Obtaining compensation for cerebral palsy from your child’s birth injury.
For most people the birth of a child is the most joyous event in their lives, however, if a birth injury causes cerebral palsy it can be devastating for the child and parents, the emotional strain can be overwhelming. Then, as the special needs of the child become evident, the financial implications are catastrophic leaving families in need of assistance.
Fortunately, Florida has laws in place which allow parents to recover financial compensation for significant birth injuries caused by the negligence or medical mistakes of a physician, nurse or hospital before or during delivery. One of the most common birth injuries is cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy is Complicated, Do You Need a Specialist CP Lawyer?
Cerebral palsy occurs when a baby suffers a lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery. The medical term for this lack of oxygen is hypoxia. Injury to a baby’s brain from hypoxia interferes with the normal development of the child’s brain which leads to the child’s inability to develop and grow normally. The child may miss developmental milestones.
Signs Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy
- One of the first signs that a child may have cerebral palsy is they may have difficulty rolling over and crawling.
- Then they experience difficulty walking and feeding themselves because their brain injury causes their muscles to be spastic.
- Later in life children with cerebral palsy may have learning disabilities, vision impairments and emotional problems.
All of these problems need intensive therapy and treatment to achieve the best outcome for the child’s development, but many times these expenses are not covered by private health insurance or Medicaid. These costs are beyond the means of almost any parent but help is available.
How Does an Attorney Prove that Cerebral Palsy was Caused By Medical Negligence?
In order to prove a child’s cerebral palsy was the result of an avoidable medical mistake, all relevant medical records of the child and the birth and delivery must be obtained by your attorney. Medical experts must also be retained to review all the available medical records. Your attorney must also hire other experts needed to evaluate and describe all of the special medical care, therapies, and assistive equipment and devices your child will require throughout their life.
Once our experts have described the full extent of the child’s future needs, we hire an experienced life care planner to create a life care plan which provides a detailed description what the medical experts say the child will need. The life care plan is also a specific cost projection of all the expenses needed to provide for the child throughout their life. It becomes the basis of the financial compensation we seek to recover for your child.
In addition to the projected economic losses, in Florida the child is entitled to recover for physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of the ability to lead a normal life due to the birth injury. As parents of a disabled child, you also have a claim for all of your emotional damages suffered up to the point of the claim being presented and which you will likely suffer in the future due to your child’s cerebral palsy.
One problem in making a recovery for your child’s birth injury is that doctors and nurses usually do not tell their patient that a birth injury has occurred. They will often tell parents that the developmental delays their child is experiencing will get better over time or are only slightly abnormal thereby delaying a true work up, diagnosis and treatment plan for cerebral palsy. Delayed therapy and treatment only makes it harder for a child to overcome their neurologic deficits. Therefore, parents need to advocate for more testing and evaluation by a pediatric neurologist if their child is not timely and appropriately hitting the developmental milestones. If the medical system will not act aggressively to have your child evaluated, then you need to hire a board certified attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice birth injury cases to review the delivery records and your child’s pediatric records. The attorney can help you advocate for your child’s aggressive treatment, and bring a claim for compensation if there was a mistake or negligence that caused your child to suffer a brain injury.
Another problem that prevents many parents from recovering damages for their child’s birth injury is that they don’t know why it happened, and most doctors and nurses will not educate the parents on the causes of a birth injury.
The Most Frequent Causes of Birth Injury are:
- an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck cutting off oxygen during or before delivery. This is known as a nuchal cord;
- a prolonged labor where the baby is in distress;
- the failure of the physician and nurses to perform a timely Caesarean Section when the baby is in distress;
- failure to monitor the mother’s and the baby’s vital signs during delivery and then take action to avoid a birth injury;
The Statute Of Limitations For Cerebral Palsy and Injuries During Child Birth
The next barrier to parents obtaining money damages for their child and themselves after a birth injury is that people incorrectly tell the parents that in cases of birth injury any claim must be brought within two years of the birth of their child. We have had the experience where parents were told they could not bring a claim for their child because the claim was beyond the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a time limit in which you must file your lawsuit or it will be barred forever. Generally, in all medical malpractice cases other than cases involving injury to a minor child, the medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date when the patient became aware of the injury, and not beyond four years from the actual date of injury. Of course, there are exceptions to this general rule governing statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, but what is critically important is that this rule about statute of limitations does not apply to birth injuries suffered by minor children.
The Florida legislature carved out a special exception to protect minor children from the two year statute of limitations that applies to most medical malpractice cases because many times the child’s birth injury is not diagnosed until the child enters school. Therefore, the law in Florida is that a lawsuit for medical malpractice based on a birth injury suffered by a child can be brought up and until the child’s eighth birthday. It is very important to realize that a medical malpractice lawsuit for a birth injury cannot be brought in the State of Florida until a pre-suit investigation is completed, including an affidavit from an expert stating that grounds exist to support that a health care provider was negligent and that negligence caused injury to the child before or during the delivery of the child. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact a Florida board certified civil trial attorney specializing in medical malpractice/birth injury claims at the earliest moment that you suspect your child may have suffered a birth injury so the attorney can start the investigation of the claim.