Because cerebral palsy originates before, during, or shortly after birth, the mere presence of cerebral palsy in your child should raise suspicions of medical malpractice. Further investigations into exactly which actions were taken (or omitted) during medical care around the time of birth is often enough to establish a medical malpractice case.
Cerebral palsy is a term that refers to several different neurological disorders that arise from brain damage. Symptoms include impaired muscle coordination, movement, and posture. Young children who suffer brain injury (in a car accident, for example) may also develop cerebral palsy without medical malpractice playing a role. Sadly, up to 10,000 children develop cerebral palsy every year.
During pregnancy, the mother and her baby function as a single interconnected organism, which means that problems with the mother’s health are likely to affect the baby as well. A wide variety of medical errors can cause cerebral palsy (and other problems) in children. Approximately 20 percent of all cerebral palsy cases that are caused by medical errors occur during the birthing process (in the delivery room).
The following is a description of some of the most common medical errors doctors sometimes make that could increase the risk of cerebral palsy in your child.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy are often not apparent until months or even years after the child is born. Meanwhile, Connecticut, like other states, applies a statute of limitations – a deadline for filing a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, your claim’s value will drop to zero immediately. Normally, the statute of limitations deadline is two years after the date of the injury – a point at which cerebral palsy symptoms may not have yet become obvious.
The beginning of this two year ticking clock can be delayed to the date that you actually discovered (or should have discovered) your child’s cerebral palsy. Nevertheless, there is still a hard deadline to file a lawsuit – no more than three years after the injury took place, no matter when you discovered that your child had developed cerebral palsy.
Unlike some states, Connecticut applies no special statute of limitations extension if the victim is a minor (under 18 years old) when the injury occurred. If the symptoms of cerebral palsy are delayed for years, this could leave you with a very short window between the time you discover your child’s condition and the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit.
About 10 percent of all cerebral palsy cases are caused by medical malpractice. Moreover, it is unlikely that you possess the resources to examine all of the possible medical errors that could have caused your baby’s cerebral palsy. The reality is that medical malpractice cases of any sort tend to be scientifically complex, requiring the use of expert medical witnesses to win fair compensation.
Berkowitz Hanna has the resources to conduct a thorough investigation and to recruit the expert medical witnesses that will probably be necessary to prove medical malpractice. Our lawyers have been investigating medical malpractice claims, including cerebral palsy claims, for a long time now. All told, the lawyers at Berkowitz Hanna enjoy decades of combined experience handling medical malpractice claims.
In many cases, the evidence necessary to complete the investigation is in the possession of the defendant. In this case, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to seek a court order to force the defendant to hand over the evidence (medical records of the delivery, for example). Filing a lawsuit does not prevent you from settling the case before trial.
Cerebral palsy is a serious and lifelong condition. Although, with the right medical treatments, your child could still live a relatively normal and active life. If your child’s condition was caused by medical negligence, however, you can and should demand a high amount of compensation. Expenses and losses that you might include in your claim are listed below:
Not all of the foregoing expenses apply to every case, but one matter is critical to remember: You will need to demand 100 percent of the compensation you will ever need because once you reach a private settlement or a courtroom verdict, it will be impossible to demand more money in the future.
Doctors and hospitals don’t like to admit the mistakes they make, and the publicity of a trial can be damaging to their practices. If you hire a law firm with a fearsome reputation for winning at trial (such as Berkowitz Hanna), the likelihood is that your case will be settled privately, out of court.
You won’t need to negotiate. We can do that for you, although only you, as the child’s parent or guardian, have the authority to accept any settlement offer. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to gain leverage in settlement negotiations, but it is still more than likely that a settlement will be reached before an actual trial takes place.
A formal settlement agreement will be drafted, and once you sign it, the case is over unless the defendant refuses to pay the settlement. In that case, you can sue to enforce the agreement the way you would sue to enforce any other type of contract. Most cerebral palsy lawsuits are settled out of court. But if the case does end up in court, you will need a law firm with a strong track record of success in court in order to prevail.
Although cerebral palsy is not in itself a fatal condition, in a few cases, children do die from complications caused by cerebral palsy. In such cases, it is usually difficult to trace the chain of causation to medical malpractice, unless the complication itself causes the death of your child.
In such unusual cases, it is possible for the executor of the child’s probate estate (chosen by the probate court, but typically a parent) to file a lawsuit on the child’s behalf. Damages in such lawsuits can be extensive.
A case evaluation by a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice claims is a way for you to receive an objective, third-party assessment of the merits of your claim. At Berkowitz Hanna, we offer free initial consultations, and you will never owe us a dime, ever, unless we win your claim and your money actually arrives.
With our decades of combined experience in handling medical malpractice cases, both in court and in negotiations, we can evaluate your chances of winning and also help you determine how much your claim is worth.
Call Berkowitz Hanna today or contact us online to schedule a consultation with us. We serve clients from throughout the state of Connecticut from our offices in Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, and Shelton.