Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth or shortly thereafter, and you believe that medical negligence/malpractice is to blame, contact the law office of Edelstein Martin & Nelson for a free consultation to see how we can help.
Severe birth injuries caused by medical negligence may result in long-term medical care and even permanent brain damage for children. This can leave parents with overwhelming medical bills, disabled children and the requirement for lifelong care.
Our Pennsylvania cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers are well adept in handling complicated cases caused by medical malpractice, including birth injuries like cerebral palsy.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is defined as one or more disorders that affect an individual’s mobility and ability to maintain posture and balance. CP is the most common childhood motor disability. Cerebral refers to the brain, while palsy refers to problems or weakness in the usage and coordination of muscle movement.
Cerebral palsy is an “umbrella term” due to the fact that it incorporates a group of neurological disorders that affect posture and mobility. Cerebral palsy is not a particular condition or disease, but rather a universal term used to describe a range of motor dysfunctions that are caused by damage to the developing brain. Many different types of cerebral palsy exist, and the nature and severity of symptoms vary from person to person. While motor impairments are present across the board in individuals with cerebral palsy, the exact symptoms and their severity often vary depending on the extent and type of brain damage.
Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
Many different types of cerebral palsy exist, according to the cerebral palsy information page on the CDC’s website. They are classified based on the specific areas of the body affected and the type of mobility disorder. The four main types of cerebral palsy are:
- Spastic cerebral palsy: This is the most common type of cerebral palsy, seen in approximately 75% of all cases. It is defined by increased muscle tone (spasticity) which results in difficulty and stiffness in mobility. Spastic cerebral palsy can affect one or more arms, legs, or the whole body.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: This kind of cerebral palsy is characterized by involuntary and abnormal bodily movements, such as writhing, twisting, or jerking. It may affect the face, arms, legs, mouth, and throat.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy: This type of cerebral palsy causes issues with coordination and balance. Children affected by ataxic cerebral palsy may have problems with fine motor skills, such as buttoning buttons, writing, typing, and more.
- Mixed cerebral palsy: Some children diagnosed with cerebral palsy may have several different types of movement disorders. This is known as mixed cerebral palsy.
Common Effects of Cerebral Palsy
The effects that cerebral palsy has on each person will vary. If you have a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe medical malpractice is to blame, a Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney can help you recover. Children who are affected by cerebral palsy usually face one or more of the following conditions:
This refers to the inability to properly position the body due to muscle weakness, stiffness, or spasticity. For instance, someone with cerebral palsy may have a tendency to lean or slouch to one side while standing or sitting, or they may find it difficult to stand upright without help.
People with cerebral palsy may find it difficult to move one or more areas of their body, such as their hands, feet, arms, or legs. This can create unwanted challenges during daily tasks, such as feeding, dressing, and personal hygiene.
Lack of Depth Perception
Those affected by cerebral palsy may have difficulties with depth perception due to weak eye muscles, poor hand/eye coordination, or visual impairments. This can present challenges when performing average daily tasks that require depth perception like navigating stairs or walkways.
Abnormal Muscle Tone:
In cerebral palsy, muscle tone may be abnormally low (hypotonia) or abnormally high (hypertonia) or may go back and forth between the two. This can result in a plethora of mobility issues, such as rigidity, stiffness, or involuntary movements.
Babies who present with cerebral palsy may have late motor milestones, such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling, or walking.
Infants with cerebral palsy may have abnormal reflexes, like a strong startle response or a strong grasp.
Those with cerebral palsy may have difficulty coordinating their movements, like grasping, reaching, or walking.
Fine Motor Skill Problems
Cerebral palsy may affect fine motor skills, such as typing, writing, or buttoning buttons.
Individuals with cerebral palsy may have problems speaking clearly, or they may have difficulties with language development.
Learning or intellectual disabilities may result from cerebral palsy. In some children, seizures, epilepsy, and cognitive impairments may occur. Additionally, secondary musculoskeletal problems sometimes accompany cerebral palsy.
How is Cerebral Palsy Caused?
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability among children in America, affecting between 1 and 4 babies per 1000 live births. Cerebral palsy is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as a group of disorders that have an effect on a person’s mobility and ability to maintain posture and balance. CDC estimates that an average of 1 in 345 children in the U.S. have CP.
CP is a birth injury that has numerous causes. A variety of factors may affect a baby’s developing brain and cause cerebral palsy, including:
- Lack of oxygen during birth, which may occur when the infant is stuck behind the mother’s pelvis or inside the birth canal where its access to oxygen is cut off. When the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long, brain cells wither and die, causing specific brain functions to cease working.
- Infections during pregnancy may cause cerebral palsy by affecting the fetus’s developing brain. Infections like rubella and toxoplasmosis can cause damage and inflammation to brain cells which disrupts normal brain development and even kills off brain cells. This can lead to a long list of motor malfunctions and other associated symptoms of cerebral palsy.
- Genetic conditions may cause mutations or abnormalities in genes that are critical for normal brain function. These abnormalities may lead to impairments in motor function and other cerebral palsy symptoms. Information gathered from Boston Children’s Hospital finds that up to 1 in 4 children with cerebral palsy have an underlying genetic condition.
- Other factors, such as premature birth and traumatic brain injury may also contribute to the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that the exact cause of the disorder may not always be understood.
Medical Malpractice That Leads to Cerebral Palsy
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimated that medical errors occurring during labor and delivery were a contributing factor in approximately 1 out of every 4 cerebral palsy cases. Another study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that medical negligence contributed to approximately 6% of cerebral palsy diagnoses.
