Cerebral Palsy (CP) From Medical Malpractice

If your child has suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of a medical professional or hospital, you may be entitled to compensation for all the present and future expenses the injury will cost you. To find out more, contact the esteemed New York legal team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Call (212) 986-7353 for a free consultation.

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How Do Cerebral Palsy Injuries Occur?

Cerebral palsy birth injuries are often the result of negligent actions by a doctor, nurse, or midwife. When any of these medical professionals fail to adequately treat the problematic conditions of a difficult pregnancy or delivery, children and families may end up suffering. Here are some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy birth injuries:

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What Are the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

There are many symptoms of cerebral palsy to be on the lookout for:

  • Reduced muscle tone
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Coordination problems
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Epilepsy or other types of seizures
  • Hearing impairment
  • Involuntary movement of the limbs
  • Lack of head control
  • Learning disabilities
  • Little control of bowel movements
  • Muscles are too loose and unable to be controlled

According to the NIH, these are the specific signs of a cerebral palsy injury:

  • Under 6 months old: The child's body feels stiff; his head won't feel completely supported by his neck, and he will push away from attempts to hold him.
  • Over 6 months old: The child will often keep his hands balled into fists, have trouble rolling, and have difficulty locating his mouth with his hands.
  • Over 10 months old: The child won't crawl straight and may have problems using his legs when crawling.

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What Are Different Forms of Cerebral Palsy?

There are three basic types of cerebral palsy a child may be afflicted with: spastic, ataxic, and athetoid.

Spastic

The most common form of this disorder, spastic afflicts 70% to 80% of all people with cerebral palsy. It is characterized by jerky, exaggerated movements; tight, stiff muscles; limited mobility; abnormal gait; contractures; joints that won’t fully extend; crossed knees; and walking on tiptoes.

Ataxic

Between 5% and 10% of people who have cerebral palsy have a rare form that is called ataxic cerebral palsy, which causes a lack of balance and hinders a person's depth perception. Fine motor skills (small movements) and gross motor skills (large movements) may both be influenced by this condition. It is typical for victims of ataxic cerebral palsy to have an unsteady or wobbly gait, poor coordination, shaking, and tremors.

Athetoid

Approximately 10% of people who have cerebral palsy have a form of the condition called athetoid cerebral palsy, also known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy is the result of injury to the basal ganglia and/or the cerebellum, both of which are involved in the movement of the body. Characteristics of athetoid cerebral palsy include involuntary moving or writhing of the hands, legs, feet, and arms. This can have an impact on many functions, including eating, walking, and sitting. The face may be affected as well - for instance, the tongue may thrust out of the mouth and the face may contort. In certain cases, people with athetoid cerebral palsy have a condition known as dysarthria, in which the muscles involved with speaking cause mispronunciation.

Mixed

Approximately 10% of people with cerebral palsy have mixed cerebral palsy. As the name suggests, mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of two or more forms of cerebral palsy. This form of the disorder may include any variety of the characteristics of ataxic, athetoid, and spastic cerebral palsy. Sufferers commonly have a combination of two types of cerebral palsy, though some people do have a combination of all three. Some symptoms are more noticeable at an early age, while other symptoms are not discovered until months or years later. A combination of spastic and athetoid is the most common mixed cerebral palsy.

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Compensation for a Cerebral Palsy Injury

If a doctor, nurse, or any other medical professional caused injuries to your child, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover your child's future healthcare needs. The damages pursued in such a case will most likely include:

  • Lost quality of life for your child
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost earning potential
  • Long-term cost of medical care and treatment
  • Household and vehicle modifications (wheelchair ramps, lifts, etc.)
  • Home nursing care
  • Lost wages from missed work for doctor’s appointments, etc.
  • Other damages, both economic and non-economic
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    What Treatment Options Are Available?

