Cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is a condition that causes a great many disturbing symptoms throughout a patient’s lifetime, most of them involving motor dysfunction. It is caused by brain injury or malformation that may occur as the brain develops — before, during or after birth. While it can be the result of a genetic mutation, a maternal or infant infection, or a traumatic brain injury after birth, 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases are the result of events that take place during the birth process. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, it is important to have professionals investigate whether the condition was caused during the birth process and, if so, whether it resulted from medical malpractice.
If you suspect the latter was the case with your child, you should contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Nagel Rice LLP. From our offices in Roseland, New Jersey, and Manhattan we have been successfully serving clients for over 30 years. We have won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements that enable them to provide their children with all of the therapies and treatments necessary to help them live full and productive lives. Our cerebral palsy attorneys have a well-earned reputation as not only agile negotiators and aggressive litigators, but as compassionate human beings as well.
How Cerebral Palsy Can Be Caused During the Birth Process
Although no longer thought to be the most common cause of CP, medical malpractice has been determined to play a part in a tenth of all cases. The primary reason for brain damage during birth that results in CP is asphyxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain as the result of a difficult or delayed delivery, or one during which the doctor waits too long to perform a Caesarean.
Other medical mistakes that may result in an infant developing CP are that the doctor:
- Fails to diagnose and treat certain maternal infections during pregnancy
- Fails to diagnose fetal infection or stroke during gestation
- Does not prepare to perform a Caesarean when the baby is improperly positioned for a safe vaginal delivery
- Uses excessive pressure on the baby’s head or neck during delivery causing head trauma
- Uses forceps, vacuum extraction, or other mechanical devices incorrectly during delivery
- Fails to unwrap the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck to avoid oxygen deprivation to the brain
- Fails to exercise extra levels of caution when delivering an infant that is unusually large or premature since such babies are at higher risk for cerebral palsy
It is also possible that the pediatrician fails to diagnose CP during infancy (a child may not show definitive signs of cerebral palsy until the age of 1 to 2 years), thus delaying valuable treatment or mistreating for some other condition the baby doesn’t have.
How can your child’s case of Cerebral Palsy be investigated?
While the cause of some cases of CP may never be uncovered, usually those caused by medical malpractice in the delivery room can be seen on fetal heart monitor records which show precisely when the infant’s blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level dropped. Also, while head trauma may occur prior to birth, it is estimated that 20 percent of head trauma-caused CP occurs during the delivery itself. Although most cases of cerebral palsy are not the result of medical malpractice, but if you believe your child’s case is traceable to a medical mistake, you should certainly have our knowledgeable Nagel Rice medical malpractice attorneys investigate to make sure you and your child receive the damages you deserve to pay for the long-term expenses you will undoubtedly incur.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms vary widely, as does the level of disability it involves. The initial brain damage typically affects muscle control, coordination, reflex and tone, but often also results in:
- Poor posture and balance
- Sensory disturbances
- Poor vision or hearing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty speaking clearly
- Cognitive impairment
As mentioned, the severity of such symptoms is extremely variable. One patient with CP may wear strong glasses, have a limp and some slight speech impairment, but be otherwise capable of living “normally,” another may spend life in a wheelchair, seriously challenged mentally as well as physically. In a similar vein, one CP patient may die at 30 due to complications involving swallowing and aspiration of food, while another may live to be 70 or even 80, able to do meaningful work and raise children.
Compensation for Medical Malpractice
Raising a child with cerebral palsy, even if the condition is relatively mild, is extremely expensive. This is why engaging the services of a cerebral palsy attorney is essential. If we win your medical malpractice lawsuit, you will receive both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are meant to cover out-of-pocket expenses, now and in the future, such as:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages (if a parent has to stay home from work to supply childcare)
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Psychotherapy needed to help the child cope with the situation
- Assistive equipment, e.g. such as wheelchair, rollator, soundboard
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate for intangibles, although significant, are difficult to quantify, such as:
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some rare cases where the physician’s care was especially egregious, such as if he or she delivered the infant while impaired by alcohol or drugs, Nagel Rice may also be able to win you punitive damages. Such damages are meant to punish the defendant and to ward off any other potential offenders.
Contact Our New Jersey Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer
Cerebral palsy is a condition your child will have to live with all of his or her life. It will affect you and your whole family financially as well as emotionally and logistically. If our preeminent cerebral palsy attorneys evaluate your case and feel that we can prove your child’s CP is the result of a medical mistake, we will fight as hard for you as we would fight for our own family. We have the well-polished skills to either negotiate a substantial settlement or, if necessary, fight for you vigorously in a court of law. Either way, we are committed to giving you the personal attention you need and not charge you any attorneys’ fees until we win. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we’ll be able to make your life and your child’s life more manageable and pleasurable.