Nothing can be worse than learning your child has a serious and life-altering medical condition such as cerebral palsy. This condition can occur when there is damage to the nervous system and the brain during early fetal development in the womb. It can also occur during labor and delivery.
Sadly, medical malpractice often serves as the underlying reason for a child’s cerebral palsy. Physicians and other healthcare providers may fail to meet the minimum standard of care during prenatal or postnatal care, or they may mishandle complications during labor and delivery which may result in this significant injury.
About Our Cerebral Palsy Attorney
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, our skilled birth injury lawyer has more than 15 years of litigation experience, with a specific focus on handling complex medical malpractice cases throughout Indiana. We understand that sometimes the hardest part of dealing with the tragic consequences of a birth injury is just finding out what happened.
If it appears that your child may have been injured as a result of medical negligence, our attorney will investigate and help you get the answers you need. If we discover that a negligent medical professional caused your child’s permanent lifelong injuries, we will work tirelessly to hold them responsible. To learn more, contact us today and request a review of your case by our experienced and compassionate medical malpractice attorney and staff.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy describes a host of symptoms that result from brain damage caused by abnormal or stunted development of the brain. Often, cerebral palsy is accompanied by other health concerns like intellectual disabilities, seizures and vision or hearing problems. Different types of cerebral palsy are:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – This form of cerebral palsy arises from damage to a specific area of the brain which controls the transmission of nerve signals to muscles. A child with spastic cerebral palsy, or bilateral spasticity, cannot relax the muscles in his or her body. As a result, the child’s movements may appear to be stiff and erratic.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy – This type of cerebral palsy prevents a person from controlling tension in the muscles. A child with athetoid cerebral palsy, or dyskinetic cerebral palsy, may be unable to control his or her movements or posture and may suffer from involuntary movement of the legs and arms – especially during periods of stress or excitement.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – This form of cerebral palsy arises from damage to structures within the brain that control balance and muscle movement. A child with ataxic cerebral palsy will likely have problems with balance, coordination and depth perception.
- Mixed cerebral palsy – A child who suffers from a variety of symptoms may be diagnosed with “mixed” cerebral palsy. For many children, the condition they suffer from does not neatly fit into a specific category.
Cerebral palsy leads to life-long complications and the need for expensive medical care. Even though certain types of treatment and medical devices can help a person with cerebral palsy to function better, there is no known cure for the condition.
Signs of Cerebral Palsy
If your child suffered an injury in utero – while his or her brain was still developing – or your child sustained injury during delivery, the following signs and symptoms may indicate that your child suffers from cerebral palsy:
- Difficulty walking
- Trouble keeping balance
- Trouble with controlling body movement
- Muscle rigidity
- Uncoordinated movement
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Developmental problems
- Learning disabilities
- Impaired growth
- Speech delays
- Swallowing problems
- Hearing loss
- Physical deformity
- Teeth grinding
- Impaired fine motor skills, gross motor skills
- Limited or impaired oral motor functioning
- Poor posture
- Impaired reflexes.
If complications arose during labor and delivery or while the mother was pregnant, and you observe any of these symptoms in your child, you should immediately contact a medical specialist to have your child evaluated for cerebral palsy. If you have questions after your child has been evaluated by medical professionals you should also contact an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer to figure out if a medical error or malpractice caused the condition.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
In many cases, a child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis can be traced to medical errors. These errors can occur in any of the following three stages:
If certain types of problems arise during a pregnancy, and a doctor fails to diagnose and treat the problem, it can lead to cerebral palsy. Those problems include:
- Maternal infections (pelvic infections, chickenpox, rubella, Group B strep, cytomegalovirus and bacterial infections in the placenta or fetal membranes)
- Rh incompatibility (when the mother’s immune system reacts negatively to the baby)
- Fetal infections
- Genetic abnormalities
- Fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the developing fetus).
- Undiagnosed preeclampsia or eclamptic seizures
It is crucial that good prenatal care be in place during the whole pregnancy. A doctor should monitor ongoing development, fetal growth and other factors. If healthcare practitioners fail to identify key warning signs and take necessary steps to intervene, cerebral palsy may result from their negligence. Failing to make a proper diagnosis or catch clear signs of a developmental problem can be grounds for a medical malpractice case against a doctor or other healthcare provider.
