Every year, 8,000–10,000 babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. In many cases, the condition is caused by some injury suffered during birth, but not always — in fact, birth injury isn’t the cause of cerebral palsy in babies in the majority of cases. That said, cerebral palsy birth injury cases occur often enough to give anyone pause.
What Is a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury?
What is cerebral palsy? The term refers to a type of disability caused by damage to the brain occurring shortly before, during, or after birth. The condition generally leads to significant developmental complications and is sadly often preventable.
People with cerebral palsy tend to have issues with muscle movement and control, as well as irregularities in the function of their nervous systems. While there’s currently no cure, medications can help some affected persons, as can therapy and even surgery.
Various types of injuries and traumas can lead to cerebral palsy during birth, as the delivery process is sometimes traumatic and frequently involves both pushing and pulling forces.
With proper adherence to acceptable standards of care, cerebral palsy birth injuries are rare. That said, they can occur due to negligent actions such as:
- Negligent monitoring and failure to detect fetal stress
- Failure to take timely and appropriate action to address fetal distress
- Improper use of forceps, vacuums, or other delivery tools or devices
- Deciding against a C-section when one should be employed
- Negligent administration of drugs
In typical cerebral palsy birth injury cases, the baby’s brain suffers damage due to trauma or lack of oxygen. For example, if the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck, which is surprisingly common, the baby could be deprived of oxygen and suffer brain damage.
In many cases, such an outcome is preventable with proper monitoring and prompt action. Even so, scenarios like this do occur, leaving the child and its parents dealing with the ramifications for life.
When trauma is the cause of the brain injury, a medical device or instrument, such as a vacuum or forceps, is typically involved.
Proper use of these devices requires extensive training and education owing to the delicate nature of a newborn's body and other factors. Incorrect or irresponsible use could cause enough trauma to damage the baby's brain irreversibly.
How Often Do Birth Injuries Contribute to Cerebral Palsy?
Most cases of childhood cerebral palsy begin while the baby’s brain is still developing within the womb. However, a fair share of them take place during childbirth.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, roughly 70% of all cases come about due to some aberrant event prior to childbirth. The same organization reports that less than 10% of cases occur after birth, which means that up to 20% of cerebral palsy cases occur during labor and delivery.
What to Do if You Suspect Medical Negligence Led to Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury
If you believe medical negligence might have caused your child’s cerebral palsy, it’s strongly recommended that you contact a birth injury attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will fight to hold the at-fault medical professionals and facility responsible for any acts of negligence that contributed to your child’s injury.
Cerebral palsy may not be diagnosed until a child reaches the age of two or three. However, signs and symptoms can begin to manifest only a few months after birth and may include:
- Inability to roll over, sit up, or crawl
- Abnormal posture
- Unusually rigid or lax muscles
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty feeding
- Exaggerated reflexes
If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider right away.
How Much Do Birth Injury Lawyers Charge?
Most cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers don’t claim payment unless they win your case. Ultimately, their fee is directly tied to the amount of money they recover on your behalf.
How Long Do I Have to Seek Compensation for a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury?
In Florida, those who have been impacted by medical malpractice have two years to file a lawsuit. However, many victims don’t realize the extent of the damage done until later. For this reason, the two-year clock doesn’t start ticking until the harm has been discovered or should have been discovered.
For children, the statute allows even more time. Thanks to Tony’s Bill, parents have until their child’s eighth birthday to file suit against a care provider for a birth injury.
Even with the eight-year time window, parents of children who have suffered a cerebral palsy birth injury should act quickly when they suspect medical negligence.
The closer to the event you retain an attorney, the easier it will be to build a strong case. Your lawyer will be able to gather evidence before it’s destroyed or becomes unavailable and interview witnesses while their memory is fresh.
How Much Compensation Can I Get for My Child?
Compensation can vary widely from case to case. Various factors figure into the amount awarded in your case, including:
- The extent of damage to the brain
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of future earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
Your attorney will fight to ensure that your child’s losses are properly reflected in the damages calculations and will take your case to trial if the insurance company refuses to pay.
Get Help From an Experienced Florida Birth Injury Lawyer
The seasoned attorneys at Ratzan, Weissman & Boldt have helped countless suffering families get justice for birth injuries that result in cerebral palsy.
If your child has been injured by a negligent medical professional, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.