When to Hire a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
We recommend reaching out to a cerebral palsy lawyer as soon as possible after your child’s diagnosis. You can speak with a member of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group team today about your potential medical malpractice claim.
You will need to know more about your child’s prognosis, care needs, and other details before filing your claim or taking your case to court. However, you can speak with someone who regularly handles birth injury cases to learn more about your rights and options right away.
If we review your child’s birth injuries and diagnosis and believe we can secure compensation to hold the at-fault practitioner responsible, a cerebral palsy lawyer from our team can guide you through the process. Since each state has its own timelines for filing civil actions and holding a doctor or hospital liable, you must act quickly to meet the deadlines.
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What Types of Cerebral Palsy Are Eligible for Litigation?
Any type of cerebral palsy may occur due to a preventable birth injury. If medical negligence caused your child’s brain injury or made it worse, you might be able to pursue a case against the medical care providers responsible. This may be possible if your child has any of the following diagnoses:
- Spastic (Pyramidal) Cerebral Palsy
- Athetoid (Extrapyramidal or Dyskinetic) Cerebral Palsy
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy
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Are You Eligible for a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?
You and your family will need to meet several criteria in order to be eligible to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit. One of the best ways to determine if you can take action in your state is to speak with a law firm that regularly pursues damages in these cases.
Some criteria for eligibility include:
- Your child has a cerebral palsy diagnosis.
- There is evidence to suggest your child was a victim of medical negligence.
- The medical negligence likely caused their cerebral palsy or another birth injury.
- You have time remaining to file a civil suit under your state’s statute of limitations and related laws.
- A qualified medical expert agrees you likely have a malpractice case.
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How to Choose a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Choosing a cerebral palsy lawyer is a matter of personal preference in many cases. Still, there are some things you should look for when selecting an attorney and law firm to represent your family. This includes the following:
- They regularly handle medical malpractice birth injury cases, including cerebral palsy cases.
- They practice in your state since many rules for pursuing damages differ from state to state.
- You are on the same page about what you want out of filing a claim, including accountability and compensation.
Working with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team can ensure your attorney knows how birth injury cases proceed in your state, the deadlines in your case, and all filing requirements. We navigate cerebral palsy lawsuits regularly and help families like yours to:
- Seek the financial recovery and support they need.
- Protect other children from similar injuries in the future.
- Hold the doctor and hospital accountable for their negligence, when appropriate.
What Kind of Settlement Can You Expect from a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?
Your lawyer should seek a fair settlement in your cerebral palsy lawsuit and refuse to settle for less than your family needs and deserves based on the evidence available. Your legal team should gather evidence of your child’s past medical care related to their birth injury, current treatment, and probable future care needs. They will also need to document the related expenses and calculate your intangible losses based on industry norms.
Using this proof of documented economic losses and expenses, along with the value put on your child’s intangible losses, your attorney will demand a just payout via settlement. If a settlement can’t be reached with the malpractice insurance company or the legal team representing the doctor or hospital, your case may go to court.
Depending on a number of factors, settlements in a birth injury case may come in the form of a lump-sum payment or as a structured settlement.
What Are Common Verdicts in Cerebral Palsy Cases?
Birth injury claims are some of the largest verdicts paid out in the United States today, according to an article about these cases in the Journal of Child Neurology. Some may even total $200,000,000 or more.
A seven- or eight-figure total is not outside the curve for severe cerebral palsy cases. Due to the support and care children facing permanent limitations need, it is an expensive condition to manage. It is important to note, though, that there is no “average” cerebral palsy payout.
It is difficult to put a price on a birth injury such as cerebral palsy. Still, when your lawyer pursues financial recovery for your family, this is what they must do. Cerebral palsy affects each child differently—each child requires their own specific care plan and unique treatment. This is why the verdicts in these cases can vary so widely.
To understand your case’s possible value, you should discuss it with your legal team following their initial investigation and as they begin to prepare your claim.
What Compensation Can You Expect from Winning a Cerebral Palsy Case?
The compensation you can expect if your family wins a cerebral palsy case in court depends on your unique damages. This includes the expenses and losses your attorney documents during the investigation into your case and the intangible losses to which they assign value. Some common recoverable damages in a cerebral palsy birth injury case include the following:
- Treatment and medications
- Ongoing care and support costs
- Medical equipment and prescribed devices
- Your time away from work caring for your child
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your child’s care
- Your child’s pain and suffering
- Your child’s mental anguish
Will Winning a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Fully Cover Your Medical Expenses Past, Present, and Future?
