Florida Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
One of the most stressful events in the life of parents is having the joy of childbirth replaced with despair when they discover their newborn suffered a traumatic brain injury during the birthing process. When the brain has been deprived of oxygen during labor and delivery, the child may suffer from cerebral palsy, a condition for which there is no cure.
If you suspect your child was deprived of oxygen during the birthing process due to negligent medical care, you may be able to hold the negligent physician and/or other healthcare providers liable for negligence and the harm it caused. With a Florida medical malpractice claim, you could potentially obtain substantial compensation for your child’s medical expenses, care, pain, suffering, and other damages resulting from the malpractice.
The Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger are committed to obtaining justice for victims of preventable birth injuries. We have many years of successful trial experience in all facets of Florida medical malpractice and have won numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and awards for the families whom we have had the privilege of representing. We want to hear what happened to your child and help you get the compensation you deserve.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is not a disease, but a medical condition caused by abnormal brain development or damage to an area of the brain that controls movement. Damage often occurs during the birthing process when the brain of the fetus is deprived of oxygen. It is the most common motor disability in children. Approximately one in 345 people have cerebral palsy.
The damage caused may be slight, and the person with cerebral palsy may only have a minor problem with balance. In many cases, however, people with cerebral palsy are so severely debilitated they require life-long, round-the-clock care.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four main types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic. This is the most common type. It causes the person to have stiff and difficult movements. It affects the legs more often than the arms but may affect all the limbs, the trunk, and the face, or it may affect the person on only one side of their body.
- Ataxic. This causes balance issues because the person has a loss of depth perception. It also may cause difficulty with movements that need a lot of control, like writing or feeding yourself. The person may also lose control of their arms and hands when they are reaching for something.
- Athetoid/dyskinetic. The person affected has uncontrolled and involuntary movements. They have difficulty sitting or walking, talking, and even swallowing. The degree of control and movement may change throughout the day.
- Mixed. The affected person has more than one type of cerebral palsy.
Although cerebral palsy is known for its effect on areas of the brain that control movement, in more than half of the cases, there is some cognitive disability as well.
Possible Causes of Cerebral Palsy
In many cases of cerebral palsy, the cause is unknown. It may be due to disruption in brain development during gestation, but other causes could be:
- Gene mutations leading to abnormal brain development
- Premature birth
- Multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Low birth weight
- Negligence during the birthing process
Cerebral Palsy and Negligence during the Birthing Process
Brain injuries are often caused by negligence that occurs during the birthing process. The birthing process includes labor, delivery, and a short period of time after the birth. Negligence during this time is generally totally preventable medical malpractice resulting in fetal oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) to the brain, which causes the cerebral palsy.
Examples of some of the negligent acts or omissions that can lead to traumatic brain injuries and subsequent cerebral palsy include, but are not limited to:
- Inadequate fetal monitoring. The fetal heart rate can drop during labor, indicating the baby is in distress and likely suffering from oxygen deprivation. When no one in charge notices the distress and no emergency measures are taken to remedy the situation, the newborn suffers brain damage.
- Failure to plan for a cesarean section. A baby may be too large for the birth canal, or it may be extremely overdue. The umbilical cord may be wrapped around the baby’s neck or the placenta can detach. A delay in performing a cesarean when the baby is in distress from these conditions can also result in oxygen deprivation to the fetus and a subsequent brain injury.
- Prolonged labor. The baby may become stuck in the birth canal and be deprived of oxygen when measures are not taken to advance the baby through the birth canal or to perform an emergency cesarean section.
- RH blood incompatibility between the mother and baby. This should be discovered prior to the birth and emergency measures should be taken to transfuse the baby immediately after birth.
- Breech babies. This means the baby is born feet or bottom first and its head is stuck in the birth canal. If not treated promptly, this can deprive the brain of oxygen.
- Extraction methods used improperly. This may mean forceful use of forceps or careless use of a vacuum extractor to assist in the birthing process.
- Maternal infections left untreated. If maternal infections aren’t treated, the baby can contract the infection during the birthing process and brain damage can occur.
