Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles.
Cerebral palsy can vary in severity, with some individuals experiencing mild symptoms and others having severe limitations in their movement and coordination. Understanding the causes of cerebral palsy is essential as it can help in the prevention and management of the condition, and also provide valuable insights for families and caregivers in coping with the challenges posed by cerebral palsy.
If you think your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our birth injury attorneys at Munley Law. We offer a free consultation for new clients where we will listen to your story and offer expert legal advice.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
In order to understand a potential medical malpractice or birth injury claim, let’s break down the basics of cerebral palsy. There are four main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed
- Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterized by involuntary movements
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized by problems with balance and coordination
- Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of the other types.
Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
- Muscle stiffness or floppiness
- Involuntary movements
- Poor balance and coordination
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
The prevalence of cerebral palsy is approximately 2.1 per 1,000 live births, and it is the most common motor disability in childhood. The impact on affected individuals and their families can be significant, as cerebral palsy can result in lifelong disability and require ongoing medical care and support.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime cost of caring for a person with cerebral palsy can exceed $1 million, not including lost wages and productivity. The emotional and physical toll on families can also be substantial, and it is important for affected individuals and their families to have access to the necessary resources and support to manage the condition effectively.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a complex condition with a range of possible causes, all of which relate to abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain. The primary causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Genetic factors: Some cases of cerebral palsy are linked to specific genetic mutations or abnormalities.
- Infections and illnesses during pregnancy: Certain infections and illnesses during pregnancy can increase the risk of cerebral palsy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, and toxoplasmosis.
- Lack of oxygen during birth (birth asphyxia): Birth asphyxia can occur if the baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen during labor and delivery.
- Premature birth and low birth weight: Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight are at a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy.
- Trauma or injury during birth: Physical trauma or injury during birth can result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Among these causes, birth injuries are a significant concern and can result from various factors. Medical malpractice and negligence during labor and delivery can lead to preventable birth injuries, such as failing to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels or respond appropriately to signs of distress.
Difficult labor and delivery, including prolonged labor or breech birth, can also increase the risk of birth injuries. Additionally, the use of forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery can sometimes result in physical trauma to the baby’s head or neck, potentially leading to cerebral palsy.
In cases where birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice or negligence, affected families may have legal options for seeking compensation to help manage the lifelong costs and challenges associated with cerebral palsy. Our medical malpractice attorneys at Munley Law are ready and waiting to help you get the process started.
Birth Injuries and Cerebral Palsy: The Link
Birth injuries can significantly impact a child’s brain development and function, potentially leading to cerebral palsy. Damage to the brain during delivery can occur as a result of insufficient oxygen supply, known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, which can cause cells in the brain to die. This damage can result in the impaired ability to move and maintain balance and posture characteristic of cerebral palsy. Additionally, physical trauma during birth, such as the improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction, can cause brain injuries that lead to cerebral palsy.
There are several documented case studies and examples of children developing cerebral palsy as a result of birth injuries. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that infants who experienced asphyxia at birth had a significantly higher risk of developing cerebral palsy compared to those who did not. Other research has highlighted the risks associated with preterm birth and low birth weight, both of which can result in birth injuries that lead to cerebral palsy.
Filing a Birth Injury Claim
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury in Pennsylvania, you may be able to file a birth injury claim to seek compensation. Here are the steps to take:
- Gather Medical Records: Collect all medical records related to your child’s birth and any subsequent treatment for cerebral palsy. This will be crucial evidence for your case.
- Consult a Munley Birth Injury Lawyer: Seek the advice of one of our medical malpractice lawyers who specializes in birth injury cases. We will help you understand if you have a valid claim and guide you through the process.
- Investigate the Case: Your lawyer will help investigate the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth to determine if negligence or malpractice occurred. This may include consulting medical experts and reviewing hospital procedures.
- File the Claim: Your birth injury lawyer will file a birth injury claim on your behalf and initiate the legal process.
- Negotiate Settlement: In some cases, the hospital or medical professional may offer a settlement to avoid going to court. Your lawyer will help you evaluate any settlement offers and negotiate for fair compensation.
- Go to Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial. As you will see, the Munley medical malpractice attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers who will represent you in court and present evidence to support your claim.
It is important to note that Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, including birth injury cases. Generally, you have two years from the date you discovered or should have discovered the injury to file a claim.
However, there are exceptions for cases involving minors, which can complicate this timeline. It is in your best interest to consult with one of our medical malpractice lawyers as soon as possible. We will make sure you file correctly and on time.
Pennsylvania also follows a modified comparative negligence law, which means that if you are found to be partially at fault for your child’s injury, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you may be barred from recovering any compensation. In many medical malpractice cases, patients are not found to bear any responsibility for their injuries. However, defense attorneys are quick to use the doctrine of comparative negligence to help get their clients off the hook. We will help you understand these laws and work to ensure you receive full compensation.
Munley Birth Injury Lawyers Work on a Contingency Basis
Our family-owned practice, established in 1959, has won millions for our clients in medical malpractice cases. Our attorneys take pride in the relationships we form with our clients – when you work with Munley, you’re working with family.
You will be partnered with a compassionate attorney who will take the burden of the claims process off your shoulders. Our lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning we do not take a fee unless we win a favorable settlement or verdict. That way, you have the time and space to take care of your little one while we take care of your birth injury claim. Call today for a free consultation. Let’s recover the compensation you deserve.