During Labor and Delivery
Some children develop cerebral palsy due to actual injuries or problems that occur during labor and delivery or during a c-section. Examples include:
- Overuse of Pitocin to accelerate delivery
- Extended labor
- Ignored signs of fetal distress
- Shoulder dystocia (a baby gets stuck in the birthing canal and may lose oxygen, leading to brain injury)
- Physical trauma from vacuums and forceps
Sadly, even a perfectly healthy child – born without complications – may develop in the early stages following his or her birth. Doctors must apply their training and skill to identify warning signs and take proper action:
- Drowning, choking and other causes of hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
- Lead poisoning
- Severe jaundice
- Toxic exposure to chemicals
- Trauma to the baby’s head
- Brain infections (meningitis).
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Cerebral Palsy?
Depending on the unique facts of your case, several parties may be responsible for a child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, including:
- Nurses and Nurse Practitioners
- Medical assistants
- Birthing centers
- Physician groups.
How Our Indianapolis Birth Injury Attorney May Help If Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we will aggressively investigate your case to determine what went wrong and to identify any health care provider who may be responsible for your child’s cerebral palsy. We will not charge you for the investigation unless we obtain a settlement or judgment that compensates you. As part of our investigation and case preparation, our legal team will:
Conduct an initial case evaluation.
We will start with an open and honest conversation with you about what a medical malpractice lawsuit involves. We will also talk to you and other family members to get a better understanding of how your child was injured and to learn more about how your child’s cerebral palsy has affected your family’s life. We will obtain all documents and additional information that we need to determine whether further investigation of your case is warranted.
We may decide that we cannot take your case. This could happen for several reasons. Sometimes, there is not enough time to investigate and develop a case before the statute of limitations deadline. In other cases, we may conclude that we cannot establish evidence that a child’s cerebral palsy resulted from medical negligence.
Review your medical records.
Our cerebral palsy attorney will obtain all of the medical evidence, including your medical records, your child’s medical records at birth and records involving your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis. We work with nurses who are experienced legal consultants. They can review these records and provide valuable insights about what may have gone wrong during your child’s birth and the immediate aftermath.
Consult with experts.
If our nurse consultant believes there are signs of negligence during your child’s pre-natal care, delivery or post-natal care which could have caused the substantial, permanent harm that your child has suffered, our next step will be to consult with medical experts. We work with experienced obstetricians and other physicians who understand cerebral palsy and its traumatic causes. They can help us to determine whether a doctor or other medical professionals failed to follow the accepted standard of care and, in turn, caused your child’s injury.
Decide whether to move forward.
If we determine that we can demonstrate that medical malpractice caused your child’s birth injury, we will explain in detail to you the case that we intend to make. We will review all of your legal options and the process ahead, including how long it could take to resolve your case. If we cannot pursue a claim for you, we will answer every question we can and suggest that you seek a second opinion from another law firm. We will be able to refer you to trusted legal colleagues if you wish.
Pursue your claim.
If you decide to move forward with a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case, we will take care of all paperwork required to file a claim, including filing a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance’s Division of Medical Malpractice. The Division will appoint a medical review panel, which will examine your claim and issue an opinion. After the panel reports its opinion, and with an expert opinion that supports your claim, we will be able to file a lawsuit in your name in the appropriate court.
If our team determines that your child’s condition is the result of preventable medical errors, we will work hard to pursue compensation for the harm that your family has suffered. Cerebral palsy can be a costly diagnosis that leads to a lifetime of expenses and unmistakable heartache. If medical malpractice caused the condition, then you and your child deserve compensation.
Many medical malpractice claims are resolved through a settlement, but our cerebral palsy attorney will be prepared to pursue your claim at trial, if necessary. We will discuss any settlement offers that you receive and make sure that you understand that the decision of whether to accept the offer is yours – and yours alone – to make. Our ultimate goal will be for you to get the answers you deserve and to recover full and fair compensation for the physical, emotional and financial harm that your child’s birth injury has caused.
We will work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you will not owe us any attorney fees or reimbursed costs unless we secure compensation for you. If we succeed at obtaining compensation for you, we will retain an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or jury award, plus expenses, for our services.
Contact Our Cerebral Palsy Attorney
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we handle complex and challenging cases for the most deserving clients. If you and your family face the heartbreaking reality that your beloved child has suffered a birth injury or experienced a preventable complication due to medical malpractice, leading to cerebral palsy, then you should contact our experienced cerebral palsy attorney. We never charge for a consultation, and we only collect a fee if we can recover compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to request a review by one of our experienced birth injury lawyer.