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The North Carolina cerebral palsy lawsuit filing process is complicated. Learn more about it before you begin this journey because knowledge can make the process easier. It is also important to find a cerebral palsy lawyer with experience handling these kinds of cases.
Types of Lawsuits to File for a Child with Cerebral Palsy in North Carolina
If the idea of filing a lawsuit seems foreign to you, it’s important to learn more about your options. There are a couple of types of legal action you can take now or in the future that will benefit your disabled child:
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical malpractice is a legal situation in which a medical professional harms a patient through negligence, failing to provide an adequate standard of care. A medical malpractice lawsuit can result in injustice for your child and payment of damages to cover medical and related expenses.
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Discrimination or Disability Rights Complaint or Lawsuit
As your child gets older, discrimination can become an issue. Your child may be denied access to public spaces or special education services and accommodations at school.
To resolve the situation and ensure your child gets what they need, you can file a complaint with a state or government agency. In some cases, you can also take private legal action, filing a lawsuit against those responsible for recovering damages.
How to File a Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in North Carolina
To file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, you have to be prepared to follow a specific process based on North Carolina laws. Every state sets its own rules regarding medical malpractice cases and the steps you must take. Make sure you understand these before beginning the filing process:
- Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations limits when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In North Carolina, the law gives you three years from the negligent incident to file or one year from when you realized it happened. If you follow the latter law, the lawsuit can be filed no more than ten years after the incident.
- Damages. Every state also handles damages differently. Discuss with your lawyer how much you expect to recover for actual costs, known as economic damages, and provide them with all relevant medical bills, records, and related receipts. North Carolina limits only the amount you can recover for non-economic costs, such as pain and suffering, but that cap is being challenged as unconstitutional.
- The Complaint. Unlike many states, North Carolina does not require that you file an affidavit of merit or go before a review panel. You can go ahead and file a complaint. Your lawyer will draft and send this document, which details your allegations and notifies the defendants. The defendants will have time to respond, and they will most likely deny any liability in your child’s condition.
- Settlement negotiations. Although they will probably deny being responsible, most defendants are willing to try to settle malpractice lawsuits out of court. In this situation, your lawyer will use the evidence collected about your case to negotiate a fair settlement for you and your child. You have the right to accept or reject any offers.
- Trial. If neither side can agree on a settlement, you can go to court with your lawsuit. Both sides will have time to investigate, gather witnesses, take depositions, and otherwise prepare. Your lawyer will represent you in court, presenting the evidence and offering expert testimony to make your case. The jury makes the final decision in your favor or the defendants’ and awards any damages.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint in North Carolina
According to the law, your child has a right to live free from discrimination based on disability. Unfortunately, discrimination still happens, and rights are denied. North Carolina’s Civil Rights Division handles complaints about discrimination in employment in housing.
While employment won’t’ be an issue for your child, your family may experience housing discrimination because of disabilities and accommodations needed for your child. You can file a complaint with the Division.
Your lawyer can help you do this and then follow through with the process, including an impartial investigation, a mediation session, and a public hearing. You may also be allowed to file a private lawsuit against those responsible in some situations.
You may need to file a complaint with the federal government for education discrimination.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights handles complaints related to education. For instance, if your child is not provided needed accommodations, such as a wheelchair ramp or access to the playground, you can file a complaint.
Keep in mind that your child has a right to a free and appropriate education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.
How to Find a North Carolina Lawyer for Filing a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Knowing more about the lawsuit filing process can help, but you will ultimately need a lawyer with experience and expertise in disability rights, cerebral palsy, and medical malpractice. The state bar association can help you search for a lawyer with the right specialty area.
Make sure you only settle for someone who has helped clients like your child in the past and has been successful in winning them justice and damages.
The process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit may seem like an impossible task, especially when your child needs immediate care. But legal action can benefit your child in the long run, providing better access, more rights, and damages to cover care and treatment costs.
With the right lawyer to help you, this process can be a lot less intimidating.
- 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
- NC OAH: Civil rights division. (n.d.). NC Office of Administrative Hearings.
Retrieved from: https://www.oah.nc.gov/civil-rights-division
- How to file a discrimination complaint with the office for civil rights. (2020, January 10). U.S. Department of Education.
Retrieved from: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html