Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits Explained
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that stems from trauma or injury to the developing brain. Each year, approximately 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, some cases of CP are caused by a doctor, nurse or hospital neglecting to provide the quality of care required to ensure a healthy birth.
It is estimated that about 10% of all cerebral palsy cases are due to medical malpractice.
One of the most efficient ways to determine if your child’s cerebral palsy could have been prevented is by getting in touch with a CP lawyer. These lawyers have the skills and experience needed to evaluate medical records and documents for any signs of neglect or malpractice.
If you suspect that your child’s condition could have been prevented by a more attentive medical staff, you may wish to consider exploring whether or not you have a valid case.
Benefits To Filing A Lawsuit
The lifetime cost of caring for a child with cerebral palsy totals over millions of dollars, in addition to normal living costs. If you believe that your child’s CP is the result of medical malpractice, it may be in your family’s best interest to pursue a case.
Another important benefit to filing a lawsuit is that it can provide peace of mind for parents of a child with CP. If it is determined that your child’s condition was not the result of medical malpractice, families will still come away with a more complete understanding of what could have contributed to their child’s CP.
In this section you will find out…
- How to determine if you have a case
- How to find a cerebral palsy lawyer
- How to file a case
- The process of settling a lawsuit
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
One of the first questions parents and caregivers have regarding a cerebral palsy lawsuit is what criteria is needed to file a valid case.
The most important aspect required for a CP lawsuit is evidence that suggests your child’s condition could have been prevented. In other words, after comparing your child’s birth to that of a normal delivery, there are symptoms or events that suggest something went wrong in the delivery room that led to your child’s CP.
When brain or nerve damage is the result of medical errors or negligence, this is referred to as a preventable birth injury. For parents hoping to determine if their child’s CP was caused by a preventable birth injury, there are many symptoms of a birth injury to look for.
Preventable birth injuries can be caused by:
- Improper use of delivery instruments, such as forceps or vacuum extractors
- Failure to detect infections during pregnancy
- Neglecting to monitor a mother or child’s heart rate during delivery
- Not performing a medically advisable cesarean section
- Failing to detect complications with the umbilical cord
- Failing to treat severe jaundice in the newborn
If any of the items listed above took place before, during or after your child’s birth, you may have grounds for a CP lawsuit.
How Do I Find A Lawyer?
Finding a cerebral palsy lawyer can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are various resources that parents can utilize to get connected with the legal team that is right for them.
Online research is often the first place that parents begin their search for a lawyer. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing provide the option to customize your search criteria and read reviews. Other ways to find a CP lawyer include support groups, The American Bar Association, social media, and recommendations from family and friends.
There are a few qualities you will want to look for in a cerebral palsy lawyer. By knowing what differentiates a competent and effective lawyer from the rest, parents will be able to proceed with the legal process with confidence.
How Do I File A Lawsuit?
Once you have found a CP lawyer, there are a few steps that take place during the lawsuit process. Fortunately for parents, your legal team will be responsible for most of the research, paperwork and filing of your case.
The 6 basic steps to filing and pursuing CP lawsuit include:
1. Case evaluation
A case evaluation is the first step to any CP lawsuit. This entails getting in touch with an experienced CP lawyer, who will investigate the details of your child’s condition and conclude whether you should pursue a case.
This step involves compiling all relevant medical documents, diagnostic imaging test results and birth records that will be used in court. Parents should try to keep track of any important documents related to their child’s condition. If there are any medical records you can’t get, your lawyer will be able to request these using the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization.
There is no risk to parents when requesting a case evaluation, as most CP law firms will offer this free of charge.
2. Written Discovery
Discovery is the process of each side finding out all of the informaiton the other side has about the case. At the beginning of the lawsuit, parties typically exchange formal requests – written discovery – on each other seeking to obtain information. This includes the use of Interrogatories, which are sets of written questions that each side asks the other side to answer concerning information that is relevant to the case.
A deposition is an individual’s sworn testimony. The purpose of a deposition is to discover any information the witness has that could be relevant to the case. In a birth injury case, much of the focus is centered around what knowledge the parties have of events that took place before, during and after birth.
In a deposition, parents will be questioned about the events surrounding the birth of their child and their child’s CP diagnosis.
4. Expert Discovery
In most states, expert reports are exchanged. Expert reports are detailed statements outlining the opinions which the expert has concerning certain issues in the case.
For example, in order to succeed in a cerebral palsy lawsuit, expert testimony will typically be necessary in order to establish that the medical care was negligent and that this contributed to the child’s outcome. In many states, after expert reports are exchanged, depositions of the experts on both sides will be taken.
5. Mediation (when mandated or voluntarily entered into)
Mediation can be an important step in a CP lawsuit. The purpose of mediation is to allow both parties to openly communicate about the case, rather than testifying or arguing in court.
During mediation, both parties have the opportunity to reach a mutual agreement about how much compensation should be awarded. If both sides are able to form an agreement, the lawsuit and damages will be settled outside of court. If both sides are unable to agree, the case will be brought to trial.
A cerebral palsy trial is when you present your case to a judge and jury. This step involves calling any medical experts or witnesses to the stand, who will offer their testimony as evidence. Your lawyer will present your case to the court, where it will be up for jury deliberation afterwards.
Should I Settle?
A cerebral palsy settlement is a negotiated amount of money that is agreed upon by the plaintiff and defendant. In a CP lawsuit, the plaintiff is usually the parents or caregivers of a child with CP. The defendant is usually a doctor, nurse, or hospital facility.
There are many benefits to settling in a CP lawsuit. These include:
- Reducing the length of a lawsuit
- Lowering legal proceeding costs, attorney fees, etc.
- Less emotionally draining on both parties
Getting Started With The Legal Process
Cerebral palsy is a condition that has the potential to impact a child throughout their entire life. Oftentimes, children require various types of therapy, surgery, assistive devices, home modification and more. Adults with CP are also likely to face many obstacles as they continue to manage their symptoms in adulthood.
If you have any reason to believe that your child’s condition is the result of medical malpractice, parents should begin the lawsuit process as soon as possible, as there may be legal deadlines which require action to be taken within certain time periods. By starting this process early, this will open up the opportunity for your family to receive valuable financial compensation that can be put towards alleviating the overwhelming cost of CP treatment.
The first step in getting started with the legal process is filing for a free case review with a law firm experienced in birth injuries, medical malpractice and CP.
To begin your free case review today, click here to get in touch with our team of CP lawyers. They will be able to help determine if you are eligible for financial compensation, and guide you through the legal process.