Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits

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Cerebral palsy lawsuits are filed by parents who believe their children’s cerebral palsy was caused by an injury at birth, usually as a result of negligence or another form of medical malpractice. The primary goal of a cerebral palsy lawsuit is to provide funds for the child’s care and well-being throughout his or her lifetime.

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How Birth Injury Can Lead to Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a devastating condition that can result in various physical and cognitive disabilities. Some cerebral palsy cases are genetic, but others are caused by injury at childbirth.

Medical practitioners (OB/GYN physicians, midwives, and support staff) are responsible for monitoring the health and well-being of both mother and child during childbirth. Any damage to the infant caused by using improper tools, employing outdated techniques or failing to notice potentially hazardous conditions could lead to cerebral palsy or another type of birth injury.

Fetal Heart Rate and Cerebral Palsy

One of the most important signals that medical staff monitor during childbirth is the infant’s heart rate. Typically, the delivery doctor will use a fetal heart rate monitor to keep track of the child’s heart rate in real time throughout the birthing process. The fetal heart rate monitor typically sits near the delivery bed where the doctor and other medical staff can easily see it.

An abnormal heart rate is often a sign that a baby is under fetal distress and may not be receiving enough oxygen. If the delivery team notices the abnormal heart rate right away, there are a number of well-established medical interventions that can be used to help the baby have a successful delivery, such as a c-section or instrumented delivery using forceps or vacuum extraction. However, if the doctor and other medical staff fail to recognize the abnormal heart rate, it could lead to prolonged oxygen deprivation (asphyxia) and may ultimately cause permanent brain damage, leading to cerebral palsy or another serious birth injury.

8 Questions for Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy

  1. Did your child suffer an injury at the time of birth?
  2. Were there complications during the birth of your child?
  3. Was your baby’s delivery delayed for any reason?
  4. Did your baby’s heart rate drop during labor and before delivery?
  5. Did any nurse or doctor recommend an emergency cesarean section (c-section)?
  6. Was your baby born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his/her neck?
  7. Did your baby go into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after being born?
  8. Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could have a viable case.

Did a Birth Injury Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Many parents may not realize the long-term impact of cerebral palsy until their baby is a few years old. In some cases, they may not even be aware that their child suffered a brain injury during labor and delivery until their child fails to meet certain developmental milestones like acquiring language skills, motor skills, etc.

When a child’s developmental disabilities first become apparent, many parents are understandably concerned with finding the best care they can for their child. Just as important is finding out if complications of their child’s birth may have been the cause of their child’s disabilities – especially if the birth injury was caused by substandard medical care during the labor and delivery process.

Evidence of a child’s oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery are stored in the hospital’s medical records. A medical professional can review these records and pinpoint moments where medical interventions could or should have occurred to avoid exposing the child to prolonged periods of oxygen deprivation. These records are often accessible years later, allowing parents to go back and see if their child’s cerebral palsy could have been prevented.

How Can a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Help?

Children who suffer from cerebral palsy due to medical negligence or other malpractice often require millions of dollars in medical care and adaptive equipment over the course of their lives. Our legal experts will help you gather and evaluate the available medical evidence to determine whether your delivery team performed to the standard of care required in such situations.

If a lawsuit is appropriate, you may able to secure a favorable verdict or settlement against the responsible party to offset the cost of future medical interventions for your child, as well as to account for pain and suffering they will endure due to cerebral palsy.

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Cerebral Palsy Settlements and Verdicts

Viable cerebral palsy lawsuits often end in some form of compensation provided to the family in the form of a jury award (verdict) or a settlement. These funds are intended to help cover costs of medical care over the course of the child’s lifetime, as well as the pain and suffering experienced by the child due to his or her cerebral palsy.

Below are some examples of settlements and verdicts awarded to individuals whose cerebral palsy was claimed to be caused by medical malpractice during childbirth.

B. Miller – $8.1 million (New York)

In October 2014, at Kings County Hospital Center in New York City, doctors failed to realize that a baby, referred to only as “B.M.” in court documents, had received a compromised oxygen supply. The lack of oxygen caused the infant’s heart rate to drop significantly several times, but the healthcare providers did not notice the medical error for over seven hours. As a result, B.M. was born with cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and partial blindness. The baby’s mother, Samantha Miller, sued Kings County Hospital and received an $8.1 million settlement in 2017. Of the $128 million in birth injury lawsuit settlements paid by New York City that year, B.M.’s was the highest, according to a report by the NY Daily News.

Cody Arven – $4.1 million (Virginia)

In 2003, complications during childbirth resulted in severe damage to some of the white matter in Cody’s brain (an injury known as bilaterial cystic periventricular leukomalacia). This birth injury resulted in spastic cerebral palsy, a condition which stiffens muscles and makes movement difficult. Initially, Cody’s parents, Ted and Roni, followed the direction of Virginia’s Medicaid program to try and pay for his care. However, after years of denials, the couple filed a lawsuit, ultimately receiving $4.1 million as part of a settlement with a larger federal case against Virginia’s Medicaid requirement for birth injuries.

Isaiah Ewing – $53 million (Illinois)

In 2013, Lisa Ewing filed a lawsuit on behalf of her son Isaiah, who was born with cerebral palsy after suffering traumatic brain injury during birth. According to the Ewings’ lawsuit, the University of Chicago Medical Center allegedly made at least 20 different medical mistakes during labor and delivery, including failing to properly monitor the health of both mother and infant, failing to perform a c-section in a timely manner, and failing to notice abnormal fetal heart rate patterns.

The injury has led to expensive care for Isaiah, who is wheelchair-bound and needs help with feeding, dressing, bathing and other daily activities. Among the breakdown of the jury award was $28.8 million for future caretaking expenses and $7.2 million for future medical expenses, plus punitive damages. According to reports, it was the largest birth injury lawsuit verdict in Cook County at the time.

Other Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit FAQs

Is My Family Eligible to File a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?

While experiences vary from case to case, you may be eligible to file a cerebral palsy claim if you meet the following criteria:

  • You or your child experienced complications during labor and delivery
  • Your medical providers failed to notice dangerous situations during childbirth
  • Your delivery team neglected to provide the appropriate level of medical intervention when complications arose
  • Your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of an injury sustained during childbirth

What Compensation Is Eligible for Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits?

Compensation related to malpractice and birth injury lawsuits differ from case to case, but the following damages are typically taken into account when determining compensation:

Compensation for cerebral palsy lawsuits usually includes considerations for:

  • Amount of pain and suffering experienced by the child (physical and mental anguish)
  • Medical costs for treating the condition
  • Expenses related to future ongoing care, including equipment, medical treatments, in-home care, and even improvements to the family’s house in some cases
  • Loss of income for the parent if they need to remain home with their child
  • Funds for special educational needs, such as speech therapy or tutors to help with learning disabilities

Different states have different rules when it comes to the maximum amount of compensation allowed for medical malpractice lawsuits, as well as whether punitive damages are allowed.

How Can I Pay for a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer?

If you choose to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit, you can use a contingency agreement to offset any initial legal costs. Through a contingency agreement, you won’t have to pay any legal fees until you are compensated through a verdict or settlement. Working in this way gives you the freedom to pursue a legal claim that could help your child without putting you in debt or having to worry about coming up with payments along the way.

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