ERNST & YOUNG
If your baby has cerebral palsy, it was likely caused by one or more mistakes made by a medical practitioner during or right after the birth. And considering the amount of money and time you will probably spend getting medical treatment for your child throughout his or her lifetime, it may make sense to pursue compensation through a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Here's what you should know before you seek legal help for your case.
Understand What Causes Cerebral Palsy
Before you start your case, you should make sure you know just what kind of role medical practitioners play in causing cerebral palsy. This disorder is due to a brain injury that occurs during delivery or right after the birth, typically because either the baby didn't have access to oxygen or the brain was compressed during delivery. As a result of this disorder, signals that are sent from the brain to the nervous system are disrupted, which can cause some or most of the muscles not to work properly.
In some cases, the labor simply took too long, leading to the brain being compressed in the birth canal for more time than it should have been. In other cases, the umbilical cord was compressed, cutting off oxygen. Either way, part of the brain is damaged, which can cause some of the muscles in the body to not work properly.
What You'll Need to Prove for Your Claim
If you're considering filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit against the doctor or hospital responsible for the birth injury, you need to know what you'll be expected to prove. First, you need to prove you had a doctor/patient relationship with the medical practitioner you're naming in the suit. This means you had an agreement between yourself and the doctor that he or she would provide care during your pregnancy and/or delivery.
Next, you'll need to prove the doctor was negligent during the delivery of the baby. Below are some of the most common types of negligence that might lead to cerebral palsy:
- A delay in the baby's delivery, cutting off oxygen to the baby
- Failure to diagnose and treat infections and other medical problems before delivery
- Failure to use forceps, vacuum or other medical tools to quickly deliver the baby when there are delays
- Failure to notice problems with the umbilical cord, such as cord prolapse
- Failure to notice fetal or maternal distress during labor and delivery
- Failure to perform an emergency C-section when necessary
These are just some of the possible mistakes made by your medical practitioner during the delivery of the baby. If you have proof that these or similar errors occurred, you need to let your lawyer know. Finally, you'll also need to show that these mistakes caused the cerebral palsy in your child. Your lawyer will assist you in showing proof of injury for your case.
What Does Compensation Cover?
As you have likely already discovered, the medical treatment required for cerebral palsy can be expensive, and there's no end to it since the condition is lifelong. This is why so many parents pursue compensation through cerebral palsy claims.
When you make a claim, you may be able to get compensation for the following expenses:
- Regular medical care, such as doctor visits and prescription medication
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Special accommodations in the home
- Assistive tools and equipment, including wheelchairs
- Missed wages due to the parents missing work for medical appointments
You may be able to get compensation to pay for these expenses, with the amount being anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the facts of your case. But you can also pursue compensation for more than medical costs. For example, you can request money for pain and suffering, stress from the injury, loss of enjoyment and more. Your lawyer will help guide you when it comes to what kind of compensation you may be entitled to.
Who Can File a Cerebral Palsy Claim?
In most cases, it's the affected infant's parents who file a claim of this kind against medical professionals. However, legal guardians can also file this type of lawsuit. Either way, it's encouraged that the person caring for the baby seek compensation for this type of birth injury, since the costs of raising a child with cerebral palsy can add up fast over time.
Keep in mind that most states have a statute of limitations for birth injuries, which means adults cannot file a case regarding their own birth injury. In Maryland, the statute of limitations is five years from the date of the birth injury, or three years from the discovery of a medical issue--whichever comes first. This means parents or legal guardians must initiate a case while the child is still quite young.
That's why you should look into legal assistance as soon as you realize your baby has cerebral palsy. After all, in most cases, it was caused by a mistake during labor or delivery, which means you may be able to get compensation that will help manage your child's medical needs during his or her life. At Weltchek, Mallahan and Weltchek, your birth injury case will be in good hands, since we have experience handling cerebral palsy claims against medical practitioners. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with our team.