Image of child with cerebral palsy

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that primarily affect motor function. It is the most common disability affecting movement and balance in children. There is no cure for CP, and it can take an enormous emotional and financial toll on both the child and their family.

While there are many causes of CP that are no one’s fault, medical malpractice is often to blame for a child’s cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional owes a patient a duty of care, fails to meet their duty of care, and that failure causes harm, like CP in infants. You may be owed compensation if you believe your child has cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice during delivery.

Our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys can assess your case and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy shows itself through various symptoms because there are many kinds of cerebral palsy. The most common sign that a child has CP is a delay in reaching movement milestones like rolling over, crawling, and walking. Other common signs are categorized based on age.

  • Signs of CP in babies under six months: If your infant feels stiff or floppy when you pick them up, or their head droops when you pick them up, you should bring them to a doctor for a diagnosis. If they overextend their back or cross their legs when you pick them up, these may also be signs of CP.
  • Signs of CP between 6 and 10 months old: If your baby is between 6 and 10 months old and doesn’t roll in either direction, only uses one hand while keeping the other hand in a fist, or cannot bring their hands together, they may have CP.
  • Signs of CP in over 10-month-old children: Signs of CP in children over 10 months old include an inability to crawl or crawling in a lopsided manner with legs and arms dragging.

If a doctor does not believe your child has CP, but symptoms continue, consider seeing another doctor for a second opinion. Save all documentation and ask your doctor to write out their opinion about your child’s condition if other documents do not address that.

Medical Malpractice Can Cause Cerebral Palsy

Most cerebral palsy cases are caused by abnormal brain development or brain damage before or during birth. Brain damage before or during delivery can result from asphyxia, unsafe birthing practices, surgical procedures, and untreated infections.

In many CP cases, the brain damage that leads to the condition could have been avoided except for a medical professional’s negligence.

Medical professionals and medical institutions have a duty to care for their patients. In the context of cerebral palsy, there was a duty to care for the child before, during, and after birth. If you believe you or your child’s duty of care was not met, either because of something the doctor did or failed to do, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney. With a lawyer’s help, you can collect evidence to prove you deserve compensation.

How a Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help

Caring for a child with CP is difficult and expensive. You should not have to bear the costs of a medical professional’s negligence. To win compensation in a CP medical malpractice case, you need to prove four things:

  1. There was a medical relationship: First, you must show that the party that committed malpractice was involved in the care of your child. A delivery doctor, nurse, or the hospital where you gave birth are examples of people or parties who may be liable.
  2. There was a deviation from standard care: You must show that medical staff or the medical institution deviated from the standard of care. An attorney with extensive experience in medical malpractice cases knows how to prove a deviation. You will likely need another doctor’s opinion to support your claim as well, but a law firm experienced with birth injury cases can help find medical professionals to act as expert witnesses.
  3. The deviation caused your child’s cerebral palsy: Failure to provide the standard of care must be the cause of your child’s CP if you are to win compensation. Another doctor’s opinion is vital evidence. When you see medical professionals for your child, you should be collecting all documentation. This may help prove that the medical consensus is on your side.
  4. The cerebral palsy diagnosis has harmed your child and your family: Finally, you need to show that CP is harming and will continue to harm you and your child. Harm in this context is either financial or non-financial.

Financial harm is a monetary expense you incurred because of your child’s CP. This is another reason to keep all medical bills, transportation expenses, and lost wage documentation associated with your child’s CP (for example, if you or your spouse had to leave your job to become a full-time caregiver to your child).

If you win your case, you will be awarded compensation. There is no limit on the amount you can be awarded for the economic damages you and your family suffer.

Non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of society can be compensated up to $350,000 in South Carolina. If your case involved negligence from a party that intended to do wrong, you may also be able to sue for punitive damages.

Get the Compensation You Deserve

There is no cure for CP, but there is treatment that improves the quality of life. If your child has CP due to the negligence of a medical professional, you deserve compensation to pay for your child’s treatment and non-economic losses. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will fight for you and give you the best chance at winning your case.

At Joye Law Firm, we have over 50 years of experience earning our clients the compensation they deserve. We want to use our legal knowledge to help you, so contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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