Having a child who has been afflicted by cerebral palsy is one of the worst situations for parents. It is important to understand that the circumstances and actions (sometimes, lack of action) that lead to cerebral palsy are preventable. Often times, tragically, birth injuries such as cerebral palsy are caused by the incompetence of someone on the medical team or due to negligence on the part of a medical professional. If your child has cerebral palsy as the result of a birth injury, it is important that you consult an experienced New York City birth injury lawyer who will examine all of the facts and determine whether you have a birth injury lawsuit.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
According to the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State, “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term, which refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is caused by damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy has different effects on different individuals. It may affect body movement, muscle control, coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Cerebral palsy is a permanent, lifelong condition, and some of the symptoms may worsen over time. Those who have cerebral palsy also experience visual, learning, hearing, speech and intellectual impairments.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy at Birth?
There are a number of factors that may result in cerebral palsy for a newborn. Identifying the risks and complications that were present during your labor may be the first step to establishing your cerebral palsy lawsuit. Here are some of the red flags that may indicate negligence and/or incompetence:
• Prolonged labor: When the doctor fails to perform a timely C-section and labor extends beyond the typical time period without proper intervention by your medical team, that is a sure red flag. Medical professionals have a duty to assess all risks and benefits of procedures and order a Cesarean Section (C-section) if that is the safest option.
• Asphyxia: This is when a child is deprived of oxygen during delivery. When oxygen supply to the brain is cut off, the child is in danger of suffering permanent and irreversible brain damage. This often leads to cerebral palsy.
• Irregular heart rate: If the baby’s heart rate fluctuates during labor, then that is a sure sign of fetal distress. Medical staff should be monitoring sudden spikes or drops in fetal heart rate. Again, an emergency C-section should be an option in such cases.
• Use of forceps or vacuum: When a medical professional improperly or incompetently uses birth-assistive tools such as forceps or vacuum or applies too much pressure on the baby’s head, it may result in serious head injuries such as skull fractures or even bleeding in the brain. This may also cause severe brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy.
Proving Medical Negligence
In a birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the injury was caused by medical negligence. Plaintiffs must prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed; that the medical professional did not fulfill the standard of care by performing an action incompetently or by failing to take action such as ordering a C-section; that the doctor’s medical negligence caused the child’s injuries; and that there are monetary losses associated with those injuries. Although there is help and support available for families of children with cerebral palsy, the cost of caring and treating children with this condition may run into millions of dollars.
Contacting a Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as the result of medical negligence, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm helped a family secure a $43,940,000 verdict for a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Another client of ours received a $23,500,000 verdict for a child who developed cerebral palsy and mental retardation after suffering a birth injury. Both verdicts were so large that they were reduced on appeal. We also recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head.
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