"Cerebral palsy" is something of an umbrella term that refers to neurological disorders affecting muscle tone and movement. These disorders are caused by damage to a baby's brain as it develops; the damage may take place during pregnancy, but often happens as a result of a birth injury during labor and delivery or shortly after birth. While not all injuries leading to cerebral palsy are the result of negligence or medical malpractice, many such injuries are, and would have been preventable had medical professionals exercised proper care.
The effects of cerebral palsy (CP) can range from mild to severe. Some people with CP are able to walk with or without the assistance of a walker or braces; others are wheelchair bound. They may have difficulty with swallowing, reduced range of motion, muscle stiffness, and imbalance of the eye muscles, so that both eyes are not focused on the same object.
Many people with CP have normal intellect; some have intellectual deficits. In addition, some people with CP have other neurological issues, including blindness, deafness, or epilepsy.
When you receive a diagnosis of CP for your child, it can be difficult to anticipate the severity of his or her deficits, or the amount of financial assistance you will need to help your child reach his or her full potential. At least one study conducted by Medicaid indicated that for children with CP, medical costs are about ten times that of children without disabilities. Increased costs include expenses of physical and occupational therapy, medical care, assistance with activities of daily living, and adaptations for limitations caused by CP.
As noted above, cerebral palsy may be caused by a number of factors. These include maternal infections that may cause injury to a fetus' developing nervous system; stroke in a fetus or newborn; traumatic brain injury during the birth process as a result of improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction; and lack of oxygen during a protracted labor and delivery.
To the extent these injuries are caused by negligence (such as failing to identify and treat an infection, or misuse of a a vacuum extractor, causing stroke), the medical professionals and/or hospital may be liable. Holding them responsible not only reduces the likelihood that another family will suffer from a preventable, lifelong injury, but helps your family give your child the best life possible.
It may be difficult to know early on how severe your child's issues are and how much it will cost to get him or her the help that is needed. However, if you wait too long to file a claim, you may find your claim barred by the statute of limitations, leaving you to bear your child's expenses alone. It is best to work with an experienced Oregon birth injury attorney who can help you evaluate the strength of your case as well as the anticipated needs of your child.
Some of those needs, of course, include medical expenses, such as:
There are also related, but not strictly medical costs associated with raising a child with CP, such as:
Of course, there are also indirect costs, which many parents don't consider right away but which can become burdensome. These include the loss of income of a parent who decides to stay home with the child with CP to manage their care, when the parent might otherwise have decided to work. In addition, parents need to consider the lifelong loss or reduction of income of their child, who will probably not be able to have as lucrative a career as if they were able-bodied. On top of this, the child may have increased expenses even as an adult due to the need for care.
When you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of raising a child with disabilities, it can seem like too much to try to anticipate the cost of their future needs. Fortunately, attorneys experienced in the area of birth injury can not only help you know what to expect, but have access to medical experts who can help persuade a court on your behalf.
If you have questions about whether your child's cerebral palsy was caused by a preventable birth injury or other avoidable condition, we invite you to contact our law office. Our attorneys have extensive experience with birth injury cases and OB/GYN malpractice and can help you make a plan to deal with the challenges you and your child are facing.
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The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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