New York Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
For many families the day they welcome a newborn into their lives is one that is filled with love and joy. However, when a child suffers birth injuries as the result of negligence on the part of doctors or medical staff, the consequences can be devastating. Cerebral palsy is the most common of all childhood disabilities affecting about three live births out of every 1,000 in the United States. About 764,000 children and adults in the U.S. currently have cerebral palsy. About 10,000 babies born each year will develop cerebral palsy.
If your child has developed cerebral palsy as the result of medical negligence before, during or after birth, the experienced birth injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We understand parents’ concerns about their children’s health and future. We provide compassionate legal representation to families that have a child with cerebral palsy, and help them secure maximum compensation to help support their children with quality medical care and rehabilitative assistance.
Our Significant Results in Cerebral Palsy Cases
- $43,940,000: Verdict secured for family whose child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The hospital failed to diagnose fetal distress, which led to brain damage and cerebral palsy from lack of oxygen supply to the brain. The delay in diagnosing the fetal distress and ordering a C-section delivery caused the child’s condition. Defense attorneys argued that the child’s injuries were caused by premature birth and that the obstetrical care was appropriate. The $43,940,000 verdict was eventually reduced on appeal.
- $23,500,000: In this case, doctors departed from proper medical procedures in allowing a resident to handle the birth of the child. They also failed to inform the mother of a urinary tract infection for which they had tested her weeks earlier. The mother went into premature labor, but wasn’t treated for the infection. The resident who handled the emergency C-section was said to have applied too much pressure on the infant’s head causing trauma to the head and bleeding in the brain. As a result, the child was born with severe mental retardation and cerebral palsy. The $23,500,000 verdict was reduced on appeal.
- $4,500,000: This was a case where a doctor negligently used forceps to deliver a baby cutting oxygen supply to the baby’s brain. The child suffered from cerebral palsy as a result. We were able to prove that a C-section should have been performed, which may have prevented the cerebral palsy from occurring.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by non-progressive brain injury or malformation, which occurs when the child’s brain is still developing. This condition mainly affects the child’s movement and muscle coordination. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It occurs primarily due to damage to the developing brain during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy affects victims in different ways and may have an impact on body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Even though it is a lifelong condition, some of the signs of cerebral palsy may improve or worsen over time. Those who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, hearing, learning, speech and intellectual impairments.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Signs and symptoms of this condition may greatly vary from person to person. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:
- Variations in muscle tone such as being too stiff or too floppy
- Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
- Tremors or involuntary movements
- Delays in developing motor skills milestones such as sitting up or crawling
- Favoring one side of the body such as reaching with one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
- Difficulties with walking such as walking on one’s toes and having a crouched or asymmetrical gait
- Excessive drooling or trouble swallowing.
- Eating difficulties
- Delays in speech development
Disabilities associated with cerebral palsy may be limited primarily to one limb or one side of the body or it may affect the entire body. The brain disorder, which causes cerebral palsy, does not change with time. So, the symptoms usually don’t worsen with age. However, the muscle rigidity might become worse if not treated aggressively. Brain abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy may also contribute to other neurological problems including, but not limited to, oral diseases, mental health conditions, urinary incontinence, vision and hearing problems, intellectual disabilities, etc.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
There are a number of conditions that may result in the damage of a developing brain. For example, an infection may affect the development of neurons in the brain or a trauma during birth may cause brain damage. Here are some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy:
Infections during pregnancy: Mothers can transmit infections to the fetus during pregnancy. Diseases such as German measles during pregnancy are known to cause cerebral palsy. Such infections can cause the mother’s immune system to release proteins that not only attack the infection, but also cause inflammation in the child’s brain that interferes with normal development.
Lack of oxygen: This is considered the leading cause of cerebral palsy in infants. When oxygen is cut off from a child’s brain during birth due to complications such as a breech birth, a ruptured uterus or umbilical cord entanglement, the baby may get asphyxiated. Such asphyxiation during birth leads to cerebral palsy.
Brain injury during or after birth: Any type of head trauma to the infant brain can cause cerebral palsy. Head injuries may occur due to negligence during labor or delivery. Further, if there is abnormal bleeding or hemorrhaging of the brain as may be caused by a ruptured blood vessel – that may in turn significantly damage the motor control centers of the brain.
