Your Guide to Negligence Claims for Birth Injuries (Cerebral Palsy)
Labour always carries risk, though, with modern medicine and advanced antenatal care, these risks can often be avoided. In the case something does go wrong, the effects can be devastating both for the mother and the child. Several birth injuries like cerebral palsy can develop over time despite regular monitoring, resulting from a difficult birth or medical negligence. If your baby develops cerebral palsy due to negligence in the delivery room, then you have grounds to file for a cerebral palsy compensation claim.
Cerebral Palsy is a brain injury that affects around 1 in every 400 children born in the UK every year. Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle tone, movement and posture. It’s caused by damage to the immature developing brain of the fetus. The damage can occur before, during or after birth. Life expectancy is commonly unaffected, but the symptoms do put a great burden on both the physical and mental health of people with the condition as well as their loved ones.
- What causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy results from an abnormality or disruption in brain development, most frequently before the birth of a child. In many cases, the cause isn’t known. The brain damage usually occurs before birth, but it can also occur during birth or post-partum. Some of the possible causes include:
- asphyxia neonatorum (lack of oxygen to the brain during labour and delivery)
- gene mutations
- severe jaundice (kernicterus)
- maternal infections, such as German measles and herpes simplex
- brain infections, such as meningitis & encephalitis
- intracranial haemorrhage, or bleeding into the brain
- head injuries as a result of a fall, a car accident, or child abuse
c. The incidence in the UK
· The current UK incidence rate is approximately 1 in 400 births.
· Around 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.
· There are an estimated 30 thousand children living with cerebral palsy in the UK.
· The incidence of cerebral palsy Is greater in boys than girls. For every 100 girls with cerebral palsy, there are 135 boys suffering from the same disease.
· Approximately half of the children with cerebral palsy are estimated to born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
- What are the long-term complications that result from cerebral palsy?
Muscle spasticity, muscle weakness, and coordination difficulties can contribute to a number of complications either during childhood or in adulthood; this includes:
Contracture. Contracture refers to muscle tissue shortening due to severe muscle tightening (spasticity). Contracture can hinder bone growth, causing bones to bend, joints to deform. Often dislocation or partial dislocation can result.
Mental health conditions. People with cerebral palsy might develop mental health conditions, like depression. Social isolation, along with challenges of coping with disabilities, can result in depression.
Premature ageing. Some type of premature ageing will affect most individuals with cerebral palsy in their 40s because of the stress this disorder puts on their systems.
Malnutrition. Feeding or swallowing problems can make it difficult for individuals who have cerebral palsy, particularly an infant, to obtain enough nutrition. This can hinder growth and inhibit bone growth. Some children require a feeding tube to get adequate nutrition.
Heart and lung disease. People with cerebral palsy may develop heart and lung disease and breathing difficulties.
e. Cerebral Palsy – Impact Analysis and Statistics
1 out of 4 children with cerebral palsy is unable to feed or dress themselves.
1 out of 3 children with cerebral palsy has the inability to walk.
1 out of 4 children with cerebral palsy has a severe learning disability.
1 out of 10 children with cerebral palsy has no useful vision.
About 1 out of 50 children with cerebral palsy is deaf.
About 1 out of 11 children with cerebral palsy is blind.
About 1 out of 4 children with cerebral palsy is reported to have epileptic seizures.
- What kind of Medical Negligence can result in cerebral palsy?
Brain damage that leads to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy can result in a variety of different ways and unfortunately, medical mistakes around the time of labour or afterward, during neonatal care, can contribute to the cause.
The major causes of cerebral palsy due to medical negligence include:
- A failure to assess fetal condition (by CTG) before or during labour resulting in delayed delivery thus, deprivation the baby’s brain of oxygen;
- Delay in performing an instrumental delivery by ventouse or forceps or a traumatic instrumental delivery
- Delay in performing emergency C-section or mistakes in managing this surgical procedure.
- Failure to identify placental problems like placenta praevia or placental abruption
- Ruptured uterus during labour
- A cord prolapse
- Poorly managed induction of labour
- Failure to diagnose or manage low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) during labour or post-partum
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal or neonatal jaundice which can result in hyperbilirubinemia (increased levels of bilirubin in the blood) and kernicterus (this is a complication of untreated neonatal jaundice. The excess concentration of bilirubin in the brain tissues results in irreversible damage to the developing brain causing death or long term effects, including cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Pre-term babies are most at risk)
- Delay in diagnosis or management of serious medical conditions such as neonatal meningitis
Do you have a claim?
- What are the time limits on filing a claim?
If an adult with cerebral palsy has disabilities that prevent them from being able to directly instruct a solicitor, then time does not run against them. Typically time for a child who has reached adulthood, expires 3 years from the age of 18, so on the 21st birthday. However, if such a claimant does not have legal capacity to bring a claim, then time simply does not run. This can apply because of inability to communicate physically, even though there is intellectual ability, or if there is impairment of cognitive function to such an extent that legally the injured claimant does not have mental capacity to bring a claim.
Our Director at Medical Solicitors has brought a claim involving a Claimant, suffering from cerebral palsy, who was born in 1964. His family only approached solicitors when he was aged 34, when they started to worry about what was going to happen to him when the rest of the family were not around any longer to take care of him.
- How can a medical negligence claim help my child?
Being a caregiver and supporting a child with cerebral palsy can be challenging and overwhelming in so many aspects – emotionally, physically, and financially. The funds acquired from a compensation claim can help alleviate these concerns and ensure that your child gets the best care and equipment they need for a quality life. This can help your child enjoy their life to the fullest extent possible.
There are numerous ways for the Compensation to be paid:
- a lump sum,
- periodical payments or,
- (most frequently) a mixture of both.
The claim will deliver compensation to cover the healthcare and rehabilitation needs of the affected child’s throughout his or her life. It will cover most areas of care, including:
- Medical care
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Assistive technology and equipment
- Accommodation needs of the child and their caregiver
- Need for special educational
- Loss of earnings
- Professional expenses required to manage the award of compensation
- A sum of money for the family in relation to the value of past care given.
What Medical Solicitors can do for you
Our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors have extensive experience in helping children and the disabled who have suffered from negligent medical treatment. Compensation can be claimed where care has fallen below a reasonable standard and so is considered to amount to actual Medical Negligence.
- We can help gain an interim compensation payment so that you as a caregiver, can take immediate steps to maximise your child’s potential and to provide you with relief from being the main providers of care all the time, by bringing in a team of professional carers to help you.
- Medical Solicitor will help you secure a claim for compensation that can offer the financial support required to help your child’s long-term needs.
- We help address and compensate the ongoing financial needs of your child to ensure the best possible quality of life in terms of therapy and equipment, rehabilitation, accommodation and medical care.
Past legal cases
Here is our account of just some of our past legal cases for birth injuries:
Over £4 million for a man suffering cerebral palsy caused at birth in 1975. His mother did not start the claim until 1998 when he was 23 years old.
£1.6 million for a man suffering cerebral palsy caused at birth in 1964. His mother did not start the claim until he was 34 years old.
£450,000 to a child delivered 2 months early by caesarean section because the hospital miscalculated the estimated date of delivery
£270,000 for a lady with a permanently disabled left arm caused at birth in 1984
£35,000 to a child who suffered a notably deformed foot because of a poorly sited oxygen probe during his time on a special care baby unit