Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects body movement and posture. It is caused by brain damage that occurs either before, during or immediately after birth. CP can be caused by genetic, environmental factors as well as prematurity. However, because hypoxia (lack of oxygen) to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery is a known cause of cerebral palsy it is important for the doctors and nurses to identify the signs on the fetal monitor and timely intervene to help the baby.
The type and timing of the injury to the brain determines the severity of cerebral palsy. Some children are mildly affected while others may be completely unable to move and require assistance to eat and even breathe.
Cerebral palsy can cause the following movement disorders:
- Spasticity (stiff muscles), which is referred to as spastic cerebral palsy
- Dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements), referred to as dyskinetic cerebral palsy
- Ataxia (poor balance and coordination), referred to as ataxic cerebral palsy
- A combination of movement disorders, referred to as mixed cerebral palsy
Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy may take months or even years to become apparent. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important to answer the question: could this have been prevented? Cerebral palsy attorney Michael H. Bereston can talk to you about the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy, labor and your child’s birth and review medical records to determine whether malpractice may have been involved. Working with top-notch medical experts, he and our team can work to expose wrongdoing and help you pursue much-needed financial compensation.
To learn more, call (410) 220-6581. Your consultation is free! We serve clients across Maryland and throughout the country from our offices in Annapolis.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
In the broadest terms, cerebral palsy is caused by asphyxia-related brain damage. When a developing baby or newborn child does not receive adequate oxygen and blood to the brain, he or she can suffer serious and permanent brain damage as brain cells begin to die. In some cases, this leads to cerebral palsy.
There are many ways in which an unborn or just-born baby could suffer oxygen deprivation. For example, if labor is not progressing quickly enough and the delivery room doctor fails to order an emergency cesarean section (C-section), causing the baby to experience hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood) which, in turn, can lead to hypoxia (low oxygen levels in tissues, including brain tissue). Additionally, problems with the umbilical cord, such as umbilical prolapse or an umbilical cord that is wrapped around the baby in the womb, could result in asphyxia.
These are just some examples of how oxygen deprivation before, during, or immediately after birth can occur; any time a baby suffers dangerous oxygen deprivation, they are at risk of developing a number of birth defects and related conditions, including cerebral palsy.
What Is the Statue of Limitations on Birth Injury Claims in Maryland?
Like all personal injury claims, Maryland imposes a statute of limitations on birth injury cases. The statute of limitations is simply the legal phrase for how long you have to bring your claim. Because birth injury cases typically fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice, these cases have a similar statute of limitations: five years from the date of the injury or three years from the date the injury was discovered (or reasonably should have been discovered).
However, when it comes to claims involving individuals who were minors at the time they were victims of medical malpractice, as is the case with birth injury claims, Maryland allows victims to bring claims within three years of their 18th birthday (or, in other words, until they are 21 years old).
When Medical Malpractice Leads to Cerebral Palsy
While it is possible for a child to develop cerebral palsy as a result of completely unforeseeable complications or unpreventable conditions, many cerebral palsy diagnoses are the result of medical malpractice. When a child suffers a birth injury due to the negligent or careless actions of an obstetrician, delivery room nurse doctor, midwife, or any other medical professional, and that birth injury leads to permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy, the child’s parent/guardian may take legal action. While nothing can undo what has happened to your child, a birth injury claim can allow you to recover financial compensation, allowing you to get the critical treatment for your child that he or she needs.
So, when is medical malpractice responsible for a child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis? Some common examples include instances in which medical professionals:
- Fail to recognize/diagnose a high-risk pregnancy
- Fail to monitor or respond to signs of fetal distress
- Do not detect or treat maternal infections
- Allow labor to continue for a prolonged amount of time
- Do not order a timely C-section
- Misuse assistive birth devices, such as forceps or vacuum extractors
- Extend labor/delivery unnecessarily
In short, any time a medical professional does not uphold the standard duty of care—both to the mother and the baby—that doctor may be liable for any injuries either the mother or child suffers.
Recovering Fair Compensation After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
A cerebral palsy diagnosis means that your child will lead a far different life than the one you had envisioned. This does not mean, however, that all of his or her opportunities should be limited. With the right care, therapy, and assistance, your child can lead a more fulfilling and stable life. The financial compensation awarded in a birth injury lawsuit can help ensure you can provide for all of your child’s needs.
As an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer, Michael Bereston knows what it takes to seek justice in birth injury cases involving this serious condition. For more than 30 years Mr. Bereston has been practicing law and using his trial experience to help disabled children and families recover the complete compensation they need – and deserve.
Find out more about recovering fair financial compensation to help your child face a brighter future. Call (410) 220-6581 for your free case evaluation. Our cerebral palsy attorney practices in Maryland and across the U.S.
- Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: What Does the Condition Mean?
- Different Forms of Assistive Technology
- Is Cerebral Palsy Preventable? Also in the same article: Missing Milestones, Diagnosis in Children, Tests.
- FAQs about C-Sections and Birth Injuries
- Symptoms, Common Causes and the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy