Cerebral palsy compensation claims

The birth of a child should be a time of happiness, excitement and celebration.

Unfortunately from time to time things can go wrong and this can lead to devastating consequences for the family. Hugh James cerebral palsy negligence and birth injury solicitors are here to help you.

Sadly when mistakes are made by medical professionals the result is pain, heartache and frustration for victims and their families alike. The Hugh James team of specialist cerebral palsy solicitors fully appreciate and understand the frustrations that are experienced in overcoming some of the many challenges faced by victims of birth injury and cerebral palsy negligence. It is down to our experience and skill that we are widely recognised as one of the country's leading medical negligence legal teams.

 

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a term used to refer to a set of neurological conditions (conditions that affect the brain and nervous system). These conditions affect a child's movement and coordination.

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage sustained to the brain.  This damage may occur before, during, or after birth.

The symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary in nature. Some children may have problems mobilising while others will be severely disabled and require care for the rest of their lives.  It is estimated that 1 in every 400 children is born with cerebral palsy.

 

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

The symptoms of cerebral palsy tend not to be noticeable in early infancy, but gradually become more obvious as the child’s nervous system matures. Problems and disabilities related to cerebral palsy range from very mild to very severe. The severity of cerebral palsy is related to the severity of the brain damage. They may be very subtle symptoms that are only noticeable only to trained and experienced medical professionals, or may be obvious to the parents and other caregivers.

The symptoms of cerebral palsy are:

  • Delayed developmental milestones such as controlling head, rolling over, reaching with one hand, sitting without support, crawling, or walking;
  • Persistence of “infantile” or “primitive” reflexes, which normally disappear 3-6 months after birth;
  • Developing handedness before age 18 months: This indicates weakness or abnormal muscle tone on one side, which may be an early sign of cerebral palsy;
  • Abnormal muscle tone: Muscles may be very stiff (spastic) or unusually relaxed and “floppy.” Limbs may be held in unusual or awkward positions. For example, spastic leg muscles may cause legs to cross in a scissor-like position;
  • Abnormal movements: Movements may be unusually jerky or abrupt, or slow and writhing;
  • Skeletal deformities: People who have cerebral palsy on only one side may have shortened limbs on the affected side. If not corrected by surgery or a device, this can lead to tilting of the pelvic bones and scoliosis (curvature of the spine);
  • Joint contractures: People with spastic cerebral palsy may develop severe stiffening of the joints because of unequal pressures on the joints exerted by muscles of differing tone or strength;
  • Cognitive impairment : Some, although not all, children with cerebral palsy may be effected;
  • Speech problems: Speech is partly controlled by movements of muscles of the tongue, mouth, and throat. Some individuals with cerebral palsy are unable to control these muscles and thus cannot speak normally;
  • Swallowing problems: Swallowing is a very complex function that requires precise interaction of many groups of muscles. People with cerebral palsy who are unable to control these muscles will have problems sucking, eating, drinking, and controlling their saliva. They may drool. An even greater risk is aspiration, the inhalation into the lungs of food or fluids from the mouth or nose. This can cause infection or even suffocation;
  • Hearing loss: Partial hearing loss is not unusual in people with cerebral palsy. The child may not respond to sounds or may have delayed speech;
  • Vision problems: Three quarters of people with cerebral palsy have strabismus, which is the turning in or out of one eye. This is due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movement. These people are often near-sighted. If not corrected, strabismus can lead to more severe vision problems over time;
  • Dental problems: People with cerebral palsy tend to have more cavities than usual. This results from both defects in tooth enamel and difficulties brushing the teeth; and
  • Bowel and/or bladder control problems: These are caused by lack of muscle control.

Unfortunately there is not a cure for cerebral palsy, but if you feel you or someone you know may have been a victim of clinical negligence then get in touch with our cerebral palsy lawyers to see if you can make a cerebral palsy claim. Compensation can be used to fund therapies which can make a huge difference to the quality of life of someone with cerebral palsy.

 

What are the causes of cerebral palsy?

The cause of cerebral palsy is damage to the part of the brain that controls our muscles, this particular part of the brain is known as the cerebrum.

The cerebrum is responsible for a number of brain functions including communication skills, memory and ability to learn, which is why some children with cerebral palsy will also have learning and communication difficulties.

Cerebral palsy is caused before, during, or shortly after birth. Causes include:

  • Maternal infection such as rubella or toxoplasmosis;
  • Oxygen starvation to the baby’s brain during pregnancy or delivery;
  • Premature birth;
  • Cerebral haemorrhage (bleeds in the brain) during pregnancy or delivery;
  • Genetic problems; and

Infections when a baby is young (especially encephalitis or meningitis) can also lead to cerebral palsy. Generally, there are two main problems that can cause cerebral palsy in the development of a child failure of the brain to develop properly; and neurological damage to the child's developing brain.

