A cerebral palsy diagnosis for your baby can turn the joyous occasion of birth into a nightmare. Even though children with cerebral palsy are capable of living full lives, they are sure to face many difficulties and may require therapy, special education, and in-home care for the rest of their lives.
Not all cases of cerebral palsy indicate medical malpractice has been committed. However, if you can prove your doctor failed to give the same standard of care any other doctor would in his or her situation, you might have a good personal injury case against them.
On This Page:
Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation. It typically occurs while a child’s brain is developing. The area of the brain related to movement becomes dormant or paralyzed. The disorder affects mainly the body’s movement and muscle coordination. However, the location, number of limbs affected, and extent of impairment vary from one person to another. It is an incurable condition, but many people are treated with therapy.
There Are Three Common Types of Cerebral Palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for about 80% of all cases and is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy accounts for about 10% of all cases and includes involuntary movement, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, low muscle tone, and inability to maintain posture.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy, accounting for about 10% of all cases, includes depth perception issues, distorted balance, tremors, and difficulty coordinating muscle movements.
Learn more about how we can help with your personal injury case during a free initial evaluation. Give our award winning attorneys a call at (954) 467-8800, or contact us online to schedule a time to speak with a member of our team.
Science has found that individuals with cerebral palsy were most likely born with the condition, though birthing complications account for an estimated 10% of cerebral palsy cases.
Common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Genetic Factors: In some cases, there may be a genetic predisposition that increases the risk of CP.
- Infections: Infections during pregnancy, such as rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), or toxoplasmosis, can lead to brain damage in the developing fetus.
- Maternal Health Issues: Health problems in the mother, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can increase the risk.
- Multiple Births: Twins or higher-order multiples have a higher risk of CP.
- Exposure to Toxic Substances: Certain toxins or chemicals, including drugs or alcohol, can harm fetal brain development.
- Premature Birth: Babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of CP because their brains may not have fully developed.
- Low Birth Weight: Babies with low birth weight are more susceptible to brain injury, increasing the risk of CP.
- Brain Infections: Infections occurring after birth, such as meningitis or encephalitis, can cause brain damage and lead to CP.
- Head Injury: Trauma or injury to the head, especially during the early years of life, can result in cerebral palsy.
- Lack of Oxygen: Conditions that deprive the brain of oxygen, such as a near-drowning incident or complications during surgery, can lead to CP.
- Severe Jaundice: When jaundice in a newborn is left untreated, it can lead to a type of CP called kernicterus.
It's important to note that CP can vary widely in its severity and the specific symptoms it causes. Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, balance problems, and coordination difficulties. The severity and combination of symptoms can differ from person to person, and individuals with CP may also experience associated conditions like intellectual disabilities, speech and communication challenges, and seizures.
Some birth injuries that result in cerebral palsy can be prevented. When cases develop that could have been easily avoided with better care, this could be considered medical negligence.
Preventable Incidences Include:
- Failing to detect infections during the pregnancy
- Adverse effects from drugs or surgery
- Neglecting proper heart rate monitoring during delivery
- Not performing a cesarean section when it’s medically advisable
- Improper use of delivery instruments
- Failing to treat severe jaundice in the newborn
- Serious mismanagement of standard delivery procedure
- Failing to detect issues with the umbilical cord
Determining liability for cerebral palsy can be a complex legal matter, and it depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the condition's development. Liability typically arises in cases where the cerebral palsy can be linked to medical malpractice or negligence. Here are some parties who may potentially be held liable in certain situations:
- Medical Professionals: Doctors, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare providers can be held liable if they fail to provide the accepted standard of care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, leading to cerebral palsy. Common instances of medical malpractice in CP cases may include failure to diagnose and treat infections, oxygen deprivation, or other complications during childbirth.
- Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities: Hospitals and healthcare institutions may be held liable if they are found to have policies or practices that contribute to medical errors or if they employ staff members who are negligent in their duties. Hospitals may also be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.
