The Role of a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Caring for a child with cerebral palsy is a costly undertaking.
For parents who believe their child’s condition is the result of a medical error, filing a lawsuit can help alleviate some of the expenses associated with CP treatment.
Upon finding out that your child has CP, the last thing parents should have to worry about is finding a lawyer who can handle your case.
An experienced cerebral palsy lawyer will work to help families receive financial compensation that can pay for:
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Surgery and other medical treatments
- Assistive devices
- Other health care and medical bills
This is why it’s so important to hire a lawyer you can trust – they will be responsible for presenting your child’s case to the court.
A lawyer will be able to evaluate the details surrounding a mother’s pregnancy and labor. They will use ultrasound images, OB/GYN records and other medical documents to determine if your child’s CP could have been caused by a birth injury. This preliminary step is called a free case evaluation.
The following steps in the legal process include building your case and presenting it to the court. Your lawyer will guide you through the legal process and ensure that you are prepared every step of the way.
CP lawsuits can be complex cases to pursue. By hiring a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in birth injury lawsuits, you will be able to move forward with your case feeling confident and informed.
When To Hire A Lawyer
One of the most important aspects of pursuing a cerebral palsy lawsuit is timing. This is because all cerebral palsy lawsuits carry a statute of limitations. This is a designated period of time in which someone, such as a parent or caregiver, can pursue legal action for a brain injury that led to their child’s CP. Once this time has expired, you may not be able to file a case.
The time you have to pursue your case varies from state to state. In order to ensure that you are within the statute of limitations for your state, you should seek out a lawyer who can provide you with the statute of limitations for a CP lawsuit in your location.
In most cases, a cerebral palsy diagnosis is made before a child reaches the age of 2. The sooner you can determine the causes of cerebral palsy in your child’s case, the better. Contacting a cerebral palsy attorney before your child enters toddlerhood will help ensure your right to file a lawsuit.
A failure to schedule a cesarean section (C-section) when the baby is too large for a safe delivery is just one example of a preventable birth injury that may stem from medical negligence.
Medical professionals may also be to blame if they use forceps without care, fail to treat serious cases of jaundice, improperly monitor fetal heart rates or fail to catch other risk factors during a child’s birth. All these conditions can cause brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy.
There are many other symptoms of cerebral palsy that parents can look for as they consider legal help.
Cerebral palsy symptoms may include:
- Failure to reach developmental milestones
- Poor control over motor skills
- Extremely stiff or floppy muscle tone
- Speech problems
- Paralysis of one or more limbs
- Other mental and physical impairments
By noting these signs and pursuing a case as soon as possible, you will stand the highest chance of getting important medical records and documents needed to build your case.
What to Look For In A Lawyer
Finding a cerebral palsy lawyer is the first and most important step of filing a lawsuit. It’s important for parents to talk with several law firms and lawyers before deciding who they want representing them in court.
There are 5 main qualities you will want to look for in a cerebral palsy lawyer:
While medical malpractice cases are often difficult and challenging, a cerebral palsy lawsuit is one of the most complicated types of medical malpractice cases which can be brought. The insurance carriers defending these cases on behalf of medical care providers hire the most skilled lawyers they can find to defend these cases, and employ experts to vigorously dispute the case — sometimes relying on junk science.
Few lawyers have developed the expertise to handle cerebral palsy lawsuits. When interviewing a lawyer, ask if they have achieved any certifications of competence within their field, or any peer review recognition.
Experienced attorneys know how to find and collect evidence and have access to nationally renowned medical experts on subjects like the obstetrical standard of care, maternal fetal medicine, how lack of oxygen affects fetuses, fetal distress interpretation, neonatal medicine, brain injuries and neuroradiology.
When interviewing a lawyer, it is important to ask them to detail for you how much experience they have in handling cerebral palsy and other birth injury cases.
3. A Successful Track Record
In addition to experience, it is important to find out if your lawyer’s background is filled with successful cases. Lawyers with a track record of securing recoveries in cerebral palsy cases are more likely to win their current client’s case than those without experience, although results vary depending on the facts of each individual case.
When interviewing a lawyer, ask them about their track record in handling successful cases.
4. A Contingency Fee Arrangement
Most birth injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that parents don’t have to pay any legal fees until their cerebral palsy claim is settled out of court or they receive a favorable verdict. Lawyers who work on a contingency basis have an obvious financial motivation to win their client’s case.
Parents should rest assured knowing that most cerebral palsy lawsuits require no upfront costs or fees – even if you lose your case.
If your lawyer is requiring any upfront costs, this could be a sign that they are not fully confident in their ability to take on your case. By pursuing other options, parents will make sure they stay in control of their current finances, and any future legal compensation.
5. A Positive Attorney-Client Relationship
While a lawyer’s personality is less important than their experience or track record, it is necessary to have a productive client-lawyer relationship in order to build a successful case.
Parents should feel comfortable and confident in their lawyer. If you experience any hesitation regarding your lawyer or their way of doing things, it may be a good idea to consult with a few more law firms before reaching a decision.
How To Find A Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Online research remains a good option for locating a CP lawyer. By searching for birth injury lawyers or law firms in your area, parents may be able to read reviews and compare their experiences to other families.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo! or Bing can be extremely helpful when looking for legal representation. Parents are able to customize their search to show lawyers that have attributes that are important to you, such as a contingency fee arrangement.
In addition to online research, there are a few other ways parents can find legal help:
- Birth Trauma Litigation (BTL) groups, which must provide the highest standard of legal, medical and educational help in order to receive a BTL certification
- The American Bar Association (ABA), which provides information on lawyers and ABA-approved groups
- Online, local or national support groups specializing in financial or legal help
- Recommendations from family, friends, co-workers, etc.
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a preventable birth injury and are looking for a lawyer, the team at Cerebral Palsy Guide can help. We’ll be able to connect you with a law firm experienced in handling birth injury cases who can guide you through the legal process. Compensation may be available to cover your child’s medical expenses.