Cerebral palsy claims can be made when it is established that the cause of cerebral palsy is a clear act of negligence.
As an expectant parent, you wish that the period of pregnancy to childbirth goes on smoothly and ends in the successful delivery of a healthy child. While thankfully this is the case in most cases, there are cases where the child is born with one congenital condition or the other which may have been caused by negligent actions or inactions of the midwives, doctors or some other specialist in the management of the expectant mother either before birth or during labour.
In the case of cerebral palsy, the child born suffers from impaired muscle coordination, mobility and posture problems as well as learning impairment. Individuals born with this condition most need lifelong care. Statistics show that about 70% of children with cerebral palsy develop the condition in-utero while about 20% of children develop cerebral palsy as a result of a birth injury.
Definition of Cerebral Palsy – What is the condition?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by severe deprivation of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), body (asphyxia) or a significant trauma to the head of the baby during labour of delivery. The leading cause however is the deficient oxygen to the baby’s brain.
Cerebral palsy condition affects body movement as well as other important body functions such as balance, posture, muscle coordination, etc.
When there is a long, difficult and unprogressive labour and oxygen is deprived of the baby during delivery, the brain can be damaged as the baby is in distress. Additionally, an infection to the baby during pregnancy can also cause brain damage which could lead to a cerebral palsy condition. Also, severe trauma to the baby’s head from wrong use of tools during forceps or ventouse assisted birth delivery can cause cerebral palsy.
In the UK, it is estimated that over 30,000 young people are living with the condition. In its research, Pace Charity UK found out that about 400 children in the UK are delivered with cerebral palsy every year.
What Are The Causes Of Cerebral Palsy?
The following are conditions that can cause cerebral palsy either during pregnancy or during birth;
- Medical negligence of any of the medical staff
- Long and unprogressive labour
- Brain injury either due to trauma or hypoxia
- Infection during pregnancy
- Rupture of the uterus
- Suffocation of the baby
- Multiple Births
- Fertility Treatments
- Issues with the placenta
- Inflammation Of The Fetal Wall
- Premature Birth.
It is very important that medical personnel ensure that expectant mothers are given the proper care they need during pregnancy, during delivery and also during the postnatal period to ensure that the baby is safely delivered without the condition and doesn’t develop the condition soon after birth.
There are several negligent actions of the medical team which could cause the child to develop the cerebral palsy condition at birth. These could be mistakes from the doctors, midwives, nurses, anesthesiologist, pediatrician or obstetrician which could cause irreversible damage to the baby.
- Failing to detect and treat Mother To Child Infections.
- Negligent treatment in Prenatal And Postnatal Medical Care.
- Failing to schedule and perform a C-section as at when due.
- Failing to treat the baby of jaundice
- Misdiagnosis Of Preterm Labor
- Failing to diagnose and effectively manage Umbilical Cord Or Placental Problems
- Failing to regularly monitor the wellbeing of the baby
- Misdiagnosis of a Fetal Macrosomia (baby with excessive weight)
- Failing to manage a prolonged Or Overdue Pregnancy.
- Mismanagement of a long and unprogressive labour
- Negligent use of tools such as forceps or ventouse during delivery
- Negligent resuscitation of a newborn
- Negligence In Operating A Baby In Distress.
- Negligent handling of premature births of baby with low birth weight
Different Types Of Cerebral Palsy
There are different types of cerebral palsy and of these can be caused by medical negligence.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
The Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy affecting an estimated 70% of people who suffer from the condition.
Those who suffer from spastic CP walk awkwardly, have uncontrollable movements and stiff limbs, this is because the part of the brain that is damaged in this case is responsible for conscious movement. Therefore, the person will suffer frequent and painful involuntary muscle movements, stiff and tight muscles making movement difficult.
Spasticity affecting one or both arms could cause flexion at the elbow, wrist of fingers. This means that the elbow and wrist are bent while the fingers are fisted. The person is therefore unable to write, handle objects or even get dressed.
When spasticity affects the limbs, there is adduction of the ties, flexion at the hip and knees, equinovarus foot posture (causing limited upward bending motion of the ankle joint) which does not only affect the person’s ability to walk but also to move or adjust in bed, sit upright or even move from one place to another.
The individual also suffers slurred speech, imprecise and slow oral movements and their ability to communicate. This is because spasticity can also affect smaller muscle groups such as the vocal folds, facial muscles and tongue.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
The Ataxic CP is the least common form of cerebral palsy and arises from damage to the cerebellum. It affects about 5-10% of those who suffer from the condition. The word “ataxia” means lack of order and coordination. The individual suffers from coordination and balance problems such as shaky and clumsy movements as a result of weak limbs, occasional tremors and issues as well as issues with communication such as slow speech.
Sufferers may be speaking in a monotone which means that they talk by a combination of accelerations and pauses while talking (also known as scanning speech).
They may also suffer from difficulty swallowing fluids and foods, delayed gastric and intestinal responsiveness which may cause problems like gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux.
Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
The Dystonic CP causes abnormal posturing and involuntary movements. This is because the brain injury affects the basal ganglia of the brain. The Dystonic CP affects several parts of the body including the muscles which could cause the person to suffer intermittent muscle contractions leading to twisting and repetitive movements. Sometimes walking can be very difficult.
Dyskinetic Or Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
This is the 2nd least common type of cerebral palsy affecting about 10% of people with the condition. In this case, the cerebellum is damaged which affects balance and coordination. The sufferers can have either floppy (hypotonia) or rigid (hypertonia) muscles. Additionally, eye movement and voluntary motor function is affected. In infants, they have difficulty in feeding. Also, the person can suffer other disorders like epilepsy and autism.
Mixed or Multiple Cerebral Palsy
In this case, the sufferer show symptoms of two or more cerebral palsy types such as a combination of spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy. This is because the damage is to more than one area of the brain. Sometimes, it may affect all four limbs, one side of the body or only one limb.
When a child suffers from cerebral palsy, it is usually described based on the part of the body affected by the condition. These are;
- Hemiplegia– cerebral palsy affecting one half of the body
- Diplegia– cerebral palsy affecting two limbs
- Monoplegia– cerebral palsy affecting one limb
- Quadriplegia– cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and most often the whole body.
Can Cerebral Palsy Claims be Filed in a Case of Malpractice?
If the cerebral palsy condition suffered by your child was caused as a result of medical negligence, you could have strong grounds to take legal actions against the medical staff or hospital and make cerebral palsy claims.
To make a cerebral palsy compensation claim, you need to be able to demonstrate or establish certain key areas.
- Show the existence of Patient/Doctor Relationship which shows that your doctor (or the medical team) owed you a duty of care
- Establish that the duty of care was breached as a result of negligence
- Your child suffered the cerebral palsy condition solely as a result of the negligence
- You and your child have consequently incurred damages- physically, socially, emotionally, financially, psychologically and otherwise.
This is where you need expert cerebral palsy solicitors to help you do this and to help ensure that the claims process which can be long and complex is made much easier for you so as not to be an additional burden to what you and the family is already suffering.
During our free consultation session with you, once we are convinced that you do have a case, we will help you understand how the entire claims process works, give you the necessary legal advice and also help you to gather documents you need to make your claims.
These will include;
- An official medical report and diagnosis of your child’s condition. In most cases, a cerebral palsy condition is diagnosed in children over 1 year.
- Test and scan results
- Your detailed statements
- Proof of financial losses and expenses incurred
- Report from a medical expert which could be a neurological specialist after due medical examination on your child to determine the severity of your child’s condition and cause.
Other documents may be needed depending on the nature of your case.
Due to the nature of the condition and the severity, claims such as these can be complex and take a few years to settle. As long as the defendant accepts liability and is able to present a reasonable compensation value, your claim will not even go to a trial. Actually, an overwhelming majority of medical negligence claims are settled out of court. However, where both parties are unable to reach an agreement in key areas, the claim will be presided over by a judge.
What Kind of Compensation is Given for Cerebral Palsy?
Due to the nature of the condition, compensation for cerebral palsy claims are usually very high since the child will require lifelong care. Additionally, the cost of rehabilitation, medical equipment and other necessities are usually very expensive.
Most cerebral palsy compensation claims command settlement payouts of over £1 million. This also depends on other factors which include;
- Type and Severity of the condition
- Compensation For Pain And Suffering.
- Cost of further Treatments, therapies, etc.
- Cost Of special medical equipment
- Future prognosis
- Costs of special education
- Cost Of Hiring caregivers
- Lost earnings and estimated future losses
- Cost of accommodation adaptation/adjustment to suit the needs of your child
Why Choose Us To Handle Your Cerebral Palsy Claims
Our cerebral palsy solicitors are licensed and have many years of experience in cerebral palsy claims having helped several clients get deserving compensation amounts for the unnecessary pain and suffering they were caused.
You can trust us and count on us to give you the best possible legal representation as we fight to get you the justice you deserve.
Due to how long cases like this usually take, we can help secure for you interim payments so that you are not financially distressed before the end of the case. The interim payments will help you access the needed medical care for your child as the claim progresses.
Additionally, we undertake these claims on a no win no fee basis which means that you do not have to pay us to handle your claims. You also will not incur any debt whatsoever even if the case is unsuccessful.
We encourage you to reach out to us either by calling our helplines or by filling out our online free claims’ assessment form. Although the three-year limitation rule which applies to medical negligence claims may not apply in this case depending on the nature of the claim and since it involves a child, we advise that you begin your claims early enough as this gives a greater chance of winning.
Are you born with cerebral palsy? or your child have suffered the condition as a result of
medical negligence, then reach out to us and let us start the process of getting you the justice you deserve. While it is true this will not reverse anything, it will certainly make the condition more bearable and give you something to fall back on after a traumatic experience.