- Pharmaceutical Companies: In cases where the use of a medication during pregnancy is linked to the development of cerebral palsy, pharmaceutical companies may be held liable if they failed to provide adequate warnings about the drug's potential risks or if the drug was defectively manufactured.
- Medical Device Manufacturers: If a medical device, such as a fetal monitoring device, is found to be faulty or to have malfunctioned during childbirth, resulting in harm to the baby and the development of cerebral palsy, the manufacturer of the device may be held liable for product liability.
- Other Parties: Depending on the circumstances, other parties, such as caregivers or individuals responsible for the child's safety, could be held liable if their negligent actions or decisions contributed to the child's injuries or condition.
It's essential to understand that proving liability in a cerebral palsy case can be challenging and often requires a thorough investigation, expert testimony, and legal expertise. Medical malpractice cases, in particular, involve complex medical and legal issues.
Contact Our Experienced Cerebral Palsy Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale Today
Our team at the Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A. has the resources to investigate the circumstances that led to your child’s injury. We are known for our meticulous case preparation and aggressive advocacy. Trust us with your case. We can review your cerebral palsy case for free during your initial consultation.
$32.8 Million Birth InjuryAn unborn baby was in distress with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. His doctor and hospital medical team ignored signals and tests, which ultimately resulted in severe brain damage including cerebral palsy, spastic legs and arms, mental retardation, kidney failure and other conditions.
$5.8 Million Birth InjuryAn expectant mother went into the hospital with complications. Attending physicians did not properly communicate with each other, leading to the baby being born under duress with a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
$4 Million Birth InjuryA Palm Beach County jury has awarded $4 million on behalf of a child suffering from severe mental retardation that the family blamed on a delayed delivery in a West Palm Beach hospital more than 11 years ago.
Cerebral palsy has the potential to forever change a child’s life, but it can also forever change the lives of the child’s family. If your child was born with CP due to a medical provider’s mistakes, it's understandable to feel overwhelmed when thinking about all the special care your child will need throughout the years. At Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A., we want you and your child to have the best opportunities to live your most comfortable lives, and having access to important CP resources can help make that happen. Please take a moment to review the resources we’ve listed below to see what can help you and your child.
Government & Community Support
The government (state- and federal-level) has several resources for families affected by cerebral palsy to get the information and help they need. There are also many community support resources for people living across Florida. When learning more about CP and how it could affect your family in the future, we recommend you start by learning more about a few important government and community support resources.
- United Cerebral Palsy (UCP):
- About: UCP is one of the country’s largest health nonprofit organizations that focuses on how cerebral palsy affects children and their families. The group’s mission statement is simple: “To be the indispensable resource for individuals with cerebral palsy, other disabilities, their families, and their communities.” The vision statement is remarkable: “Life of inclusion for individuals with disabilities.” With affiliate locations in multiple states, you should begin your CP knowledge journey by finding the one nearest you.
- More information: https://ucp.org/find-us/
- 211 Information Centers:
- About: 211 is the federal government-funded agency dedicated to helping people get more information about various forms of community support and government benefits, including those designed for families affected by CP. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created 211 in 2000. It has since become affiliated with more than 200 agencies across the United States and handles more than 21 million different help requests each year.
- More information: https://www.211.org/ or just dial “211”
- The Florida Disability and Health Program (DHP):
- About: The Florida Department of Health (DOH) manages a Disability and Health Program (DHP) that is funded by a three-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant. The DHP can work with families affected by cerebral palsy to connect them with various programs and activities, mostly centered on good health and making life with a disability more comfortable.
- More information: https://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/people-with-disabilities/index.html
- Florida Developmental Disabilities Council:
- About: The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) influences and steers state-level policies and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It organizes fundraisers, supports special education programs, hosts community events to raise awareness, and much more. Florida families affected by cerebral palsy can share their stories with the FDDC to help it better use its legislative platform to represent the people legislation directly impacts.
