Do I Need a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer?
When a parent finds out that their baby has cerebral palsy, a lawsuit is likely the last thing on their mind. Its important to realize, though, that there are limitations on how long you have to make a claim, and if you wait too long, you may be barred from even bringing a claim.
Even if you’re strongly opposed to the idea of pursuing a lawsuit, understand that you as a parent have an obligation to your child. You’re in the best position to discover the truth about what led to your child developing this neurological condition, and to pursue justice on their behalf.
There’s no harm in seeking an attorney’s opinion on the strength of your potential case, and you do not have to make a decision until you are ready to do so. Our cerebral palsy attorneys offer free consultations to parents in your position, and they can give you their honest advice regarding your legal options should you choose to move forward. For a free consultation, call 1-855-833-3707.
There are several reasons to pursue a birth injury claim when warranted. For one, a lawsuit seeks monetary compensation to pay for the losses your family has suffered, as well as expected future expenses. The expected lifetime cost of raising a child with cerebral palsy is estimated to be over $1 million, and a jury award or out-of-court settlement can mean the world to families with little to no disposable income. A lawsuit can also help bring about needed changes and additional policies aimed at preventing such an injury from occurring to other newborn children in the future.
Was Medical Malpractice to Blame?
When parents sue doctors and healthcare providers over their child’s development of cerebral palsy, it’s because there was some sort of medical negligence or malpractice involved in the child’s birth that resulted in a brain injury. The injuries that end up causing CP usually occur during the delivery process, and are often the result of negligence on behalf of the doctors, obstetricians, nurses, or other medical professionals.
‘Negligence’ in this sense means failing to take actions that any other medical professional would have been expected to take, and causing someone to suffer as a result of that inaction (or taking an unnecessary action that resulted in injury). Sometimes, for instance, the child would have been spared the injury if a cesarean section had been performed in a timely manner.
The standards for doctors are very high, as they ought to be. Anyone who was negligent in the delivery of medical care to you or your child (midwives, doctors, nurses, healthcare facilities and any other professionals involved in the delivery) may be legally liable for compensating you, and luckily, medical professionals are most-always insured for events just like this.
Cerebral palsy is not always the result of negligence. Sometimes it occurs due to circumstances out of the control of medical staff. Until you know for sure what led to your child’s injury, however, it makes sense to have an attorney look into the facts of your case free of charge. If you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, make sure your attorney operates on a contingency fee agreement.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
Any birth injury lawyer worth his or her salt will only take these cases on contingency. This means that the client (you) never risk a single penny of your own money. Instead, the attorney agrees to front all costs, and only gets paid a percentage of the final award if the case is successful. If your case gets throw out or you lose at trial, you owe your attorney nothing.
This way, the goals of both you and your attorney are aligned, and you can feel confident that your attorney is doing everything he or she can to win your case.
How a Lawyer Can Help
First and foremost, an attorney can sit down with you and discuss the circumstances that led to the injury, as well as explain the options available to your family moving forward. If your attorney believes that you do have an actionable case, they’ll need to begin building a strong case to present to the defendant. This can take some time, so it’s important to get the process started as soon as possible.
Many attorneys are specialists in one field or another. For example, some attorneys focus on nursing home abuse cases while others may focus almost exclusively on birth injuries causing cerebral palsy. Your potential lawyer should have considerable experience with birth injury malpractice cases, should have medical experts on call who can testify as to what caused your child’s injury, and should never ask you to front a single penny of your own money to pursue your claim.
Successfully arguing a cerebral palsy lawsuit requires quite a bit of expertise. Attorneys who work cerebral palsy claims tend to be quite familiar with the disorder, the conditions under which it arises, and the conditions that can be defined as negligence in a way that allows families to bring a claim.
An experienced CP attorney will almost always be able to tell you if your case is actionable or not, as well as what you can expect moving forward so that you’re prepared for it. These attorneys work under contingency arrangements (no-win, no-fee), so you can be certain that they won’t take cases that they don’t believe will win.
Why It’s Important to Hire a Lawyer
Whenever you’re working with a lawyer, they become your advocate, your confidant, and to a large extent, the person from whom you take a fair amount of direction. If your lawyer tells you not to speak with somebody, be sure that you follow their advice. It’s important that your lawyer is privy to all communication relevant to the case. To that end, they’ll almost always recommend that you go through them for everything. The good thing about this is that it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that someone is always looking out for you and the best interests of your child.
The costs associated with raising a child with cerebral palsy can be very high (often over $1M). A lawsuit is designed to provide a way for someone who was wronged through the negligence of another to receive compensation. Where cerebral palsy claims are concerned, the parents are usually suing on behalf of their child, with additional monies sometimes being sought for the parents (for their losses) as well.
A lawsuit will seek monetary compensation for your child’s pain and suffering, reimbursement of any related medical expenses, and also seeks compensation for ongoing and future treatment over the course of the child’s life.
Lawyers can help children with cerebral palsy in more ways than just filing a lawsuit. For example, some families may find that the state agencies responsible for providing financial support for disabled individuals are very reluctant to offer certain benefits to which the child is obviously entitled. Oftentimes, an attorney can help facilitate the process of appealing denied benefits.
How to Prepare / What to Expect
You don’t have to present an attorney with a comprehensive breakdown of your situation. In fact, part of their job is helping you put that together. All you have to do is call and tell them that you’re interested in consulting with them about whether or not medical malpractice played a part in your child’s development of cerebral palsy. Medical malpractice is a complex legal standard, so don’t be intimidated if you’re confused or have questions. The attorney can help you to figure this out during your initial consultation.
Your attorney will first try to establish where negligence played a part in the child developing this disorder. They will have to take a look at the circumstances of the birth and the nature of the care the child received after they were born. In many cases where cerebral palsy was the result of medical negligence, the issue arose during the birthing process when the child was deprived of oxygen causing permanent brain damage. This is not always the case, however.
If your cerebral palsy lawyer has to look deeper into the matter, they may find that the treatment your child was given after they were born was actually the cause of their cerebral palsy. They may have been treated with instruments that were not clean and that caused them to develop an infection which spread to the brain, or they may have been subjected to some other form of negligence that resulted in them suffering the brain injury. Either way, the lawyer will do their best to find out where negligence came into play and how they can help you to seek compensation.
One of the hardest things to do is to determine how much your child deserves in terms of dollars. Your attorney will help you make this determination by taking a look at the circumstances of your claim, the medical expenses you have paid already, as well as the types of treatment that your child will likely require in the future. They will also take a look at how other parents in similar lawsuits have fared in court, and how much money they have sought for their claims. You cannot sue until you come up with a figure, but it is part of the lawyer’s job to help you determine how much money you should seek compensation.
In some cases, they may recommend that you seek a very high award because of the circumstances of the case. In other cases, they may not be able to recommend this, and will suggest that you seek a more modest amount. It depends upon the circumstances of your child’s delivery and the evidence available in your particular case.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition. While a brain injury never heals, the symptoms sometimes worsen with age. This means that the care your child needs may become more expensive over time, and more necessary. If your child suffers from a brain injury and you believe it was caused by medical malpractice, call 1-855-833-3707 today for a free consultation.