Cerebral palsy negligence claims
Approximately one in 400 people in the UK live with cerebral palsy. This equates to about 1,800 new diagnoses every year.
Cerebral palsy is a permanent, life-changing condition that occurs most commonly before, during or shortly after birth. The exact cause of cerebral palsy is not always clear. However, it might be a result of medical negligence.
If negligent medical treatment has led to you or your child having cerebral palsy, you can claim compensation. A diagnosis of cerebral palsy can be daunting, as you could be facing a lifetime of compromises and additional needs. Compensation offers the prospect of alleviating some of that pressure; it can enable people with cerebral palsy to optimise their quality of life, and parents can afford to get back to being parents – rather than carers.
We have helped many families get their life back on track after a cerebral palsy diagnosis. So, we can help you plan for your child’s lifetimes of additional needs too, securing compensation for the best care, therapies, and equipment possible.
We understand that the circumstances leading to a child suffering with cerebral palsy can also be difficult for the parents. If you are a mother who has sustained avoidable physical injuries, we can help you claim compensation (often these are gynaecological injuries).
Both mothers and fathers may also be able claim compensation for psychological trauma, as witnesses to a sudden and shocking event. The law on this subject is complex, but our experienced team will be able to advise you where you stand.
Cerebral palsy is a brain condition which affects movement, co-ordination and quite often cognition or intellectual function.
It’s a complex disorder that can be categorised into four types: spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic and mixed. Each of these have their own traits:
Spastic cerebral palsy
Spasticity refers to muscles being tight or stiff . Common symptoms include:
- Abnormal movement
- Awkward reflexes
- Increased muscle tone, causing stiffness
- Difficulty controlling muscle movement
- Difficulty changing positions
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy; it makes up 75% of all cases. It is usually caused by damage to the brain’s motor cortex; and sometimes the pyramidal tracts. The motor cortex is part of the largest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex; and is responsible for voluntary movement. The pyramidal tracts carry messages from the motor cortex to the brain stem or spinal cord.
Ataxic cerebral palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance, coordination and spatial awareness. Common symptoms include:
- Shakiness and tremors
- Jerky movement
- Difficulty with depth perception
- Problems with speech
- Limitations with fine motor movements
Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common type of cerebral palsy and is caused by damage to the cerebellum part of your brain. The cerebellum is located at the back of your head, towards the neck, and is important for motor function.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterised by involuntary muscle contractions, or spasms. It is the second most common type of cerebral palsy. It also goes by the names athetoid, dystonic or choreoathetoid cerebral palsy.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to a group of structures located deep within the brain, known as the basal ganglia. They are primarily responsible for motor control.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy can also be responsible for causing posture problems.
Mixed cerebral palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy can be diagnosed when symptoms do not fit one of the types.
However, mixed cerebral palsy is not common. It makes up less than 10% of all cases of cerebral palsy. Where there is a combination, spastic and athetoid are the most common combination.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by abnormal development in the womb, trauma during delivery, a lack of oxygen during or shortly after birth or acute illnesses in a baby’s first few days. Cerebral palsy can also occur due to imbalances in sodium, potassium or glucose in new-borns. However, in many cases, the precise cause is never identified.
If serious errors occurred around the time of a child’s birth, and there has later been a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, you may want to make a medical negligence claim. As cerebral palsy often happens in new-borns, their medical negligence claims are usually classed as a type of birth injury claim.
We have vast experience in cerebral palsy compensation claims. If you think that you, or your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence, we can help you claim compensation.
To see if we can help you make a claim on a no win no fee basis, contact us by email, or call us on . Our team will advise you for free if we can help you make a claim. We help most people in cerebral palsy claims using Legal Aid.
What are common causes of cerebral palsy during pregnancy?
A brain injury can occur during pregnancy causing cerebral palsy. This can be due to:
- Maternal infections (like rubella, chickenpox and toxoplasmosis)
- Problems with the placenta, often failing to provide sufficient blood to the baby
- Blood clots causing a stroke
- Placental abruption – where placenta comes away from wall of uterus before baby has been delivered
What are common causes of cerebral palsy during labour, or delivery?
The most common cause of cerebral palsy during labour, or delivery, is oxygen starvation. With careful monitoring, this can often be identified, and injury prevented. Many medical negligence claims concern a failure to recognise or act upon signs that the baby was being asphyxiated.
Another cause of brain injury is trauma to the baby’s head, during labour or delivery, particularly with the use of forceps or ventouse.
What are common causes of cerebral palsy soon after birth, in the neonatal period?
Brain damage soon after birth, in the neonatal period, can also cause cerebral palsy. Some of the common causes at this time are:
- Oxygen starvation, perhaps if the baby had difficulty breathing for themselves and needed assistance.
- Serious infection
- Blood abnormality causing a stroke
- Imbalances of chemicals in the blood, such as sodium, potassium, glucose and many others
- Liver and other organ disorders
Sometimes the cause of cerebral palsy is unavoidable. The following are thought to increase the risk of cerebral palsy:
- Twin or multiple pregnancy
- Being born prematurely – particularly before the 32nd week of pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- High birth weight
- Breech delivery
Cerebral palsy is not hereditary, so you are not likely to pass it onto your children. However, there are a range of chromosomal disorders or syndromes that include abnormal brain development, and these can cause disability and developmental problems that are very similar to those caused by cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy does not cause or lead directly to death. However, some symptoms, or poor treatment of them, can lead to a lower life expectancy. However, with the correct compensation and care package in place, life expectancy is likely to increase.
