Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that describes a group of non-progressive but often changing motor impairment disorders in the early brain development stages. By definition, CP neither resolves nor progresses. The motor impairment can affect a child’s ability to use their hands and legs or maintain normal balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability among children.
Abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain during labor and delivery may be responsible for the development of CP. While many children diagnosed with CP will have problems with both their posture and gross or fine motor movements, some may also develop intellectual and cognitive disabilities; problems with vision, hearing, or speech; changes in the spine; and joint issues like contractures.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Specialists subclassify different motor conditions depending on the type and severity of the movement problems and limitations involved. Due to the many classifications of CP involving varying distributions of spasticity and impairment, making a diagnosis can be difficult. Thereby, every child needs to obtain a thorough clinical evaluation to properly analyze the predominant pattern and adequately classify your child’s CP type.
Several types of CP include:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic CP is the most common type of motor impairment. Specifically, it has a diagnosis rate of about 80% of all patients with CP. These patients often have abnormal control of voluntary muscle tone, muscle stiffness, and awkward body movements.
There are several well-known types of spasticity:
- Quadriplegia involves all four limbs, with the arms being equally or more affected than the legs.
- Diplegia leads to more severe involvement of the legs than the arms.
- Left hemiplegia only involves the left side of the body, with the upper limbs usually more affected than the lower limbs. Right hemiplegia involves the right side of the body.
Dyskinesia Cerebral Palsy
A child with dyskinesia CP will often have difficulty controlling the movement of their limbs, resulting in their inability to sit and walk properly. They often have uncontrollable involuntary movements (also described as athetoid), either writhing and slow or rapid and jerky.
Some parents report problems when their child is sucking, swallowing, or talking, as the impairment will often extend to a child’s face and tongue. Additionally, children with this condition can have muscle tones that change from being too tight to exceedingly loose, also known as hypertonia or hypotonia.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
A child with ataxic CP will have problems with balance and coordination, and walking is generally unsteady. Additionally, these children may have difficulty with quick movements or other activities that require greater control, like writing.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The symptoms of cerebral palsy differ between individuals. While one person with severe CP might require special equipment to walk or move, thereby needing lifetime care, another child with mild CP might be able to walk with little assistance.
Early signs of CP in a child include delays in reaching developmental, motor, or movement milestones. Specifically, infants and toddlers might have problems rolling over, crawling, sitting, or taking their first few steps. In babies younger than six months old, caretakers may notice that their heads lag the moment you pick them up or while they lay on their backs. In some instances, babies often feel stiff, floppy, or overextend themselves on their back and neck when you cradle them in your arms.
Babies over six months of age might be unable to roll over in either direction. Additionally, they might struggle to bring their hands together or pull them to their mouths. Finally, you might notice that they keep one hand fisted while they reach out with the other.
For babies older than ten months, their crawl will have a distinctive lopsidedness. They might appear to push off with just one set of limbs while dragging the others. Additionally, they might tend to scoot around on their buttocks instead of crawling on all fours.
How Do Babies Develop Cerebral Palsy?
CP is often the result of an injury or problem occurring during brain development in utero or within the first formative years of life. Children born prematurely have a higher chance of developing CP. Additionally, when fetuses or newborns don’t get enough blood, oxygen, or other nutrients before or during birth, they might suffer from brain injuries resulting in a diagnosis of CP. Lastly, if a child suffers a significant head injury or exposure to certain infections affecting the brain, such as meningitis, they can sometimes develop CP.
While specialists have made significant advances toward understanding the causes of CP, some of which are preventable with timely and proper medical care, they have yet to discover all possible factors leading to a diagnosis of the lifelong, debilitating condition.
How Common Are Cerebral Palsy Injuries in the U.S.?
The neurologic and cognitive impairments resulting from the many CP disorders can cause significant emotional and financial strain on the affected child and family members. Rates of CP vary worldwide and by geographical region, but overall, CP in the United States happens in approximately 2-2.5 per 1,000 live births, with fluctuations commonly occurring by state and hospital.
Who Is Liable for Cerebral Palsy Injuries?
Sometimes, CP can result from medical malpractice, and it’s important to hold the offending party or parties accountable to deter future negligence or wrongdoing and receive fair compensation to care for your child’s long-term needs. Many health care providers may be responsible for your child’s brain injuries, including your obstetrician, nurses, midwives, residents, family practitioner, neonatologists, and others. In some instances, the hospital or clinic might share liability.
