The Basics of a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Cerebral palsy is oftentimes the direct result of negligence on the part of a medical provider. If your family is considering taking legal action, this page will help explain the process of filing a lawsuit against the hospital and/or doctor.
Understand that the goal of a cerebral palsy lawsuit is to recover the compensation that your child will need over the course of his or her life to treat the condition and improve their overall quality of life. In many cases, families will need over $1 million dollars to pay for necessary treatments, surgeries, and assistive devices.
Cerebral palsy birth injury lawsuits are medical malpractice claims based on negligence. It’s important to remember that you’re not going up against the doctor’s entire reputation or the total sum of their abilities; you’re simply saying that—in your particular case—the doctor negligently failed in their official duties to you and your child, resulting in your child’s development of CP.
Due to medical malpractice tort reform measures enacted over the past decade or so, bringing a medical malpractice claim is more complex than it used to be. There are several hurdles that you must overcome in order to bring a valid claim, and the best person to help you through this process is an experienced cerebral palsy attorney.
We understand the hesitation that comes with hiring a lawyer, but the good news is that many CP attorneys will handle these types of claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. Instead of risking your own money to pursue a claim, find an attorney who will handle your case on a contingency-fee agreement. If you win your case, your attorney takes a fee. If you do not win your case, you walk away without owing a penny in attorneys’ fees!
The most important thing is to act quickly. There are limitations on how long after the fact you can file a birth injury lawsuit, so you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you’re not certain you want to pursue a claim, there’s no harm in discussing your options with an attorney during a free consultation. If nothing else, they can at least advise you of how long you have until the statute of limitations runs.
A cerebral palsy lawyer will usually sit down with you at no cost so that they can determine whether or not you have a lawsuit that is worth filing. Many attorneys will offer to consult with you over the phone or by email as well.
During your initial consultation, the attorney will ask you questions, look into the facts of your case, and provide you with their overall assessment (including the strength and potential value) of your claim.
After the consultation, the attorney may have to do some additional work to determine whether or not they think they can help you. Attorneys who handle cases involving medical malpractice generally work on a contingency basis (i.e., if they don’t win your lawsuit, they don’t get paid). This means that the attorney has to be certain that your case actually has a viable chance of winning, or they will likely decline to take on your case.
Determining Cause & Building Your Case
It’s important to remember that you’re not expected to be able to determine the cause of the injury yourself. What you need to do is work with a qualified attorney to see whether or not they believe that you have a strong case for medical malpractice. If you do, you can hire the attorney to begin investigating your case, collecting evidence, and seeking expert witness testimony to support your claims.
Your attorney will be able to help determine how much money you should pursue. There are many different factors that play into determining the amount of money that you seek from the negligent parties (including medical expenses, cost of treatment, cost of living, etc.), but your attorney will guide you through this process pretty early-on in the process.
Your attorney will help you build a strong case. If you’re working with an attorney that works on contingency, you can be confident that they believe your case has a chance, and that they won’t drag the case out. After all, it’s the law firm that is risking their own time and money.
Your legal team will work with you through this entire process. They’ll talk to anyone who needs to be contacted, deal with the people being sued and handle all the paperwork, filing deadlines, negotiations, etc.
Once hired, they take over all the heavy lifting for you. What you’ll have to do is to make sure that you follow their advice. Your attorney is there to represent your family’s interests and to make sure that you’re not taken advantage of.
Make sure your attorney has expertise in this area (preferably with a few significant jury verdicts), and that they have access to expert witnesses who can corroborate your claims. Establishing negligence takes skill, as does arguing a case in front of a jury. Do not risk having your case handled by a novice attorney with no experience handling birth injury claims.
If the facts support your claim that your child’s development of CP was caused by medical malpractice, the next step is to file your claim and send a demand letter. In certain situations, your attorney may feel it’s necessary to go ahead and file a lawsuit with the courts at this time, but it’s important to listen to their advice and ask questions.
Is it Possible to Settle Out of Court?
In some cases, your attorney may be able to reach an agreed-upon settlement prior to filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately due to tort reform measures, there are situations where the insurance company simply has no reason to settle, and will force your attorney to file a lawsuit with the court system. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the case can still be settled at a later date.
Taking Your Case to Trial
If your case appears to be heading to trial, your attorney will get everything in order, prepare you for depositions, and ensure that you are in the best possible position to win your claim. You’ll be instructed on how to address questions from the defendants, but take comfort in the fact that your attorney will be there with you every step of the way.
Filing a lawsuit is standard practice with these types of cases, so don’t feel intimidated. In most cases, you may not even be offered a settlement until after your attorney has filed with the courts.
If the insurance companies you’re suing believe that they have a chance of successfully defending their case in court, the case will likely go to a jury trial.
The jury will determine how much of an award you’ll receive, if any. There’s no way to know ahead of time whether your case will win or not. It’s even possible that the jury may determine that medical negligence played no part whatsoever in your claim.
Important Things to Remember
Each case is different. No two cases involving cerebral palsy are the same. In fact, the facts can differ tremendously between one and the next. The more experience your attorney has with these types of cases, the better-equipped he or she will be in evaluating the strength and viability of your claim.
Your claim could be with the manufacturer of a piece of medical equipment. In some cases, faulty or defective medical equipment may have been the proximate cause of your child’s birth injury. A recent case in Washington, for instance, alleges that an alcohol swab was infected with bacteria that caused a child to develop cerebral palsy. This lawsuit is currently being pursued.
Not all lawsuits win. Medical malpractice birth injury claims involve very specific filing requirements, and often prove quite complex. A knowledgeable attorney can help evaluate the likelihood that your case will be successful, but no one can predict the outcome of any lawsuit, no matter how clear-cut the case.
You don’t have to risk a single penny of your own money to pursue a claim. Most cerebral palsy attorneys handle these types of cases on contingency. This means that they don’t get paid unless they win your lawsuit in court or via a settlement. If you do win, the legal fees will come out of the jury award or settlement. Otherwise, you walk away without owing any attorneys’ fees.
Payouts in CP cases can be substantial. In many cases, jury awards (or settlements reached) involve considerable amounts of money. A successful claim may provide enough compensation to pay for previous medical expenses, future medical treatment, physical/occupational therapy, assistive devices, special education, and more.
There are limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit. Not only are there limitations on the time you have to file a lawsuit after your child is diagnosed (i.e., statute of limitations), there can be limitations on how much you can receive in compensation. These two factors vary by state, so you’ll need to talk to an attorney in your area who is familiar with both medical malpractice law, and cerebral palsy claims in particular.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
If you’re considering legal action following your child’s development of cerebral palsy but aren’t sure whether or not you need an attorney, we urge you to call us today for a free consultation at 1-855-833-3707 (toll-free).
Our cerebral palsy attorneys have considerable experience settling and litigating cerebral palsy birth injury cases, and we’re available 24 hours a day to answer your legal questions. Call us today, or email us using the contact form found on this page.