Cerebral palsy claims

Cerebral Palsy claims

What is cerebral palsy?

A neurological, non progressive physical and/or mental handicap which becomes apparent after the birth of a child.

What causes cerebral palsy?

There is often no readily apparent cause. In cases where a cause can be established, it can be due to hereditary problems, difficulties with intra uterine growth, preterm delivery, infection, preterm delivery chronic (over a period of time) or acute (sudden or immediate) lack of oxygen and postterm delivery lack of oxygen.

What causes chronic preterm delivery lack of oxygen?

In some cases, where the mother has developed diabetes, infection, high blood (hypertension) or has low growth of the foetus.

What causes acute preterm delivery lack of oxygen?

Placental separation, bleeding in the brain, prolapse of the umbilical cord, cord getting tangled, placental insufficiency, delay in delivery, shoulder dystocia (where the baby’s shoulder gets caught during delivery above the mother’s pubic bone).

What causes postterm delivery lack of oxygen?

Inadequate resuscitation of baby after delivery, incorrect administration of pain killing medication with resulting depression of normal respiration, meconium aspiration.

Are there different types of cerebral palsy?

Yes. There are 4 types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy

This is the most common. Muscle tone is increased so the muscles are stiff and tight making it difficult to move.

  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

In this instance, the muscle tone can suddenly change from high to low causing uncontrolled movement and spasm.

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy

This is the most uncommon. Movement is shaky and balance poor meaning problems with fine motor movement, tremors and co-ordination. Standing or sitting can be difficult.

  • Mixed cerebral palsy

Mixed features of the different types of cerebral palsy.

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

The symptoms of cerebral palsy may not become evident in a baby immediately and it may be 2-3 years before they are apparent. They include:

  • delays in reaching development milestones – such as not sitting by 8 months or not walking by 18 months.
  • seeming too stiff or floppy.
  • weak arms or legs.
  • fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements.
  • random, uncontrolled movements.
  • muscle spasms.
  • shaking hands.

How prevalent is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. It affects 1 in 400 children in the UK.

How often is a cerebral palsy due to a failure in clinical care?

Approximately 1800 cases are diagnosed every year and it is estimated that at least 8% are caused by failures in clinical care. Between 2010/11 and 2020/21, NHS trusts settled 1,441 clinical negligence claims relating to cerebral palsy, paying £4.3 billion in damages - an average of £3 million per case.

Why does a failure in clinical care lead to cerebral palsy in some cases?

There are a number of reasons why substandard clinical care can lead to cerebral palsy, some of them are:

  • lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain before, during or after delivery. This can be due to undue delay in delivery, a delayed caesarean section, entanglement of the umbilical cord, shoulder dystocia (where the baby’s shoulder gets caught during delivery above the mother’s pubic bone) or where the baby is in distress but is not monitored properly.
  • Failure to adequately or properly treat a mother’s pre existing medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The mother may have an infection that has not been treated properly or at all.
  • Inadequate resuscitation of baby after delivery.

How do I know if I have a clinical negligence claim?

You should instruct solicitors who will investigate your case for you. This normally means taking a full history from you and obtaining a copy of all your and your child’s relevant clinical notes and records. Once these are obtained, medical experts are instructed to determine if the medical care given to you and your baby was up to the standard you were entitled to expect and if not, what mistakes were made and what would have happened if they had been avoided. It is on the basis of these medical reports that your solicitors will advise you whether your case has a reasonable prospect of success.

How long do I have to make a claim?

  • If you are making a claim on behalf of your child, it can be made any time before the child reaches the age of 18. Once your child reaches the age of 18 and if they have the requisite mental capacity, they have a further three years to make a claim themselves until they reach the age of 21.
  • If your child does not have the requisite mental capacity then there are no time limits on when a claim can be made.
  • If you have sustained injury yourself then you normally have three years from the date of your injury to make a claim.

In clinical negligence cases, the time limit (what lawyers call the “limitation period”) will normally start from either the date of the act of negligence or from the date of the patient’s knowledge that the injury or harm was due to an act of negligence. The date of knowledge can be years after the negligent act eg if a person has cancer and the clinicians have negligently failed to diagnose it, it may be years before the patient’s symptoms progress to necessitate medical attention. In such circumstances the patient could not have known that the doctors had been initially negligent in failing to diagnose the cancer and the time limit will therefore run from the date of knowledge of such negligence – which could be many years after the original negligent act.

Time limits in clinical negligence matters can be complicated and you should seek legal advice immediately if you think you have a claim. Do not delay.

 How can the Kearney Law Group help?

We appreciate that no amount of money can go anywhere near putting your child, yourself and your family back to the position they would have been in prior the substandard clinical care. What we can do is provide as much financial and other assistance as is possible to alleviate the burden of your and your child’s loss. Babies affected by cerebral palsy will require help now and into the future and compensation will ensure they receive the best of medical treatment, rehabilitation and care both short and long term. We will do everything in our power to ensure that you and your child are compensated fully and are provided for now and into the future.

How is my compensation assessed?

We divide compensation into a number of headings:

  • Compensation for pain, suffering and the effect the injury has had on your and your child’s life (what lawyers call “general damages”). The exact amount depends on the severity and extent of the injury and its impact.
  • If you have to stop or reduce your work to look after your child then the claim will include loss of earnings, past and into the future, including all job related benefits and pension loss.
  • Cost of all medical expenses, past and future.
  • Cost of all therapy and rehabilitative treatment (including occupational therapy), past and future.
  • Cost of any nursing and domestic assistance, past and future.
  • Cost of any adaptions to your property or the cost of new housing.
  • Cost of any adaptions to your car or the cost of a new vehicle or travel or other costs.

How long will my case take?

Cerebral palsy clinical negligence cases are complex with a high level of legal expertise required. Expert reports from doctors, rehabilitative/care consultants and accountants are necessary and they can take some time to prepare. Cases will normally take at least 2-3 years to conclude.

Can I get an interim payment of compensation before my case is settled?

Yes. Interim payments are made in personal injury cases where there is an immediate need for financial assistance. The value of any such payment is deducted from the final figure awarded in compensation. Such payments are used in cases that can take some years to settle. They help families meet immediate financial demands and can pay for medical and other expert therapies as quickly as possible.

Why choose the Kearney Law Group?

We, at the Kearney Law Group, are passionate about our work. We are here to assist you and have the knowledge and expertise you need to make a successful claim for compensation.  We are easy to talk to and will keep you fully informed about the progress of your case. We have an expert team ready to deal with all aspects of your claim for cerebral palsy.  We will ensure you recover full compensation swiftly and professionally.

We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.

For further assistance please ring us at 02890 912 938 or email us on [email protected] or fill in our contact form

The content of this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or arise between the Kearney Law Group and you and we refer you to our disclaimer on our website.

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TEL: 02890 912 938

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Kearney Law Group specialises in legal services relating to Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence. We are committed to achieving the best results for our clients.

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