How Do You Prove Medical Errors Caused Cerebral Palsy?
Not every case of cerebral palsy occurs on its own. Many of them happen because of medical mistakes in prenatal treatment and the labor and delivery process.
Medical malpractice is a common cause of birth injuries. Before you can recover financial compensation for your child's birth injury, you need the evidence necessary to show that the doctor committed medical negligence.
An experienced birth injury attorney knows how to gather the proof for your cerebral palsy lawsuit. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has helped numerous clients just like you recover financial compensation for serious birth injuries.
The Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
It is important to recognize the type of cerebral palsy that your child has. Different types are more closely tied to medical malpractice than others.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy - this is the least common form of cerebral palsy. It is when children have problems with coordination and balance.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy - this form of cerebral palsy affects the child's movements. They may have difficulty controlling their muscles and move abruptly.
- Spastic cerebral palsy - this is the most common type of cerebral palsy where the child has increased muscle tone that makes their movements stiff.
- Mixed cerebral palsy - this is two or more of the conditions described above
All of these can result from an injury to the infant's brain at some point during pregnancy or the labor and delivery process.
The Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Here are some things that can cause cerebral palsy that are preventable medical errors. The mistakes of a healthcare provider or a medical staff member can alter your child's and your family's life forever.
Most cases of the disease happen because of delivery errors that lead to cerebral palsy. Roughly one in five cerebral palsy cases happen because of abnormal brain development.
- The baby can develop brain damage when the doctor uses excessive force during a difficult delivery. Any type of excessive trauma to the head during the birthing process can cause brain damage.
- The baby can suffer oxygen deprivation when the placenta detaches or when there are problems with the umbilical cord.
Any of these can be the result of avoidable medical errors. The doctor's vigilance and decisive actions during a difficult delivery can prevent injury to the baby.
If not, they can face a cerebral palsy medical malpractice claim. Inaction during the delivery is every bit as bad as making a mistake.
Medical Malpractice in Your Cerebral Palsy Case
A doctor may be to blame for the fact that your child developed cerebral palsy. Medical malpractice occurs when a physician has been negligent.
They may ignore signs of fetal distress or miss risk factors that could increase the chances of your child developing cerebral palsy. Their labor and delivery methods may cause head trauma that could result in a brain injury.
Our professional liability attorneys can help establish the cause of the injury and help you file a cerebral palsy lawsuit.
The Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
There are a number of factors that could raise the risk of the child developing cerebral palsy. They include:
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth (this raises the risk of cerebral palsy greatly - in fact, the rate of cerebral palsy in children with premature birth is 30 times higher than that of full-term babies).
- Multiple births
- The mother's health conditions
- Complications during delivery
Medical professionals need to be aware of the things that could cause cerebral palsy. If there is any doubt, they should err on the caution of a c-section surgery to deliver the baby.
Proving Medical Negligence
Something is considered medical malpractice if you can prove that the doctor was negligent in your case. Negligence is a four-part test in all malpractice claims involving children (or anyone for that matter). The four elements that you need to individually prove are:
- The doctor owed your child a duty of care
- They breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- Your child suffered an injury
- They would not have been injured had it not been for the actions of the doctor
The Challenges in a Medical Malpractice Case
The second and fourth elements above are the most crucial factors in a birth related medical malpractice case. It goes without saying that a doctor owed your child the duty of care and your child's cerebral palsy is an injury.
However, showing that a doctor acted unreasonably is not always the easiest thing for a plaintiff. You would need to show that cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice happened because the doctor did something wrong.
It is not always easy to reconstruct the events that led to the injury. You would essentially need to take the jury back to the labor and delivery room or the doctor's office to reconstruct what the doctor did. Then, you would need to compare it to what a reasonable doctor would have done.
Reconstructing Events in Birth Injury Cases
It is hard for families to prove what a doctor did in their cerebral palsy claim. They may begin with the medical records.
The doctor may have treatment notes that show how they handled the child's care and medical issues. These birth records could document the care received.
However, if doctors and hospitals know that there is a possible legal claim, they may make it difficult for you to obtain these records, even though you own them.
Overcoming the Credibility of a Medical Professional
Doctors have a certain amount of inherent credibility in a medical malpractice lawsuit. People respect doctors, and they know that physicians have worked hard to get where they are in life. Society, in general, has a high opinion of doctors as authoritative experts.
Therefore, the jury may be inclined to believe the doctor when they testify and give them the benefit of the doubt. However, the jury will not believe a doctor in all cases.
An experienced cerebral palsy attorney will tell the story of how your child came to develop cerebral palsy and argue point-by-point how the doctor made a medical error.
Expert Witnesses in a Medical Malpractice Claim
One way to argue what the doctor should have done during the birthing process is to have expert witnesses testify. These are also respected doctors in their field who have the credentials to qualify as an expert.
They could describe the medical mistake that was made by comparing what happened to what should have been done. Medical experts can spot preventable medical mistakes after examining the result of the care and learning what was done in your child's case.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we work with experts to establish doctor error.
Professional Medical Advice in Examining Your Child
A doctor may examine your child to give their opinion about what caused the cerebral palsy. You would need to prove that someone made a medical mistake and that your child was not the one in five people who developed this disease on their own.
Neurological exams could pinpoint the part of the brain that was damaged and compare it with the birth records and the account of the labor and delivery.
Damages When Your Child Suffers a Birth Injury
The costs associated with a case of cerebral palsy will usually run into the millions of dollars over the course of the child's lifetime. According to an old study by the Centers for Disease Control, the lifetime costs of cerebral palsy wil top $1 million (and this was before nearly two decades of inflation of medical costs).
Your child will need an entire birth injury support team to help plan their care. The medical bills can be steep, and that is before you even get to other costs associated with the injury.
Here are some of the following damages that you can recover in a medical malpractice case:
- The child's medical expenses (including past and future medical expenses)
- Rehabilitation costs (including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy etc)
- Special education costs
- Lost wages if the child cannot work or the parents miss work time to care for the child
- Pain and suffering
Do not worry as much about the average medical malpractice payout. Focusing on recovering the costs needed for your child's cerebral palsy treatment and the damages that your family have suffered. The average medical malpractice payout does not apply to your own unique circumstances.
Contact an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
When your child has been born with cerebral palsy, and you suspect that medical professionals are to blame, you need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we help you with cerebral palsy cases and lawsuits for other birth injuries.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Our cerebral palsy lawyers will learn the facts behind your case and advise you whether you have a medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital where the medical error occurred.
Do not delay in scheduling your free initial consultation for a medical malpractice case.