Cerebral Palsy

child with cerebral palsy in wheelchair

Despite all of the significant advances in science and medicine, many children are still born with serious injuries like cerebral palsy. Some birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy are preventable and occur due to the negligence of the treating medical professional. When doctors, nurses, midwives, or other medical professionals’ negligence results in a birth injury, the victim and his or her family can pursue compensation through a medical malpractice case.

Based in Syracuse, New York, attorney Josh Gillette, of counsel to CDH Law PLLC has helped our clients obtain monetary damages for many types of birth injuries, including cerebral palsy. New York State has a Medical Indemnity Fund (MIF) for babies born with brain injuries that change the way that damages are calculated, and allow those that are injured to have a multitude of treatments, and even certain types of alterations to their homes, and their vehicles by the MIF.  Mr. Gillette has handled cases through the MIF and created and presented a CLE (Continuing Legal Education Course) on birth injuries resulting in brain injuries and the MIF. 

We will carefully review your case to understand the full scope of your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about your legal rights.

 

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy can be a debilitating birth injury caused organically or due to medical malpractice. The majority of cases are caused before or during the child’s birth. Cerebral palsy describes a group of medical disorders that affect people’s ability to control their bodily movements. Motor delays can occur when a person’s brain suffers damage in the area that controls the muscles. Cerebral palsy can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during the birth process, which can be prevented if the medical care providers act quickly enough are not negligent when the signs and symptoms present themselves.

Additionally, cerebral palsy can be caused by a blow to the head during the birthing process, resulting in bruising and bleeding in the brain. For example, suppose a doctor negligently uses forceps to deliver the baby, and the forceps crush part of the baby’s skull, leading to a brain injury. In that case, the baby may be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Although being one of the most common causes of chronic childhood disability, it can cause a range of impairments from mild to severe. 

 

Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy in Medical Malpractice Cases

There is no known reason for a baby or child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis in some cases. However, while much remains unknown about the exact causes of cerebral palsy, we know that medical malpractice is one of the most common causes. Typical cases caused by medical malpractice occur when the medical provider fails to recognize and correctly treat the risks to the child. For example, any impairment in the delivery of oxygen and blood to the fetus can cause distress resulting in a brain injury to the unborn baby. 

The distress can show in the mother’s contradictions or the graphic display of the baby’s heart rate and rhythm. Doctors should be monitoring mothers during their pregnancy. If they see any abnormalities, doctors have a legal responsibility to treat the issue promptly. In some cases, a caesarian section may become necessary. 

 

Medical Negligence Due to Failure to Diagnose 

Should the doctor fail to diagnose the problem or treat the mother to stop the fetal distress causing cerebral palsy, he or she can be held liable. Likewise, should a doctor fail to take reasonable steps to prevent a premature birth from occurring, he or she could be held liable for the resulting cerebral palsy caused by the premature birth. The following causes may be due to the doctor’s negligence:

  •  The doctor failed to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels before or during birth
  •  The doctor failed to identify the mother’s infection during pregnancy
  •  The physician failed to diagnose a urinary or kidney infection during pregnancy
  •  The infant suffered a traumatic head injury during the birth process
  •  The doctor failed to order a C-section or didn’t order one on time
  •  The medical staff didn’t properly react to complications in a timely manner
  •  The doctor administered too much Pitocin 

 

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of cerebral palsy can become apparent soon after birth in severe cases. For example, a newborn who has been severely affected may not be able to drink milk on his or her own due to motor impairment. In other cases, the signs of cerebral palsy don’t become apparent until the child reaches age two or three. Some of the most common signs include the following:

  •  Ataxia, which is a lack of muscle coordination during voluntary movements
  •  Spasticity, which involves muscles that become tight along with exaggerated reflexes 
  •  Excessive swallowing difficulties or drooling
  •  Involuntary movements or tremors
  •  Dragging a foot while walking
  •  Walking on the toes
  •  Favoring one side of the body
  •  Muscle tone that is too “floppy” or too tight
  •  Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or grasping small objects 

 

Compensation Available in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

In medical malpractice cases, successful victims can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include easily quantifiable damages, such as past and future medical expenses and loss of earning capacity. For many children with cerebral palsy, the medical expenses required to provide ongoing care are extensive. Children with cerebral palsy typically need occupational and physical therapy and many other types of therapy. 

In cases of severe cerebral palsy, the child may need a full-time caretaker to help with feeding, toileting, and other basic functions. Plaintiffs are also entitled to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. When medical practitioners act with willful disregard for a patient’s safety, they may be entitled to additional punitive damages. At CDH Law PLLC, we work with a network of experts to help understand the full extent of your damages going forward. We will develop a strong legal case and pursue the full amount of compensation you deserve. 

 

Contact a Syracuse and Central New York Cerebral Palsy Attorney Today

If your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis was due to medical malpractice, you might be entitled to compensation. At CDH Law PLLC we will carefully review your case during your free case evaluation and discuss your legal options with you. Mr. Gillette has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for medical malpractice victims in the greater Syracuse and Central New York area. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our cerebral palsy attorneys.

Carden Dotzler Hammond, PLLC represents clients throughout Syracuse and in the following towns and villages of Onondaga County: Camillus, Cicero, Clay, Dewitt, Elbridge, Geddes, Manlius, Marcellus, Onondaga, Salina, Skaneateles, Baldwinsville, East Syracuse, Fayetteville, Liverpool, North Syracuse, and Solvay, who were victims of a doctor’s failure to diagnose.