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What Claims Can I Make if My Child is Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy?

Mon 15 Apr, 2024 / by / Injuries

Around 10,000 newborns are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year, making it the leading cause of childhood disability. According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF), roughly 1 million people of all ages have cerebral palsy in the United States. As a parent, this can be a very difficult diagnosis to receive. Parents often have a lot of questions about why their child has cerebral palsy; that is, whether there was any action undertaken by others that caused the condition. Cerebral palsy personal injury lawsuits are fairly common, and here is what you need to know about them. 

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. It is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. The term “cerebral” refers to the brain, and “palsy” refers to muscle weakness or problems with movement.

Is Cerebral Palsy the Same For Everyone?

No. Two people can have cerebral palsy and have vastly different life experiences. A person with severe CP may require specialized equipment to walk or may be unable to walk independently, needing lifelong care. In contrast, someone with mild CP might walk with a slight awkwardness but may not require any special assistance. 

There are four recognized subtypes of cerebral palsy: (1) spastic; (2) ataxic; (3) dyskinetic; and (4) mixed. Each subtype has its distinct characteristics and features. 

The most prevalent form of cerebral palsy is spastic cerebral palsy, affecting approximately 80% of individuals with the condition. Individuals with spastic cerebral palsy experience heightened muscle tone, leading to stiff muscles and awkward movements.

When Does Cerebral Palsy Occur?

The vast majority of the time, cerebral palsy occurs when there is brain damage that happens before or during birth. These are the main risk factors for getting cerebral palsy:

  • Being born underweight 
  • Being born prematurely 
  • Being part of a twin or multiple birth 
  • Being conceived through in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive methods 
  • Having a mother who experienced an infection during pregnancy 
  • Having kernicterus (brain damage resulting from untreated severe newborn jaundice)

However, there is a chance to get cerebral palsy after birth. Risk factors include:

  • Experiencing a brain infection, like meningitis 
  • Enduring a severe head injury

How Do I Know Whether My Child Has Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed within the first or second year of life. If a child’s symptoms are mild, diagnosis can sometimes be challenging until the child is a few years old.

Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Delayed Motor Development: Missing developmental milestones such as crawling, sitting up, or walking.
  2. Muscle Tone Abnormalities: Either too stiff (spasticity) or too floppy (hypotonia) muscle tone.
  3. Involuntary Movements: Tremors, jerky movements, or uncontrolled motions.
  4. Poor Coordination and Balance: Difficulty in maintaining balance, walking, or performing tasks that require coordination.
  5. Speech and Swallowing Difficulties: Challenges with speech clarity or swallowing food and liquids.
  6. Muscle Weakness: Difficulty in controlling movements or holding objects.
  7. Delayed or Impaired Gross Motor Skills: Problems with tasks like crawling, sitting, standing, or walking.
  8. Fine Motor Skill Challenges: Difficulties with tasks that require small muscle movements, like picking up small objects or buttoning clothes.

Is There a Cure for Cerebral Palsy?

There is no cure for cerebral palsy at this point. It is a chronic condition. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatments and therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medications to control muscle spasticity, and assistive devices to aid mobility and communication. 

The biggest thing that a parent can do for a child with cerebral palsy is to get help right away. Early intervention is crucial for maximizing a child’s potential and independence as they grow and develop.

Will Cerebral Palsy Be Expensive to Treat?

The cost of treating cerebral palsy can vary widely depending on the severity of the condition, the types of treatments required, and the individual needs of the child. Costs associated with cerebral palsy treatment can be significant. Many health insurance plans cover treatments and therapies for cerebral palsy. However, certain things may not be covered. 

Can I File a Lawsuit?

Yes. If you believe that medical negligence or malpractice contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy, you may have grounds for a lawsuit to seek compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, pain and suffering, and other related damages.

An attorney will review the facts of your case. This will include reviewing relevant medical records, including prenatal care, labor and delivery records, postnatal care, and any other documentation related to your child’s diagnosis and treatment. They might also consult with medical experts to review the medical records and provide opinions on whether medical negligence or malpractice occurred and contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy.

Many medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlement negotiations before going to trial. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair settlement that compensates you for your child’s injuries and damages. However, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome based on the evidence presented to them.

Contact a Birth Injury Attorney

The experience of having a young child is tough enough; it is even more difficult for parents to meet the unique needs of a child with cerebral palsy. Experienced birth injury attorneys understand what sort of care a child with cerebral palsy needs to ensure that they live a healthy, fulfilling life. Financial compensation can help parents with this.

There are statutes of limitations that limit the time you have to file a claim. Consulting with an experienced birth injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the lawsuit.