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If you live in Maine and have a child with cerebral palsy, it’s important to understand the basics of a lawsuit filing process. You may want to file a lawsuit against doctors who made mistakes and harmed your child, or against your local school district for failing to provide appropriate special education services, for instance.
Either type of lawsuit filing process can be complicated and confusing. Make sure you understand what the process entails before you dive into a case. Also, be sure that you have the right cerebral palsy lawyer working with your family, someone who knows Maine laws, and has fought for similar clients in the past.
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What Kinds of Lawsuits Can I File on Behalf of my Child with Cerebral Palsy?
There are a couple of different situations that may push you to want to take legal action on behalf of your child with cerebral palsy:
- Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice is when a medical professional fails to provide an adequate standard of care for a patient, resulting in injuries. For example, if your doctor failed to monitor your baby during labor and didn’t notice distress, that can cause brain damage and lead to cerebral palsy.
- Discrimination and Disability Rights. A child with cerebral palsy could potentially face bias over disabilities. You have a right in Maine to file a civil lawsuit against the person or organization involved if the government fails to take action.
How to File a Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Maine
In Maine, malpractice litigation laws provide the framework for how you file and how to follow through with the lawsuit process. Follow the steps with your lawyer’s guidance, and you will have the best possible chance of a good outcome.
Know the Statute of Limitations
Maine’s statute of limitations is on medical malpractice determines the time limit you have to submit your case. You must file within three years of the medical negligence incidence. There is an exception for minors. They have six years from the date of the injury or by the of 21 (whichever comes first). 
Discuss Damages with Your Lawyer
By providing all the relevant medical bills and receipts for expenses related to your child’s condition, you can help your lawyer give you the best chances of success. Fortunately, Maine does not cap damages, so you are free to seek as much as you believe is fair for both economic and non-economic costs.
Present to the Medical Review Panel
Maine does require that you take this additional step before officially beginning your lawsuit against defendants. You must present information and evidence to the review panel.  The panel will form an opinion on your case, although it is not binding. It is merely a hurdle you have to go through to be able to file. Even if the panel finds against you, you may still proceed and file the lawsuit.
File a Complaint
At this stage, your lawyer will be ready to file the official complaint, a document detailing the incident, and the evidence you have to show it was medical negligence that contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis. The defendants must respond, and then both sides will investigate and continue collecting evidence and expert testimony to build a case.
Attempt to Get a Settlement
Most defendants respond to the complaint by denying liability but are still willing to enter into negotiations for a settlement. This is often cheaper for them, and it takes less time. If you win in court, you could get a more significant monetary award. Your lawyer will negotiate for you and advise you, but the final decision as to whether or not to accept an offer is yours.
Take Your Case to Court
If the negotiations for a settlement don’t happen or are not successful, you can take your case to court. This is the final step in the process, and it requires that your lawyer proves your allegations of negligence to a jury. The jury decides if your child suffered from medical malpractice and what the damages should be if so.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint in Maine
When your child is a little older, discrimination may begin to be a problem. Laws in Maine and at the federal level ban discrimination because of disabilities in several areas of life, including school and public access.  And yet these instances happen.
For example, your local schools may not be providing your child with the accommodations necessary for free and appropriate education, which is against the rules set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
Your lawyer will understand all the different laws and which apply to your situation. This will determine where you file a complaint. In many cases, it will be with the state’s Human Rights Commission.  You or your lawyer can register by mail or in person, and it must be sworn under oath.
An investigation will follow this. The investigator assigned by the Commission may decide to hold a resolution to try to bring about a conclusion between you and the respondent. If your case cannot be resolved or you are not happy with the outcome after 180 days, you can request a “right to sue” document. This will allow you and your lawyer to file a lawsuit against the responsible person or organization.
How to Find the Lawyer to Help you File a Lawsuit
Throughout all of these processes of getting justice for your child, the common element should be the right lawyer. The method of filing a lawsuit and following through with it to a satisfactory conclusion is not easy. You need professional representation to help you along the way.
Be sure that the lawyer you hire has real experience in these kinds of cases and with clients like your child and your family. A lawyer without the relevant experience will not be able to provide the best guidance. Examples of malpractice, birth injuries, and discrimination are specialized and require unique expertise.
You can find someone with the right experience and area of specialty through the state bar association. You can also contact local groups that work with disabled community members or talk to local parents of children who have similar disabilities. They should be able to provide referrals.
Starting the cerebral palsy law process can be lengthy, complicated, and confusing. Yet, the outcome for your child could mean everything, including compensation that can provide the best treatment and care. Let the right lawyer guide you through the process.
- Medical liability/Malpractice statutes of limitation. (2014, March 20). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-statutes-of-limitation.aspx
- Medical liability/Malpractice merit affidavits and expert witnesses. (2014, June 24). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-merit-affidavits-and-expert-witnesses.aspx
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? (n.d.). ADA National Network | Information, Guidance and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Retrieved from: https://adata.org/learn-about-ada
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (n.d.). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. U.S. Department of Education.
Retrieved from: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/
- File a complaint | Maine Human Rights Commission. (n.d.). Humans Rights Commission. State of Maine.
Retrieved from: https://www.maine.gov/mhrc/file