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Cerebral Palsy Malpractice and Claims

Chances are, you’ve been told your child’s cerebral palsy has “no known cause” and there was no way to prevent it… That could be true. But many cases of CP are preventable. The cause could be a doctor’s negligent action or inaction—in other words, a case of cerebral palsy malpractice. 

What is Cerebral Palsy Malpractice?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement, muscle tone, and motor skills. It often results from brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth.

 Cerebral palsy malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail to properly diagnose, treat, or prevent conditions that cause cerebral palsy. 

For example, doctors could make errors during childbirth that result in brain injury, and the injury leads to cerebral palsy. 

Medical mistakes that could warrant a cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit include:

  • Mismanaging labor and delivery.
  • Failing to monitor and address fetal distress.
  • Applying too much force on a baby’s head with forceps.
  • Failing to diagnose conditions that could lead to cerebral palsy, such as maternal infections.
  • Delaying treatment for conditions that could lead to cerebral palsy.
  • Not performing a C-section when it’s needed. 
  • Failing to detect and address problems with the umbilical cord or placenta

In many cases of cerebral palsy malpractice, the condition develops because the baby lacks oxygen at some point during the birthing process. This lack of oxygen is also known as birth asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Various factors can cause problems with a baby’s oxygen supply, including:

  • A compressed umbilical cord
  • An umbilical cord knot on the baby’s neck
  • A maternal infection that affects blood flow from the mother to the baby
  • Problems with the placenta, such as 
  • Aspiration of meconium (first stool) while in the womb
  • Issues with the baby’s airway

When medical professionals fail to address complications right away, it can lead to oxygen deprivation and subsequent brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy.

A woman in a hospital bed, clutching her stomach in pain during childbirth.

How do Cerebral Palsy Claims Work?

Identifying the specific cause of cerebral palsy and determining whether it resulted from medical malpractice is no easy feat. It requires a thorough review of medical records, expert testimony, and legal analysis. 

It’s a long, difficult road to travel, but the end goal of a cerebral palsy claim can make the journey worth it. Families affected by cerebral palsy malpractice can seek compensation that covers the costs of medical care, therapy, assistive devices, and more. Also, taking legal action can help hold negligent providers accountable and prevent them from making the same mistakes again. 

How to File a Cerebral Palsy Claim

The first step to filing a claim is to schedule a consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. They should specialize in cerebral palsy cases.

This is important because these cerebral palsy claims require a certain degree of medical knowledge. They also benefit from access to expert physicians who can give testimony to support your case. A firm that casts its net over too wide a variety of cases may not have the expertise and resources needed to win a cerebral palsy malpractice case. 

If the attorney determines you have grounds for a claim, you can establish an attorney-client relationship. Many firms file malpractice claims on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t owe your attorney anything unless you win. 

The process for filing cerebral palsy claims usually follows these general steps:

  1. Investigating medical records and consulting medical experts to gather evidence for your claim.
  2. Evaluating the damages incurred (medical expenses, rehab, therapy, loss of earning capacity, etc.)
  3. Negotiating with your medical provider’s insurance representatives and agreeing on a fair settlement. 
  4. If you can’t reach a settlement agreement, your attorney will plead your case in court. 
A stethoscope lying next to a stack of medical records.

Do I Have a Valid Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Claim?

To sue for malpractice, you have to prove the following:

  • You (or your child) had a doctor-patient relationship.
  • The doctor’s actions didn’t meet the standard of care (they didn’t act the way any competent doctor should act in your specific situation).
  • The doctor’s negligence caused the child’s injury and subsequent cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Also, you can’t file a claim if too much time has passed since your child was injured. Most states give you about two years to file a claim. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. After it passes, you won’t have the right to file a claim. 

If your child was injured during birth and you suspect negligence was involved, don’t wait—give us a call. We’ve recovered millions of dollars in cerebral palsy claims for families like yours. Could yours be next? Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys to find out if you’re eligible to file a claim.

Cerebral Palsy Malpractice FAQs

What is the average settlement for cerebral palsy?

The average settlement amount for cerebral palsy malpractice cases is $1 million USD. But the amount can be much greater. It depends on the specifics of the case. For example, Hampton & King obtained $3 million for a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after the mother suffered a uterus rupture during labor. 

Is cerebral palsy considered a permanent disability?

Yes, cerebral palsy is considered a permanent disability. It’s a neurological disorder that affects movement, muscle tone, and posture. Damage to a baby’s developing brain, sometimes before birth, is its main cause. Brain damage is permanent, and so is cerebral palsy. Treatment and therapy can improve a person’s symptoms and quality of life. But right now, there’s no cure for cerebral palsy. 

Can cerebral palsy be caused by malpractice?

Yes. Medical errors or negligence can lead to brain damage, which can cause cerebral palsy. For example, improper monitoring during birth can result in a lack of oxygen to the brain. Delayed C-sections in cases of fetal distress can also cause oxygen deprivation. 

Doctors might injure a baby’s head by misusing forceps or vacuum tools during delivery. Inadequate treatment of maternal infections like meningitis or encephalitis can also cause brain damage in the baby. All these errors can lead to the development of cerebral palsy. 

What is the financial burden of cerebral palsy?

One study from 2003 found that caring for a child with cerebral palsy costs about $1 million dollars over a lifetime. That’s around $1.6 million in 2024, adjusted for inflation. Treatment for cerebral palsy is costly because it can involve many types of therapy, medications, and equipment. The cost is greater if the child has severe cerebral palsy and can’t walk.