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Some Victims Of Cerebral Palsy May Have Legal Recourse

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a severe neurological disorder that no one would wish upon any child or family. In most cases, children who have CP were born with the disorder and there is no one to blame. However, some times the damage to the brain that causes CP is preventable and can even be due to an accident or negligence. In these cases, families and victims may be able to receive compensation to help with the medical care and expenses related to the disease.

What Causes CP?

For most people, the cause of CP develops before they are even born or even during their birth. CP is caused by abnormalities or disruption to the development of the brain. This can be caused by both internal and external factors:
  • Random mutations and genetic factors
  • Infections within the mother’s body or infections in the infant after they are born
  • Strokes in the fetus or infant that cause lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Traumatic brain injuries from accidents or abuse
  • Difficult deliveries that can cause lack of oxygen to the infants brain
Sometimes the factors that lead to CP are acts of nature and cannot be prevented or avoided. However, it some cases, negligence or other acts may change the course of a child’s life forever.

Typical CP Lawsuit Cases

The legal cases that are often pursued in court for CP usually fit into a few different categories. Most are related to the prenatal care and delivery of the child, although some cases are related to post-delivery care and accidents that happen after birth.
  • Delivery complications. Many cases involve issues during the delivery where the child is exposed unnecessarily to a lack of oxygen. Often they needed to be taken through caesarian section and the procedure was delayed.
  • Infections. Infants that have brains infections can be extremely vulnerable to brain damage that can cause CP. If the infection is not treated immediately, the inflammation can cause permanent damage.
  • Accidents. Cases involving auto accidents, physical abuse and other traumatic events where a child receives a brain injury that causes CP.

Proving Cause And Effect

Cases involving CP are rarely cut and dry, especially when they happen during or before birth. Medical facilities will argue that the child may have already had CP and that any complications or medical errors that occurred were not responsible for the disease. It can be a difficult case to prove, but it is possible.
  • A 17-year old girl suffering from CP in NY won a $77 million dollar medical malpractice lawsuit in August 2012 due to the medical facility allowing her to be born 3-months prematurely, even though they could have prevented the early labor.
  • Parents of a boy born in 2010 with CP at John Hopkin’s Hospital received a $55 million award due to negligence in delaying taking the boy by caesarian section for two hours, causing the damage to the boy’s brain.

These lawsuits are not just about the monetary award for the families, they are also to penalize the medical facilities for the harm they caused. Living with CP will be an every day challenge for the child and family and if these lawsuits can prevent another child from being exposed to the same harm, they will have done a justice beyond monetary compensation.

Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cerebral-palsy/DS00302/DSECTION=causes
http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/NY-teen-suffering-from-cerebral-palsy-wins-lawsuit-3815464.php http://www.cerebral-palsy-faq.org/resources/cases-and-verdicts/
http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2012/06/26/family-awarded-record-55m-settlement-in-malpractice-suit-against-hopkins/

The above article was prepared by attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld. Mr. Rosenfeld's law practice is focused on helping families obtain financial compensation for birth injuries such as cerebral palsy. For more information on Mr. Rosenfeld's work visit www.cerebral-palsy-faq.org.

 

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