- Fetal stroke. This is caused by a problem with blood supply to the brain that goes unnoticed. It can result in serious brain damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
There are different types and degrees of cerebral palsy, but symptoms newborns with cerebral palsy often exhibit include:
- Lack of muscle tone and uncontrolled, spastic movements
- Abnormal reflexes
- Excessive drooling and inability to swallow properly
- Muscle tremors
It may be that your newborn will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy while still an infant. However, some symptoms become more apparent over time, so your baby may not be diagnosed until months after birth. Symptoms of cerebral palsy that become apparent as a child reaches the toddler stage include, but are not limited to:
- Physical developmental delays. For example, your baby does not sit alone or crawl at the expected ages.
- Your toddler has trouble with speech development.
- Your child has trouble with fine motor skills, such as picking up small objects.
- You notice cognitive delays or disabilities.
- Vision and hearing may be affected.
Various treatments are often required throughout life for the person with cerebral palsy. The sooner your infant or toddler is diagnosed, the sooner an effective treatment plan can be developed.
Florida Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Claims
If your child exhibits symptoms of cerebral palsy and you suspect medical malpractice was the cause, you need skilled legal representation to help you hold the negligent party or parties accountable and to obtain the financial compensation you deserve. It may seem straightforward to you that the damage was caused by the negligence of the doctor and/or labor and delivery team members, but medical malpractice cases can be very complicated.
To be viable, a cerebral palsy malpractice claim must demonstrate duty, breach, cause and damages:
- Duty – You must be able to show that the negligent obstetrician or other healthcare providers had a duty to provide the standard of care a reasonably prudent practitioner of the same specialty would have provided in similar circumstances.
- Breach – You must then show that the standard of care was breached. That is, that the obstetrician or other healthcare providers fell short of the expected standard of care.
- Cause – Having demonstrated duty and breach of duty, you must then establish causation. That is, you must prove that the doctor or other healthcare providers’ negligence in breaching their duty caused harm to your child.
- Damages – Finally, you must show that the harm your child suffered because of medical negligence caused damages. These damages can be economic, as in previous, current and future medical expenses, and non-economic, as in pain, suffering and diminished capacity to enjoy life.
If you can demonstrate, duty, breach of duty, cause of injuries and resulting damages, you may be able to obtain substantial compensation for the damages recoverable under Florida law. This compensation may include:
- All past, current and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and care costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Other damages that are unique to your situation and recoverable according to Florida law.
Proving that the obstetrician or other healthcare providers breached their duty and that the breach led to your child being injured is a complicated legal process. It requires a thorough investigation into all the details of the case, a comprehensive understanding of all facts, high quality expert testimony and skill as a trial lawyer.
The proven cerebral palsy medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger have the expertise you need to handle your child’s case with the attention to detail, skill and knowledge necessary to win. We have won many multi-million-dollar settlements and awards for our clients who have been seriously injured by medical negligence and have the experience and skill you need to win your child’s case.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Cases
In Florida, the statute of limitations for all medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date the malpractice occurred, was discovered or should have been discovered. The latest deadline permitted for the discovery of malpractice is four years from the date the initial medical error or negligent event occurred.
For children, however, the law allows initiating malpractice lawsuits up until his or her eighth birthday, as long as the parents were not expected to have known about the injury and the possibility that it was caused by medical malpractice.
Proven, Successful Florida Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Successful cerebral palsy malpractice cases require the skill and knowledge of experienced trial attorneys and the resources of a successful law firm. The Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger have the experience, skill and resources you can depend on to win your cerebral palsy malpractice case.
Attorneys across Florida and the U.S. trust us to handle their clients’ complex Florida medical malpractice claims. If your child has cerebral palsy because of medical negligence, we are the attorneys you too can trust to provide the superior representation, personal attention and results you want.
Call us at 855.292.2111 or submit the “Free Case Evaluation” form on our website to discuss your case for free with an experienced Florida cerebral palsy medical malpractice attorney you can trust for excellence in the pursuit of justice.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What is Cerebral Palsy?
Data and Statistics for Cerebral Palsy
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Causes and Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
Mayo Clinic: Cerebral Palsy