Cerebral palsy is often caused by accidents during live childbirth and could be linked to medical malpractice. The disorder could come from two types of brain damage. The first possible cause is a malformation in the brain during pregnancy, typically from a genetic disorder, faulty blood supply to the brain or chromosome abnormalities. The second type occurs more frequently and is a result of an illness or injury that damages the foetus’ brain.
Beyond the natural causes of cerebral palsy, there are medical mistakes that could cause neurological damage. If you believe your child has suffered medical malpractice that resulted in cerebral palsy, there are options that can help you win compensation.
Signs of medical malpractice
Cerebral palsy is characterised by physical circumstances that chronically affect the movement of the body and muscle coordination. The condition can range from a mild case of weakness in one hand to a severe and complete lack of movement. Someone with this condition could experience seizures and other complications that affect their hearing, vision, speech or intellect.
Because cerebral palsy isn’t only the result of medical malpractice and could occur naturally in the body, it’s important to know what to look for during your pregnancy and labour that could indicate negligence.
Some instances that could lead to cerebral palsy can include medical professionals failing to:
- Perform safe medical procedures.
- Schedule and perform an emergency C-section when necessary.
- Monitor the baby’s heart rate throughout pregnancy and labour.
- Detect and correct umbilical cord concerns.
- Use forceps or a vacuum extractor properly.
- Accurately detect and address maternal infections.
The birthing process can be traumatic for the mother and infant; sometimes that trauma can cause cerebral palsy. A careful review of the medical records can help support your claim and point out the cause of injuries and where the medical staff may have played a part in your child’s injury.
To help discern the signs of cerebral palsy, it’s helpful to know that there are four types of cerebral palsy you should be aware of:
- Athetosis: Involuntary writhing movements of the limbs, usually caused by hypoxia, or when tissues are deprived of oxygen.
- Dystonia: Sustained or intermittent muscle contractions that cause repetitive movements and twisting.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy: Shaky movements throughout the body that affects a person’s coordination and balance.
- Spastic quadriplegia: Involves involuntary, jerky muscular contractions of all four limbs. This is the most common form of cerebral palsy and affects 70-80% of people with the condition.
How to file a cerebral palsy claim
Medical malpractice occurs between a hospital, medical staff such as doctors, nurses and medical contractors and their patient. The medical professionals may have caused a birth injury due to negligence during your visit. To file a cerebral palsy claim your Gerard Malouf & Partners lawyer and you must be able to prove that:
- There was a breach of standard medical care.
- The injury was caused by negligence.
- Due to negligence, the child suffered significant damage.
Medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove without the right team to support you. Medical experts must be involved to evaluate records and statements, the state of the child with cerebral palsy and determine where a breach in medical duty of care occurred.
Gerard Malouf & Partners lawyers will gather evidence, and review the information with expert, unbiased medical professionals to determine your case. If you do have a viable negligence case, you have the chance to earn compensation to cover:
- Costs of treatments.
- Attendant care.
- Equipment and aids.
- Loss of earnings.
- Pain and suffering.
- Medical expenses.
Most cases can be settled out of court after the hospital agrees to the amount of compensation to ensure the child’s needs are covered.
Timeline to file a medical negligence claim for cerebral palsy
Australian law allows up to six years after the date of injury to bring a cerebral palsy lawsuit forward on behalf of the child. If six years passes, there are some exceptions to the rules that could pass, but it is important to bring your case to use as soon as possible.
Cerebral Palsy Caused by Negligent Management of Pregnancy by a Sydney Hospital Results in over $10 Million in Compensation
This medical negligence case involved a Sydney couple, in the late stages of pregnancy, looking forward to starting a family. When the expectant mother’s water broke six days later than anticipated, she visited her local suburban hospital expecting her child to be delivered.
Rather than having her pregnancy managed at the hospital, the expectant mother was sent home to monitor any progression. It was not until two days and two presentations later that she was eventually admitted and her son was delivered.
It is well known in the medical profession that following the breaking of a mother’s water the child can be exposed to infection and the deprivation of oxygen. Despite this knowledge our client’s local hospital failed, upon her initial presentation, to transfer her to a major Sydney hospital located a mere 13km away with a dedicated obstetrics team and the facilities capable of performing caesarean sections.
The failure to appropriately manage the birth of our client’s first son resulted in depriving him of oxygen in the womb which ultimately led to his cerebral palsy.
The couple found themselves caught in the bittersweet emotions of joy from starting a family with a son they loved. However, they felt strong feelings of fear and apprehension as they considered how their child would be brought up with only one parent to care for him. The family would have to rely on one income to cover living, medical, housing and special schooling expenses.
Aside from these emotions, the family was also horrified at the suspicion they had, that their son would have been born happy and healthy if it was not for the undue delay of the hospital.
This young family approached Gerard Malouf & Partners to assist and investigate their suspicions. In obtaining multiple expert opinions from some of Australia’s best professors and doctors we were able to establish a strong case of negligence against the hospital. Most disappointingly, it was confirmed that these injuries to our client’s newborn could have been avoided.
Fortunately, this matter was able to be settled for over $10 million dollars at mediation by our medical negligence lawyer.
This settlement provided the family with a sense of much-needed hope for their future allowing them to ensure their home was modified to best suit the needs of their child. WIth compensation, their son could go to a special needs school to obtain the treatment he required without the family having to worry about making ends meet.
Today, the mother of the child is a member of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and was particularly pleased that their claim was resolved in just two years, while many other families waited five to ten years to obtain the closure and support they desperately require in similar cases.
We hope that with a settlement this young couple’s son can grow up with all the necessary support he requires.
How GMP can help in your negligence case
Gerard Malouf & Partners cerebral palsy lawyers can help support your family with expert legal advice and advocacy for the compensation you deserve. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis so you never have to worry about a dime unless we win the case together.
If you believe your child has suffered medical negligence resulting in cerebral palsy, contact a Gerard Malouf & Partners solicitor today.