As many as half a million people in the United States are afflicted with cerebral palsy (CP). Cerebral palsy is not a single disorder, but a group of disorders that can affect sensation, muscle control, head control, walking, muscle tone, coordination, balance, and cognitive functioning. CP is the result of damage to specific areas of the brain that control those functions. Hypoxia, hypoxemia, and uterine hyperstimulation during the birth process have all been associated with CP in infants.
Cerebral palsy is classified into three main types. Each of the three types has its own set of symptoms, and some people have a mix of symptoms.
- With ataxic cerebral palsy, your child may have problems with balance and depth perception.
- With athetoid cerebral palsy, your child may suffer involuntary movements which he or she cannot control.
- With spastic cerebral palsy, your child may experience excessive tone, muscle spasm and be stiff, making movement difficult.
Depending on the extent and nature of the injury occurring at birth, with early intervention, intensive therapy and resources, children with CP can develop the skills to be independent in some or all activities of daily living. Others will require a lifetime of care.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
There are a number of factors that can lead to a child developing cerebral palsy. This injury most commonly occurs prior to birth or during the birthing process. Some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Brain damage
- Head injuries resulting from trauma
- Birth asphyxia or hypoxia
- Breech births
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Complicated or prolonged deliveries
- Placental abruption
- Failure to perform a C-section
- Brain infections such as viral encephalitis or bacterial meningitis
Some of these causes of cerebral palsy could be the direct result of medical negligence on the part of the medical staff responsible for delivering a child.
What are the Effects of Cerebral Palsy?
Children with cerebral palsy are often not able to control some or all of their movements. Some children have difficulty talking, using their hands, or walking. Others will have trouble sitting up without support and will need assistance with everyday tasks. Children with cerebral palsy often display the following symptoms (the severity of these symptoms varies from child to child):
- Muscle spasms
- Unwanted movements
- Slow, jerky, or awkward movements
Approximately one out of every three children with cerebral palsy also suffers from epilepsy, which can result in seizures on a regular basis. Children with cerebral palsy may also have eyesight and hearing problems. Problems with speech can also affect children with cerebral palsy due to a lack of command of oral muscles. It is not uncommon for those with cerebral palsy to experience cognitive and developmental impairments.
Answers And Resources To Help Your Child With Cerebral Palsy
A diagnosis of cerebral palsy can be a parents nightmare, raising important questions about how and why, and who will responsible for the expenses of taking care of my child. Many parents are looking for answers, for information, and for hope. Often parents want to know “How could this happen?” and “Could this have been prevented?”
It is in helping to answer these questions that the lawyers at the San Francisco, California law offices of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help.
Damages You Can Recover in a Birth Injury Case
In many cases, damages are available through insurance settlements or jury verdicts for cerebral palsy birth injury lawsuits. The total amount of compensation available will be dependent on the various factors related to each particular case. It is not uncommon for our San Francisco birth injury attorneys to help clients recover the following types of economic and non-economic damages in these cases:
- Cost of past, current, and future expected medical expenses
- Coverage of handicap vehicles that may be necessary
- Costs for home modifications as needed
- Lost earning capacity of a child with a birth injury
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Possible punitive damages in cases of medical negligence
When working to calculate damages awarded in cerebral palsy cases, it is vital for parents and their attorneys to keep in mind the future costs of care associated with this type of injury. Children with cerebral palsy often need assistance when performing everyday tasks. This means that someone will have to be with them at all times, usually for the entirety of their lives.
How a Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help
In most cases of birth injuries, parents do not have the resources or legal experience necessary to properly secure maximum compensation for their child’s injury. A skilled cerebral palsy attorney will be able to handle every aspect of your case. These often become cases of medical malpractice, which are often incredibly legally complex. Your attorney will be responsible for:
- Obtaining all evidence related to medical negligence, including medical records, statements from the medical team involved, and more.
- Working with trusted medical professionals to properly evaluate your child and determine how much care they may need during their lifetime.
Negotiating with all parties involved in order to reach a settlement that is fair on behalf of you and your child.
Helping Children And Their Families Since 1959
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our cerebral palsy lawyers believe that every child injured during the birth process through the fault of a trusted medical provider deserves the opportunity to receive the most appropriate care and therapy, thereby giving that child the best chance to reach his or her full potential. For 50 years, our birth injury attorneys have been helping parents of children injured by medical negligence — by doctors, nurses, midwives, hospitals and HMOs.
Because cerebral palsy is most often the result of medical negligence resulting in birth injury at time of labor and delivery our San Francisco, California cerebral palsy lawyers know how to evaluate the labor and delivery medical records to look for clues.
Our San Francisco, California law firm has a full-time pediatrician-attorney on staff to evaluate medical records quickly and help assess whether further specialized expert review is needed to determine if legal liability exists and compensation is owed. We have relationships with medical specialists across the country who can help us get answers for our clients.
Contact Us Today For Help Getting the Answers You Need
Contact us by calling (415) 981-7210 if you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy was the result of medical negligence, get the answers and legal help you need. Our cerebral palsy attorneys represent clients throughout California, and in association with local counsel, in other states including Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon.
*If you are an HMO member of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan or insured received you prenatal and delivery care from members of the Permanente medical group, your child cannot file a lawsuit in court. Your child’s only legal remedy is arbitration. You are entitled to have legal counsel in Kaiser Permanente arbitration proceedings. Learn more about our birth injury practice for Kaiser Permanente customers.