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Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyers
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disability characterized by abnormal brain development in the womb or brain damage during birth. Developing cerebral palsy in the womb is something that doctors can’t always predict or control. However, doctors often have ample control over negligent medical care during labor and delivery. If your doctor failed to act quickly or competently during the labor and delivery process – and you believe these negligent actions caused your child’s cerebral palsy birth injury – you may have grounds to seek compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
An experienced cerebral palsy lawyer at Ashenden & Associates has the necessary skill to handle both medical malpractice cases and birth injury cases. You can trust that we will fight for appropriate justice and compensation on your behalf. Call 770-394-8909 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a type of brain damage that causes a variety of lifelong, non-progressive motor conditions. This means that once the traumatic brain injury happens, often during birth, the child’s disabilities generally do not get better or worse.
How Common is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability affecting children according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). In fact, the CDC estimates that 1 to 4 out of every 1,000 babies suffer from this birth injury.
What is the Life Expectancy for Cerebral Palsy?
With our current technology and modern medicine, it’s very possible for people with cerebral palsy to live long, happy lives. Medical experts expect people with a cerebral palsy diagnosis to live for 30 to 70 years, especially with high quality medical care and supportive caretakers.
How Does Cerebral Palsy Happen?
Cerebral palsy is caused by medical malpractice during the birthing process or abnormal brain development during pregnancy (congenital cerebral palsy).
Common causes of cerebral palsy during birth can include:
- Negligent use of forceps or vacuum extractor during birth
- Long, difficult labor and delivery
- Delayed c-section due to long and difficult labor
- Prolonged fetal oxygen deprivation during birth
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Premature birth
- Meconium aspiration syndrome which can lead to oxygen deprivation after birth
- Uterine rupture
- Placental abruption
While some of these issues cannot be foreseen or prevented during the birth process, it’s still the responsibility of medical professionals to act quickly and carefully in order to save both mother and baby in the event of an emergency. Failing to provide timely and correct medical care during a birthing emergency – which results in damage to the developing brain of a fetus – is considered medical negligence.
While cerebral palsy can certainly be caused by obstetrical negligence, the CDC estimates that most cerebral palsy cases (85%-90%) are congenital, meaning the brain suffered damage or poor development during pregnancy. The following risk factors can lead to congenital cerebral palsy:
- Low birthweight
- Premature birth
- Pregnancy with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Some types of infertility treatments
- Some infections during pregnancy, such as rubella (German measles), chickenpox, cytomegalovirus (CMV), infection of the placenta or fetal membranes, etc.
- Jaundice and kernicterus
- Maternal medical conditions such as thyroid problems, seizure disorders, intellectual disabilities, etc.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are a few different types of cerebral palsy, including:
- Spastic: This type of CP is the most common, accounting for more than 80% of diagnoses according to the CDC. Sufferers of spastic CP generally have increased muscle tone which can cause stiff muscles and awkward movements. This type of CP can affect the arms, legs, one side of the body, or the entire body.
- Dyskinetic: This type of CP causes uncontrollable movements of the limbs, hands, and feet. As a result, sufferers may struggle to sit, walk, or move at all. If the CP affects the face and tongue, sufferers can also struggle to eat, swallow, and talk. Muscle tone associated with dyskinetic CP can vary from tight to loose.
- Ataxic: People with ataxic CP struggle mostly with balancing and coordinating their movements, so they may wobble when walking. They may also struggle with fine motor skills, like writing or picking up objects, due to uncontrollable hand and arm movements.
- Mixed: Mixed CP is often a combination of two of the aforementioned types of CP. Spastic-dyskinetic CP is the most common type of mixed CP.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Cerebral palsy is incurable, so sufferers will always struggle with some level of disability. That’s why doctors mostly focus on symptom management for cerebral palsy patients. But what are the symptoms associated with this type of brain damage?
Movement and Coordination
Cerebral palsy patients may suffer from:
- Spasticity: muscle stiffness and exaggerated reflexes
- Rigidity: muscle stiffness and normal reflexes
- Ataxia: poor balance and muscular coordination
- Abnormal muscle tone (ranging from too floppy to too stiff)
- Slow, jerky, shaky, or involuntary movements
- Poor movement, muscle tone, or coordination on only one side of the body
- Difficulty walking
- Abnormal gait or stance while walking
- Poor fine motor skills (writing, typing, picking up objects)
Speech and Eating
Cerebral palsy patients may suffer from:
- Delayed speech development
- Difficulty talking
- Difficulty eating, chewing, swallowing, sucking, etc.
