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A cerebral palsy lawsuit in Washington proceeds according to state laws. The steps you need to take to seek justice for your child, to resolve issues of discrimination, or to recover damages, can be complicated. It’s easy to make mistakes and to get overwhelmed if you’re not an expert in legal matters, but the benefits of filing and winning your lawsuit are worth the effort.
Before you begin the process of filing, take the time to get a basic understanding of the laws and procedures. Then, contact an experienced and reliable Washington cerebral palsy lawyer who can guide your decisions and give you expert advice, while advocating for your child.
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The Types of Lawsuits You May File in Washington for your Child with Cerebral Palsy
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional causes patients harm by failing to meet an adequate standard of care. In other words, if your doctor or another professional makes a mistake that led to your child’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy, you likely have a valid medical malpractice claim.
- Discrimination. Washington state law protects disabled people from discrimination in housing and public accommodations. Federal laws ensure disabled children get a free and appropriate education. If these laws are violated, you have a right to take action. You can file a complaint with a state or federal agency for resolution, but you can also sue those responsible and potentially recover damages.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Cerebral Palsy in Washington
Washington laws set out how medical malpractice cases must proceed, step by step. To get through this process smoothly and to have the best chance of a positive outcome, it helps to understand the laws that limit when and how you can file, and what you need to do after registering.
Statute of Limitations – Filing on Time
The first relevant law you need to understand is the statute of limitations. Washington limits most claims to three years from the incident or one year from the time the patient discovered it. However, minors represent an exception, so your child may have until within one year of their 18th birthday to file. 
Damages – How Much Can You Recover?
Washington puts no limits on how much you can recover from a medical malpractice lawsuit.  The state did cap damages in 1988, but it was quickly ruled unconstitutional by the Washington Supreme Court.
Consider how much you think you should receive based on medical bills and any other expenses related to your child’s condition. Damages include past, current, and future expenses.
Filing the Lawsuit – Mediation
Your lawyer will file the lawsuit on your behalf, submitting a complaint that details the allegations you’re making and naming the defendants. The state requires that your next step is to participate in mediation. The purpose of mediation is to prevent trials, which are lengthy and costly.
Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf and try to get a fair settlement amount. It’s beneficial to both sides to avoid a trial.
Going to Trial – Jury Decision
If mediation fails, you can go ahead to a trial by jury. In court, your lawyer will present evidence and call on witnesses to make your case for the jury. The jury decides whether or not the defendants are negligent and if they owe you damages. You or the other side may choose to appeal the jury decision, carrying the case further to a higher court in the state.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint or Lawsuit in Washington
The Washington State, Human Rights Commission, handles cases of discrimination in housing and public accommodations, areas in which your child may have issues.  For instance, a landlord may refuse to rent to you because your child needs a wheelchair ramp, or a bus may not be able to accommodate your child’s chair.
To resolve these situations, you’ll file a complaint with the Commission, which triggers an investigation. You will likely go through mediation or conciliation led by the Commission to try to bring about a resolution that both sides can agree on.
If there is no resolution, you may have a public hearing to make a final determination about whether or not discrimination occurred and if it did what you are owed.
For education issues, your lawyer can help you file with the U.S. Department of Education.  Washington also allows you to take private legal action. This means that for any discrimination incident, you can file a lawsuit against those responsible.
Hiring a Lawyer for the Lawsuit Filing Process
The process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit in Washington is complicated and requires someone with in-depth knowledge of the relevant law. You need a lawyer who understands these cases and who has worked with similar clients. Ideally, your lawyer or law firm will specialize in medical malpractice, disabilities, cerebral palsy, or discrimination.
Look for a lawyer with these specialties by doing an online search, checking with the state bar association, or consulting with anyone you know who is in a similar situation. Additionally, any local groups that work with disabled children may be able to refer you to someone with the right experience.
When you realize it’s time to take action on behalf of your disabled child, you may not be sure what steps to take. Learning more about the lawsuit filing process helps, but the most important thing you can do is find the Washington cerebral palsy lawyer who will fight hard on your behalf and for your child’s future.
- 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
- Damages caps in medical malpractice cases. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690332/
- File a Complaint. Know your rights. Protect Them. (n.d.). Washington State Human Rights Commission.
Retrieved from: https://www.hum.wa.gov/file-complaint
- 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/