Speak to our team if you would like to find out how a compensation claim can help you and your child.
There are a variety of ways that cerebral palsy could be caused by medical negligence. The most common is medical staff failing to recognise and respond to certain signs, conditions or risks appropriately. Some specific examples include:
- Failures in the management of premature labour. This could be by failing to slow contractions to delay delivery, or to provide the special care needed to a baby born prematurely.
- Failing to recognise and respond to the signs of fetal distress during labour, which can result in asphyxiation of the baby.
- Persisting with a labour that is not progressing, rather than offering a caesarean section.
- Inappropriate use of instruments for delivery, such as forceps and ventouse.
- Inappropriate monitoring and management of particular risk factors during pregnancy.
- Failing to recognise and treat pre-eclampsia appropriately.
- Failing to recognise and respond appropriately to emergencies such as uterine rupture or placental abruption.
- Inappropriate use of Syntocinon (a drug used to strengthen contractions).
There are many other ways in which cerebral palsy could be caused by medical negligence.
We offer a no obligation consultation to help you find out if you can make a claim. Just call our team on or contact us by email. We help most clients in cerebral palsy compensation claims using Legal Aid.
If you, your child, or a loved one has suffered from negligent treatment which has led to cerebral palsy, you can claim compensation by making a medical negligence claim.
Although you can technically make a claim by yourself, cerebral palsy claims are complex; you need extensive knowledge of the law and medicine so, it is advisable that you to speak to a firm of solicitors who have experience in obtaining compensation for cerebral palsy, like Pryers Solicitors. Even if you have been contacted as part of the NHS Resolution Early Notification scheme, you can get independent legal advice and we recommend that you do so.
Cerebral palsy negligence claims are renowned for being very technical. They involve medical experts from many fields, which Pryers will instruct on your behalf.
We can help you claim compensation using public funding (Legal Aid), or on a no win no fee agreement. In cerebral palsy claims we usually do not even charge anything if you are successful in getting compensation.
You typically have three years from the date that you suspect you might have been injured by negligent medical treatment, to make a medical negligence claim.
However, for someone younger than 18 years old, the three-year period does not start running until their 18th birthday. However, there is no need for the person to wait until they turn 18 to make a claim. In claims for children a parent or guardian can act as a ‘litigation friend’ and provide instructions on their behalf. This is common in birth injury claims.
Likewise, the three-year time period for a person that lacks mental capacity does not start running unless they regain mental capacity. A litigation friend often helps in these claims too, particularly since mental incapacity can be permanent.
It is important to be aware that, in law ‘making a claim’ means issuing the claim at court; not just speaking to a solicitor or writing to the person you blame. Cerebral palsy negligence claims are very complex and usually involve a lot of investigations before the court process can begin. We recommend seeking advice about making a claim sooner rather than later.
Our team will provide free advice as to whether we can help you. Just contact us by email, or call us on . There’s no obligation to take the claim further after the initial call, so why not see where you stand?
To win a medical negligence claim you must prove that there has been a serious mistake in the care provided, and if you had received proper care and treatment, the injury would probably not have occurred.
At Pryers we understand that cerebral palsy birth injury claims can be some of the most complicated of all medical negligence cases. In each case, we put together a panel of the best medical experts in the country, in fields such as: –
- Fetal medicine
- Paediatric neurology
In many cases, because of overlapping medical issues, we will have a meeting with all the experts, and usually a senior barrister, to discuss the case in detail before putting our allegations to the defendant.
Determining the proper level of compensation in a cerebral palsy claim is an enormously complex task. We will carefully consider all aspects of you and your child’s life, both now and for the long-term future.
Our expertise in this area means we recognise that getting the right compensation package, together with the best possible advice, both before and after your claim, can make all the difference in improving your child’s quality of life, and that of your whole family.
We will work with independent experts in areas such as: –
- Paediatric neurology
- Other fields of medicine as required, such as orthopaedics, ophthalmology, or ENT.
- Occupational therapy and care provision
- Assistive technology
- Speech and language therapy
- Financial and investment advice
We have a team of solicitors who act as Court of Protection Deputies. These specialists can help you manage your compensation package, beyond the conclusion of your claim and for the rest of your life, helping with employing case managers and carers; buying and adapting new homes; purchasing the specialist equipment you need; and helping you to build the best possible life, in spite of your injury.
Although cerebral palsy claims can justify the very highest awards of damages, we recognise that this is not just about money, but about improving the quality of life for you and your family.
Pryers Solicitors can help you claim compensation for cerebral palsy
Pryers Solicitors’ expert team are specialists in medical negligence claims. Led by Partners holding Law Society Clinical Negligence accreditation, we have a proven track record of helping people to get compensation for cerebral palsy caused by negligence.
Pryers also hold Lexcel accreditation; the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark. This means we can help people who qualify, to claim compensation for cerebral palsy using Legal Aid.