Cerebral Palsy Claim
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects the brain and causes motor deficiency. Cerebral refers to the part of the body affected, and palsy refers to paralysis, as there is an area of the brain that’s dormant or paralysed, which leads to either partial or complete muscle paralysis.
What causes cerebral palsy?
The brain damage usually happens before, during, or shortly after birth and can end up being a lifetime disability for the affected child. Sometimes cerebral palsy is a term that includes a number of different movement-and-brain-related disabilities, but generally, there are three kinds of cerebral palsy: spastic cerebral palsy, Athetoid cerebral palsy, and ataxic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy includes stiffness and a problem moving limbs. Athetoid cerebral palsy involves involuntary, uncontrolled, and sometimes abnormal movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy includes problems with a sense of balance, depth-perception, or walking.
What kind of tests can confirm cerebral palsy?
Tests that confirm cerebral palsy include blood tests, a cranial ultrasound that can help the doctors see an image of the brain tissue, an MRI that allows physicians to see resonance and density in relation to the brain tissue, and a CT scan, which is an in-depth, 3D scan of the baby’s brain.
Cognitive assessments and medical observations are also used to help confirm cerebral palsy. Additionally, evaluations of the child’s mobility, speech and language, hearing, vision, gait, and feeding and digestion are utilized to determine the disorder.
Keep in mind, however, that a cerebral palsy diagnosis takes time, sometimes up to several years after a brain injury takes place. Furthermore, there isn’t a single test that can completely confirm or completely exclude cerebral palsy. Instead, a combination of a series of tests, observations, assessments, and evaluations are used to help diagnose the disorder.
What are the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is marked by spastic movements, a lack of muscle control, and sometimes the inability to use muscles, and is often determined by abnormal, slow, writhing movements that the child cannot control. Additionally, muscle tone varies between floppy and stiff, which also could result in the use of some muscles over others. Other signs that your child may have cerebral palsy include missing developmental milestones and/or intellectual disabilities.
- Muscle Tone: As previously mentioned, a person with cerebral palsy has a lack of muscle control. This, in turn, may make what seems like simple tasks extremely difficult. For example, sitting down, walking, tying shoes, and grasping objects may prove to be exhausting and hard for those with cerebral palsy.
- Reflexes: People with cerebral palsy may have abnormal reflex responses such as asymmetrical or symmetrical tonic reflex, palmer grasp reflex, and spinal gallant reflexes. Moro reflexes may be present in some infants but generally clear up with 5 months of age.
- Coordination and Control: Both coordination and control are limited with those who have cerebral palsy and are usually more pronounced when stressed or overwhelmed. Common issues with coordination and control include spastic movements, walking with a wide gait, walking with toes pointed inward or outward, dragging one leg while walking, and waddling when walking.
- Oral Motor Problems: Many people with cerebral palsy will experience difficulties with communication because of the spastic movements of facial muscles. This also can affect breathing, eating, closing the mouth, and swallowing.
Medical negligence claim process
1. Consult our medical negligence solicitor
It is advisable for you to speak to an experienced team of Medical Negligence Solicitors as soon as possible if you believe that you were not provided with an adequate or appropriate level of medical care, which resulted in you sustaining an injury or illness.
2. We obtain your medical records
After the consultation with your medical negligence solicitor, he/she will request access to your medical records and engage an independent medical expert to assess your records. The purpose of engaging an independent expert is to establish whether there was any negligence on the part of the medical professional.
3. The medical negligence litigation process
Where the independent medical expert is of the professional opinion that medical negligence did occur, upon your instructions, your solicitor will commence the process of issuing legal proceedings in Court against the medical professional and/or hospital.
Statute of Limitation
The legal time limit to make a medical negligence claim is two years from the date of injury or date of knowledge that the injury or illness resulted from medical negligence. For children/minors, the time limit expires two years after their 18th birthday. You may contact a solicitor to discuss your case to advise of the Statute of Limitations applicable to your case. Learn more.
Choosing a Solicitor
Making a claim for a cerebral palsy birth injury can be a traumatic experience, as the process for making a claim can be emotionally distressing for the parents and the claim effectively accuses people you placed your trust in during the delivery process of not fulfilling their duty of care.