- More information: https://www.fddc.org/
- Centers for Independent Living:
- About: The Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living (FACIL) believes that everyone deserves to live with dignity, make their own choices, and participate fully in society. To make this goal a reality, FACIL is comprised of centers for independent living throughout Florida. Each center is a non-profit organization that connects people with disabilities to resources, information, training, mentoring opportunities, and much more.
- More information: https://floridacils.org/
- UCP Charter Schools:
- About: We would also like to bring your attention to Unlocking Children’s Potential (UCP) Charter Schools of Florida. This great educational collective is comprised of eight tuition-free charter schools across several Florida counties. Each school is designed to empower students with disabilities by providing an inclusive and encouraging environment where they can learn, play, and grow together. If your child was born with cerebral palsy and you’re worried about how it could impact their education, you should reach out to UCP Charter Schools today.
- More information: https://www.ucpcharter.org/
Special resources for legal advocacy and legal-related questions are available for families affected by CP. Many of these advocacy groups deal with discrimination issues that can impact someone with cerebral palsy, such as discrimination in the workplace.
- The ADA National Network:
- About: For any information related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you should visit the ADA National Network. This organization also provides ADA-related training and guidance, so employers and employees alike can enjoy open and fair employment opportunities that do not discriminate.
- More information: https://adata.org/
- Disability Rights Florida:
- About: Since 1977, Disability Rights Florida has been the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system for Floridians living with different disabilities, such as those caused by cerebral palsy. The main purpose of a P&A system is to ensure that people with disabilities can access healthcare, education, transportation, voting, housing, employment, and criminal justice services without discrimination. If an issue does arise, Disability Rights Florida is often among the first groups to investigate and demand corrective action on behalf of the affected individuals or families.
- More information: https://disabilityrightsflorida.org/about/about_us
- American Bar Association: Commission on Mental and Physical Disability:
- About: The American Bar Association (ABA) is committing to ensuring everyone has access to justice. This campaign is perhaps no more important than when protecting, upholding, and enhancing the rights of people with disabilities. When a legal complication or challenge occurs, if it impacts your rights as someone with a disability or a child with a disability, you should see how the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability can help.
- More information: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/disabilityrights/
Publications About Living with Disability
Sharing information and resources about cerebral palsy is not just one of our passions but a passion shared by many around the world. You could spend weeks looking through publications about living with CP and other disabilities, so we’ve narrowed down the list to some of our favorites.
- ABILITY Magazine:
- About: ABILITY Magazine is a popular publication that discusses everything newsworthy in the world of living with disabilities. Editions often feature interviews with celebrities who have disabilities, groups that are working hard to bring comfort and equity to the lives of people with disabilities, and others who spread awareness of disability needs, challenges, and success stories.
- More information: https://abilitymagazine.com/
- About: eParent.com is a popular online multimedia company that acts as a compass for various resources specifically tailored for parents of children with disabilities. While you learn about important resources that could help you and your child, you should also check out eParent’s social media presence on various apps. The social media community eParent has built can connect you with other parents of children with disabilities, so you can share stories, tips, and encouragement.
- More information: https://www.eparent.com/about/
- New Mobility:
- About: Many children born with cerebral palsy will need to use a wheelchair for life. Learning all about wheelchair life, the needs of the wheelchair user community, and fun and amazing changes to the world of wheelchairs – like improvements to comfort when traveling, in-home technology to make day-to-day mobility easier, and even the latest wheelchair-friendly articles of clothing – is easy with a subscription to New Mobility magazine.
- More information: https://newmobility.com/
- Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology:
- About: If you’re interested in a more scientific or technological approach to understanding how cerebral palsy can impact your child and your family, you may wish to check out the Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology (DMCN). For more than 60 years, this journal has focused on and shared groundbreaking studies on pediatric neurology and childhood-onset neuro-disability.
- More information: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14698749
If you need a good lawyer call David Silverman.