ERNST & YOUNG
Of the numerous motor disabilities experienced during childhood, cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common. Sufferers of this condition sometimes need lifelong care, and since most CP-causing injuries occur before or during birth, families can be left to deal with the repercussions for decades to come. These long-term health issues also leave many asking if cerebral palsy gets worse with age. This is a complex issue that warrants a deeper understanding.
Identifying Cerebral Palsy
The simple answer to 'does cerebral palsy get worse with age' is "no." CP is non-degenerative, so this means that the condition does not worsen over time. Of course, this simple answer overlooks countless concerns and issues that families will experience as years pass. One need only look at the identifying traits of the disorder based on age.
Babies <6 Months Old
- Baby feels stiff or floppy.
- Legs cross or become stiff when picked up.
- Lagging head when picked up.
Babies >6 Months Old
- Inability to roll over.
- Only reaches out with one hand while other remains fisted.
- Difficulty touching hands to mouth.
- Inability to bring hands together.
Babies >10 Months Old
- Hopping around on knees or scooting on buttocks rather than crawling.
- One side of body drags when crawling, resulting in lopsided movement.
These symptoms show that, although cerebral palsy doesn't worsen over time, the telltale signs can become more obvious and encumbering as time passes. Since symptoms present differently over the long-term, it may seem as if the condition is worsening even though their injury hasn't progressed further.
Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland
When negligence results in cerebral palsy, it typically falls under medical malpractice. Because of this, a statute of limitations applies. Failure to abide by this timeline can result in the inability to seek compensation even if blatant negligence took place. Fortunately, Maryland medical malpractice laws are among some of the most victim-centered in the country in regards to statutes of limitations.
In most instances of Maryland medical malpractice, the victim or their family has five years from the injury to seek compensation. As showcased by the different symptoms that can present over time, though, there's no guarantee that the injury will be immediately discovered. Depending upon severity, cerebral palsy may not be diagnosed until years after the fact.
Fortunately, medical malpractice laws in the state also allow lawsuits to be filed within three years of an injury's discovery. This means that, even if parents don't immediately recognize their child has motor skill issues, they still have enough time to seek appropriate justice.
Cerebral Palsy Statute of Limitations
As discussed in the previous section, the statute of limitations ranges from three to five years - dependent upon discovery of the injury - in Maryland medical malpractice cases. Since lawmakers recognize the special circumstances involved in CP cases, however, there are additional protections for sufferers of cerebral palsy.
There are instances when symptoms of cerebral palsy aren't identified within the first three years of a child's life. Because of this, Maryland law dictates that the statute of limitations doesn't begin until the child reaches 11 years of age. Newly-presenting symptoms sometimes create situations where victims can file a lawsuit years after the fact.
There is no "typical" case of cerebral palsy, and every families' experience with the condition will be different. While one victim may maintain a steady level of functioning for years, others may experience new symptoms that require more money for appropriate care. This is why everyone should understand their rights when it comes to CP medical malpractice cases.
Filing a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
The average lifetime cost of cerebral palsy in America is estimated to be over $920,000. This accounts for over half the income a person will earn in their lives with an advanced degree, so it's apparent that suffering from the condition can be financially devastating. This leaves many individuals with the sole recourse of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit against the negligent parties that caused a birth injury.
Unfortunately, filing a lawsuit can be nearly impossible without the help of a legal professional. Medical facilities typically have high-powered attorneys on retainer to help avoid large settlements, and inexperience in the field can leave victims at a disadvantage when facing expert legislators.
This situation often results in victims' families negotiating settlements with malpractice insurers directly. Unfortunately, these professionals are typically focused on saving money rather than appropriate compensation. This is why no one should agree to a settlement or sign any papers prior to speaking with an attorney.
Amount of Damages in Maryland Cerebral Palsy Cases
When medical negligence results in a birth injury, there's no specific amount that victims will receive in every instance. This is because all cerebral palsy cases are different. Whereas one child may only need assistance walking, another may be unable to walk and require lifelong care. Unfortunately, the severity of the condition typically correlates with life expectancy.
One financial figure to look at is the damage cap in Maryland. This is the amount of money a court can award to a victim regardless of specific facts of the case. This number is currently $815,000 in Maryland, but it goes up by $15,000 each year. Additionally, these damages relate directly to non-economic loss. Victims who face a lifetime of financial difficulty could see substantially larger awards.
Ensuring Accountability for Negligent Birth Injuries
Parents of cerebral palsy sufferers just want their child to have a good life. Unfortunately, proper medical care could bankrupt a family. This is why seeking legal help is so essential. In addition to court awards that can help cover these costs, holding the responsible parties accountable could prevent harm from befalling another family. If a loved one has developed this condition, contact the cerebral palsy attorneys at Weltchek, Mallahan & Weltchek today for a free consultation.