Navigating the challenges and complexities of cerebral palsy is an emotional and often overwhelming journey for families. That’s why it’s essential to have a dedicated legal advocate by your side. At Cuneo & Leonetti, our Cherry Hill cerebral palsy attorneys bring years of experience to provide compassionate and effective legal representation. Whether the condition resulted from medical negligence during childbirth, a misdiagnosis, or any other form of medical malpractice, we are committed to holding responsible parties accountable and securing the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward ensuring a better future for your child.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. The term “cerebral” refers to the brain, and “palsy” refers to a disorder of movement or posture. Cerebral palsy is generally caused by damage to the developing brain, either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. This damage can result from a variety of factors, such as infections, premature birth, lack of oxygen to the brain, or traumatic head injury.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy generally results from damage to the developing brain, either during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth. Here are some common causes:
- Lack of Oxygen: Also known as hypoxia, this can occur during complicated labor or delivery.
- Premature Birth: Babies born prematurely are at higher risk due to the immaturity of their organs and systems.
- Infections During Pregnancy: Certain infections in the mother can lead to inflammation around the unborn baby’s brain.
- Traumatic Birth: Use of excessive force during delivery, or improper use of tools like forceps or vacuum extractors can lead to brain injury.
- Infections in Early Childhood: Infections like meningitis that affect the brain can cause cerebral palsy if not adequately treated.
- Genetic Factors: In some cases, cerebral palsy may be linked to genetic mutations or abnormalities.
- Brain Hemorrhage or Stroke: Bleeding into the brain, before, during, or after birth, can also result in cerebral palsy.
- Environmental Factors: Exposure to toxins or radiation during the mother’s pregnancy may increase the risk.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
The different types of Cherry Hill Cerebral Palsy include:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is the most common type of cerebral palsy, characterized by increased muscle tone that leads to stiffness and difficulties with movement.
- Spastic Diplegia/Diparesis: This subtype mainly affects the legs, causing stiffness and a “scissor-like” gait. Upper body movement is generally less affected.
- Spastic Hemiplegia/Hemiparesis: In this subtype, one side of the body is affected. This can result in differences in limb size and strength between the affected and unaffected sides.
- Spastic Quadriplegia/Quadriparesis: This is often the most severe form and affects all four limbs, as well as the torso and sometimes the face. Movement is significantly restricted, and there may be additional cognitive or sensory impairments.
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy (Athetoid Cerebral Palsy): Individuals with this type experience involuntary, uncontrolled movements. These can be slow, writhing motions or rapid, jerky movements and can affect any part of the body, including facial muscles and the tongue.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This type affects coordination and balance, making it difficult to perform quick or precise movements. Fine motor skills like writing can be challenging, and there may be issues with depth perception.
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy: This type occurs when an individual exhibits symptoms of more than one of the above types. For example, someone may have both spastic and athetoid movements, with one form being more dominant than the other.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Common symptoms may include:
- Motor Function Issues: Difficulty with fine motor tasks like writing, as well as larger movements like walking.
- Muscle Tone: Excessive stiffness (spasticity) or floppiness in muscles.
- Involuntary Movements: Uncontrolled movements, which can be slow and writhing or quick and jerky, often affecting hands, feet, arms, or legs.
- Coordination and Balance: Poor balance and coordination, manifesting as an unsteady walking style or difficulty with tasks that require good hand-eye coordination.
- Communication Difficulties: Speech may be affected, making it difficult for the individual to communicate clearly.
- Sensory Issues: Difficulty with processing sensory information such as touch, taste, sight, and hearing, which may result in heightened or reduced sensitivity.
- Intellectual Disability: Some individuals may experience learning difficulties or cognitive impairment, although it’s worth noting that cerebral palsy is not a cognitive disorder by definition.
- Seizures: Many people with cerebral palsy experience seizures as a result of neurological irregularities.
- Vision and Hearing Problems: Issues like poor vision or hearing may also be associated with cerebral palsy.
Expert Testimony in Cherry Hill Cerebral Palsy Claims
In cerebral palsy claims, expert testimony plays a crucial role. Given the complex medical and legal issues involved, the credibility and qualifications of experts can significantly impact the outcome. Here’s how expert testimony typically comes into play:
- Medical Expertise: Medical experts in the fields of obstetrics, neurology, pediatrics, or related areas are often called upon to provide an opinion. They can address the standard of care that should have been applied in the specific medical situation under scrutiny. They can also speak to whether the healthcare providers involved deviated from this standard and whether this deviation led to the child’s cerebral palsy.
- Causation: Proving causation is one of the most challenging aspects of a cerebral palsy claim. Medical experts can explain the medical events that led to cerebral palsy, and whether these events could or should have been avoided. They might also provide an opinion on whether timely and appropriate medical intervention could have prevented the condition.
- Damages: Medical experts, as well as financial or life-care planning experts, may be needed to quantify the damages. This includes the expected lifetime cost of caring for a child with cerebral palsy, which can be considerable. They can provide detailed plans and cost estimates for required medical treatment, therapy, equipment, and other necessary care.
- Credibility: The qualifications, experience, and demeanor of the expert witness can significantly affect the jury’s perception and, consequently, the case’s outcome. Therefore, choosing a credible expert, well-versed in the specific type of medical malpractice being alleged, is critical.
- Counter-Testimony: It’s common for the defense to have their own expert witnesses to counter the plaintiff’s claims. These experts will attempt to refute claims about the standard of care, causation, or damages. Having a well-qualified expert for the plaintiff’s side is essential for presenting a strong case.
Standard of Care in Cerebral Palsy Claims
In medical malpractice cases, the standard of care refers to the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare provider, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice.
The key elements in Cherry Hill Cerebral Palsy claims include:
- Scope of Care: The standard of care outlines what treatments, tests, and procedures should be performed and under what conditions.
- Qualified Professionals: Often, specialists in obstetrics, pediatrics, or neurology can speak to the standard of care expected in cases that involve birth injuries leading to cerebral palsy.
- Medical Guidelines and Practices: Medical associations and bodies sometimes publish guidelines that define the accepted practices in certain medical situations. These guidelines can be referenced as a benchmark for the standard of care.
- Timeliness: The standard of care also considers the timing of the medical intervention. Delays in diagnosis or treatment can sometimes be considered a breach of the standard of care.
- Informed Consent: In some cases, failure to obtain informed consent from the patient or the guardians may also be considered a breach of the standard of care.
Statute of Limitations in Cherry Hill Cerebral Palsy Claims
In Cherry Hill, the standard statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is generally two (2) years from the date the cause of action accrues. For cerebral palsy cases involving minors, there may be special considerations. Typically, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority Additional factors, such as when the malpractice was discovered or should have been discovered, can also affect the time limits for filing a claim.
Contact Our Cherry Hill Cerebral Palsy Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been affected by cerebral palsy due to medical negligence, time is of the essence. At Cuneo & Leonetti Law Firm, our experienced Cherry Hill cerebral palsy attorneys are committed to providing the compassionate and skilled representation you deserve. Navigating the complexities of medical malpractice law can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. With a proven track record of success in securing just compensation for our clients, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Don’t let the statute of limitations run out on your potential claim; contact a Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options and start the process of seeking the justice you deserve.