As a part of determining a fair settlement price or developing an argument for a payout in court, your lawyer will take steps to better understand the medical expenses related to your child’s diagnosis. This will include past, current, and probable future medical care costs.
Proving past and current medical care expenses generally relies on providing medical bills, your child’s treatment plan, and other documentation. Putting a price on possible future care is more complicated. Your lawyer will likely have medical experts, economists, and others they work with evaluate your child’s prognosis and future medical needs, as well as the cost of that treatment.
While the goal is to fully cover past, present, and future medical care, there are no guarantees. Unexpected complications and other concerns can arise that cost more than expected at the time your child’s case went to court.
Medical Malpractice and Cerebral Palsy
What Types of Cerebral Palsy Are Eligible for Litigation?
- Spastic (Pyramidal) Cerebral Palsy
- Athetoid (Extrapyramidal or Dyskinetic) Cerebral Palsy
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy
When Are Doctors Liable for Cerebral Palsy?
A doctor can cause or fail to prevent cerebral palsy and other perinatal brain injuries by:
- Failing to monitor mother and baby during pregnancy, labor, and delivery adequately
- Failure to diagnose medical concerns or possible complications in mother or infant
- Failure to order a cesarean section (C-section) when risks of vaginal delivery were too high
- Failure to provide an acceptable standard of care
- Other careless or negligent actions
To learn if you may have a valid birth injury case, you should discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney in your state or the state where your child was born. Each state sets its own laws, and only an attorney who regularly handles these cases in your state will know how to navigate the process, prove your case, and meet all applicable deadlines.
Most medical malpractice lawyers offer free case reviews and consultations, so you can learn if you have a case at no cost to you. They also take on this type of case based on contingency, meaning your family pays no out-of-pocket costs. The attorney does not get paid unless you get a settlement or court award.
Some recoverable damages in a birth injury medical malpractice case may include:
- Medical expenses
- Ongoing and future care costs
- Physical, occupational, speech, and other therapies
- Mobility and assistive equipment
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to their treatment and care
- Pain and suffering damages
- Mental anguish
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How Preventable Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is preventable, although not always. In some cases, it occurs because of issues within the developing brain that doctors cannot predict or prevent. However, it also frequently develops because of a medical error, preventable birth injury, or medical negligence.
Many Cases of Cerebral Palsy Are Preventable
There are many causes of the types of brain injuries that lead to cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is preventable when the causes for the condition are:
- Maternal infections that can spread to the baby
- Infections in the womb or after birth that cause inflammation in the brain
- Problems with the placenta or other conditions that limit the blood supply to the baby’s brain before or during delivery
- Difficult labor and delivery that results in the baby not getting enough oxygen
- Traumatic brain injury during birth, often because of forceps or vacuum extraction
In many of these cases, close monitoring by a doctor during pregnancy, labor, and birth would offer an opportunity to take action and prevent permanent brain damage to the baby. There are interventions available for many of these causes, and other causes are easy to avoid if your doctor provides an acceptable standard of care.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
If your child does experience a birth injury or there is another reason to believe they may have the condition, you can watch for the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy from a young age. Getting an early diagnosis and treatment may help improve the outcome and increase the quality of life in some children.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, some of the symptoms to watch for include:
Signs of Cerebral Palsy in Babies
- Low muscle tone
- Too floppy or too stiff
- Muscle spasms
- Unable to hold his head up on his own when other babies the same age can
- Cannot lift head while lying on his stomach
- Poor muscle control and reflexes
- Poor posture or inability to sit unassisted after six months of age
- Significant delays in hitting developmental milestones
- Difficulties related to feeding or swallowing
- Noted preference for one side of the body
- Signs of Cerebral Palsy in Toddlers
- Not able to pull up
- Not walking by 12 to 18 months
- Walking but having trouble with gait or controlled movement
- Not speaking simple sentences by 24 months
If you observe signs of cerebral palsy in your child, if they experience uncontrolled muscle movements, if they have seizures, or if they experience developmental delays or fail to meet normal developmental milestones, you should discuss your concerns with their doctor. Getting early treatment and support can help prevent some complications, including painful contractures and cognitive damage related to uncontrolled seizures.
A cerebral palsy settlement can help you pay for treatments that will improve your child’s life, such as the following:
- Medications that help control seizures, tremors, and other symptoms
- Therapies that improve their strength, balance, coordination, and control
- Therapies that help them adapt to their limitations and gain skills
- Equipment and devices that aid mobility, hearing, vision, speech, and more
- Tutors who can help your child catch up or keep up at school
- Additional assistance at home that provides both support for your child and respite care that benefits you
A typical cerebral palsy treatment plan may include:
- Early intervention
- Medication to control seizures, relax muscles, or limit pain
- Surgery to ease tight muscles
- Therapy to help loosen muscles and/or learn new skills
- Orthotic devices to correct anatomical concerns and keep joints in place
- Supportive treatments
Therapy Is Key for Limiting Cerebral Palsy-Related Impairments
Therapy plays a key role in most cerebral palsy treatment plans. This may include a treatment plan that only contains physical therapy or features a combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Some common types of therapies for children with cerebral palsy include:
Physical therapy is a key component of any cerebral palsy treatment plan. Physical therapy for cerebral palsy uses different methods, such as massages, heat treatment, and exercise instead of drugs or surgery. A physical therapist will design exercises and activities to address a patient’s individual needs. These activities may include:
- Building muscle strength
- Increasing balance
- Improving motor skills
- Preventing contractures
- Learning to walk
- Learning to use a wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, canes, or walker
Physical therapists may also prescribe medical equipment to help improve mobility, including orthotic devices such as leg braces and gait trainers.
Occupational therapy can help those with cerebral palsy master self-care, daily living activities, and other day-to-day tasks. Occupational therapy encourages rehabilitation through everyday activities required in daily life. When a child’s condition prevents them from managing tasks, their occupational therapist will work to help them find a new way to reach the same goal within their abilities.
Speech therapy addresses a child’s ability to speak and use language to communicate. It also works to help a child overcome problems with eating and swallowing. Speech therapists may also help children learn to use alternative communication methods if they cannot control the muscles of their mouth and tongue.
Medical Equipment and Assistive Devices for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Prescribed medical equipment and assistive devices can help those with cerebral palsy overcome symptoms and complications. These types of equipment and devices can help children with cerebral palsy lead an easier, less painful life. Your child’s doctors or therapists may prescribe one or all of the tools listed below, depending on your child’s individual needs. Some of these devices may help your child build independence and overcome challenges associated with daily living activities.
Some common types of medical equipment and assistive devices used by children, teens, and adults with cerebral palsy include:
- Orthotic devices to support mobility, often used in conjunction with wheelchairs, rolling walkers, gait trainers, and scooters
- Braces and splints to improve muscle contractures and function
- Orthotics to ensure the proper positioning of a joint
- Braces, wedges, and other devices to provide support while sitting
- Vision aids, eye surgery, and other treatment for vision concerns
- Hearing aids and other equipment for children who suffer hearing loss
- Computers and voice synthesizers for those who cannot talk or otherwise struggle to communicate
What Are the Daily Personal Care Needs of a Child with Cerebral Palsy?
The daily personal care needs of a child with cerebral palsy can be challenging. There are five basic categories of personal care needs:
- Personal hygiene, including bathing and oral care
- Dressing oneself
- Feeding oneself
- Using the restroom
- Transferring from lying down or sitting to standing
Often, a parent or caregiver must help a child with cerebral palsy with one, two, or all these daily personal needs depending on the severity of their condition and age.
How to Help Children with Cerebral Palsy Face Everyday Challenges
Here are some facts and tips to help children through daily personal care needs.
One-third of children with cerebral palsy are unable to walk. Others can walk using assistive devices. It can be frustrating for children with cerebral palsy who must rely on others to carry them from bed to chair. As children get older, carrying them becomes impractical and unsafe. It also keeps them from becoming more independent.
Fortunately, some wheelchairs and scooters are specially designed for children to match their height, weight, posture, and support needs with maximum comfort. Depending on the child, parents can choose from several mobility options such as:
- Manual or electric powered wheelchairs
- Standing wheelchairs
- Electric scooters
Sometimes children prefer scooters because it gives them more freedom and independence than when using a wheelchair.
Eating and Drinking Issues
Cerebral palsy can affect children’s ability to chew and swallow food. Others may thrust out their tongue while eating. It can be difficult for children to feed themselves because they may lack fine motor skills to hold a fork or cup. About one in 15 children with cerebral palsy must be fed with a feeding tube.
Some of the ways to help a child eat and drink independently include:
- Using larger utensils that are easier to grasp
- Providing two-handled drinking cups
Bathroom and Hygiene Issues
About 25% of children with cerebral palsy have bladder control issues in the form of incontinence (unable to control urination). Others have problems with constipation due to lack of mobility. One-third of children with cerebral palsy have hip and/or spine displacement, which makes using a toilet and bathing difficult.
