Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claims: Medical Negligence
Find out how much your personal injury claim may be worth
Cerebral palsy can have a huge impact on a child’s life, as well as the lives of their carers and families. If your child suffered from cerebral palsy as the result of clinical negligence, you may wish to consider making a medical negligence claim on a no win, no fee basis.
Beacon Law have the expertise and experience to assist those making cerebral palsy compensation claims to get the rehabilitative support, assistance and compensation they deserve.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to control their muscles and movements. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, but its severity and symptoms can vary widely from person to person.
Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage, which can occur before, during, or shortly after birth. The exact cause of this damage can be difficult to determine in many cases, but there are several known risk factors:
- Prenatal factors: These occur before birth and can include infections during pregnancy, exposure to toxins or certain drugs, maternal health conditions, or genetic mutations.
- Perinatal factors: These occur around the time of birth and can involve complications during labour and delivery, such as asphyxia (lack of oxygen), birth injuries or trauma.
- Postnatal factors: These occur after birth and can include infections, head injuries, or other brain injuries in early childhood leading to cerebral palsy.
It’s important to note that cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition, meaning it does not get worse over time. However, the symptoms and challenges faced by an adult or child with cerebral palsy can change as they grow and develop.
There are different types of cerebral palsy, which are categorised based on the types of movement disorders observed. These types include spastic (characterized by stiff and jerky movements), dyskinetic (characterized by involuntary and uncontrolled movements), ataxic (characterized by problems with balance and coordination), and mixed.
Management and treatment of cerebral palsy typically involve a multidisciplinary approach, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and in some cases, medications to manage symptoms. Assistive devices and mobility aids may also be recommended to help individuals with cerebral palsy to lead as independent and fulfilling lives as possible.
Types of cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) encompasses several different types, each characterised by distinct movement and muscle control issues. The types of cerebral palsy are categorised based on the specific patterns of motor impairment observed. The primary types of cerebral palsy include:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is the most common type, affecting about 70-80% of individuals with CP. It is characterised by increased muscle tone, leading to stiffness and jerky movements. Spastic CP can affect different parts of the body, leading to subtypes such as:
Spastic Hemiplegia: Typically affects one side of the body.
Spastic Diplegia: Mainly impacts the legs.
Spastic Quadriplegia: Affects all four limbs and often includes the trunk and face. It is typically the most severe form of spastic CP.
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy (Athetoid or Dystonic): Dyskinetic CP accounts for about 10-20% of cases. It involves involuntary and uncontrolled movements, making it challenging to control and coordinate limb and body movements. People with dyskinetic CP may also have difficulty controlling their facial muscles, leading to difficulties with speech and eating.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: Ataxic CP is relatively rare, affecting about 5-10% of individuals with CP. It primarily affects balance and coordination, making tasks like walking and fine motor skills (e.g., writing) difficult. People with ataxic CP may have a shaky or unsteady gait.
- Mixed-Type Cerebral Palsy: Some individuals may exhibit a combination of the above types. For example, they may have spasticity in their legs and dyskinetic movements in their arms. Mixed-type CP can vary widely in its presentation.
It’s important to note that within each of these broad categories, there is considerable variability in terms of severity and specific symptoms. Cerebral palsy is a highly individualised condition, and two people with the same type of CP may experience it quite differently.
The specific cause and severity of CP can also influence the type and extent of motor impairments. Additionally, advances in medical and therapeutic interventions have allowed for more individualised management and treatment plans for individuals with cerebral palsy to help them maximise their independence and quality of life.
Cerebral palsy compensation claims
If it can be proven that cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence or malpractice, you may have grounds to pursue a compensation claim for yourself or on behalf of another person, such as your child or a person who lacks mental capacity to pursue a claim.
Medical negligence refers to a situation in which a medical professional or institution fails to provide a standard level of care, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. When it comes to cerebral palsy, medical negligence may be a factor if the condition is believed to have been caused or exacerbated by substandard medical care.
Listed below are some scenarios where medical negligence might be linked to cerebral palsy:
- Failure to monitor foetal distress: During labour and delivery, it’s crucial for healthcare providers to monitor the baby’s heart rate and respond appropriately if signs of distress are detected. Failure to do so can lead to oxygen deprivation, which may result in cerebral palsy.
- Improper use of assisted delivery devices: If forceps or vacuum extractors are used improperly during delivery, it can lead to injuries that contribute to the development of cerebral palsy.
