided an acceptable standard of care
- When and how your doctor made an error, deviated from protocol, or committed medical neglect
- How the doctor’s actions or inaction contributed to your baby’s condition
Your attorney will document the expenses and losses your family suffered as a result of your baby’s condition and put a price on their ongoing and future care needs. They will also estimate a value for pain and suffering damages. Then, they will pursue compensation to cover:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing and future care costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Mobility devices, assistive technology, and other prescribed tools
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
It is important to note that each state has a deadline for filing a medical malpractice case. Your attorney can review your case to ensure you still have time to take legal action.
Cerebral Palsy Types
There are more than a dozen different types of cerebral palsy, classified based on how they affect the body, what caused them, and other factors. The types of cerebral palsy include:
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
- Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy
- Diplegic Cerebral Palsy
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
- Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
- Epidural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy
- Grade 1 IVH Cerebral Palsy
- Hemiparetic Cerebral Palsy
- Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy
- Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy
- Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy
- Non-spastic Cerebral Palsy
- Periventricular Leukomalacia Cerebral Palsy
- Tetraplegic Cerebral Palsy
- Subdural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy
Any of these types of cerebral palsy may support a medical malpractice case, depending on the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy and your child’s birth. A birth injury lawyer in your state can tell you if you have a case during a complimentary case review.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
The primary causes of congenital cerebral palsy include:
- Traumatic brain injury, either caused by an injury to the mother during pregnancy or an injury to the baby during or immediately after delivery
- Abnormal brain development, sometimes caused by genetic disorders, infection, or trauma inside the womb
- Bleeding in the brain, caused by a neonatal stroke, blood clotting conditions, heart defects, sickle cell disease, and other conditions
- Lack of oxygen to the brain, which may occur because of a skull fracture or other trauma during birth, placental abruption, other issues with the placental or umbilical cord, some types of neonatal stroke, very low blood pressure in the mother, and many types of respiratory conditions that affect newborns
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
The symptoms of babies and children with cerebral palsy will exhibit vary from case to case. Both the areas of the body affected and the severity can vary drastically. While the hallmarks of the condition are movement and coordination issues, this may manifest in signs and symptoms that include:
- Tremors and other involuntary movements
- Delays in reaching milestones related to motor skills including sitting up and crawling
- Consistently favoring one side of the body
- Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, with a crouched gait, or other gait problems
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Delays in speech development
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis and Treatment
A cerebral palsy diagnosis depends on the doctor’s assessment of the infant, toddler, or child, and the parents’ reports of missed milestones and poor motor skills. There is no laboratory test or neuroimaging to diagnose this condition, although ultrasounds or magnetic resonance imaging may help confirm a suspected diagnosis. Instead, doctors rely on monitoring, ‘developmental screenings, and medical evaluations to rule out other causes of symptoms.
Treatment varies depending on the nature and severity of the issue. Physical therapy is almost always prescribed, as well as ongoing exercises to reduce the risk of contractures and other complications. Botulinum toxin type A and casting are also common treatments for certain symptoms. Surgery may be necessary for some children.
Cerebral Palsy Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has cerebral palsy?
If your child is not meeting milestones related to movement—rolling over, sitting up, pushing up with their arms, crawling, or pulling up—you should discuss your concerns with a trusted doctor. Your doctor may recommend your baby see a specialist who can evaluate their abilities and make a diagnosis.
Can cerebral palsy be fatal?
Cerebral palsy is not progressive and will not get worse nor cause your child to pass away. However, many children with cerebral palsy require lifelong monitoring, therapy, and support.
Who is liable for cerebral palsy?
Depending on the facts of your case, the doctor who supervised your pregnancy, the doctor who delivered your child, another health care provider, or the hospital may be liable for your child’s condition. Your attorney will help you identify the liable parties and build a case against them.
What is the statute of limitations for cerebral palsy?
The deadline that applies in your medical malpractice case will vary based on your state’s statute of limitations, the statute of repose, and if the law allows for tolling for minor victims.
Cerebral Palsy Glossary Terms
- What is Ataxia? Ataxia is a loss of muscle coordination. It is a common symptom in people with cerebral palsy.
- What is Athetosis? Athetosis is a type of slow, writhing movement characteristic of some types of cerebral palsy.
- What is Spasticity? Spasticity is when someone has stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes. It is one of the most common symptoms of cerebral palsy.
Talk to a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer in Your State
If your baby has cerebral palsy because of a medical error, birth injury, or medical neglect, you may be eligible to hold the doctor or hospital liable. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today by dialing 1-800-222-9529. You can connect with an attorney near you who handles these cases in your state.