Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition that causes permanent disabilities and complications. Although symptoms and the type and severity of the disabilities are different for each individual, this is a condition that requires lifelong medical treatment, therapy, surgery, and a lot of doctor’s appointments, as well as the use of assistive devices and technologies.
Sometimes there is no known cause of cerebral palsy. But in too many cases, it is the result of brain damage caused by one or more physician mistakes considered to be medical negligence. If your baby developed cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, you have the right to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit against the responsible party.
Do I Have a Valid Lawsuit?
If your baby’s cerebral palsy stems from negligence, you may have a valid medical malpractice case. You could potentially recover monetary damages. Medical negligence is any preventable mistake or inadequate care by a physician or other healthcare worker.
Medical negligence that causes an infant to develop cerebral palsy typically occurs during pregnancy or during or shortly after labor and delivery. Some of the most common preventable medical errors that can lead to cerebral palsy are:
- Failure to perform a C-section at all, or performing it too late.
- Inadequate or no monitoring of fetal vital signs and distress, or failure to act on monitored distress.
- Failure to treat jaundice, which can trigger kernicterus, a type of brain damage.
- Excessive force with birth-assisting tools, like forceps.
- Failure to diagnose and treat infections in the mother or to monitor her health during pregnancy.
- Not delivering an infant in a timely manner, resulting in oxygen loss from being in the birth canal too long.
- Mistakes in anesthesia administration.
- Surgical errors during a C-section.
If you feel your baby is now disabled because of medical errors, contact an experienced and reputable lawyer specializing in medical malpractice. An attorney who has worked with families of children with cerebral palsy can help.
Filing a lawsuit may not be the first thing you think about after receiving a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. The idea of going up against a doctor’s or a hospital’s insurance companies can be intimidating. But, experienced malpractice lawyers have done this many times. They are dedicated to helping those who have been victimized. The have the resources and skills to help your family.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Lawsuit?
With the right lawyer, a lawsuit won’t cost you anything unless and until you win your cerebral palsy lawsuit and recover damages from the defendants. Most cerebral palsy attorneys file the lawsuit on your behalf. They then work with you on a contingency basis. You only pay a percentage of the compensation if and when you win the lawsuit.
Typical contingency fees for a lawyer in a medical malpractice case are between 15 to 40 percent of the money you receive from the defendants. Always talk about fees before hiring a legal team. This will help you avoid surprises later and make the best choice for your family.
Only work with an attorney who offers contingency payment. Those that require payment up front don’t have the resources investigate your case and represent you effectively. Contingency also means you don’t have to find the money now when you’re trying to pay for treatment for your child.
Do I Have To Go To Trial?
Most lawsuits end in a settlement, which takes place in lieu of a trial. But not all cases can be settled this way. The defense may refuse to admit wrongdoing or to settle for an amount your lawyer feels is fair. You may also decide not to settle for the amount offered, in which case you can go to trial.
If you do need to go to trial for your cerebral palsy lawsuit, your attorney will be guiding you. It may be intimidating, but a trial will not only help you recover damages, it will also expose the responsible party. trials are in the public record, and this exposure helps make healthcare safer overall.
Steps in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Once you file your lawsuit, your lawyer will start investigating the incident of medical negligence. You’ll need to help by providing all of your and your baby’s medical records. This includes prenatal care, your baby’s medical care during pregnancy, and the childbirth records.
Filing a Lawsuit
With all of the information gathered, your lawyer can begin the case. When filing the lawsuit, a copy goes to the defendants. This is known as the complaint. They will have a certain amount of time to respond tot he complaint, usually 30 days.
The Discovery Period
The discovery phase begins once the defendant has responded to the complaint. During the discovery phase both sides’ legal teams begin to prepare documents to prove their side of the lawsuit. If there is no response, you win by default.
Your lawyer will then gather more evidence, conduct depositions, and take other steps to prove your case. The defendant’s team will build a case in defense of your charges of malpractice. Both sides can exchange information during this period.
Negotiations and Settlement
Your lawyer will then try to resolve your case with a settlement negotiation. This is when your lawyer will lay out the evidence against the defendant in order to negotiate a settlement amount for your child. Your attorney will try to persuade the defendant to settle now instead of going through a lengthy trial.
Most defendants agree to settle out of court in medical malpractice cases, even if they are unwilling to admit negligence. It is usually less expensive because juries tend to award larger amounts. A settlement occurs during the negotiations stage, but should either party fail to come to an agreement, the case will then go to trial.
If your cerebral palsy lawsuit goes to trial, your attorney will present the evidence before a jury. The defendants will also present their side of the case. The jury decides if the defendants are negligent and the amount of any monetary award you are entitled to receive.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
If a medical professional’s mistakes caused your baby harm, take legal action as soon as possible. Each state has a statute of limitations that sets a time period after which it is too late to file.
With cerebral palsy lawsuits you generally have around two years from the time of the injury to file. The exact time limit varies by state. Since many children with cerebral palsy aren’t diagnosed until several years later, you may have extra time to file your case. Your attorney will be able to explain the laws in your state. Because your child needs therapy and treatment, which can be costly, it’s a good idea to get started on a case as soon as possible.