Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that requires medical treatment, ongoing therapy, surgery, and a lot of doctor’s appointments. 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, 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 preventable mistakes made by a physician or other healthcare worker, you more than likely have a valid cerebral palsy case.
Medical negligence that causes an infant to develop cerebral palsy typically happens during or shortly after childbirth. Some of the most common preventable mistakes that lead to this condition are:
- Not performing an emergency C-section in time, or failing to order one at all.
- 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.
- Failure to deliver an infant in a timely manner, resulting in oxygen loss from being in the birth canal too long.
- Head trauma during delivery.
- Errors in anesthesia administration.
- Surgery errors during a C-section.
If you feel your baby’s cerebral palsy would not have developed if not for medical errors, contact a reputable lawyer. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you obtain the medical records and other documentation needed to prove your case.
You may hesitant to file a lawsuit because it seems daunting going up against a doctor or hospital, 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 have the resources and skills to be able to prove negligence and to find evidence you may have missed that will strengthen your case.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Lawsuit?
When you choose the right attorney, it shouldn’t cost you anything begin this important lawsuit. 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 but is usually charged as a percentage of the compensation.
Typical contingency fees for a lawyer in a medical malpractice case range from 15 to 40 percent of the award you receive at the end of a successful settlement or trial. It’s important to discuss fees before hiring a legal team so there are no surprises later and so that you can make the best choice for your family. Most law firms offer consultations are free of charge, so it makes sense to 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.
Do I Have To Go To Trial?
Most lawsuits end in a settlement with the defendants, which takes place outside the courtroom. However, keep in mind that 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 be happy or satisfied 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.
Steps in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Once you file your lawsuit, your lawyer will get to work investigating and 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 continue.
Filing the Lawsuit
With all of the pertinent information and if the evidence suggests medical malpractice may have played a part in your child’s disorder, your lawyer will file your case in the appropriate court in your state. Once your case is filed, the defendant or defendants in the case will receive a copy, known as the complaint.
The Discovery Period
Once the defendant receives the copy of your complaint, the discovery phase begins. Discovery is a stage in which both sides’ legal teams begin to prepare documents to prove their side of the lawsuit. Your lawyer will gather evidence, depositions, and other information to prove your case, while the defendant’s team will build a case in his or her defense. Both sides can exchange information during this period.
Negotiations and Settlement
The next stage of the lawsuit after the discovery stage is to try negotiating a settlement. 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.
Most defendants end up agreeing to settle a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case, even if they are unwilling to admit negligence. It’s usually less expensive for the defendant, as 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 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, 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. In either case, it will benefit your child and your family to get started on a case as soon as possible.