The Parties That Can Be Held Liable If Your Child Develops Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that affect a child’s development. It can impact muscle coordination, speech, and balance.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in 323 children in the United States has CP.  

While the causes can vary, sometimes medical mistakes during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can contribute to this condition. If you have concerns that your child’s CP may be due to medical negligence, consulting the experienced cerebral palsy lawyers from Reiter & Walsh, PC. can help you understand your options. The award-winning team at Reiter & Walsh has over 2 decades of experience helping victims of medical malpractice. Their attorneys are also part of Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

During childbirth, medical professionals have a crucial responsibility to ensure the well-being of both mother and baby. This duty of care involves providing a standard of treatment that aligns with what other qualified professionals would do in similar situations. 

Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes happen. Medical malpractice in childbirth occurs when a healthcare provider breaches this duty of care, and this breach causes harm to the baby, such as cerebral palsy (CP).

CP is a permanent condition affecting a child’s movement, muscle control, and sometimes speech and hearing. It’s caused by damage to the developing brain, which can occur before, during, or shortly after birth. 

When medical negligence leads to oxygen deprivation or other complications during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, it can tragically result in brain injuries that manifest as CP.

Unfortunately, medical mistakes can occur at various stages of pregnancy and childbirth, involving different healthcare providers. Here’s a closer look:

The Parties That Can Be Held Liable If Your Child Develops Cerebral Palsy 1
Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay
  • Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN): During prenatal care, an OB/GYN plays a critical role in monitoring the mother’s and baby’s health. Failure to diagnose infections, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), or other complications could lead to problems during delivery and potentially increase the risk of CP.
  • Neonatologists: These professionals care for newborns, and negligence during this crucial period could involve missing signs of oxygen deprivation or other issues that might contribute to brain damage.
  • Other Specialists: In high-risk pregnancies, various professionals might be involved. Their negligence, such as misinterpreting test results or failing to recommend a necessary C-section, could also play a role.
  • Failure to diagnose infections: Untreated infections during pregnancy can deprive the baby of oxygen or trigger inflammation, potentially leading to brain damage.
  • Improper use of instruments during delivery: Forceps or vacuum extraction devices, if misused, can cause injuries to the baby’s head or neck, increasing the risk of CP.

Unfortunately, the burden of proof lies with the parents in a medical malpractice case involving CP. This means they may demonstrate several key elements:

  • Doctor-patient relationship: A clear doctor-patient relationship existed between the healthcare provider and the parents.
  • Breach of duty: The healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of care expected in their profession.
  • Causation: This breach of duty directly caused the child’s CP.
  • Damages: The child has suffered significant physical and potentially emotional damages due to CP.

Medical records and expert witnesses play a crucial role. Medical records document the course of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In contrast, expert witnesses, like medical professionals specializing in birth injuries, can analyze these records and testify on whether the standard of care was breached and how it caused the child’s CP.

It’s important to remember that each state has a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. These deadlines can vary significantly, so seeking guidance promptly is crucial. Consulting an attorney specializing in birth injury cases is essential.

Their experience in navigating complex legal issues can be essential in helping you understand your rights and explore potential legal options.

Cerebral palsy can be a devastating outcome for a child and their family. While medical mistakes aren’t always the cause, understanding the potential parties liable and the legal process can be empowering if you suspect negligence played a role.

We know this is a challenging time, and seeking guidance from an experienced lawyer can help you navigate your options.

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