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If you feel your child developed cerebral palsy after medical negligence, or if you feel your disabled child is facing discrimination, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties.
A successful lawsuit may mean getting justice, holding medical professionals accountable, resolving discrimination, improving your child’s access to services, and recovering damages. To make the process easier and less confusing, you’ll need an experienced Oklahoma cerebral palsy lawyer.
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Types of Lawsuits You May Need to File for Your Child with Cerebral Palsy
There are two situations that could lead you to file a lawsuit on behalf of your child diagnosed with cerebral palsy: if a medical professional made a mistake that contributed to the condition or if your child is experiencing discrimination and being denied access, opportunities, or services. For these situations, there are two types of legal action to take.
- Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice is an unfortunate situation in which a medical professional or organization made negligent mistakes in care that contributed to or caused harm. If something your doctor did, or failed to do, during your pregnancy or delivery or for your infant, and you believe it caused cerebral palsy, you can sue over medical malpractice.
- Filing a discrimination complaint. Civil rights laws at both the federal and state levels protect your child from discrimination based on disabilities.  This means that if you do experience discrimination, you can take action by filing a complaint against those responsible. Oklahoma also allows you to take private action, filing a lawsuit to recover damages.
How to File a Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Oklahoma
Each state has its laws that govern how medical malpractice lawsuits are filed and how they proceed. To make the most of this opportunity to get justice for your child, learn a little more about the process and work with a lawyer experienced in these cases.
Know the Time Limits
First, before you can file anything, you need to know that you are not too late. Oklahoma’s statute of limitations on filing medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the incident or from when it should have been discovered. There are exceptions to this law for minors, who can take until their 12th birthday to file. 
Damages refer to the money you will try to recover from the defendants in this case. To determine a fair amount of money to seek for economic losses makes sure your lawyer has all the necessary information: medical records, medical bills, estimated future expenses from a doctor, and receipts for related expenses.
You can also seek non-economic damages, compensation for things like pain, suffering, and the fact that your child may not ever be able to live independently. But, understand that Oklahoma caps this amount at $350,000.
File an Affidavit of Merit
The law in Oklahoma requires that you submit this document, a statement from a qualified medical expert that, upon review of the evidence, your case has merit.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled against this requirement in the past,  but it remains on the books. To be safe and avoid having your lawsuit dismissed, it’s a good idea to file one.
Begin the Lawsuit
With the affidavit out of the way, you can officially file your lawsuit, sending a complaint detailing the incident and your allegations and notifying the defendants. With the lawsuit filed, both sides will have time to investigate, speak to experts, find witnesses, and conduct depositions.
Negotiate with the Defendants
Next, your lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement. This isn’t required by state law, but most defendants are willing to negotiate. A settlement will get you compensation sooner, but it doesn’t always work out.
Go to Court
If the settlement talks don’t work, you can take your case to trial. Your lawyer will present evidence and witnesses to prove your allegations of negligence, while the defendants’ lawyers will do the same to discredit your case. The jury has the final decision and can award damages.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint in Oklahoma
If your child or your family experiences discrimination over your child’s disabilities, you can take action. Filing a complaint with the state’s Civil Rights Enforcement Unit (CREU) requires a few steps but is not difficult. The CREU takes cases related to housing and public accommodation, areas your family may have issues with access or discrimination.
Once you file a sworn complaint with the CREU, they will guide you through the process. The next step is for the CREU to notify the respondent and to begin investigating the incident. If they find insufficient evidence of discrimination, the case will be dismissed.
If the results of the investigation include evidence of discrimination, the CREU can do one of two things:
- Allow you to file a lawsuit against those responsible
- Take action against those responsible on your behalf
You can also settle the issue through mediation at any point during the process as long as both sides are willing. The CREU offers free mediation services.
Finding the Right Oklahoma Lawyer to Help You File a Lawsuit
Before you begin the process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit in Oklahoma, it’s important to understand the laws and steps but also to have an advocate on your side. Without a good lawyer, you risk missing steps, making mistakes, and losing the chance to get justices and recover damages for your child’s care.
To find the right lawyer, look at several resources: the state bar association, local organizations that help disabled community members, parents of disabled children in your community, and even online searches.
Just be sure that you don’t settle for any lawyer. You need someone who specializes in disabilities, civil rights, and medical malpractice to ensure you have the best chance of winning your case.
Filing a lawsuit on behalf of your child, living with cerebral palsy, is important. It’ also tricky, but when you take the time to learn more about the process and to hire the best lawyer for the job, you can get through it and win for your child.
- 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://www.hulu.com/watch/ca73b7db-71eb-4dc8-b44f-7d7712a5efa0
- 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
- Law written to deter frivolous malpractice lawsuits declared unconstitutional. (2017, October 25). Oklahoman.com.
Retrieved from: https://oklahoman.com/article/5569350/law-written-to-deter-frivolous-malpractice-lawsuits-declared-unconstitutional
- How to file a complaint. The civil rights division. (2020, April 6). U.S. Department of Justice.
Retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/crt/how-file-complaint