Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injury Malpractice: Just The Facts

When it comes to birth injuries, there’s one in particular that can lead to some rather nasty conditions for children. In the event of children being deprived oxygen during delivery – a very common birth injury – one such possible outcome is for the child to develop types of cerebral palsy thanks to damage sustained by the brain from lack of oxygen.

There are several different versions of CP that can affect a child, and in cases where the condition was caused by oxygen deprivation, this may lead to a case of birth injury malpractice against the doctor who delivered the child.

Diplegic Cerebral Palsy

While it’s hard to classify any diagnosis of cerebral palsy as “minor,” one of the most common forms of the condition, diplegic cerebral palsy, is usually one that causes the least severe types of damage to a child. Diplegic CP primarily affects a child’s ability to stand and walk, as it focuses on the legs; the signs of this form of cerebral palsy are relatively easy to spot, as many children will begin to show signs of being unable to crawl using their legs – or not crawl at all – in infancy.

As children with diplegic CP continue to grow and develop, they may be slow to walk or even stand, and it’s not uncommon for children suffering from this form of cerebral palsy to be unable to stand unaided at the age of three.

While physical therapy can help children with diplegia CP regain use of their legs, many of these children will require the use of braces, crutches or even a wheelchair in order to move.

Additionally, some children will have to endure several rounds of painful orthopedic surgery in order to have their range of motion improved or restored. This can be a determining factor when it comes to birth injury malpractice claims made on behalf of the child, as pain and suffering sustained by the child as a result of medical procedures deemed necessary to remedy the condition could be taken into account when it comes time to determining how much compensation the child and his or her family are entitled to if medical personnel present at the child’s birth are found to have been negligent.

The Statute of Limitations

In almost all cases of medical negligence, there’s a set time that you can bring a lawsuit against medical personnel that allegedly caused an injury either through action or inaction. These statutes of limitations are different from state to state in the U.S., but are typically around two years.

However, when it comes to birth injuries, many jurisdictions will extend the statute of limitations to provide the parents or caregivers of children additional time to bring a birth injury malpractice case. Many states will provide for as long as eight years from the injury – or from when it should be apparent an injury has occurred – and many others will provide even longer in cases where birth injuries resulted in mental disabilities.

This is good news for parents or caregivers with children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy that might have resulted from a birth injury, especially since a CP diagnosis can take anywhere from one to three years to be made as the signs and symptoms of the condition develop. While not all types of cerebral palsy will be accompanied by mental disabilities, in many cases, the injuries that led to the physical limitations of CP may also have led to physical damage to the brain that could cause mental disabilities as well.