In some circumstances, negligent medical care during labour or in the post-natal period following birth may be the cause of cerebral palsy.

A brain injury caused during delivery in many cases may have been preventable.  Medical mistakes are responsible a proportion of cerebral palsy cases.

If you believe that your child suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence, please contact a member of our medical negligence specialist team today.

 

Hugh James cerebral palsy compensation solicitors

If a member of your family is suffering from cerebral palsy as a result of birth they could be eligible to claim for compensation.

Not all children who are injured at birth are eligible for compensation. You need expert advice to assist you in determining whether you have a claim.

At Hugh James we believe in providing excellent client care by keeping clients informed at each stage of the case.  Our initial assessment of your cerebral palsy medical negligence claim, also known as a clinical negligence claim, is free of charge.

If we advise that you have a potential claim for negligence compensation we will act to gather the relevant employment and medical evidence to build your case.

Our medical negligence solicitors have access to the best specialist medical experts to enable us to obtain evidence of past and possible future needs to ensure that you are adequately compensated for the disability you suffer.

We treat every client with sensitivity and care, whilst aiming at the same time to deliver results including the highest financial settlement possible.

Hugh James has assisted many people to claim compensation due to negligence on the part of medical professionals in the fields of obstetrics.

If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for our initial advice session.

We are dedicated to your best interests and can advise you on how to proceed.

Key contact

Mari Rosser is Head of Medical Negligence. Her main area of expertise is clinical negligence; she is a member of both The Law Society’s clinical negligence panel and the referral panel for Action against Medical Accidents.

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Your questions answered

What can medical negligence compensation pay for?

 

The aim of any compensation is to improve your quality of life, whether this pays for specialist care or simply home adaptions. Our goal is to get you back to normality as quickly as possible and that’s we put out client health at the forefront of our mind when dealing with your medical negligence claim.

We will look at the compensation for your injuries as well as the financial losses you have as a result of medical negligence. Compensation is made up of general and special damages.

 

General  Damages

General damages compensate you for the injury itself: the pain and suffering you have already experienced and will continue to go through and what you are no longer able to do as a result of medical negligence.

In order to accurately inform you of the level of damages that you may be awarded, we will arrange for specialist reports to be obtained from various leading medical and legal authorities. They will examine you and have access to your medical records and be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and prognosis within their report. Once this evidence is in place we will be able to notify you how much we think that your claim is going to be worth.

 

Special Damages

Special damages are to compensate you for any past or future losses that have incurred or will incur as a direct result of the medical negligence which caused your injuries.

Past losses include:

  • private medical treatment and rehabilitation;
  • prescription charges/medication;
  • the purchase of aids and appliances;
  • loss of earnings;
  • travel expenses;
  • care costs;
  • personal belongings and clothing damaged in the accident; and
  • housing adaptations.

Future losses can include:

  • future loss of earnings;
  • loss of pension;
  • accommodation costs;
  • future private medical treatment and rehabilitation;
  • care costs; and
  • aids and appliances.

This list is not exhaustive and we will carefully consider your situation and will try to anticipate your future needs. 

We suggest that you start to keep a list of things that you have had to pay for since, and as a direct result of the medical negligence injury. We will need to prove the financial losses and documentary evidence such as wage slips, receipts and invoices will be very important in proving your special damages claim. In addition, it may also be sensible to keep a log or brief diary of problems that you encounter as this will help us to prepare comprehensive witness statements.

Are there time limits to bringing a medical negligence claim?

 

Personal injury and medical negligence cases are subject to time limits. It is best to contact a solicitor as early as possible to ensure your case can be dealt with.

Generally the time limit for a medical negligence case is three years from the date the treatment took place or the date you were made aware that something had gone wrong. These rules can be extremely complex and varied and a lawyer will be able to check which time limit applies to you after some initial investigations. In some cases time limits can be extended.

If a child suffers negligent care, a claim can be made up until their 21st birthday. Claims relating to children must be made by an adult on their behalf.

If a claim is brought on behalf of someone who does not have mental capacity, the three year time limit does not apply. If however, mental capacity is regained, the three year period will start at this time.

We will discuss the time limits with you during our initial consultation.

What is the cost of bringing a claim?

 

We will provide you with our free initial opinion in relation to your claim. After our assessment, we will tell you whether you have a reasonable chance of success, and you can instruct us to act on your behalf.

If you choose to instruct us we can offer you a no win, no fee agreement where possible, meaning you won't be charged legal fees if you are unsuccessful. If your claim is successful, compensation will be awarded to you. A success fee will be deducted from the compensation. All other legal fees will be covered by the defendant should the case be successful.

All the financial information will be discussed with you, free of charge, before you decide to instruct us.

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