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Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

baby's foot in mother's handCerebral palsy lawyers fighting on the side of birth injury malpractice victims in Portland, Auburn, Lewiston & Bangor, Maine.

Parents whose child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy have a difficult road ahead of them. In some cases, a medical malpractice attorney can help to lift that burden by obtaining compensation for the birth injury that their child has suffered.  Such compensation will not undo the damage done; however, it will alleviate the financial burden of overwhelming medical bills, and fund the therapy and accommodations that their child will need to lead as normal and happy a life as possible.

Not every birth injury is the result of medical malpractice. But if you suspect that a doctor’s mistake resulted in your child’s cerebral palsy, you should consult an attorney about your legal options.

If you are searching for a medical malpractice attorney in Maine, the lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing can offer experienced, knowledgeable representation for you and your child to make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Since 1976, our attorneys have been representing the residents of Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, Auburn, and other locations throughout Maine in birth injury lawsuits, with a proven track record of success.

For parents who are considering legal action arising from birth injury malpractice, it is important not to delay too long, as the statute of limitations for filing a malpractice case in Maine is three years. And, understandably, such parents will want to complete the legal process of obtaining recompense for their child’s injury as soon as possible in order to move on with their lives.  At Hardy, Wolf, and Downing, we can offer thorough, efficient, and effective representation that will help you and your family to achieve this goal in the event you choose to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit.

Early signs that a child has cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a class of neurological disorders entailing kinetic and muscular coordination difficulties. According to an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.3 of every 1000 children are born with CP.

It may not be clear immediately after birth that a child has cerebral palsy. Usually, however, early signs of the condition appear in the first few months.

Parents should be on the lookout for the following, as they may be early symptoms:

  • Developmental delays
  • Unusually lax muscle tone
  • Unusually rigid muscle tone
  • Lopsided posture or movements

In such cases, a doctor will typically perform some tests involving brain imaging to make a definite diagnosis.

Causes of cerebral palsy

The vast majority of children who have cerebral palsy are born with it. The immediate cause of the condition is a factor that compromises the part of the brain that controls movement.

Such factors include the following:

  • Damage to the relevant parts of the brain
  • Interrupted development in utero
  • Bleeding (generally caused by fetal stroke)
  • Lack of oxygen (asphyxia) to the brain

There are, in turn, a number of root causes for these risk factors, including:

  • Congenital brain malformations
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Fetal injury
  • Maternal illness or other conditions
  • Labor and delivery problems

Risk factors and management

There are also known risk factors for the development of cerebral palsy:

  • Certain maternal conditions or infections during pregnancy
  • Mother/child blood incompatibility during pregnancy
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Complications during labor and delivery
  • Breech birth
  • Small weight for gestational age
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Multiple birth
  • Infant seizures

In many cases where such risks are present, a child will be perfectly healthy.  In other cases, nothing can be done to predict or prevent a child’s developing cerebral palsy.

However, some risks can be managed quite effectively.  For instance, rubella (German measles) during pregnancy can lead to many problems for a developing fetus, including cerebral palsy.  Fortunately a vaccination is available to prevent this situation from occurring at all.  Early detection and treatment is also possible where other conditions are concerned.

Where possible, risk factors can and should be managed appropriately by medical professionals who are monitoring pregnancy and childbirth.  Some cases where risks are not handled acceptably may be traced back to medical negligence.  At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, our cerebral palsy attorneys are available to meet with parents for an initial discussion to determine whether malpractice was involved in their child’s birth injury.

Establishing liability in cerebral palsy lawsuits

Not all cases of cerebral palsy – in fact, only a small minority – are the result of medical malpractice.  What separates a tragic accident from actual medical malpractice?  Medical malpractice occurs when treatment during pregnancy and delivery falls below the accepted standard of care for obstetrics and gynecology, failing to render patients the kind of care that a reasonably competent professional would provide.

