Each year thousands of children suffer brain damage leading to cerebral palsy due to medical mistakes. Those affected may be eligible for substantial compensation from a lawsuit.
Cerebral palsy affects nearly 765,000 people in the United States, most of which are children. In fact, it is the leading cause of childhood disability in America. Each year, around 10,000 newborns are diagnosed. Unfortunately, many of these cases cold have been prevented.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to parts of the brain that control movement, balance and posture. This damage typically occurs during pregnancy, while a child is being delivered, or in the first several months of life.
Sadly, many of the incidents contributing to this damage could have been avoided. Experts estimate as many as 1 in 5 children with CP sustained a preventable brain injury. Many of these are related to mistakes by doctors, hospitals or medical staff, or by injury to newborns caused by a third party.
Just as with other personal injuries, those who are hurt through medical negligence are entitled to seek damages from those responsible. These cases typically are filed as birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuits in the location where the injury occurred.
However, due to the complexity and potential value of cerebral palsy lawsuits, it is important to consult a qualified legal professional.
Below is more information on these cases, who may qualify, and how to obtain help.
While there are many causes of cerebral palsy that may occur before or during birth, only a small percentage of these cases can be linked to mistakes by doctors or nurses.
Doctors, hospitals and medical professionals are bound by a standard of care. In the event they don’t fulfill this standard and injury occurs to a patient, they face liability. Although the laws differ in every state, each one allows for recovery due to medical malpractice.
Whether your child is eligible for a cerebral palsy lawsuit will depend on whether their disability is due to medical negligence, or a naturally-occurring condition that could not have been avoided.
In the past, lawyers have helped families recover damages for fetal and infant brain damage from a number of causes, including:
In addition, some children suffer brain injury from the fault of others during their first few months, such as with car accidents and negligence of caregivers. These families may also be entitled to seek compensation.
If you suspect your child suffered brain damage from one of these factors, it is important to speak with a lawyer.
Often, it is difficult for parents to know if their child’s disability was caused by a natural event or medical negligence. Even under normal circumstances, childbirth is a chaotic event where parents are not aware of everything a medical staff is doing.
In some cases, a birth complication is so apparent and obvious that parents know when it occurs. Some signs of distress they may notice include:
Other times, a birth complication may only be noticed by medical staff, who may or may not record it in a surgical report. Either way, doctors often don’t take the time to explain problems that happen during delivery to parents.
Lawyers that specialize in cerebral palsy lawsuits can gather and review medical reports to determine if a complication occurred during your child’s birth, and whether it was due to a mistake by a doctor, nurse or hospital staff.
While birth injury lawsuits usually involve gathering extensive medical records, securing evidence and hiring medical experts, these costs are not charged to parents unless they receive an award or settlement for their child.
Cerebral palsy lawsuits are handled in all 50 states on a contingency fee basis, meaning lawyers do not earn a fee unless they attain a recovery for their client. Also, most retainer agreements state that case costs are not due from the client unless there is a recovery.
In most cases, contingency attorneys fees range from 33% to 40% of the amount recovered, plus the costs to bring the case to trial. While these may seem high, it is important to remember that lawyers invest their own time and money to build a case, and only receive compensation if they are successful.
Under no circumstances should parents be asked to pay a retainer fee or hourly attorney fee in order to file a claim.
Since every birth injury is unique, and every disability is caused by a different set of circumstances, each cerebral palsy lawsuit has a different value. It is impossible to determine this without having a lawyer review all the available evidence and pursuing your case to its fullest potential.
However, in general, lawsuits for cerebral palsy, like other serious birth injuries, usually involve a substantial amount of damages. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control conducted a study that concluded families with a child suffering from cerebral palsy faced an estimated total of $921,000 in lifetime damages. This is likely much higher today.
Many birth injury lawsuits are settled confidentially before they result in a public verdict, therefore few case values are publicized. However, in 2012, a family in New York was awarded over $100 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit for their daughter’s cerebral palsy.
The lawsuit claimed medical staff at St. Vincent’s hospital failed to give proper care, as they sent a near full-term mother home with ibuprofen rather than recognizing her contractions or taking steps to prevent early labor.
In another case, a family was awarded $8.87 million for their daughter’s brain damage due to emergency birth, after a nurse coerced a pregnant mother to ignore her irregular contractions and wait until the next day to see a doctor.
This year, an Ohio court awarded a family $14.5 million for the care of their son who suffers from cerebral palsy, after staff at MetroHealth Medical Center repeatedly delayed his birth before performing an emergency C-section that resulted in a brain hemorrhage.
Lawyers urge any family affected by cerebral palsy to learn the reason for their child’s condition, as well as if they are entitled to compensation from a lawsuit.
In every state, lawsuits are governed by laws that restrict how long you have to file a claim after an injury. These are known as Statute of Limitation. Although they differ from state to state, they normally range from 2-6 years for adults.
In the case of injuries occurring to children, the statute of limitations is usually longer, or does not take effect until they reach a certain age. Therefore, children who suffer brain damage during birth resulting in cerebral palsy may have longer to file a lawsuit before their rights expire.
If you have questions about your legal rights for a cerebral palsy lawsuit, it is important to speak with a lawyer as early as possible. This will give them more time to prepare a case and gather valuable evidence that may become harder to find as time passes.
A lawyer can discuss your child’s case at no cost to let you know whether it qualifies for a lawsuit and how long you have to begin a claim.
Despite widespread television advertisements for medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits, there are only a select few lawyers that have experience fighting these cases in the courtroom.
Typically, medical malpractice lawsuits for cerebral palsy involve extensive medical records, gathering expert opinions, trial preparation and litigation against powerful companies.
Choosing the right lawyer can have a direct and profound effect on the amount you are able to recover for your child’s care.
The CP Help Center only recommends lawyers that specialize in cerebral palsy lawsuits and have handled hundreds of cases.
Contact us today for more information on the legal news or litigation related to cerebral palsy, or to speak with a lawyer. We are available 24 hours a day to help.