How to Find a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Cerebral palsy, a lifelong condition caused by damage to the developing brain, can result in problems with bodily movement, memory, attention, and more. Many factors—including, lack of oxygen to the fetus, and trauma sustained before, during, or shortly after birth—can cause the condition. However, in some cases medical malpractice is to blame.
Unfortunately, you may be hard-pressed to find a hospital administrator or doctor willing to admit to a medical error—particularly one that can impact patients and their families significantly for their entire lives. An experienced cerebral palsy lawyer can sort out the circumstances that resulted in the cerebral palsy and fight on behalf of victims of medical malpractice to get the compensation they’ll need for lifelong medical treatment and specialized care.
Understanding CP Risk
Cerebral palsy is among the more common childhood motor disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide population studies indicate that up to four of every 1,000 babies born globally have CP. In the United States alone, about one in every 345 have the condition, according to estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
Cerebral palsy is not always recognizable at birth. While some babies do display symptoms of CP at birth, most develop symptoms over time. Some risk factors for CP include:
- Disrupted oxygen flow to the baby
- Brain injury
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Infertility treatment
- Infections during pregnancy
- Untreated jaundice at birth
- Certain medical conditions in the mother
- Infections like meningitis or encephalitis in infancy
The risk doesn’t stop with CP. Some common comorbidities include intellectual impairment, epilepsy, osteoarthritis, visual and hearing impairments, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. While some people with CP can walk without limitation, many others can’t walk on their own, or can walk but not run or jump. Some even need support to sit up and keep their heads up. Others experience incontinence. And many also experience a painful condition called contracture, in which the muscles in the body become locked in unnatural positions.
Because of the severity of some symptoms, the complications don’t just affect the individuals with CP but their families as well. These can include the child’s lifetime of treatment and therapies, the parents’ loss of wages, and mental health issues related to lost wages and caregiving duties.
How Do I Know If a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Can Help?
Some causes of CP may be linked to actions or inactions by medical staff at the hospital, such as:
- Missing a signs of a distressed fetus
- Delaying a C-section
- Using inadequate resuscitation techniques
- Misusing drugs meant to induce labor
- Misuse of forceps or a vacuum
- Failing to swiftly treat infections or other conditions that increase the risk of CP
- Failing to closely monitor the mother and baby during birth
It may be difficult for new parents to tell if anything happened during or after a delivery that might have caused CP in their child. Between the pain of labor and the flurry of activity, much of the experience may be a blur. But there is always a paper trail created by hospital staff. If you have questions about your treatment by medical staff before, during, or after labor, an attorney can help you find answers—and compensation.
Some common indications that medical malpractice may have occurred include:
- Low oxygen levels
- Abnormal heart rate in the baby
- Low Apgar scores
- Head imaging shortly after birth
- Head or whole-body cooling of newborn
- Long hospital stay within the first month of life
What Relief Can a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Get Me?
Legal representation from an attorney with experience helping individuals with CP and their families can mean all the difference in your child’s quality of life. That’s because individuals with CP often need:
- Expensive specialized care
- Assistive devices
- Physical therapy
- Lifelong care
Since CP can result from birth injuries, families usually bear the financial burden for the entire life of the child. Additionally, there’s an emotional toll, both on the person with CP and their family members. For individuals with CP, the inability to care for themselves can result in mental health conditions such as depression. Caregivers, too, can experience mental health issues; after all, caring for someone day in and day out can be exceptionally taxing.
You may be entitled to compensation for medical and ongoing costs of care related to CP, as well as pain and suffering, from the responsible hospital and individual doctors. Both the medical facility and individual healthcare providers tend to carry their own insurance policies. While hospitals are responsible for their employees’ actions, doctors are not always directly employed by a medical facility. So, depending on the particulars of your case, you may be able to bring a case against one or both.
A CP lawyer can help you seek compensatory and possibly punitive damages, as well. The former is compensation for losses from the injury, to both the person with CP and their parents or guardians. Punitive damages can be awarded if the CP resulted from reckless behavior beyond traditional negligence, such as the actions of an intoxicated member of the birth team.
Finding the Right CP Lawyer
Once you’ve made the decision to seek legal representation for preventable CP, the next question becomes how to find a CP medical malpractice lawyer. To prove that a doctor is liable for birth injuries resulting in CP, you’ll need an attorney who can prove:
- That a doctor/patient relationship existed. Although you may have signed some paperwork at the hospital prior to delivery that clearly establishes a doctor-patient relationship, this agreement is automatically created by a doctor’s treatment of you.
- Negligence on the part of your healthcare providers. Proof can include what someone did or what they didn’t do in comparison to established standards of care.
- That negligence resulted in birth injury. For example, a doctor who knew a baby was experiencing asphyxia but didn’t move to quickly perform a C-section could be found at fault.
A law firm that has handled cases involving CP is your best bet. Because of the expense associated with living with and caring for someone with CP, it’s also a good idea to find an attorney who doesn’t require payment unless the case is won.
CPFN partners with the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC, who have a long history of helping individuals with CP and their families. In addition to collecting legal fees only for successful cases, JJS brings over 40 years of experience and more than $3 billion won in damages for their clients. Plus, one of JJS’s attorneys is also a board-certified OBGYN who delivered over 2,000 babies during his medical career.
Because the care of an individual with CP may be astronomical for many families, choosing the right attorney is perhaps the most important call you can make. Contact JJS to get started today.