My Child Has Cerebral Palsy. Can I Sue?

Can a Parent Sue the Doctor or Hospital if Their Child Was Born With Cerebral Palsy?

Birth defects may change the trajectory of a child's life, making it virtually impossible for them to live the life they were meant to have. Cerebral palsy is one such condition that affects more than 750,000 children and adults across the country. It's also estimated that about 8,000 to 10,000 cerebral palsy cases are diagnosed each and every year.

Cerebral palsy is not an unfortunate result of nature gone wrong. In most cases, it can be attributed to negligence by a medical professional. This disorder affects parts of the brain that controls movement, speech and fine motor control. Negligence during a mother's pregnancy, delivery and shortly after birth all play a role in the development of the disorder.

Duty of Care

Doctors owe a duty of care to their patient. It thus follows that mothers who are expecting should be provided with the needed preventative treatment as well as stellar birthing care to ensure that their pregnancy is successful. When a doctor or medical professional deviates from accepted industry practices or procedure and someone is injured as a result, you have a case of medical malpractice.

Here are some of the ways in which a baby can develop cerebral palsy:

  • Poor prenatal care. This can include not scheduling the mother to regular checkups to see whether the baby is developing properly in the womb, as well as not treating infections during pregnancy in a timely manner.
  • Forceful and aggressive delivery practices. The use of forceps and vacuum pumps may damage the baby's head and brain by extension.
  • Leaving the baby in the birth canal for too long. This can cause a condition known as hypoxia where the baby's brain is deprived of oxygen for long periods of time during delivery.
  • Not performing a caesarian section delivery when necessary. Some babies may require emergency delivery via C-section, especially due to conditions such as hypoxia.
  • Unqualified or unskilled personnel performing deliveries, putting the unborn baby's life at risk.

Cerebral Palsy is an Expensive Condition

Cerebral palsy can affect the muscles and limbs, as well as a person's ability to speak. In general, it takes about $200,000 to raise a child in the country; however, children with cerebral palsy will require upwards of $1,000,000 because of the treatments, rehabilitation and adjustments that they will need in order to function on day to day basis.

Most parents with children who have cerebral palsy may not have access to this amount of money. Given the fact that cerebral palsy is almost always caused by medical negligence, it may be possible to file a lawsuit in order to recover the compensation needed to ensure that your child lives a happy and productive life.

If a doctor's negligence caused your child to develop CP, why should your family be saddled with the financial burden?

Statute Of Limitations

Lastly, it's important to note that there is a time limit to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit. This time limit is referred to as the statute of limitations. In general, most states require you to sue within 2 years of an injury (or more accurately, from the point you're made aware of the injury).

That being said, some states (including Texas) allow injured children to sue on their own behalf up until they reach the age of 18 with no statute of limitations. However, this may overlap with other statutes governing medical malpractice. For instance, Texas also has a 10-year statute of repose on all medical malpractice cases. Clearly, the law can get very complex. Instead of trying to determine if you have a case yourself, call an attorney and get a free consultation. There's no risk, there's no obligation, and you owe it to your child to at least explore every option.

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