Cerebral Palsy Claims
Cerebral Palsy is a long-lasting disorder that affects muscle tone movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing before birth) disorders of childhood and can also lead to other health issues such as speech, vision and hearing problems and can extend to learning disabilities in children. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment, therapy, special equipment and in some cases, surgery can help children who are living with the condition.
Cerebral Palsy claims can be quite complex and be emotionally difficult for the parents involved. This is why it is important that you speak with a cerebral palsy solicitor as soon as you can to determine your situation. A cerebral palsy solicitor will help you determine if you have a medical negligence case or not and what the next steps will be.
Main Causes of Cerebral Palsy Claims
In legal terms, there are two types of cerebral palsy cases – Cerebral Palsy cases caused by negligence on the part of the health professional and non-negligent cases Cerebral Palsy.
Non-negligent cases of Cerebral Palsy
It is worth mentioning that not all cases of Cerebral Palsy are due to the negligent management of a mother’s pregnancy, delivery or indeed the neonatal care given to the baby by health professionals. In fact, it is rare for problems/complications during a mothers labour and delivery to cause Cerebral Palsy.
In cases where negligence is not the cause, cerebral palsy is caused by congenital malformation of the brain, i.e. this occurs when the foetus is growing inside the womb leading to the child being born with a birth defect as opposed to developing this disorder as a result of negligence on the part of the medical professional. Many cases are as a result of problems during pregnancy when a foetus’ brain is either damaged or does not develop normally. This can be due to infections, maternal health problems, a genetic disorder or something else that interferes with normal brain development.
Cerebral Palsy caused by negligence on the part of the health professional
In some cases, Cerebral Palsy is caused by medical negligence on the part of the doctor, nurse or midwife. There are a number of different mistakes, actions, misjudgments that can be made by the health professional during a mother’s pregnancy, labour and delivery or the baby’s immediate post-natal that can cause cerebral palsy, these can include:
- Failure of medical personnel to deal competently with an abnormal CGT trace and respond to changes in the baby’s heart rate – CGT is a monitor that tracks the baby’s heart rate and provides an indication of the well-being of the baby.
- Failure to recognise/treat/respond to a mother’s high blood pressure or toxaemia (toxaemia – blood poisoning from a bacterial infection)
- Misuse of Oxytocin/Syncline used to induce or accelerate labour.
- Injuries cause during delivery by forceps/vacuum
- Injuries caused to the baby due to placental abruption or even incompetently performed resuscitation of a sick newborn.
- Leaving the baby in the birth canal for too long, leading to a lack of oxygen – this is known as intrapartum asphyxia.
- Failure to perform caesarean section where necessary
Common types of Cerebral Palsy
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
This is the most common form of Cerebral Palsy and affects the body’s ability to relax muscles causing rigidity meaning that control or movement will, therefore, be poor. Often a child will have severe learning difficulties and a reduced life expectancy.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
This form of cerebral palsy has more subtle symptoms often associated with problems with balance, speech and perhaps shaky hand movements.
Process of Making a Cerebral Palsy Claim
Making cerebral palsy claims as a result of medical negligence * differ from other personal injury claims * in that is not assessed by the Injuries Board. This means that the claim must be made through the courts and to do this you will need to speak with a cerebral palsy / medical negligence solicitor to make sure you take the right steps forward.
The time in which you bring a claim forward is an important factor to take into consideration. A person has two years following the date of the injury or two years following the date of knowledge of the injury to make a claim.
For birth related injuries, like cerebral palsy, to a child caused by medical negligence the date of the injury will be deemed to be the child’s date of birth. In cases where the injured party is a child, the two-year time limit for making a claim doesn’t begin until the child turns 18 years of age. In the meantime, a parent can make a cerebral palsy claim on the child’s behalf if they wish to do so.
The first step in assessing if you can move forward with a cerebral palsy claim / medical negligence claim * is to contact a medical negligence solicitor. In order for the solicitor to establish a medical negligence case the following steps will need to be taken:
- All medical records will need to be obtained
- A medical examination and subsequent report with an expert in the field will need to be organised to prove your medical negligence claim * and that the medical practice you were treated by fell short of acceptable standards.
Once these steps have been taken, you will work together with your medical negligence solicitor to take the claim further. Tracey Solicitors has a dedicated medical negligence solicitors team that can take you through the process in a manner that you will understand. For a confidential discussion phone Caoimhe McConnell on 00353 1 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her about your case.