Failure to treat jaundice: When a newborn has excess bilirubin, a chemical pigment that is normally filtered out by the liver, it needs to be treated. It is common for newborn babies to have mild jaundice. However, if this condition is left untreated, it can develop into a condition that causes the buildup of an unsafe level of bilirubin, which is toxic to the brain.
Other factors that may cause cerebral palsy include:
- Breech births. Babies with cerebral palsy are more likely to be in a feet-first position at the beginning of labor rather than headfirst.
- Complicated labor and delivery. Babies who exhibit vascular or respiratory problems during labor and delivery may have existing brain damage or abnormalities.
- Babies who weigh less than 5.5 pounds are at an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy. This risk is greater as the birth weight drops.
- Premature babies are also at risk of having cerebral palsy. Babies born under 37 weeks are at higher risk.
- If a mother’s Rh blood type is incompatible with the child’s, her immune system may not tolerate the baby’s blood type and her body may begin to produce antibodies to attack and kill her baby’s blood cells, which may cause brain damage.
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
If your child’s pediatrician suspects that your child has cerebral palsy, he or she may evaluate the signs and symptoms, review your child’s medical history and conduct a physical evaluation. The pediatrician may then refer you to a specialist who is trained in treating children with brain and nervous system conditions. Your doctor may also conduct other tests.
A brain scan is a brain imaging technology that can reveal areas of damage or abnormal development in the brain. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed 3-D or cross-sectional images of your child’s brain. An MRI can identify lesions or abnormalities in your child’s brain. A cranial ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to get images of the brain.
An ultrasound is valuable when it comes to providing a preliminary assessment of the brain. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is usually ordered if a child displays symptoms such as seizures. The EEG records the brain’s electrical activity showing changes in normal brain wave patterns. If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you will likely be referred to specialists for assessments of other conditions such as vision, speech, hearing, movement and other disorders.
Cerebral Palsy Treatment Costs
It is important to understand that cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder without a cure. The symptoms may vary widely between patients, but the underlying neurological condition may lead to many physical, mental and emotional impacts, including costly care. While cerebral palsy may not worsen over time, the symptoms may change and evolve as the patient ages. Long-term management can be costly and when you factor in many co-existing conditions that result from cerebral palsy, the cost of living with this condition quickly rises.
According to an estimate by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime expenses for caring for someone with cerebral palsy may well exceed $1,000,000. These staggering costs point to the extraordinary expense of treating this complex disorder as well the indirect costs associated with living with cerebral palsy.
About 80 percent of the expenses a cerebral palsy patient incurs stem from indirect costs including the inability to work, early death and limited employment opportunities due to the disorder-related impairments and issues. For patients who don’t have mental retardation, this translates to roughly $742,000 in indirect lifetime costs. Direct medical costs account for about 10.2 percent of the overall expenses and non-medical costs account for 9.3 percent of the lifetime costs associated with providing for a cerebral palsy patient.
Families that have a child with cerebral palsy may seek financial assistance for therapy, care, assistive devices and other expenses from various sources including governmental agencies, disability advocacy groups, health insurance, national cerebral palsy organizations and their local chapters, charities and community organizations. You may also seek monetary compensation by filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit, particularly if your child’s condition was caused by negligence on the part of medical professionals before, during and/or after your child’s birth.
Effective management of cerebral palsy calls for long-term support. Raising a child with cerebral palsy involves the usual medical expenses. But the disorder also adds many costs that are unique to this condition. According to 2005 Medicare statistics, healthcare costs were higher for those with cerebral palsy compared to children who didn’t have the disorder. Medical costs for children living with cerebral palsy were 10 times higher than that of children without the disorder. When the children also had intellectual disabilities, the costs rose to more than 25 times.
Among other medical expenses, cerebral palsy care and treatment includes the cost of diagnosis, special education, physical therapy, assisted living, specialized therapy, assistive equipment, medication and doctor and hospital visits. There are also several non-medical costs associated with cerebral palsy. Children and adults with cerebral palsy often require a number of special arrangements to just live their everyday lives.
These costly adjustments may include home and vehicle modifications, special education programs, occupational therapy and other modified living arrangements to allow for better mobility. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, loss of livelihood, hospital and rehabilitation costs, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your child has suffered a birth injury or 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. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
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