If Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy

Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy? If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical malpractice, your family has the right to recover compensation, but compensation isn’t awarded automatically. In order to learn more about your child’s legal rights and how to receive compensation, you should get the advice of a Halifax medical malpractice lawyer.

What is cerebral palsy, and how can cerebral palsy be caused by medical malpractice? If your child has cerebral palsy, what are your family’s rights, and what steps should you take? When should you reach out to a Halifax birth injury lawyer for the legal assistance your family may need?

If you will continue reading this brief discussion of cerebral palsy, medical malpractice, and your family’s legal rights in Nova Scotia, you will find the answers that you and your loved ones may need.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

In Canada, cerebral palsy is a common physical disability that affects approximately one in every five hundred persons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cerebral palsy is a term that identifies “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”

Cerebral palsy disorders are the most common motor disabilities that affect children. Cerebral palsy is always a result of abnormal brain development or damage to a developing brain, and it affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles.

All cerebral palsy victims have movement and posture difficulties. Many also struggle with related conditions that include intellectual disabilities; hearing, vision, and speech difficulties; seizures; spinal problems (such as scoliosis); and joint difficulties including contractures.

One-third of the ambulatory children with cerebral palsy struggle with ongoing, sporadic pain, and a quarter of the children with cerebral palsy suffer epileptic seizures.

What Are the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

Doctors categorize the different types of cerebral palsy according to how the condition affects a person’s movement and posture. These are the four primary types of cerebral palsy:

  1.  Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common cerebral palsy. The muscles of spastic cerebral palsy victims are extraordinarily stiff, which makes movement difficult and awkward.
  2.  Ataxic cerebral palsy causes difficulties with coordination and balance. Ataxic cerebral palsy victims have difficulty walking, moving quickly, or performing tasks like writing and cooking.
  3.  Dyskinetic cerebral palsy makes it difficult to control the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Standing, walking, and even talking, eating, and swallowing may be quite difficult.
  4. “Mixed” cerebral palsy describes patients with more than one form of cerebral palsy. The most common mixed cerebral palsy is spastic-dyskinetic.

How Does Medical Malpractice Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Frequently, the direct physical cause of cerebral palsy is a brain injury sustained in the delivery process due to a lack of oxygen. A negligent doctor or nurse may fail to identify fetal distress resulting in a lack of oxygen during labour and delivery, and this can cause cerebral palsy.

Expectant mothers may also have infections, illnesses, or conditions that, if left untreated by a medical provider, may cause a child to develop cerebral palsy. For example, iIf a child is born with jaundice, and that jaundice remains untreated, it may lead to conditions like kernicterus or cerebral palsy.

If a doctor or nurse fails to diagnose and treat any condition or fails to prevent any injury that may lead to cerebral palsy, that doctor or nurse may be negligent and may be deemed liable for medical malpractice.

What Can Doctors Do to Prevent Cerebral Palsy?

Most obstetricians in Canada take a number of measures to prevent cerebral palsy and avoid medical malpractice, including:

  1.  Monitoring the fetal heart rate: If a baby’s brain isn’t getting sufficient oxygen, it affects the baby’s heart rate. There are certain fetal heart rate patterns that identify the fetus isn’t receiving enough oxygen that can lead to a brain injury.
  2.  Reducing the chances of a head injury: Most obstetricians now try to avoid any delivery tools or techniques (like vacuum or forceps assisted delivery) that could pressure or injure a child’s head.
  3.  Promptly treating jaundice: Many babies are born with jaundice, so most obstetricians must be prepared to offer immediate treatment.
  4.  Treating the mother’s medical conditions: Conditions like diabetes or hypertension may cause serious pregnancy complications when left untreated. Most obstetricians are aware of this and will take measures to reduce the risks to both mother and child.

What Are Your Family’s Rights?

In many cases, cerebral palsy is a preventable injury. When medical negligence is the cause of a child’s cerebral palsy, the law in Nova Scotia entitles that child and the child’s parents to monetary compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, loss of income and other related losses and damages.

If medical malpractice is the reason your child suffers with cerebral palsy, discuss your family’s legal rights and options with a Halifax birth injury lawyer who will scrutinize the medical records, speak to the witnesses, identify the liable party or parties, and possibly consult independent medical experts.

A family’s birth injury lawsuit based on cerebral palsy may name any of the parties with liability as defendants – an obstetrician, anesthesiologist, nurse, hospital, or clinic, for example.

Do Parents Face a Deadline for Taking Legal Action?

If your newborn suffers with cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice, a Halifax medical malpractice lawyer will provide a no-obligation, no-cost case review and evaluation. You’ll get personalized advice regarding your rights, options, and the law.

Parents in Nova Scotia should know that the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is usually two years from the day you first become aware of the possible negligence. However, for children, the time limit doesn’t start to run until the child reaches the age of majority. If the child is under a disability caused by the defendant’s negligence the time limit may be suspended.

In other words, no matter how old your child is, it may not be too late to pursue a claim for compensation!

You should not wait two years or even two weeks to discuss your case with a birth injury lawyer. The memories of witnesses fade over time. Evidence deteriorates and disappears. Arrange to speak with a lawyer immediately if you learn that your child has cerebral palsy.

How Can You Choose the Right Birth Injury Lawyer?

How can parents choose a lawyer with the legal skills and experience to win justice on your child’s behalf? The award-winning team at McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has decades of experience fighting – and prevailing – on behalf of families whose children have suffered birth injuries.

Obviously, no sum of money can change what has happened to your child, but your family is entitled to compensation for your medical costs and your other related damages and losses. Reach out now to McKiggan Hebert Lawyers by calling our offices in Halifax at (902) 423-2050 and scheduling a no-cost, no-obligation case review and evaluation.

If you move forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will pay no legal fees to McKiggan Hebert unless and until we recover compensation on your family’s behalf.