- Excessive saliva and/or drooling
Cerebral palsy patients may suffer from:
- Failure to hit various developmental milestones, such as rolling over, sitting, crawling and walking
- Difficulty learning new skills and subjects
- Intellectual disabilities
- Being smaller than average as a child and as an adult
Cerebral palsy patients may also suffer from:
- Epilepsy and/or seizures
- Partial deafness
- Poor vision
- Abnormal eye movements
- Mental and emotional problems
- Sensory issues such as abnormal tactile, temperature, or pain sensations
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Bowel issues such as frequent constipation
- Urinary incontinence
Costs of Cerebral Palsy
Raising any child is incredibly expensive. But raising a child with a major disability such as cerebral palsy can easily send a lower or middle class family into crippling debt. Parents of children with cerebral palsy must spend thousands of dollars every year for medical care and equipment in order to assist the child’s development and manage their symptoms.
The CDC states that the annual medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are 10 times higher than children without a disability. Based on 2005 Medicaid data, the average medical costs for children with cerebral palsy was around $16,721 while the medical costs for children without a disability was around $1,674. In 2023 dollars, these costs are equivalent to $25,757 and $2,578.
Additionally, the CDC estimates that the lifetime expenses for a cerebral palsy patient was around $1 million in 2003. 20 years later, $1 million is the equivalent of $1,635,000.00
Most cerebral palsy lawsuits fully compensate the victim and the family for these extraordinary medical expenses and other losses.
Can You Sue for a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit if your child suffered a preventable birth injury – such as cerebral palsy – due to medical negligence. In order to have a successful cerebral palsy lawsuit, you must hire an experienced cerebral palsy attorney to help you prove that the negligent actions or inactions of a medical professional caused the birth injury, because as previously stated, the vast majority of cerebral palsy cases are congenital.
Most cerebral palsy attorneys will help you prove that medical negligence occurred through the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of Care: OBGYNs and other medical professionals must abide by the medical standard of care when treating all patients.
- Breached Duty of Care: The medical professional breached this standard of care through negligent actions or inactions.
- Causation: The negligent actions or inactions were the direct cause of the cerebral palsy case in question.
- Damages: The child and the family suffered a wide range of damages, therefore, they should be awarded financial compensation.
A skilled attorney can help you prove that medical malpractice caused your child’s condition by analyzing medical records, and hiring an expert witness in the same medical field as the negligent doctor so they can analyze the case details.
Birth Injury Damages
Sandy Springs cerebral palsy attorneys at Ashenden & Associates can help families recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical costs associated with the initial birth injury
- Lifetime medical and physical therapy costs in order to manage the child’s birth injury
- Costs associated with necessary medical equipment such as leg braces, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices
- Costs associated with full-time caretaking
- Lost wages of the parents/caregivers
- Loss of earning capacity of the cerebral palsy patient, who may or may not ever be able to work
- Physical pain and suffering of the child
- Emotional distress of the parents and the child
- Lifelong disability and disfigurement of the child
Many plaintiffs in birth injury lawsuits ask us: how much compensation will I receive in my settlement? The answer depends on several factors, such as the severity of the child’s condition, how independent the child is with assistive technology, how much physical therapy and caretaking they need to function, how much work the parents miss due to the child’s diagnosis, and more.
Our Sandy Springs birth injury attorneys will carefully analyze all of the financial losses your family has suffered since your child developed cerebral palsy. From there, we’ll calculate an approximate settlement amount that we’ll fight for in your birth injury lawsuit.
Call Sandy Springs Birth Injury Lawyers at Ashenden & Associates Today
All birth injuries are devastating due to the lifelong disability, emotional pain, and financial instability that follows. If your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice during birth, you have grounds to receive financial compensation through a birth injury lawsuit. The experienced cerebral palsy lawyers at Ashenden & Associates have decades of combined experience in handling all sorts of medical malpractice claims involving children and adults. Don’t believe us? Check out our personal injury settlements here, then give us a call 770-394-8909 to schedule a free consultation.