Birth trauma may very well cause a child’s walking problems. Cerebral palsy, for example, which can lead to walking and various other difficulties, can be caused by mistakes made by medical personnel before, during, and after childbirth. In fact, it is considered to be one of the most serious injuries caused by medical malpractice during a mother’s labor and her child’s delivery.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) results from damage to areas of the brain that affect muscle coordination and body-movement control. Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually appear
during the first 3 years of a child’s life.
- Spastic CP. Most Cerebral Palsy (approximately 70 to 80%) is of the Spastic type, which can cause walking difficulties known as scissoring, due to tight hip and leg muscles. Children with severe forms of spastic cerebral palsy may not be able to walk at all.
- Athetoid or Dyskinetic CP. Children suffering from Athetoid Cerebral Palsy (approximately 10 to 20%) may have difficulty swallowing, slur their speech, and exhibit involuntary movements.
- Ataxic CP. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (approximately 5 to 10%) involves balance and coordination problems and tremors, and can affect a child’s precision of movement.
Proving Medical Malpractice in Cerebral Palsy Injury
Though money damages obtained through legal action can never truly compensate you or your child for the injuries your child has suffered, these damages can go a long way toward helping your child deal with a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma that could have been prevented by proper medical care. Cerebral palsy injuries often occur as a result of the negligence of obstetricians and other medical professionals who assist in the birth of a child.
Standard of Care and Breach of Standard of Care
Under civil tort law, an individual who has received medical care below the standard of care required by law may bring a medical malpractice action to obtain financial compensation for the injuries caused by that sub-standard care. The standard of care required by an obstetrician is different than the standard of care required of a nurse, for example, who assists an obstetrician in the delivery of a child. The testimony of medical experts will be relied upon to establish the specific “duty of care” required by the specific medical professional whose negligence is alleged to have occurred during the pregnancy, labor, and/or delivery stages of a child’s birth. Expert testimony and other evidence will be required to establish not only the required standard of care applicable to each defendant but also to establish that such duty of care was breached by each defendant.
In order to recover damages under civil tort law for your child’s Cerebral Palsy, your attorney must not only prove that you received substandard care, but that this substandard care was a cause of your child’s Cerebral Palsy. Though most Cerebral Palsy is not caused by medical malpractice, mistakes made during childbirth have been found to result in as many as 5 to 10% of all Cerebral Palsy cases. A primary childbirth complication that may lead to a child’s Cerebral Palsy is a lack of oxygen—or asphyxia–to the fetus during labor and delivery. This can be caused by many things, including nuchal cord (the tangling of the umbilical cord around the fetus’s neck) or umbilical-cord compression. Other medical errors include incorrect use of vacuum extraction or forceps, failure to properly treat maternal hypertension or toxemia, and failure to treat a newborn’s jaundice.
Cerebral Palsy can also be caused by a doctor’s negligence during pregnancy. Failure to properly treat a pregnant woman’s Rubella or
Rh-negative condition, for example, can result in a child’s Cerebral Palsy.
As is true with respect to the injury itself, this aspect of a medical malpractice case is highly complex, requiring the assistance of both legal and medical experts. Your malpractice attorney will obtain a Medical-Legal Review of your child’s condition as a crucial first step in evaluating the cause of your child’s Cerebral Palsy.
Statute of Limitations
States’ laws vary regarding the period of time in which a medical malpractice action may be brought. If you suspect that your child suffered an injury due to trauma at birth, contact an attorney experienced in child and birth injuries as soon as possible.
Once you establish that your child suffers from Cerebral Palsy and that his condition was caused by the substandard care of the defendant(s), you will be entitled to money damages to compensate you for your child’s pain and suffering and the cost of his treatment. As treatment may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, surgeries and medications, and even institutionalization for those most severely impaired, these money damages can be substantial. Psychological intervention may also be warranted to deal with the emotional effects of the disease, and may be compensated for, as well.
Obtain Expert Assistance
Today’s writer, Jeff Killino, is an experienced and well-respected birth-injury attorney with extensive experience with all types of birth-injury, accident, personal-injury, medical-malpractice, and child-injury cases. Attorney Killino’s knowledge and expertise with cases involving children’s injuries and birth injuries have led to his appearance on major
television networks, including CNN, ABC FOX, and the Discovery Channel, to speak about nationally-recognized cases such as one brought against Mattel, Inc. that resulted in an order compelling Mattel to offer free lead-testing to children who may have been exposed to lead-containing toys.