If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe the condition was caused by a doctor or another medical professional’s negligence, you have the right to demand answers. The team at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., has earned a reputation as tenacious defenders of children who have been harmed by birth injuries. Our attorneys are here to help you pursue the answers and compensation your child and your family deserves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is the most common motor disability in childhood. When a child is born with cerebral palsy, parents come to recognize that their child will face additional hardships throughout childhood and beyond. When medical negligence is to blame, these parents and their children should not be forced to pay for the exorbitant costs that may stem from medical needs and other losses related to this disability.
Our cerebral palsy lawyers will fight to hold the medical professional and facility accountable if they failed to provide an adequate standard of care and your child was hurt as a result. Please contact us now for a free evaluation of your case by calling (866) 569-3400 or filing out our form online.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or, in the case of a child, damage to a developing brain. The brain issues lead to a victim being unable to control his or her muscles.
Cerebral palsy may be mild or severe. A person with mild cerebral palsy may have some difficulty walking but might not require special assistance. Severe cerebral palsy, on the other hand, can often require customized equipment for walking, and some victims might not be able to walk at all.
Cerebral palsy will not worsen, but the symptoms may change. Some of the other related conditions that the CDC says could occur in people with CP include intellectual disability; vision, hearing, or speech problems; changes in the spine; or joint problems.
Children with cerebral palsy will have difficulty crawling, walking, balancing, speaking, swallowing, and chewing. They may also experience bowel and bladder function issues, and additional problems could include learning disabilities, behavioral problems, or seizures.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a majority of cerebral palsy cases (between 85 percent and 90 percent) are congenital, meaning an inherited birth injury for which specific causes are not known.
The CDC notes that a number of risk factors increase the likelihood of congenital cerebral palsy, such as:
- Low birthweight
- Premature birth
- Multiple births
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
- Infertility treatments
- Infections during pregnancy
- Jaundice and kernicterus
- Other birth complications such as placenta detachment, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth
Non-congenital cases are known as acquired cerebral palsy. Acquired cerebral palsy can be the result of injuries, infections, or problems with blood flow to the brain.
The Mayo Clinic states that some infections or toxic exposures during pregnancy, such as cytomegalovirus, rubella or German measles, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, and Zika virus infection, can significantly increase the risk of cerebral palsy in a baby. Child illnesses such as bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, severe or untreated jaundice, and bleeding into the brain can also significantly increase the chance of developing cerebral palsy.
Other birth factors such as breech presentation, low birth weight, multiple babies, and premature births can all pose additional risk factors for cerebral palsy.
When Is a Child’s Cerebral Palsy a Malpractice Issue?
Cerebral palsy becomes a medical malpractice concern when adequate procedures, diagnosis, or treatment were not delivered or performed. Congenital cerebral palsy is not a compensable medical malpractice claim, which is why many doctors and hospitals are quick to claim that any such injuries might be congenital.
Although cerebral palsy is commonly an inherited condition, there are still a multitude of cases that do stem from medical negligence. Parents of children afflicted with cerebral palsy will want to be certain that there was not some kind of mistake committed, but most medical establishments are highly unlikely to admit any errors on their own.
Medical errors can occur at various stages of a mother’s pregnancy, so the mistakes are not always obvious to most people. You may have a medical malpractice case when your child’s cerebral palsy stemmed from a lack of sufficient information during pregnancy, improper handling of maternal infections, medication errors, failure to meet the standard of care, diagnostic errors, labor and delivery room mistakes, or other administrative errors.
Three particular kinds of cerebral palsy issues that are usually medical malpractice cases include:
- Anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain — Cerebral anoxia involves the brain being completely deprived of oxygen and often causes permanent brain damage. Medical professionals may be liable for failure to recognize certain labor and delivery issues that can cause cerebral anoxia.
- Hypoxia, or reduced supply of oxygen to the brain — Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), also known as birth asphyxia, involves a reduced flow of oxygen to the brain causing brain damage. Umbilical cord issues can be a factor in these types of cases, but hypoxia can also be the result of prolonged births or abnormal presentations in which children have difficulty fitting through birth canals.
- Head trauma — Trauma to a baby’s head may occur during labor or delivery.
You should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether you have a medical malpractice case related to your child’s cerebral palsy.
Proving Medical Negligence in Cerebral Palsy Cases
When your child has been born with cerebral palsy, you will want to contact an attorney as soon as possible so an independent investigation can be immediately commenced into your child’s birth and what mistakes may have been made. All medical malpractice claims are going to involve proving the same four basic elements:
- A duty of care
- A breach of duty
In a cerebral palsy case, the medical professional must have had a duty to care for your child and must have committed some kind of mistake constituting a breach of that duty. The type of error committed can vary depending on the case, and proof of such mistakes can often be very challenging.
Some of the most common provable causes of medical negligence in a cerebral palsy case include, but are not limited to:
- Improper use of delivery tools
- Failure to detect or treat infections
- Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Delay in or failing to perform a cesarean section (C-section)
- Failure to detect changes in a fetal heart rate monitor
As we work to build a case for you, our lawyers will document your child’s medical expenses, talk to experts about lack of proper care, and show every way your family has been affected, including the pain and suffering your child has endured and will continue to face.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four major kinds of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy — The most common form of cerebral palsy, spastic cerebral palsy, involves a child having awkward reflexes, stiffness in a part of their body, and permanently tightened muscles and joints. Spastic cerebral palsy is often the result of damage to the brain’s motor cortex.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy — Also known as non-spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to either the basal ganglia or the cerebellum, possibly both. The main characteristic of this type of cerebral palsy is involuntary movement of the limbs, face, and torso.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy — Ataxic cerebral palsy causes issues with balance and coordination, and it often stems from damage to the cerebellum. Victims may have difficulty speaking, problems with depth perception, shakiness and tremors, and awkward walking movements.
- Mixed cerebral palsy — When a child demonstrates more than one type of cerebral palsy, he or she is classified as having mixed cerebral palsy. This often involves injuries to multiple parts of the brain.
Approximately 70 percent of cerebral palsy cases are spastic cerebral palsy, while the other three types account for about 10 percent each. It is important to understand that the initial signs of cerebral palsy are not always immediately evident to most parents right after birth. However, as soon as you receive a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, you should speak with an attorney if you suspect negligent care or malpractice.
Talk to an Experienced Philadelphia Cerebral Palsy Attorney Now
Was your child was born with cerebral palsy in Philadelphia or a surrounding area of Pennsylvania? Call our team at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., right away to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Our team can be reached day or night by calling (866) 569-3400, or contact us online to speak with one of our knowledgeable cerebral palsy lawyers. We are here to talk through your options and help your family get answers during this challenging time.