There are around 1 million people in the USA living with cerebral palsy. That figure changes to about 17 million when you look globally. Clearly, this is a very common disorder and in fact, is the most common motor disability in children.
Image by Arek Socha
Your family and children are likely to be the most important people in the world to you and naturally, you want to protect them. To do this effectively you need to know what your rights are. It can sometimes be difficult to find out useful information so here is a brief look at what legal help is available to you and the best way to find it.
What is cerebral palsy?
CP is a disability that affects motor functions, movement, and muscle tone. It affects other areas too such as bladder control, breathing, eating, and the ability to speak. Clearly, this is a serious condition but sadly there is no cure.
There are some treatments including different forms of therapy to help with speech and with physical movement but other treatments include invasive surgery.
How do you know if your child has cerebral palsy?
This is one area that is a cause for concern when looking for compensation through the law. Most children who suffer from cerebral palsy were born with the condition. However, there are many cases where it was caused by negligence. Concerns voiced by the mother may be batted away with an explanation about some babies taking longer to develop or ‘to be patient. This could mean that something happened during childbirth and if not reported will be harder for a lawyer to prove. Therefore, it becomes necessary to hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who has fought different negligence cases earlier. You can learn more about the various medical negligence errors here.
The ways that negligence can cause cerebral palsy include the following:
Failure to detect the umbilical cord is cutting off oxygen from the baby
- Failure to treat an infection in the mother during the pregnancy
- Negligence while using forceps or other instruments
- Failure to monitor the baby’s heart rate
- Not performing a c-section quickly enough when the baby is in distress
What is the legislation regarding cerebral palsy?
As with any condition caused by malpractice or negligence, the parents have the right to seek damages on behalf of their child. In this sort of situation, you need to hire a specialist cerebral palsy lawyer to handle your case. A professional like this will not only be licensed but will also be experienced in this particular field. Unfortunately, when it comes to the law there are always pitfalls for the uninitiated and one of them is the Statute of Limitations.
How long do you have to make a claim for damages?
When prosecuting crimes and filing personal claims, there is something to be aware of; the Statute of Limitations. This is a period set in law during which any charge or personal claim must be filed. In the UK there are no crimes that can expire but in other countries, some minor crimes must be prosecuted within a short time-span.
When making a claim for cerebral palsy it is common for the statute to be only two years from the birth of the child. This means that the parents have to receive a diagnosis and begin legal proceedings in the first two years of their child’s life. This is often impossible as many children are not diagnosed until later on. You may also find yourself caring for your parents later on in life so getting the help you need for your child will be even more important.
Luckily in Florida, there is an amendment that allows claims regarding children to be filed for up to 8 years after birth. This is useful because cerebral palsy can sometimes be hard to detect.
What to look for in your child
Statistics show that children with cerebral palsy will have more difficulty with crawling and walking than other children and this is one area that you can watch out for. It is important however not to panic and to consult a medical professional with your concerns. You can look for the following:
Difficulty walking, crawling, and feeding themselves
- Difficulty rolling over and sitting up
- Poor muscle tone, posture, and spasms
How can you help your child?
Clearly, if you feel your child has been harmed due to negligence you should seek damages. These will include medical costs and treatment. This will include cover for the rest of their life so they are financially covered.
In the meantime, there are therapists and other healthcare staff who can assist. Podiatrists are professionals who can also assist children and improve their gait.
Although you will do your best to protect your family there are some things that you cannot avoid. Negligence caused at the time of birth was something you could do nothing about. However, once you have addressed your concerns and your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy you must now consider securing their future.
The best way to do that is to make sure there is a solid financial plan along with treatment and care for life. In the case of negligence, the best way is through a specialist lawyer.