    The following are a few of the many options that a person with cerebral palsy may consider to help maintain his or her condition:

    • Occupational therapy is a form of treatment that can help a person with CP learn how to work with smaller muscles, including hands and fingers. When a person can strengthen and develop these small muscles, he may find it easier to complete everyday tasks that require fine motor skills. An occupational therapist is also knowledgeable in equipment for people with all kinds of special needs and will be able to help an individual with CP find assistive technology and devices that will improve his or her quality of life.
    • Physical therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on the development and strengthening of the body's large muscles, which control gross motor skills. Some of the larger muscles in the body are those of the arms and legs. Skills that a person might learn how to do through physical therapy include walking, climbing, sitting, and standing. Many of the skills that are learned in physical therapy may help a person with CP function better in a variety of situations.
    • Speech and language therapy may be an option for a person who has dysarthria. Along with communication difficulties, eating and swallowing may also be affected in some cases of cerebral palsy. A speech and language therapist can teach the client different exercises and techniques to help improve pronunciation, and aid in swallowing and eating. In cases where speech is very difficult to understand, the speech pathologist may teach the client sign language or chose an appropriate communication device so that he or she may communicate better.

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    Filing a Birth Injury Claim

    Contending with a birth injury is an extremely difficult prospect for a parent. You are likely feeling scared about your child’s future and how you are going to provide for them. Occupational, physical, speech, and language therapy is not cheap, and you will have to look at every option when considering how to give your child the best life possible. However, if your child developed cerebral palsy as a result of a negligent medical professional or hospital, then you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

    To have a valid medical malpractice claim for cerebral palsy, you must demonstrate that if another medical professional had handled your child’s birth, then they would not have made the same costly mistakes. This will require having yours and your child’s medical records reviewed by another professional and working with an experienced birth injury attorney who knows how to spot negligence in the medical field. Not just any attorney can take on a cerebral palsy case, and you will want to contact a firm who can provide a thorough breakdown of your case.

    Luckily, the legal team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, have extensive experience reviewing and litigating birth injury cases. We provide legal guidance to several parents when they were going through a difficult time and helped them achieve proper compensation from the at-fault medical providers. When we take a case, we factor in the lifetime costs of cerebral palsy so that your child can live a comfortable and fulfilling life. Cerebral palsy is not a simple medical condition, and a light settlement offer will not nearly cover the costs you can expect to pay in the years to come.

    When calculating the size of a cerebral palsy medical malpractice claim, our attorneys will take into account:

    • Medical bills and the cost of treatment
    • Therapy costs, including occupational, physical, speech, and language
    • Special education expenses
    • Counseling
    • Pain and suffering
    • Parental lost wages
    • Cost of assistive equipment
    • Adjustments to your home

    We will steadily outline and adjust the size of your claim as we prepare your case so that every cost you incur is included. In addition to calculating damages, our attorneys will also launch an in-depth investigation into the hospital or professionals who handled your case to find key evidence of negligence. This process will also include speaking to medical experts who can provide a detailed testimony that supports your claim and demonstrates how the at-fault medical professionals acted negligently.

    While it is entirely possible that your case is settled out of court, our attorneys prepare as if we need to represent you before a jury. That means we will collect all available evidence and build a strong argument that can convince a jury to award you and your child compensation.

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    Contact Our Experienced WRSH Attorneys Today

    Making the decision to start a medical malpractice claim after a birth injury is a difficult one. You may not wish to bring a civil case against your doctor or nurses, but if they acted negligently, then you are well within your rights to hold them accountable. In addition, the hospital that oversaw your treatment should make every effort to ensure no child or patient has to suffer because of a medical error.

    But we understand how stressful this time can be for you. That is why the New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, are devoted to shoulder all legal burdens in your case and ensuring that this process is as seamless as possible for you. While every case is different, we do have a thorough understanding of how to run a medical malpractice investigation, especially if it involves cerebral palsy. Rest assured that when you reach out to us, you are in good hands. Our attorneys will fight to get you the settlement you and your family deserve. Call (212) 986-7353 for a free case evaluation.

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