Cerebral Palsy | Bernstein & Maryanoff
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It’s estimated that about three babies are born with a birth injury every hour, affecting roughly seven out of every 1,000 babies, or 30,000 babies a year.
The latest data shows that roughly 80% of these birth injuries are considered modern to severe, while only 20% are classified as minor birth injuries. The data also shows that birth injuries rank as the fourth leading cause of death among infants nationwide.
One of the most severe birth injuries is cerebral palsy or CP. CP impacts a child’s ability to move, balance, and coordinate. It can also affect intellectual ability, speech, processing, and other cognitive functions in severe cases.
As with all parents, your instinct to protect and stand up for your child is seldom wrong. If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Miami, Florida, or the surrounding area, and you suspect their diagnosis was the result of medical malpractice, seeking legal guidance can help you find the answers you are looking for. At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our team can help assess your concerns when you schedule a free case evaluation.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Get the legal advice you deserve when you schedule a free case evaluation with our team today.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that impacts how a person moves. An individual who suffers brain damage or abnormal brain development can be diagnosed with CP. The type of CP they will have depends on the motor disability they are experiencing.
Four types of cerebral palsy
It’s important to recognize that not all cases of CP are the same. There are four different types, each requiring a unique rehabilitation plan. Generally, the more severe a CP diagnosis, the more impact it can have on an individual’s health. The following are the four types of cerebral palsy a child can be diagnosed with:
Spastic cerebral palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of CP, affecting up to 80% of people with CP, according to the CDC. It is characterized by stiff and tight muscles, impacting an individual’s movement and flexibility. Children with spastic CP may experience difficulty moving from one position to another. They may also move in awkward or painful manners and require assistance in some aspects of their life.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Individuals with dyskinetic cerebral palsy typically experience involuntary movements in their hands, arms, legs, and feet. Because of these spastic movements, it can be difficult for individuals to control their limbs, sit or walk. Their actions might also be slow or rapid and uncontrolled.
Ataxic cerebral palsy
Individuals who are diagnosed with ataxic cerebral palsy will experience issues with their coordination and balance. This will often affect the way they walk and move. They may have difficulty doing activities that require focus and control, such as writing or buttoning a shirt.
Some individuals will experience various symptoms that align with more than just one type of CP diagnosis. In these cases, an individual may be diagnosed with a mixed-type CP.
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?
While the different types of CP diagnosis impact an individual’s movement, coordination, and ability to balance, symptoms will appear early on, way before these motor disabilities are visible.
Some early signs of cerebral palsy can include the following:
- Seizures: As many as half of children diagnosed with CP also have a seizure disorder, also known as epilepsy. Children who are diagnosed with both of these disorders are likely to have a higher risk of an intellectual disability.
- Delayed first breath: Children may experience a delayed first breath after birth if they suffer from CP. Abnormal brain development can occur before birth, at the time of delivery, or a month after birth. If a child takes too long to take their first breath, the lack of oxygen to their brain can cause brain damage.
- Head appears slightly off: An unusually small head or an unusually large head could be an indication of improper brain development
- Visible weakness or coordination: You may be able to observe your child being physically weak or lacking proper hand-eye coordination for their age. This may look like the inability to move their muscles, stretch out their limbs, or keep a sense of balance as they begin moving, crawling, and eventually walking around.
- Tight limbs: Hypertonia is a medical condition in which an individual’s limbs appear tight. For example, they may be unable to stretch out their arms or legs because there is too much muscle tone. Tight limbs, especially on one side of the body, could be a symptom of cerebral palsy.
- Missed developmental milestones: Children with cerebral palsy often struggle to meet their developmental milestones. This includes a delayed ability to learn how to roll over and walk. Another early symptom of a child suffering from CP is their retention of certain reflexes that typically disappear in their early months of life.
Medical errors that can result in cerebral palsy
There are many reasons why a child may develop cerebral palsy. The following are some of the more common reasons CP may happen:
Failure to detect or treat infection in the mother during pregnancy
Expectant mothers will often undergo a series of tests to ensure a healthy pregnancy and the healthy development of their unborn child. If a mother experiences an infection and the medical provider fails to detect or properly treat the infection, it could cause abnormal development of the unborn child’s brain.
Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord
This extremely rare pregnancy complication is when the umbilical cord drops through the cervix, into the vagina, before the child’s head crowns. When this happens, the pressure can cause a lack of oxygen flow to the baby. This lack of oxygen will then lead to brain damage if medical care is not provided.
If an expectant mother is not able to go to give birth naturally, an emergency C-section will be required. If the C-section is delayed, this could cause an arrested development in the child’s brain and subsequent brain damage because of the lack of oxygen.
A delayed C-section can happen for a variety of reasons, including failure to properly monitor the baby or mother, failure to respond to a health concern promptly, or even lack of appropriate hospital staff.
Failure to monitor fetal heart rate during birth
Unfortunately, one of the more common reasons for CP due to medical error is the failure to monitor a child and the expected mother during delivery properly. If the baby or mother shows signs of distress and the proper medical care is not given, a child may suffer brain damage.
Negligence or error while using delivery instruments
Another one of the more common medical errors leading to CP is misuse or negligence when using delivery instruments like a vacuum or forceps. These delivery tools can cause undue pressure on a baby’s head if not used appropriately, leading to the child being harmed.
My child has suffered a birth injury; what are the next steps?
After a birth injury, parents are often left wondering why, how, and what they could have done to prevent their child’s birth injury. The devastation of a birth injury may leave parents feeling vulnerable and unsure of how to protect their newborn child. They may also wonder how to ensure their child has the healthiest future possible.
Of the estimated 30,000 injured babies during birth each year, there are roughly 20,000 medical malpractice lawsuits filed as a result of the injury. If your family has endured the heart-wrenching experience of a birth injury, you are not alone, and you have legal rights and options you can tap into.
Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you gain insight and advice on providing your child with the necessary resources.
How can a birth injury lawyer help you if you and your child experience a birth injury?
A birth injury lawyer can provide invaluable insight on what to do after a birth injury has occurred. The following are ways in which an attorney can support you:
Investigate whether or not medical malpractice occurred
When working with a personal injury attorney, the first step is determining whether or not medical malpractice has occurred. In short, medical malpractice in Florida is when there has been a breach of duty on the part of a healthcare provider. Even if your healthcare provider did not directly breach their duty of care, other parties, including NICU and maternity ward employees or the hospital, may be held liable for your child’s birth injury.
File within state deadlines
Florida’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice is two years, according to State Law 766.106. This means that a plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury to bring forward their medical malpractice lawsuit.
The statute of limitations can sometimes be extended to four years. This typically happens if the injury is not immediately discoverable. In fraud or concealment cases, the statute of limitations may extend beyond four years.
File a medical malpractice lawsuit
If a birth injury attorney determines you have a strong enough case, they’ll proceed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against all parties involved. As part of filing this lawsuit, the attorney and the representing law firm will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who you may be able to hold liable for your child’s birth injury case.
Reach a comprehensive settlement or represent you in trial
An experienced birth injury attorney will know how to fight back against defendants who try to minimize your case. At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our attorneys are skilled negotiators who will fight for your right to recover the compensation you deserve. They will advocate for your losses, pain and suffering, and other expenses and can help you and the involved parties reach a fair settlement agreement.
In some cases, settlements may not always be the best course of resolution. If a settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys are ready to represent and defend your rights in front of a judge or jury.
Speak with a birth injury attorney today
At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our team of paralegals, investigators, and attorneys are here to defend your rights during undoubtedly one of the hardest experiences any family can ever go through.
Our team is experienced, prepared, and well-equipped to investigate your case thoroughly and recover the justice you deserve.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
If you suspect your child’s birth injury in Miami, Florida, was the result of medical malpractice, contact our team today. Schedule your free case evaluation and get the legal representation you deserve.
Birth Injury Statistics. (2023).
What is Cerebral Palsy? (2023).