Some assistive devices and adaptations can make toilet and bathing issues easier. These include:
- Adaptive toilet seat with grip bars
- Non-skid surfaces
- Shower seat with a handheld nozzle
- Safety railing or “crash bar” in the shower or bath
- Electric toothbrushes and plastic molded flossers
Children with cerebral palsy may not have the fine motor skills to manipulate snaps, hooks, or buttons. Children who have intellectual impairments may not be able to select proper clothing for the weather or social situation.
Some of the ways that parents and caregivers can make getting dressed easier include:
- Interactive toys that teach children how to button, snap, and zip
- Selecting clothes that are easy to put on and take off, such as a cardigan instead of a pullover sweater
- Medical supply stores have devices for people with motor function impairments that make getting dressed easier
- Letting children pick out their own clothes (with gentle guidance as necessary) helps make them more likely to be patient about learning to get dressed
- Sleeping Issues
A good day can depend on getting a good night’s sleep, but this can be challenging for a child with cerebral palsy. About one-fifth of children with cerebral palsy have a sleep disorder caused by muscle spasms, pain, and epilepsy.
Some of the ways that children can get a better night’s rest include:
- Keeping rooms dark or dimly lit at a comfortable temperature
- Avoiding soda, caffeine, and sugary treats three hours before bedtime
- Limiting naps to 15 or 20 minutes at the most
How Long Will It Take to Receive a Settlement in My Cerebral Palsy Case?
How long it will take to receive a settlement in your cerebral palsy lawsuit depends on many factors. Your attorney can help you get a better idea of how long the process may take, but there is no way to know exactly how long it could take.
It is imperative you do not miss the deadline your state places on medical malpractice cases, so you should enlist the help of an attorney near you who regularly handles this type of birth injury case as soon as possible after your child’s diagnosis.
Understanding Possible Timelines in a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Case
Pursuing compensation in a cerebral palsy birth injury case takes time. The first step is not to file a lawsuit. Instead, your attorney will need to navigate several steps to build a strong case and attempt to recover a payout through settlement negotiations.
Along the way, the attorney will need to follow specific guidelines, file the appropriate paperwork, and meet other deadlines to avoid delays in your case. This is key in getting through this process as quickly as possible and getting your payout.
Proving Your Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Case
Once you agree to work with an attorney, one of the first things they will do is get to work on proving your case. This may require:
- Identifying all potentially liable parties
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining copies of relevant medical records that validate symptoms and diagnosis
- Working with a medical expert witness to prove medical malpractice
- Working with experts to learn about your child’s prognosis, possible necessary treatments, ongoing and future care needs, and other current and future expenses
- Documenting your expenses and losses related to your child’s condition up to this point
Taking Legal Action
Only after your attorney completes the investigation and case-building part of their effort can they consider pursuing a payout on your behalf. This is because they will not have a good idea of the value of your case—your losses and expenses—until this point.
With strong evidence to support a medical malpractice claim and a fair settlement value in mind, your attorney can then try to negotiate a just out-of-court settlement. This negotiation process may take time as they go back and forth several times, trying to reach an agreement. Still, this is usually faster than taking the case to court.
Your attorney will file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the liable doctor or hospital in your state’s civil court if necessary.
Several Deadlines Could Affect Your Case
Each state has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. This is a general deadline for filing a lawsuit against a liable doctor or hospital. Sometimes, meeting this deadline is more difficult than it may seem.
Getting an accurate diagnosis and understanding how profoundly cerebral palsy affects your child often takes time. A baby may display delayed motor development, exhibit too tight or too floppy muscle tone, or have other signs and symptoms of the condition, but even with an official cerebral palsy diagnosis, it is often difficult to understand how it could affect the child’s life as he grows.
This can cause a significant delay since this is key in proving both future medical expenses and non-economic losses. Many states have laws that toll the statute of limitations in birth injury cases, but there is ultimately a statute of repose in place, after which you lose your right to file suit.
Understanding What Happens After You Win Your Cerebral Palsy Case
Unfortunately, there is still more waiting once your attorney successfully negotiates an out-of-court settlement or the judge awards you compensation at trial. You will need to sign a settlement agreement if the payout does not come through the court. The medical malpractice insurance company will not cut a check until they receive a release saying you accept the settlement and will not pursue additional compensation.