Some examples of medical negligence and malpractice that often lead to cerebral palsy include:
Failure to detect and/or properly treat infections: If an infection causes damage and/or inflammation of a baby’s developing brain, the failure of medical professionals to properly detect and/or treat that infection may lead to abnormal brain development and cerebral palsy.
Failure to detect fetal distress such as lack of oxygen (hypoxia): If a doctor fails to notice that a baby is in distress, and specifically lacking oxygen, this may lead to cerebral palsy for the infant, especially if they are deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time.
Failure to schedule or perform a necessary cesarean section: When a doctor or medical professional does not perform a cesarean section that is necessary for the health and safety of the baby, a cerebral palsy diagnosis may follow.
Failure to monitor the fetal heart rate: Medical staff and doctors alike are responsible for monitoring the baby’s heart rate before, during, and after labor in order to make sure that they are getting enough oxygen. If the medical staff fails to properly monitor the fetal heart rate, this may cause a lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain, which can result in cerebral palsy.
Delayed delivery: Sometimes, the delivery of a baby may be delayed by hospital staff, even if it is obvious that the infant is in distress. This may cause the baby to lack oxygen and result in cerebral palsy.
Misuse of delivery tools: Medical staff may misuse delivery tools such as vacuum extractors or forceps during delivery, which can result in head trauma, brain damage, brain bleeds, and other injuries that may cause cerebral palsy.
Medication errors: Medical staff may make errors in administering medication to the mother or baby, which can lead to brain damage, oxygen deprivation, and cerebral palsy.
If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis was the result of medical negligence/malpractice, it is vital to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Complicated Claims Involving Birth Injury/Cerebral Palsy
Medical malpractice, and birth injury cases specifically, may turn into complicated cases extremely fast. It is in your best interest to work with a skilled legal team like the one from Edelstein Martin & Nelson if you find yourself having to file a cerebral palsy birth injury claim. We will thoroughly investigate your case, talk to the appropriate specialists and build a strong claim against negligent doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.
Our team is well-equipped to take on the most challenging claims and will assertively fight to make sure that you recover the maximum compensation available for the damages you face.
Damages in a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Claim
Some common damages that may be compensated for when you file a cerebral palsy birth injury lawsuit include:
- Medical costs: A cerebral palsy lawyer will help you seek financial compensation for past and future medical care costs related to the injury/event that led to the cerebral palsy diagnosis. This may include the costs associated with medication, medical treatment, doctor visits, physical therapy, and other related expenses.
- Lost earnings: If you have had to spend time out of work in order to care for your child with cerebral palsy, your attorney can seek financial compensation for lost wages. This may also include future lost earnings for you and the child if they are unable to work due to their condition.
- Pain & suffering: Your Pennsylvania cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer from Edelstein, Martin & Nelson can help you seek financial compensation for the pain and suffering your child experienced as a result of their diagnosis. This includes emotional turmoil, physical pain, and other related issues.
- Impairment and disability: A lawyer will help you seek compensation for the disability and impairment of your child, which can include the costs of assistive equipment, devices, home modifications, and other related costs.
- Punitive damages: Sometimes, an attorney may seek punitive damages if it can be proven that your child’s diagnosis was the result of intentional, malicious, or gross misconduct/negligence on the part of the medical staff involved.
An experienced cerebral palsy lawyer can help you understand what damages you may be entitled to and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Will My Attorney Do to Help Me Recover Financially?
You can learn more about what damages you may qualify for and obtain compensation when you talk to a skilled attorney who is well-versed in medical malpractice cases. Despite the fact that doctors are provided with ample education and steps to take to ensure that medical malpractice doesn’t happen, such as this list provided by the National Library of Medicine, it still continues to happen at an alarming rate. The steps your lawyer will take to help you recover financially generally include:
- Investigating the case: A skilled and experienced Pennsylvania cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer will thoroughly review medical records, talk to medical experts, and investigate the specific circumstances around the birth of the child and any injuries they may have suffered in order to determine whether medical malpractice was demonstrated.
- Determining legal options: Based on vital information from the investigation, your attorney will provide you and your loved ones with your legal options to help you figure out whether you have a valid claim for financial compensation.
- Filing a lawsuit: If you decide to pursue legal action, your lawyer will file a birth injury lawsuit on your behalf and handle all court filings.
- Negotiating with insurance companies: Your attorney will negotiate with insurance companies and other parties to come to a full and fair settlement agreement on your behalf.
- Representing the family in court: If a fair settlement is unable to be reached in negotiations between the lawyer and insurance company, the family will be represented by the lawyer in court where their case will be presented to a judge and jury.
- Advocate for the child’s needs: A Pennsylvania cerebral palsy lawyer will work to make sure that the child’s needs are met during the legal process.
Overall, the primary goal of a Pennsylvania cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer is to successfully help families to financially recover who have been affected by a birth injury that was caused by medical malpractice.
Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries in Pennsylvania
It is important to act quickly after you suspect your child’s condition was caused by medical malpractice. The statute of limitations, or the amount of time in which you have to successfully file a claim for compensation, is two years. This means that if you do not file your medical malpractice claim within two years of the birth injury or event that caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you will be unable to gather compensation for your damages.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Family in Pennsylvania After a Birth Injury
At Edelstein Martin & Nelson, we are committed to providing our clients with the personal attention they require and deserve during a terribly trying time. We are fully committed to each and every client who puts their trust in us to handle their claim. If you and your loved ones are in need of legal assistance with taking a cerebral palsy claim to court, we are here to help you every step of the way.
Contact our firm today to pursue justice for you and your child. Our Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers can help you hold liable parties accountable while we simultaneously provide you with the financial compensation you deserve. We will provide you with a free consultation so you can figure out whether you qualify for compensation without having to worry about money.