Examples of medical negligence may include:

  • Failure to monitor, screen for, or treat conditions during pregnancy that could result in cerebral palsy.
  • Failure to adequately or correctly monitor the heart rate of the baby
  • Failure to respond appropriately to fetal distress during labor and delivery
  • Detail or failure to perform a necessary cesarean section
  • Failure to follow accepted protocol for dealing with a high risk birth

In these cases, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing that the medical professionals in question did, indeed, breach medical protocol in these matters, and that cerebral palsy was the direct result of such a failure.  Medical malpractice cases are not easy to win and it is crucial to locate a seasoned attorney for the best possibility of success.

Life with cerebral palsy

The degree to which cerebral palsy affects the life that a child can vary based on the severity of the condition.

A range of physical and mental problems may develop, including:

  • Mental impairment or learning difficulties
  • Developmental or growth delays
  • Movement and muscle tone problems
  • Spinal deformities
  • Seizures
  • Poor bladder control
  • Arthritis
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Speech problems
  • Pain or sensitivities
  • Malnutrition
  • Dental problems
  • Excessive drooling

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, a variety of treatment options (including medications, surgeries, special equipment, and therapeutic interventions of all kinds) can make life better for those with the condition.  In many cases, the earlier the treatment, the more effective it will be.

At Hardy, Wolf, and Downing, we believe that the most important function of a medical malpractice case is to procure the compensation needed to fund any and all treatment that a child needs over the years to maximize health and well-being.

Compensation in medical malpractice cases

Fortunately, compensation is available through litigation, which can pursue damages for:

  • Medical bills, past and anticipated
  • Therapeutic interventions, whether medical or vocational
  • Necessary equipment or staff needed to provide help and support during childhood and throughout life
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering

The exact amount will vary, based on the nature of liability and the extent and nature of the condition, but it is possible under some circumstances to procure substantial jury awards or settlements.  For instance, in 2007, a woman and her then five-year-old son were awarded $8 million dollars by a jury in Auburn, Maine, who determined that the midwife at Central Maine Medical Center should have located a surgeon to perform an emergency Cesarean section when signs of fetal distress appeared.

Her failure to do so resulted in the baby being born with cerebral palsy, due to asphyxia (lack of oxygen) in the brain.  The amount of the award will be used for a lifetime of expenses and care.

The lawyers at Hardy, Wolf, and Downing are committed to aggressively pursuing the highest possible amount of compensation for children with cerebral palsy– funds that are desperately needed for treatment and care throughout a child’s life.

Finding a Portland, Maine medical malpractice lawyer

Because medical malpractice lawsuits are difficult (though not impossible) to settle or win, finding the right lawyer is crucial for success.

When looking for a competent attorney, here are some suggestions for parents to consider:

  • Find a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable personally
  • Make sure that the lawyer you consult with initially will be the one to work on your case
  • Don’t hire a lawyer who looks for fees up front
  • Look for experience, particularly in the area of birth injury
  • Investigate the attorney’s track record when it comes to settlements and jury awards
  • Consider the law firm’s reputation with other lawyers and former clients

Hardy, Wolf & Downing: Maine birth injury lawyers

At Hardy, Wolf, and Downing, we are committed to providing our Maine clients with knowledgeable, effective representation that gets results. We know that you are looking for the best for your child and for the brightest possible future, and we take seriously the task of making that happen for him or her from the standpoint of legal compensation.  Our proven track record of success and our years of involvement in medical malpractice issues can help you to rest assured that you are getting the best legal support possible during a difficult time.

For a free consultation with one of our cerebral palsy lawyers, contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing today. We will make sure that all of your questions are answered and that you have a clear sense of the next steps for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Remember, a consultation puts you under no obligation to hire our firm. Moreover, you will not be asked to pay any fees. We are only paid if we win or settle your claim.

  1. NINDS, Cerebral Palsy: Hope Through Researchhttp://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/detail_cerebral_palsy.htm
  2. New York Times, Cerebral Palsy http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/cerebral-palsy/
  3. Huffington Post, Family Gets $58 Million In Record-Breaking Malpractice Suit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/malpractice-record_n_867439.html
  4. AJOG, Adverse obstetric events are associated with significant risk of cerebral palsy  http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(10)00582-X/abstract
  5. Bangor Daily News, Jury awards boy $8M in malpractice lawsuit http://archive.bangordailynews.com/2007/10/26/jury-awards-boy-8m-in-malpractice-lawsuit/?ref=search