Once the insurance company representative cuts the check — which could take only a few days or several weeks — they will send it to your attorney. Your attorney will deposit it, take out the fees you agreed on, and then they will write a check to you.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney Near You About Your Cerebral Palsy Case
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy, whatever the type may be, is the result of a preventable birth injury, you may be eligible to pursue and recover compensation from the liable doctor or hospital. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you get started today. Call (800) 222-9529 and you will be connected with an attorney in your state who handles cerebral palsy birth injury cases.
Cerebral Palsy News
Extreme Filth Found in Home After Police Investigation
Unfortunately, not all cases can be won or are eligible for compensation. Sometimes, a lack of help can drive people to do horrible things for the people they are supposed to care for. Such seems to be the case, as reported in this incident by Deseret News in Utah.
A woman in Salt Lake City has been arrested and charged after police found her home and family in awful conditions. The woman was supposed to be taking care of her husband, who has dementia, and her daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
Police found the husband wandering outside the house and were told that he wanted to file a complaint against his wife. The police noticed the man was extremely thin and had awful hygiene. No call was made by his wife about his disappearance.
Among his complaints, he said that there was human waste on the walls and that his wife was controlling his finances and behavior. When the police came over to investigate, the woman refused the officers entry into the home. However, they noticed feces on the woman’s feet, many flies, and a strong odor.
From this evidence, they were able to obtain a warrant. Multiple dead animals and rotten food were found. The daughter lashed out at officers and appeared to be blind. According to neighbors, they had never seen the daughter outside.
The home was condemned, and the husband and daughter were taken in by Adult Protective Services.
Man Assaults Disabled Person for Asking Not to Park in a Handicapped Spot
The Americans With Disabilities Act has helped people with disabilities gain much more independence, but some people choose to ignore their rights. One man has been arrested for assault after harming a man in a wheelchair in California over a simple question.
The man was born with a rare disease called syringomyelia, which is when a cavity grows inside the spinal cord and causes paralysis. The man can only move his arms and head.
He saw an SUV parked illegally in a handicapped spot. After wheeling himself out, he went to talk to the woman in the vehicle, asking them not to park there again. Then he went inside a Target to make a return.
The woman’s boyfriend confronted him at the counter, demanding an apology for ‘scaring’ his girlfriend. The handicapped man asked if he could finish his return, but the man grabbed his wheelchair, pushed him through the store, then dumped him onto the ground. The incident broke the 52-year-old disabled man’s wrist.
Security footage caught the incident, and store workers were able to give police enough information to arrest the man for felony assault and attempted kidnapping. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. But the injured man has had his life shattered.
He needs his arm strength to stay independent, and now he can’t use one arm, forcing him to depend on a nurse to survive. He cannot get out of his wheelchair on his own, nor can he shop for himself. He has also lost the ability to play guitar.
Nurse Allegedly Burns Young Woman with CP in Shower
Parents of children with severe disabilities might have to hire an in-home nurse in order to care for them while they go to work. Many amazing people in this profession do an excellent job of helping their charges. But not all of them are skilled enough or compassionate enough for the job.
One nurse is under scrutiny after allegedly burning a young adult with cerebral palsy by making her shower too hot, ABC 13 reports.
The young woman was born with cerebral palsy and cannot speak or walk. According to her family, a nurse hired through an in-home care service did not properly monitor the water temperature before a shower scalded the victim on her back and private areas. It may have been deliberate.
When her mother discovered her daughter’s heart rate was too high, she took her to the hospital where the burns were discovered. Since the incident, the nurse has been charged, and both the nurse and her employer are under a lawsuit.
We hope that a full investigation is completed into this incident and that the family receives due compensation. As most of us know, hot liquids can cause incredibly painful injuries worthy of compensation if they are deliberately caused by someone else.
Senior Student with CP Successfully Completes FFA Course
When children with cerebral palsy or another birth injury get the support and care they need, they can achieve just as much as abled children. A good example of this was reported by the Meridian Star.
A high school senior with cerebral palsy recently competed in an agricultural show showing off a pig that she raised for her Future Farmers of America class.
To help raise the pig, she has a special wheelchair that looks like a tractor to handle the outdoor environment. Working farm tasks from a wheelchair or crutches was tough, but she wanted to be in an independent class where she could move more.
One of the reasons she was able to succeed was because her family encouraged her to participate in anything she wanted to do growing up. She’s even a hunter. By using a mount for her weapon, she has managed to take down several large game animals.
Now she is looking for a community college with an FFA club so she can continue her farm studies.
If you have a child with a disability, don’t let their challenges get in the way of their dreams. There are many ways you can help them to grow up with a sense of independence. Reach out to local disability advocacy groups and find out how you can help.