When your baby seems ill after a difficult birth, it can be frightening to think about the potential future consequences. Doctors caring for your baby may suspect a number of conditions, including cerebral palsy, that could explain things like a weakness on one side of the body.
If you believe an error from someone in the delivery room led to the brain injury that caused the onset of cerebral palsy, consider contacting a Pittsburgh cerebral palsy attorney. With the help of a legal representative, your family can hold negligent parties responsible and collect financial compensation to recover from medical expenses.
For a free legal consultation with Pittsburgh Cerebral Palsy lawyer, call 1-800-222-9529
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (or CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). CP is present in between 1.5 and 4 live births per 1,000 live births worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CP occurs when the brain does not develop normally in a baby, leading to a lifetime of reduced motor skills. CP affects the part of the brain that allows the child to control his or her muscles, which makes it difficult for the child to walk without help.
Children who have a CP diagnosis may require a lifetime of medical care and physical therapy to deal with the effects of this condition. Some of the ways CP can affect a child’s life include:
- Walking: The majority of children with CP will need help with walking, either through use of braces on the legs or a walker, or they may need to use a wheelchair.
- Motor skills: Children with CP may struggle to perform tasks that require fine motor control, such as putting on clothing, brushing teeth, or eating.
- Speaking: Some kids with cerebral palsy will struggle to control the muscles in their faces that allow them to speak clearly, making it hard for them to communicate.
- Cognitive impairment: The damage to the brain that creates the onset of CP causes some children to struggle with intellect, meaning they may need help in school and with different learning techniques.
- Pain and suffering: Those who have CP sometimes have significant pain because of constant muscle spasms, which can cause problems with sleep and with sitting or standing in certain positions.
Receiving a Fair Settlement
When someone else’s error led to the onset of CP for your baby, you have the right to attempt to seek compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, and the reduction in quality of life. A birth injury lawyer will be your advocate and work hard to help you receive a settlement amount that truly reflects what your family and baby will face in the future.
Pittsburgh cerebral palsy attorneys defend the rights of victims of the negligence of medical personnel. You should not have to go through this alone, and you should not have to pay for these medical costs out of your own pocket.
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Types of Cerebral Palsy
The specific type of cerebral palsy your child was diagnosed with could give insight as to the leading causes during prenatal care or delivery, and how a healthcare provider could have contributed to these injuries.
Acquired Cerebral Palsy
When your baby receives a diagnosis of CP, doctors may tell you that this is an acquired form meaning that the brain received damage because of some sort of incident. For the majority of babies, acquired CP occurs at least a few weeks after birth, and usually because of some sort of infection or head trauma. But it can happen during the delivery or during the pregnancy, too.
Congenital Cerebral Palsy
With congenital CP, the baby may have suffered brain damage while in the womb or during birth. The majority of congenital CP cases result from a fetal stroke, or infection in the mother during pregnancy or the fetus. In more rare instances, genetic abnormalities sometimes cause brain malformation and a congenital cerebral palsy diagnosis.
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Injuries During Birth Can Lead to a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
If the doctor or another member of the medical team treating the baby and mother during the delivery commits an error, this can cause damage to the brain, leading to acquired CP. For example, if the doctor misused forceps on the baby’s head while trying to guide it through the mother’s birth canal, the forceps could cause damage to the brain through a skull fracture.
Some of the ways a baby can develop CP that could be considered negligence on the part of the doctor or another medical team member include:
- Low birthweight: A baby born with a weight of 5.5 pounds or less has an increased risk of developing CP, according to the CDC, meaning doctors should try to prolong the pregnancy as long as possible to allow the baby’s birth weight to reach a healthier level.
- Infection: If the mother suffers an infection during pregnancy, the doctor must catch it and treat it as early as possible, or the mother could pass the infection to the baby, leading to brain damage.
- Lack of oxygen: The doctor must watch for complications during the birth that could cause the baby’s oxygen supply to be reduced or cut off, such as the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck or the detachment of the placenta in the womb, increasing the chance of seeing a brain injury that leads to CP.
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You Can Claim These Damages in Your Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Your total damages are calculated from any out-of-pocket expenses and costs associated with your child’s cerebral palsy. The amount of money you’ve incurred as a direct result of the defendant’s malpractice are your economic damages, while your non-economic damages account for the emotional pain you’ve suffered. Damages in a CP claim can include:
- Hospital bills
- Medical equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Prescriptions and other medications
- Estimated future costs of all medical care
- Rehabilitation treatments
- Parent’s lost wages
Any evidence you have to support your claim of how much money you’re owed will help your claim. This includes bills, receipts, diary entries of how your child was feeling, and calculations of how much money the parents lost while they took time off to care for their child. A Pittsburgh cerebral palsy attorney will assign a value to your total damages to be used in negotiations.
What a Pittsburgh Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer Can Do for Your Family
A cerebral palsy diagnosis requires years of rehabilitation and physical therapy for your child. It’s reasonable to assume that your focus is on your child’s welfare and helping them get acclimated to living with CP. Your cerebral palsy attorney will take on your legal obligations while you keep your attention focused on your infant. Your lawyer will:
- Answer any questions you have about your case and compensation
- Speak with medical experts for their opinion on what negligence possibly contributed to your child’s birth injury
- Get proof of any evidence that proves your damages and the defendant’s negligence
- Negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies to win you a settlement
- In the event of a trial, present a strong defense to the judge or jury
- Defend you and your child’s rights to compensation and privacy
A birth injury lawyer in Pittsburgh will help you investigate when and how your doctors, nurses, and hospitals fell short and were negligent with their care. You and your child were owed a reasonable right to safety and to validate your malpractice case, you will need to show evidence they failed you.
You Don’t Have Much Time to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
According to Pennsylvania statute 40 Pa. § 1303.513, a minor who is the victim in a medical malpractice lawsuit has at least seven years from the date of their 20th birthday to begin the process of filing a claim on their own behalf. Exceptions exist that allow for an even longer time period.
However, it’s recommended you contact a birth injury law firm as early as possible. The sooner your attorney is able to begin investigating the facts in the case, the fresher the information will be in the minds of witnesses, helping them figure out exactly what happened, and exactly which parties are liable.
According to Pennsylvania law, there are deadlines in place for filing a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a child. According to Penn. Cons. Statutes Title 42 § 5524, you have two years from the date your child was injured to file your lawsuit and take action against a healthcare provider, hospital staff member, or the hospital itself.
Any attempt to file a birth injury claim after this two year deadline means your case will be dismissed by the civil court system and the hospital’s insurance company and legal team. Time is of the essence because you could lose the right to compensation. Your timeframe could be extended if any of the following circumstances apply to your case:
- Your child is under the age of six, therefore you now have until their ninth birthday to file a claim.
- The negligent medical professional tried to hide the alleged negligence.
- The healthcare provider left a foreign object in the patient’s body.
- Your baby’s condition and how it was caused aren’t known and there is no reasonable belief that the family could have discovered the negligence on their own.
Contact Us As Soon As Possible for Help With Your Case
Our trusted Pittsburgh cerebral palsy lawyers have seen the way medical malpractice insurers attempt to treat victims in cases like this, and we are continually working to help you receive the fairest possible settlement. For a free case review, contact a representative today.