Our birth injury lawyers can collect evidence and consult with experts who can determine if the baby and mother received timely and proper medical care and whether any negligence led to your child’s injuries and resulting CP diagnosis.
Filing a Cerebral Palsy Claim
If your child’s CP diagnosis resulted from medical negligence, our attorneys can help determine the court or surrounding areas with jurisdiction to hear your case. Before filing a lawsuit, you must also ensure your claim is within the deadline to file. This time restriction, known as the statute of limitations, must be specific to medical malpractice cases in Illinois. Each state has its own time limit for how long you have to file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the negligent practitioner or healthcare facility where your child is born.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is generally two years from the date of the injury or discovery of the same, but not more than four years from the date the medical malpractice happened, resulting in damages, according to 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/13-212(a). However, Illinois adheres to a separate statute of limitations for birth injuries or medical malpractice involving children, allowing the filing of cases for up to eight years post-injury per 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/13-212(b). Lastly, found at 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/13-211(c), Illinois law states that if your child suffers disability as a result of medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the removal of the disability, meaning until there’s a cure for your child’s condition.
If you fail to file a lawsuit by the requisite deadline, the court may forever bar you from recovering compensation for your child’s injuries. Our attorneys can answer any questions you may have about the statute of limitations or other deadlines, requirements, and restrictions and advise you whether your case is still timely.
What Compensation Can I Receive for a Cerebral Palsy Injury?
A child who suffers injuries from negligent medical care resulting in CP may require extensive ongoing treatment. Mounting medical expenses can put a strain on your family’s finances. One advantage of pursuing a medical malpractice claim is to obtain the funds to pay for your child’s long-term medical needs, prescription drugs, assistive devices or equipment, and attendant care to help them achieve their full potential.
Types of damages may differ depending on the jurisdiction or state where your case occurs. In general, you may receive compensation for the following losses and damages:
- Past, present, and future or expected medical expenses
- Lost wages or loss of income if you need to leave your job to provide 24/7 care for your infant
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Therapy costs
- Housing accommodations (i.e., changes made to your home to make it more accessible for your child)
- Other necessary services, such as respite care or an in-home medical attendant or caregiver
How Can a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Help Me?
Our attorneys are knowledgeable about medical malpractice, birth injury, and cerebral palsy claims. We can help tackle the nuances and complexities that come with investigating and managing medical malpractice lawsuits. Our attorneys have years of experience in properly investigating all types of injury claims.
We strive to obtain fair compensation for each child and their family members. We commit to each client’s case, determining the cause of your child’s injury, gathering the necessary evidence, negotiating a fair payout, and advocating for your best interests in the courtroom. Additionally, we have worked with qualified medical experts who can evaluate every case and provide expert testimony when appropriate to give you the best possible chance for a successful outcome.
Successful Cerebral Palsy Cases
settlement for a young girl who suffered a brain injury during birth, resulting in cerebral palsy, after physicians failed to timely perform a c-section.
for a child who suffered brain damage causing cerebral palsy as a result of a family practice physician’s failure to perform a timely Caesarean section in the face of fetal distress.
for a child who suffered severe brain injury and cerebral palsy as the result of a uterine rupture in a vaginal birth after Caesarean (VBAC) delivery that could have been avoided.
We have investigated and litigated cerebral palsy and other birth injury cases in Illinois and throughout the United States. Cases we’ve had successful results on include:
- The delay of a necessary C-section
- No action taken for a baby showing signs of fetal distress or nonreassuring fetal heart tracings during labor
- Too much force used during the birthing process, causing a traumatic brain or a brachial plexus injury
- The mismanagement of a mother’s hypertension, preeclampsia, or diabetes
- A baby not properly resuscitated or intubated after birth
- Failure to recognize and adequately treat a maternal or fetal infection timely
Our birth injury lawyers can offer you peace of mind with our commitment to our clients and their cases. We have a long history of securing favorable settlements and verdicts for children who suffer brain damage or cerebral palsy diagnoses.
At Levin & Perconti, we pride ourselves on providing compassionate and dedicated representation to our clients as a nationally-renowned law firm with years of experience dealing with serious injuries, wrongful deaths, medical malpractice, birth injury, and cerebral palsy lawsuits.
Contact us about your CP medical malpractice case today to receive a free consultation where we will review your case and determine your legal options and how we can best help you.
Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf.