Compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth are particularly complicated to resolve as many causes of cerebral palsy are unrelated to medical negligence. Congenital cerebral palsy can be the result of a mother suffering an infection during her pregnancy or a baby being born with a low birth weight.
A low birth weight can also be responsible for acquired cerebral palsy (when an infant develops brain damage 28 days or more after their birth), as can blood flow problems caused by blood clotting, underdeveloped blood vessels, sickle cell diseases, and heart defects.
This article explains a little about when it may be possible to make compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth and how a claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence progresses. As there are many different causes, types and consequences of cerebral palsy, it is recommended that you seek advice from a medical negligence solicitor that is specific to your child´s individual situation.
When is Cerebral Palsy due to Medical Negligence?
Cerebral palsy due to medical negligence can happen before, during or after the birth of your child. The most frequent causes of cerebral palsy due to medical negligence before or during the delivery process include:
- The failure to detect and treat maternal infections
- The failure to properly monitor the foetal heartrate
- The failure to schedule a timely Caesarean Section when foetal distress is identified
- The failure to correctly use birth-assisting tools such as forceps or a vacuum extraction tool
- The failure to correct umbilical cord problems such as a prolapsed cord, or to act on umbilical cord strangulation
Avoidable head traumas during or after the delivery of your child can also result in cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, as can the failure to supply oxygen in a timely manner to an asphyxiated infant. Two further examples of when it may be possible to make compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth is when there is a misdiagnosis of meningitis or a failure to treat jaundice.
In order to successfully make compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth, it has to be shown that the injuries sustained by your child were “avoidable at the time and in the circumstances” and attributable to a professional performance below the accepted standard of care in the medical community which “on the balance of probabilities” was responsible for your child´s injuries.
How to Make Compensation Claims for Cerebral Palsy at Birth
In order to ascertain whether the circumstances of your child´s birth meet the criteria for making compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth, you should speak with a solicitor. The solicitor will ask you to authorise him or her to access your child´s medical records, which will then be reviewed by an independent medical expert.
The role of the medical expert is to establish causation and liability, and the strength of evidence collected will determine whether or not you have a claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence which is worth your while to pursue. The expert´s findings will also be considered alongside an internal hospital investigation that will be instigated by your solicitor.
Subject to there being sufficient evidence to support a claim for compensation for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the hospital or NHS Trust to which the hospital is attached. The hospital/NHS Trust has ninety days to respond to compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth, and the process for claiming compensation for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence thereafter is dependent on whether liability is conceded or your claim is contested.
Will My Child Have to Go Through a Court Hearing?
If liability for your child´s cerebral palsy injury is conceded, your solicitor will start settlement negotiations with the NHS Litigation Authority. The settlement of compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth usually consists of a lump sum payment and periodic payments to provide the care your child needs for the rest of their life. You will also be able to recover any costs you have incurred, and a consideration will be made for any future loss of income if you are the child´s primary carer.
If your claim is contested, your solicitor may advise that court proceedings are issued. This will depend on the strength of evidence supporting your claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence against the strength of the NHS Trust´s defence. A court hearing may still not be necessary, as many compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth are resolved after court proceedings are issued, and your solicitor will only suggest that your child goes through a court hearing as a last resort.
Even though a court hearing may not be necessary, you will still have to attend court when your claim is resolved. All settlements of compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth have to be approved by a judge to ensure that they are in the best interests of the child. Settlement hearings are not often traumatic events, and are likely to include an apology from the hospital or NHS Trust for the errors that were made during the birth of your child.
Call us for Specific Advice about Compensation Claims for Cerebral Palsy at Birth
Due to there being many different causes, types and consequences of cerebral palsy, we have set up a Medical Negligence Advice Bureau that you are invited to call in order to discuss the circumstances surrounding your child´s birth with a medical negligence solicitor.
The solicitor will be unable to advise you immediately if you have a compensation claim for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, but they will be able to answer any questions you may have about making compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth.
Our lines are open at all times for discrete and practical advice in plain English that will help you better understand the process of making compensation claims for cerebral palsy at birth. The service is provided free of charge, without any obligation on you to subsequently claim compensation for cerebral palsy due to medical negligence and is naturally confidential.