Can Parents Of Children With Cerebral Palsy Sue For Medical Malpractice?

Families of children with cerebral palsy often struggle with the high cost of treatment and other expenses. While most cases of cerebral palsy are unavoidable, many others directly result from medical negligence.

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Common Concerns After A Birth Injury

If your child has recently been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, your head may be spinning with many questions, such as:

  • How did this happen?
  • Could this have been prevented?
  • How will our family pay our medical bills?
  • Do we have grounds for a lawsuit?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even angry at a time like this. Most cases of cerebral palsy are caused by genetic mutations and other unavoidable factors, but approximately 10% of cerebral palsy cases are the direct result of medical negligence.

If you believe an obstetrician, nurse, or other healthcare worker caused your child’s cerebral palsy through their own mistake, you could find financial relief in a personal injury lawsuit, including compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehab, physical therapy, home-care equipment, etc.
  • Lost wages from time missed at work for caregiving
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

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What Is Medical Malpractice?

While the majority of medical professionals are skilled at their jobs, mistakes during the birthing process are not uncommon. Even an otherwise reliable obstetrician is capable of having a temporary lapse in judgment which could lead to a birth injury. When this happens, the child and their family often must live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

When evaluating a potential medical malpractice case, we must first consider the concept of standard of care. This term refers to the generally accepted methods of treating certain conditions or conducting certain procedures. If the courts determine that an obstetrician failed to follow these methods and caused an injury as a result, there is a good chance the injury victim and their family could recover financial compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Essentially, if a doctor causes a birth injury by failing to act in a way another qualified doctor would have in the same situation, that doctor’s medical malpractice insurance carrier could be held liable for expenses related to the injury.

How Can Cerebral Palsy Be Caused By Malpractice?crying newborn baby

Cerebral palsy can be caused by genetic factors or by a brain injury either shortly before, during, or after the delivery of an infant. Most commonly, the condition is caused by insufficient oxygen to the baby’s brain during birth. However, symptoms usually are delayed and may not surface until the child has reached their toddler years.

These brain injuries can be caused through malpractice in a few different ways:

  • Failure to diagnose an infection in either the mother or the infant
  • Failure to order an emergency c-section (or conducting one too late) which could have prevented the injury
  • Improper use of vacuum extractors or forceps during delivery
  • Undiagnosed or inadequately treated jaundice
  • Failing to identify a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Failing to monitor the child’s heart rate before and during labor and childbirth

If a child is born with clear signs of oxygen deprivation, cerebral palsy and other oxygen-related complications can still be prevented as long as the proper measures are taken. For example, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help restore oxygen levels by immersing the baby in a chamber filled with oxygen. If a doctor fails to use this method and a disorder develops, the doctor could be held liable.

In many cases, it won’t be immediately apparent if malpractice is to blame for your child’s condition. It usually requires a thorough medical investigation in order to determine if cerebral palsy or another birth injury could have been prevented had the doctor exercised more reasonable care.

Types Of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term which covers three basic types of the disorder. These three different types are categorized based on which type of movement disorder the affected person has, including:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy involves stiffness and movement problems related to muscle tightness. Those with this condition struggle to move their body from one position to another and may have trouble grasping and letting go of objects. This is the most common form of cerebral palsy – accounting for roughly 80% of cases.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy is characterized by involuntary movements, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, difficulty maintaining posture, and low muscle tone. This type accounts for about 10% of cerebral palsy cases.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy symptoms include problems with depth perception, balance, tremors, and muscle movement. This type of CP also accounts for roughly 10% of cases.

How Can A Lawsuit Help Our Family?

Raising a child with cerebral palsy is costly – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each patient can expect lifetime expenses nearing $1 million. This figure includes costs for medical treatment as well as lost wages and potential medical complications. Needless to say, most families do not have the financial resources to handle these expenses on their own.

Fortunately, the civil court system is there to look out for the best interests of families affected by birth injuries. When a medical professional makes a mistake with lifetime implications, it’s important that these families recover financial compensation for expenses related to their child’s injury, disease, or disorder. A successful lawsuit can help provide you with the assistance you need to provide your child with the high-quality healthcare he or she deserves, so that he or she can live as comfortably as possible.

At Lipsig Law, we’re proud to assist families in this difficult situation. We understand the stress you’re dealing with, and that’s why we’re prepared to handle all aspects of your case while you focus on caring for your child. To find out more about your options, contact one of our experienced birth injury lawyers for a free consultation today.

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