When you have a child with cerebral palsy, you may be so busy managing your child’s day-to-day arrangements and specialist appointments that you don’t have time to watch the steadily increasing tally of care costs. As a parent, it’s understandable that your first priority is your child’s well-being, but you also deserve help with covering the financial burden of cerebral palsy. If your child’s condition was caused by a preventable birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation for damages due to medical mistakes.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
Cerebral palsy is a set of conditions that result in paralysis (palsy) due to a brain (cerebral) lesion. Cerebral palsy affects a child’s ability to control body movement, including balance, posture, coordination and muscle control. Cerebral palsy conditions vary widely in severity and symptoms.
Cerebral palsy may be caused by damage to the brain. Some of the most common factors leading to cerebral palsy include:
- Injuries during birth
- Lack of oxygen to the brain
- Lack of blood to the brain
- Infections during pregnancy
- Untreated jaundice and kernicterus, a condition caused by severe jaundice
- Birth complications like shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal during delivery
Cerebral Palsy Injuries Due to Medical Mistakes
Although cerebral palsy can occur naturally, it is often the result of a medical professional’s negligence during the birthing process. These medical mistakes may happen at the hospital before, during or after the birth of the child.
One possible medical mistake is failure to diagnose or treat a mother’s health condition or infection that routine testing should have caught during pregnancy. Conditions like diabetes or preeclampsia can lead to complications during birth that may result in cerebral palsy.
Another issue before birth may be delaying or failing to perform a necessary C-section. This may be due to misdiagnosing the fetal position in the uterus or ignoring warning signs of maternal or fetal distress.
There is a lot going on in the labor and delivery room, which is why the medical staff has the responsibility to manage labor and delivery appropriately. Missing, ignoring or misinterpreting warning signs from a fetal heart monitor can be medical negligence that can lead to birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy.
If there are birth complications, it may be necessary to use forceps or vacuum extractor equipment to assist with delivery. If these tools are used improperly, they can injure the baby severely and cause cerebral palsy.
A slow or inadequate response to resuscitate a newborn who needs help breathing may result in severe oxygen deprivation, which can also cause cerebral palsy.
Following birth, a baby is still vulnerable to injuries and infections that can lead to serious health conditions. Failing to diagnose or treat an infection or condition like jaundice in a baby is another medical mistake that can lead to lifelong consequences such as cerebral palsy.
Damages in Cerebral Palsy Settlements
If a medical professional’s actions or inaction led to your child’s injury, you may have legal options to recover the compensation you deserve. Monetary damages fall into many categories, including:
- Medical and other care costs. This includes the past, current and future costs of your child’s medical care. Visits to physicians, specialists and therapists as well as the costs of medical procedures make up a portion of this amount. This category may also include (a) in-home care providers to assist with your child’s day-to-day needs, both now and for the rest of your child’s life, (b) equipment to increase accessibility and mobility for your child, and (c) prescriptions and other necessities for your child’s care.
- Loss of earning capacity. Your child is entitled to compensation to cover the loss of potential income due to cerebral palsy. Your child’s capacity to earn money has been diminished due to medical errors, so they should be able to recover the amount of lifetime income that they now cannot earn.
- Pain and suffering. Your child may be entitled to compensation to provide some restitution for the difficulties they have had to endure due to cerebral palsy. In addition, you may be able to recover compensation because seeing your child in pain, both physically and emotionally, is devastating for any parent.
- Diminished quality of life. Though there are procedures and equipment to make life with cerebral palsy more endurable, it is still a lifelong condition. Your child deserves to receive recovery for the continuous impact of cerebral palsy due to the medical mistakes of others.
As with any lawsuit, documentation of damages can help ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for the injury. A good cerebral palsy lawyer should be able to gather all the appropriate documents on your behalf. Examples of useful items for establishing damages may include, but are not limited to:
- Records showing medical expenses
- Medical records of the mother and child
- Costs for specialized equipment
- Records of accommodations made to home or vehicle for your child (installation of ramps or lifts, for example)
- Projections of costs for the future care of your child
What Factors Can Affect Cerebral Palsy Settlements?
Cerebral palsy settlements can differ from case to case. Only a small percentage of cases end with a trial, and most of the cases settle. However, if the healthcare providers’ lawyers are not willing to offer what the case is worth, it may be to your advantage to go to trial. The following factors will play a role in determining the amount of money you should seek in settling your case.
Degree of Care Required
There are several types of cerebral palsy with different symptoms and levels of severity. Your cerebral palsy settlement will mostly depend on the level of your child’s disability and impairment. The more extensive care your child requires, the more compensation you should seek in settlement.
Every state has different laws when it comes to cerebral palsy settlements. Finding a cerebral palsy lawyer with knowledge of your state’s legal procedures is important for ensuring that you get the right information.
Timing of Lawsuit
The amount of time that passes between your child’s injury and when you file a lawsuit can impact the likelihood of a settlement. This is due to the statute of limitations for cerebral palsy claims. If you suspect that your child’s injury was caused by malpractice, it is important to seek legal assistance as early as possible.
Janet, Janet & Suggs: Fighting for the Cerebral Palsy Settlement You Deserve
Our cerebral palsy lawyers have decades of experience handling a variety of cases involving all types of cerebral palsy. Major settlements from our cases have provided compensation that will take care of our clients and their children for the rest of their lives. Past settlements include:
- $15 million settlement for a child who suffered cerebral palsy because the obstetrician failed to arrive at the hospital to deliver the child in a timely manner
- $13 million settlement in a case against a U.S. government-employed healthcare provider whose poor postoperative care resulted in brain damage and cerebral palsy
JJS is not afraid to say no to a settlement that is less than our clients deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights and legal options. We do not charge any upfront costs. You pay us nothing until we win.