Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that, at times, can be filled with numerous doctor’s appointments and medical treatments. Although sometimes there is no known cause of cerebral palsy, in other instances it’s linked to physician mistakes and medical negligence. If your baby developed cerebral palsy due to medical negligence and mistakes, 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 or mistakes made by his/her physician, you more than likely have a valid cerebral palsy.
Medical negligence that causes an infant to develop cerebral palsy typically happens during and/or shortly after childbirth. The most common reasons include:
- Failing to schedule and perform an emergency C-section in time
- Failure to regularly monitor the baby’s heartbeat and oxygen levels
- Failure to treat jaundice, which can turn into kernicterus, a severe form of brain damage
- Excessive and harsh use of birth-assisting tools
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections
- Physicians failing to arrive at the delivery room in time, resulting in the infant losing oxygen while remaining in the birth canal for too long
- Head trauma during delivery
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Surgery errors during a C-section
You’ll need to consult an experienced and reputable lawyer if you feel your baby’s cerebral palsy occurred due to medical mistakes. A knowledgeable attorney can help you obtain the medical records, documentations, and other key items needed to prove your case.
It’s understandable that you may hesitant to file a lawsuit, but keep in mind that there are experienced attorneys who have dedicated themselves to helping families who’ve been injured by medical malpractice. They are competent lawyers who are able to discover evidence regarding your case that may have otherwise been missed.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Lawsuit?
When you choose the right attorney, it shouldn’t cost you anything upfront. Most cerebral palsy attorneys will file the lawsuit on your behalf and work with you on a contingency-based pay plan. This type of payment plan means that you will pay nothing until you win your lawsuit. The amount you’ll pay once you will your lawsuit will vary depending on your lawyer.
Average prices can range anywhere 15% to 40% of your awarded amount. Make sure you understand the exact price involved so that there will be no surprises in the end. Sometimes attorney fees are negotiable, so it’s important to ask any questions you may have before you sign any documentation. Keep in mind that most legal consultations are free of charge, so there is no reason why you can’t shop around for attorneys before making a decision.
It’s also recommended to work with an attorney who only works with contingency fees. This allows you peace of mind knowing that your lawyer already has the resources available to successfully represent you.
I Would Rather Not Go To Trial
Most lawsuits end in a settlement with the defense prior to going to trial. However, keep in mind that, although rare, some cases just can’t be settled. This happens when either the defense refuses to admit wrongdoing or refuses to negotiate a settlement amount. In some cases, the plaintiff may not happy with the settlement amount being offered.
If you do happen to go to trial for your cerebral palsy lawsuit, remember that your attorney will be there with you, helping you every step of the way. No one likes a long trial, but in the end, it will not only help you recover the damages you’re entitled to, but it will also expose the responsible party. Settlements are generally undisclosed information, while trials are public record.
What Happens During a Lawsuit?
Once you file your lawsuit, your lawyer will step into action and start obtaining all of you and your baby’s medical records, which includes your prenatal care, your baby’s medical care during pregnancy, and the childbirth records. This will help your lawyer decide if you have a strong enough case to continues.
Once your lawyer has all of the pertinent information and the evidence suggest medical malpractice may have played a part in your child’s disorder, your case will be filed in the appropriate court in your state. Once your case is filed, the defendant (s) in the case will receive a copy, known as the complaint.
Once the defendant receives the copy of your complaint, a stage called “discovery” begins. Discovery is a stage in which both sides’ attorneys (yours and the defendant’s) begin to prepare documents to prove their side of the lawsuit. During this time, your attorney usually exchanges evidence with the other party, a well any requests or depositions.
The next stage of the lawsuit after the discovery stage is negotiations. This is when your lawyer will again lay out the proof and evidence against the defendant in order to negotiate a settlement amount on your amount. Your attorney will “put the pressure on” during this stage to persuade to the defendant to settle now instead of going through a lengthy trial.
As mentioned earlier, most defendants will settle a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case. This 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 to a jury and the defendants will present their side of the case. A jury will then decide which side wins the case.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
If your baby was negligently injured, you should file your case as soon as possible. Each state in the nation has a statute of limitations period, meaning you only have a certain amount of time to file your case.
With cerebral palsy lawsuits, you generally have around two years from the time of the injury to file the lawsuit. However, since many children with cerebral palsy aren’t diagnosed until several years later, your state may allow you extra time to file your case. Your attorney will be able to tell you the exact laws in your state.