Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs a child’s muscle tone, coordination, movement or posture. It is caused by damage to parts of the brain that control muscle function.
CP is the leading cause of childhood disability in the United States. Each year, around 10,000 babies are diagnosed with the disorder, and approximately 800,000 people are living with the condition at any given time. Most of these are children.
The occurrence rate of cerebral palsy is approximately 2.4 out of every 1,000 births. Despite advances in childbirth practices and infant care, this rate has not changed substantially in almost 50 years.
Cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth, during delivery, or in the months afterward. While many cases are considered unavoidable, as many as 20% are related to medical mistakes or to newborn injuries caused by a third party.
If your child’s cerebral palsy is due to a brain injury caused by an avoidable medical mistake, they may be entitled to significant compensation from a lawsuit.
While there are many ways cerebral palsy may be caused before birth or during delivery, only a small amount of these cases can be linked to mistakes by doctors or hospital staff.
Lawyers will investigate your pre-natal and birth records, as well as your child’s medical records, to determine if the disability might be due to a naturally-occurring condition or medical negligence.
In past years, lawyers have helped families file lawsuits for a number of cerebral palsy causes, including:
In addition, some infants and children suffer brain injury from the actions of others, such as with car accidents, physical trauma or negligent childcare. These families may also be eligible to file a lawsuit.
If you suspect your child suffered brain damage from any of these factors, it is important to have a lawyer investigate your case further.
It can be challenging for families to recognize whether a child’s brain disorder was caused by a natural occurrence or by the mistakes of medical professionals. Even when everything goes as planned, the childbirth process is a hectic experience, and parents don’t know everything the medical team is doing.
In some cases, a complication or mistake during delivery is so clear that parents know the moment it happens. Some signs of birth complication that parents often notice include:
In many cases, the mistakes that occur during delivery are only noticed by medical staff, and even then, they may not be noted in the surgical report. Regardless, busy doctors may not spend the time to give parents an explanation of birth complications.
Lawyers with experience in cerebral palsy lawsuits can obtain the necessary medical reports and perform a detailed review to find out if a mistake was made by doctors or hospital staff during delivery, and whether this contributed to your child’s injury.
It costs nothing to speak with a lawyer, have your case investigated, or file a claim. Only in the event that you receive a settlement, trial verdict or other award would you owe a portion to your attorney.
In all 50 states, cerebral palsy lawsuits are handled on a contingency basis, meaning there are no attorney’s fees unless there is an award to the client. Most lawyer agreements also say clients are only responsible for legal costs (such as copies, travel, expert fees, filing fees, postage, etc.) if there is an award.
The amount of attorneys’ fees can vary from 33% to 40% of the amount received. This usually depends on how far the case advances and the amount of work to prepare it for trial.
Although these amounts can seem excessive to some, it is important to remember that your attorney will commit their own time and money to pursue your case, which can be very expensive. And, they get no compensation or repayment if it fails.
Parents should never be asked to pay a retainer fee or hourly attorney fee in order to file a claim.
Just like any other type of lawsuit, the value of each cerebral palsy lawsuit differs based on a number of factors. To determine your case’s value, you’ll need to have a lawyer review all the available evidence.
In general, however, based on the significant care required for those with cerebral palsy, lawsuits usually seek damages into the millions of dollars. Your lawyer will hire an economic specialist to prepare a life care plan to estimate your total costs, plus pain and suffering.
Although many lawsuits for cerebral palsy are settled for private amounts, there are several examples that are publicized.
For example, an Ohio jury in 2014 ordered a hospital to pay a family $14.5 million to help with their son’s cerebral palsy treatment after staff there postponed the delivery, only to later perform an emergency C-section.
In 2013, a court awarded $8.87 million to a family whose daughter suffered cerebral palsy brain damage, after the mother was pressured by nurses to go home and wait until the next day to give birth despite having irregular contractions.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important to find out what caused their injury, as well as whether they are entitled to compensation that will help with treatment.
In every state, there are restrictions on how long you have to file a lawsuit after you or a family member are injured. These laws are called Statutes of Limitation, and they can range from 2 to 6 years for adults in most states.
For claims involving minors, however, there’s usually more time to file a lawsuit before your rights expire. These cases may sometimes be filed up until they reach the age of 18 or 21. Regardless, it is important to know the time limits of your state.
If you believe your child was injured by a medical mistake and you are concerned about their legal rights expiring, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
Even if there is plenty of time to file a claim, it can become harder to recover the necessary medical records or get opinions of medical experts as the case gets older. Therefore, the earlier you begin the process, the better your chance of recovery.
DrugNews can connect you directly with a lawyer today at no cost who can discuss your legal options.
In a case decided in January 2017, a federal jury awarded the family of a young boy with severe cerebral palsy $14.5 million after concluding his doctor and hospital staff improperly administered a medication designed to speed up delivery.
Nicole Welker alleged she presented to Penn Highlands’ Clearfield Hospital in 2012 to give birth to her son, but was given an improper dose of the drug Pitocin, which is meant to speed up delivery. Instead, the medication caused the fetus oxygen deprivation between contractions.
Ms. Welker’s son was left with brain damage and resulting cerebral palsy so severe he can’t walk, talk or even sit up on his own.
This 2012 case was filed by the family of Jokob Medly, a young boy in Georgia with severe cerebral palsy that resulted in cognative delays and the inability to walk, talk or eat on his own.
The lawsuit alleged that, despite warnings that Jakob wasn’t getting sufficient oxygen during his delivery, hospital staff waited to perform an emergency C-section or install a breathing tube that could have prevented his disability.
A jury in 2014 decided the hospital was negligent and awarded the Medley family nearly $8.5 million to help with Jakob’s future care.
In this case filed in Ohio in 2011, a mother sought compensation from the hospital she alleged caused her son’s cerebral palsy that resulted in inhibited eyesight and mental function.
After going into labor in 2003, Stephanie Stewart visited MetroHealth Medical Center three times, but was given medication to delay the delivery and sent home each time. Even after her water broke, doctors delayed the delivery until they detected her infant was in distress, at which time they finally performed an emergency C-section.
After deliberating for 14 days, a jury awarded the family $14.5 million to cover damages such as medical treatment, lost quality of life, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important to learn whether their brain damage was avoidable and possibly due to medical mistake. A lawyer can discuss your legal options, investigate your case, and preserve your rights before they expire.
The costs of lifetime medical care and damages from loss of function stemming from cerebral palsy can reach well into the millions of dollars. It is unfair that any family should carry this burden without help if another party was responsible for their child’s injury.
In addition, the lawyer you choose may have a substantial effect on your case. Typically, lawsuits for birth injuries like cerebral palsy require gathering volumes of medical records, hiring and interviewing medical experts, technical research and litigation against powerful companies.
Therefore, It is important that you choose a Cerebral Palsy lawyer with trial experience in these types of cases.
The DrugNews Cerebral Palsy Center works only with lawyers that specialize in cerebral palsy lawsuits and have handled hundreds of cases.
Contact us today for more information on the treatments, research or litigation related to cerebral palsy, or to speak with a lawyer. We are available 24 hours a day to help.