The prospect of bringing home a baby is an exciting one. It’s natural for parents to worry about the health of a baby throughout pregnancy and delivery. More often than not, parents welcome home a happy, healthy new family member. In some cases, however, a difficult or troubled labor can result in a serious condition called cerebral palsy. If your baby was recently diagnosed with this condition, do you have legal grounds for a birth injury claim? Learn about your legal options and next steps from our Kansas City cerebral palsy attorneys.
Reach out to an attorney about your child’s cerebral palsy as soon as you make a possible connection to medical malpractice. You will most likely need a lawyer’s help with the claims process. The insurance company of the physician or hospital will use tactics to get you to accept a lowball settlement. Hiring a lawyer allows you to combat these tactics with proven negotiation strategies. Your lawyer will fight for maximum compensation for your child’s irreversible damages and your family’s related bills. With help from a lawyer, you can have the peace of mind you need to focus on your child’s future.
Cerebral palsy is defined as a neurological disorder that may result from brain injury or malformation during pregnancy. Cerebral refers to the brain, while Palsy is related to having problems with or weakness in the muscles. It has several effects on a developing infant – it compromises both body movement and coordination, and it may also affect reflexes, tone, balance, and posture. A child diagnosed with cerebral palsy may struggle to meet fine and gross motor milestones. Improper oral motor functioning may lead to speech, chewing, and swallowing difficulty.
Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time, but symptoms can change over the individual’s life. The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe, leaving people with different ways of managing the disorder.
CP does not affect everyone equally, and cases range from mild to severe. All people who have cerebral palsy will have problems with their posture and movement. A person who has moderate to severe cerebral palsy may rely on special equipment to help them move around.
In general, you may notice some of the following symptoms in your child:
It can take months or years for a doctor to diagnose cerebral palsy in your child. More severe cases will be easier to diagnose at a younger age. It is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as you receive a diagnosis. This may be the date the clock starts ticking on your statute of limitations to file an injury claim. In Kansas and Missouri, you have two years from the date of medical malpractice discovery to file a claim.
CP is the result of a disruption in normal brain development. It often occurs before birth and the child may have genetic predisposition for it, but other risk factors include:
The prevailing theory used to be that CP was a side effect of birthing complications, but we now think this accounts for only 10% of cases.
Risk factors for CP can be genetic, but they can also be environmental. Examples of environmental risk factors might include accidents, abuse, or medical malpractice. If you believe your child’s CP was due to malpractice, contact our Kansas City medical malpractice lawyers to learn about your options.
In order to classify what type of cerebral palsy your child has, your doctor will assess which type of movement disorder is evident. One or more areas of the brain can be involved and can affect your child’s movements in 1 of 3 ways, such as stiff muscles (spasticity), uncontrollable movements (dyskinesia), and poor balance and coordination (ataxia). Overall, there are 4 main types of cerebral palsy that children are diagnosed as:
This type of cerebral palsy affects about 80% of people with the disorder. It results in stiff muscles, which can cause awkward movements due to the increased muscle tone.
People with this type of cerebral palsy have trouble with controlling the movement of their legs, arms, and feet. Their muscle tone can change throughout the day or from day to day.
People who have Ataxic cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling their arms when reaching for something. The biggest thing they struggle with is balance and coordination.
People with a mixture of the ailments associated with the different types of cerebral palsy will be classified as mixed cerebral palsy.
At Wendt Law Firm P.C., we understand how the different types of cerebral palsy affect patients. Our lawyers can demonstrate the physical, emotional and financial toll you or your child’s condition has had on your life. Then, we can use evidence, medical expert testimony and presentation technology to demonstrate your losses to a jury. Our trial lawyers know how to obtain the best possible results for seriously injured clients.
A child with CP often shows signs of physical impairment, but the extent of this impairment varies widely from one person to another. CP affects the way a person controls their muscles, but some individuals will contract them too much while others contract them too little. In other cases, frequent muscle contractions will cause tremors that affect balance, coordination, and posture. Seizures, co-occurring intellectual disability, and hearing and vision problems are also possible. Even in mild cases, CP often affects a child’s quality of life and ability to function like their typically developing peers.
It is possible to have grounds for a medical malpractice claim if your child has cerebral palsy. However, not all cases of CP point to malpractice. To bring a claim, you or your attorney will need proof that a careless or negligent doctor caused or contributed to the CP. For instance, a doctor might have injured your child’s brain through the misuse of birth-assisting tools or by failing to monitor the fetal heart rate for signs of loss of oxygen to the brain. In both of these cases, you could have a claim against the doctor for causing your child’s brain damage and related motor function disability.
The four elements of proof your lawyer will need to establish for a medical malpractice claim are duty of care, breach, causation and damages. First, the defendant must have owed the victim a duty of care at the time of the alleged malpractice. The defendant must have been your doctor or health care provider. Second, the defendant must have breached a duty of care as your doctor. This can refer to any act of negligence that another doctor would not have committed.
Third, your lawyer will need to establish causation between the defendant’s negligence and your child’s CP. This can be the most difficult element to prove. Your lawyer will need to rely on evidence to show that your child’s case of cerebral palsy would not have happened with proper medical care during pregnancy or delivery. Finally, your lawyer will need to prove the existence of damages because of the medical malpractice, such as medical expenses and lost quality of life. Our attorneys at Wendt Law Firm P.C. can help you bring and prove a CP claim in Kansas City.
If your child has been recently diagnosed with CP, you may be feeling uncertainty and fear about the future. These children often require extensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy to achieve their optimum quality of life. If your child’s condition was the result of health provider negligence or malpractice, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical and rehabilitation bills.
Your birth injury claim begins with a free initial consultation with our Kansas City personal injury lawyers. Contact us today to get started.