What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of conditions caused by a brain injury in a very young child. It usually causes a physical disability and sometimes also causes an intellectual disability. The degree of injury and disability can range from mild to severe.
What are the causes?
There are many causes and sometimes doctors are unable to find out what the cause is. It can occur during pregnancy, childbirth and in the first years of life. There are certain conditions that give a child a higher risk of developing it. These include:
- premature birth
- low birth weight (small for gestational age)
- blood clotting problems (thrombophilia)
- an inability of the placenta to provide the developing foetus with oxygen and nutrients
- incompatible blood type between mother and baby
- maternal infection in early pregnancy, particularly rubella or other viral infections
- bacterial infection of the mother, foetus or baby, involving the baby's central nervous system
- prolonged loss of oxygen during pregnancy, labour or birth
- severe jaundice shortly after birth.
When is it caused by medical error?
Most cases occur because of unavoidable events, however sometimes it is caused by a medical error.
Some examples of cases where our cerebral palsy lawyers at Slater and Gordon have obtained compensation for clients include:
- a failure to perform a caesarean section where one was indicated because of foetal distress
- an unacceptable delay in performing a caesarean section
- a failure to diagnose and treat post natal jaundice caused by incompatible blood type between mother and child
- a failure to diagnose and treat maternal infection
What can I claim if my child has cerebral palsy caused by medical error?
If your child has been diagnosed, and you believe that it may have been caused by a medical error, your child may be entitled to compensation.
Cerebral palsy claims are very complex, and it is important that you consult a lawyer with experience in medical litigation and expertise in birth injury cases.
If successful, you may be able to claim the cost of:
- past medical care and expenses, including travel costs to and from medical appointments
- future medical expenses for the rest of your child’s life
- specialised learning aids
- household modifications to accommodate your child’s physical disability
- care given by family members
- lost wages of family members who are unable to work due to your child’s high care needs
- specialised mobility equipment
- attendant care
You are also able to claim compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (known as ‘general damages’) on behalf of your child.
What happens if my child gets compensation?
If your child is awarded compensation by a court, then that compensation is held in trust by the court and paid out to meet expenses and care costs as required. The court will keep the money in trust for your child until they are eighteen. If your child has a mental incapacity and would be unable to manage their own money, the court will continue to keep the money in trust.
If your child’s case settles by agreement and does not go to a court verdict, the court must approve the settlement amount to ensure your child is receiving fair and reasonable compensation.
The court also has to approve any legal fees to be paid out of the compensation, to ensure that the legal costs are fair and reasonable. This provides a high level of protection for your child and ensures that their best interests are always protected.
What should I do if I think my child has a claim?
If you think your child might have a claim in relation to their cerebral palsy or any other significant injury, you should contact Slater and Gordon as soon as possible.
The law allows six years from the date of injury to bring a claim on behalf of a child so it is important that you contact us as soon as possible. There are exceptions to the six-year time-limit so it is still worth contacting us even if six years have lapsed.
A successful claim can make an enormous difference to the life of your child and family. Financial compensation can ensure that your child receives the care and equipment they need.
Get in touch
Contact Slater and Gordon for a free appointment with one of our expert lawyers as soon as possible via the form on this page or by calling us.