A birth injury compensation claim also has to consider the consequences of the birth injury – both physical and psychological – and take into account the high level of care that your child may need for the rest of their lives. Once liability has been established in a claim for a birth injury, it can still take a considerable period of time for the value of the claim to be accurately calculated while the impact on your son or daughter’s life is assessed.
During this time, you may be able to apply for interim payments of birth injury compensation to help you through any financial hardship, and this is something that you should discuss with your solicitor if you wish to obtain the best medical and educational support for your child. It is very important for all parents of children with cerebral palsy and other birth injuries to have their cases professionally investigated where they feel the condition may result in medical negligence.
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
Request a Callback
Tell us about your case
Head of Client Services
What are the essential criteria of a successful birth injury claim?
The existence of a duty of care, the breach of that duty, and a causal link between the breach and the resultant injury, loss, or damage to the Plaintiff are required for a successful birth injury claim. In such cases, it can be difficult to prove a causal connection between the alleged breach of duty and the resultant injury, loss, or damage.
Establishing a breach of duty:
In birth injury claims the alleged negligent care may arise as a result of failings in the antenatal care, care during the intrapartum period, care during the process of delivery, care in the resuscitation techniques employed, or lack of care in the neonatal period. Any or all of these elements of the care provided could give rise to a potential allegation of breach of duty.
What is the time limit for a birth injury claim?
The current law in Ireland requires that a person must take an action for medical negligence, which includes a birth injury claim:
Within two years of the date of the event giving rise to the injury (Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004). This requires a Plaintiff in a medical negligence claim to act expeditiously.
However, birth injury compensation claims can be made by parents of children who have suffered a birth injury at any time up until the child’s eighteenth birthday acting as a “next friend”. Thereafter the child has two years to make a birth injury compensation claim in their own right.
However, we recommended that as soon as you believe your child has suffered a birth injury where an element of negligence was shown by a member of the medical staff, that you contact our experienced birth injury team, who can assist you in the first steps in pursuing a birth injury compensation claim. You should act expeditiously to avoid Defendant successfully arguing that the case should be dismissed because of delay.
What factors could give rise to the possibility of a Birth Injury Claim?
Birth injury compensation claims may be applicable when your child has suffered an injury during
1) The antenatal care,
2) Care during the intrapartum period,
3) Care during the process of delivery,
4) Care in the resuscitation techniques employed or
Lack of care in the neonatal period, and there is an element of negligence by one or more of the medical staff.
Heavier than average babies and those born prematurely are more susceptible to injury and nursing staff are aware that they must take greater care of these infants, however, any breach of that lack of care either during or immediately after the birth may lead to a birth injury compensation claim.
How can I prove a breach of duty?
It is imperative to engage an appropriate expert to furnish his/her opinion on the level of care provided, such as an obstetrician, gynaecologist, neonatologist, etc. Usually, such experts are from the United Kingdom.
When we have received your instructions, we liaise with Senior Counsel on your behalf and consider the appropriate expert.
We then send him/her all of the obstetric, neonatal, and follow on paediatric medical records together with a detailed statement of events (prepared by the parents) and a letter of instructions summarizing the relevant facts and issues of the case requesting them to furnish their opinion on whatever specific areas are of concern.
In addition, it is worthwhile requesting the Hospital Protocols for the management of High-Risk Pregnancies, management of Foetal Distress in Labour, and Neonatal Management of Newborns. These protocols can assist in establishing or undermining a Plaintiff’s case at the outset.
Establishing a causal link between the disability and intrapartum events:
As above, it is essential that expert reports and opinions are sought from experts in paediatric neurology and/or paediatric neuropathology and/or neonatology to seek to establish a causal connection before pursuing a birth injury claim.
A legal representative would usually be looking out for the following:
1) Evidence of foetal distress in labour
2) The cord blood pH
3) Condition at birth
4) Encephalopathy in the first 72 hours of life
5) The evidence available from radiological investigations, including MRI scanning
6) Hypoxic-Ischemic injury to organs other than the brain