- Delayed C-section: In cases of prolonged labour or foetal distress, a timely C-section may be necessary to prevent oxygen deprivation. A delay in performing a necessary C-section could potentially lead to cerebral palsy.
- Failure to diagnose and treat infections: Infections during pregnancy, such as bacterial infections, can lead to complications that contribute to cerebral palsy. If a healthcare provider fails to diagnose or treat these infections appropriately, it may be considered negligence.
- Medication errors: Administration of incorrect medications or improper dosages during pregnancy or childbirth can have serious consequences for the baby’s health and development.
- Failure to identify and address birth defects: Some congenital conditions that contribute to cerebral palsy may be detectable through prenatal screening. Failure to identify and address such conditions may be considered negligence.
It’s important to note that bringing a cerebral palsy case can be complex and requires expert medical opinion. If you suspect that medical negligence played a role in the development of cerebral palsy, it is crucial to consult with a qualified cerebral palsy solicitor. They can help you gather evidence, consult with medical experts, and navigate the legal process to determine if you have a valid claim.
How much compensation could you receive?
The amount of compensation for a cerebral palsy claim will depend on many factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the severity of the condition, and the long-term needs of the affected individual.
Compensation for cerebral palsy claims can vary widely. In some cases, settlements can be substantial due to the extensive care and support that individuals with cerebral palsy often require over their lifetime.
Compensation typically covers:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: This includes the physical and emotional pain experienced as a result of the condition and any associated medical procedures.
- Loss of earnings: If the individual with cerebral palsy is unable to work or has limited earning potential due to their condition, compensation may be awarded to cover lost income.
- Medical expenses: This includes past and future medical costs associated with the condition, including private therapies, medications, surgeries, and assistive devices.
- Rehabilitation and therapy: Costs for ongoing private rehabilitation, therapy, and specialised equipment.
- Home modifications and care costs: This covers expenses related to adapting living spaces for accessibility and providing necessary care and assistance.
It’s important to note that every case is unique, and the final amount of compensation will depend on the specific circumstances and the strength of the evidence supporting the claim.
In some circumstances, it will take an extensive period of time to settle you case. To help cover some of the costs of caring for an individual with cerebral palsy, an interim payment may be obtained, which is usually a lump sum of money which can be obtained before the case has concluded.
Time limits for making cerebral palsy negligence claims
The standard guideline stipulates that an adult diagnosed with cerebral palsy typically has a three-year window, commencing at age 18, to initiate a claim, unless assessments have determined their lack of legal capacity.
In the case of minors, the three-year timeframe begins upon their 18th birthday and concludes at age 21. Even if your child surpasses 21, it might be feasible to prolong this limit if evaluations establish their incapacity in legal matters. This could apply, for instance, if they’re contending with intellectual challenges that hinder their ability to make autonomous decisions.
What is the process of making cerebral palsy compensation claims?
To make a claim against the NHS or private healthcare professional, you would first contact a specialist medical negligence solicitor, such as the team at Beacon Law to start you claim. Our team can assess the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process. Our team have experience in handling claims for cerebral palsy and can provide you with the necessary guidance.
Your solicitor will assist you in gathering the relevant evidence to support your claim. This may include medical records, expert opinions, witness statements, and any other documentation that helps establish the negligence and its impact on your health.
Before initiating legal proceedings, your solicitor will follow the pre-action protocol, which involves notifying the NHS or private medical practice of your intention to make a claim and providing them with the details of your case. This gives them an opportunity to investigate and respond to your claim.
In many cases, a negotiated settlement can be reached between the parties involved. Your solicitor will work on your behalf to negotiate a fair compensation amount that takes into account your damages and losses. If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation or if liability is disputed, your case may proceed to court. In such instances, your solicitor will represent your interests and guide you through the court process.
How can Beacon Law assist with cerebral palsy compensation claims?
Beacon Law are specialist solicitors in personal injury and have a clinical negligence team who are experts in bringing cerebral palsy compensation claims.
Your medical negligence case at Beacon Law will be under on a no win no fee basis, which vastly minimises the risk of incurring legal costs. Under this agreement, you will not be required to pay our fees if your case is unsuccessful. If your case is successful, we will deduct our success fee from your compensation on conclusion of your case, alongside any additional fees.
There will be no upfront payment needed, and you will not need to worry about the risk of being in a worse financial situation should your compensation claim not succeed. To find out about our no win, no fee claim funding and the success fee, have a look at the funding section on our website.
If you or a loved one has suffered with cerebral palsy as the result of negligence, please contact a solicitor at Beacon Law on 0330 1332 857.