Cerebral Palsy Claims
A child with cerebral palsy is likely to require intensive support for the duration of their life. Sadly, this level of professional care is often unavailable through the NHS and many parents are unable to provide this level of care indefinitely, especially when they have work and other family member commitments. There is also the delicate question of who cares for a child when parents get older.
If you or your child are living with cerebral palsy, you may be able to make a cerebral palsy claim and receive substantial financial compensation if there has been sub-standard medical care that has led you or your child to suffer from an avoidable injury.
Each case is different but cerebral palsy claims usually result in medical negligence compensation in excess of £1 million pounds, typically, somewhere in the region of £2-10 million pounds. The level of compensation is, however, increasing. Our specialist team are currently working on a circa £20 million claim where the child has a very high level of disability coupled with a long life expectancy.
At Minton Morrill, we want to make the birth injury claim process as simple and stress-free as possible for the families we work with. We can offer you:
- A free initial consultation to discuss your cerebral palsy compensation claim
- Close, personal support from a team who cares about you and your family
- Decades of specialist expertise with cerebral palsy medical negligence cases
- A track record of millions of pounds in compensation secured for our clients
- No win, no fee funding (so you don’t have to worry about costs)
- Specialist lawyers who hold a clinical negligence accreditation by the Law Society
- Specialist lawyers who hold the gold standard AVMA clinical negligence accreditation
- Specialist solicitors with high rankings in leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners
- Reassurance with our skills in alternative dispute resolution. This means that most claims we handle are settled out of court.
Book a free consultation with our cerebral palsy solicitors
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a medical condition resulting in disorders of movement because of an injury to the brain. It is usually caused by problems at birth or by a severe infection.
Cerebral palsy is a condition that covers a wide range of symptoms stemming from an injury to a baby’s brain resulting in disorders in movement. Such an injury can, for example, affect muscle control and coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Patients with cerebral palsy may also suffer from visual, hearing, and developmental problems with intellectual impairment. It is usually a permanent and lifelong disability that requires specialist medical treatment and care.
Types of cerebral palsy
There are various types of cerebral palsy, including:
- Dyskinetic (or athetoid) cerebral palsy
- Spastic cerebral palsy
- Quadriplegic cerebral palsy
- Diplegic cerebral palsy
- Hemiplegic cerebral palsy
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
- Mixed type cerebral palsy
We can assist with cerebral palsy negligence claims in relation to all of these, making sure you or your child get the very best support.
How do you make a cerebral palsy claim?
Can you claim for cerebral palsy?
If you, your child or a child you know suffers from cerebral palsy and there are concerns about the standard of care at their birth or when they were a young child, we can help you.
Our expert cerebral palsy solicitors will investigate your concerns about poor medical care and assess whether any failings caused or led to the child developing cerebral palsy. If we can establish failings in treatment caused an avoidable injury, we will liaise with the hospital and seek a full admission of liability for their wrongdoing.
Funding your cerebral palsy claim
Cerebral palsy claims can be funded on a no win, no fee basis, also known as a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’. This means there is no upfront cost to start a claim, with our fees only being payable if a claim succeeds in securing compensation.
Various types of evidence will be needed to help support a cerebral palsy claim. This typically includes medical records, witness statements and opinions from independent medical experts. This information is needed to help establish that medical negligence occurred and that this caused or worsened a case of cerebral palsy.
Working out how much compensation may be owed
We will then look very carefully at the needs of the child and, with input from you and the assistance of independent experts, very carefully assess the needs of the child going forward.
We call this stage of the medical negligence investigation ‘assessing quantum’ because we are quantifying what compensation should be paid to the injured child. This will be worked out with respect to making sure they have the requisite treatment and care to support them for the rest of their lives, including when parents are no longer able to provide this.
Most cerebral palsy claims can be settled through negotiation. This can mean families are able to secure compensation for cerebral palsy faster, without the need for a Court trial, with less stress and conflict, as well as keeping legal costs to a minimum.
In some cases, it may not be possible to secure a suitable out-of-court settlement for cerebral palsy negligence through negotiation and it may be necessary to take a cerebral palsy claim to court. Our team can provide close, personal support throughout the court processes, providing strong representation, while safeguarding your family through what can be a stressful time.
Common questions about cerebral palsy claims
Is cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence?
Not every instance of cerebral palsy is caused by medical negligence, but negligent mistakes before, during or immediately after a birth can result in cerebral palsy or make the condition more severe than may have been the case with appropriate care.
Establishing whether medical negligence caused or worsened a case of cerebral palsy is a critical part of making a compensation claim.
What is the time limit for a cerebral palsy claim?
A child with cerebral palsy can make a claim for compensation up until the age of 21 years old. If a person with cerebral palsy does not have the mental capacity to bring a claim, then there is no time limit for someone else to do so on their behalf.
What medical mistakes cause cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy can be caused by a problem in the antenatal period, during the labour and delivery or after the birth in the neonatal phase. There are two broad categories of medical mistakes that can occur during these stages that may cause cerebral palsy:
- Where brain damage is directly caused by medical errors e.g. delay in delivery
- Where brain damage occurs due to clinical staff failing to effectively identify and/or manage risk factors for brain damage before, during or immediately after birth
The most common (but not all) causes of cerebral palsy are:
If the mother of a baby is suffering from an infection (Group B Streptococcal or Herpes, for example) this can be passed onto the baby before or during the labour.
If infection is suspected, the mother may be given antibiotics to try and stop the baby acquiring the infection. If, after the delivery, the baby has contracted the infection it is crucial that this is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Without early treatment the infection is likely to worsen and cause serious damage to the baby’s brain.
Oxygen starvation of the brain at birth
This can happen for a number of different reasons; for example, the baby becoming stuck and squeezed in the pelvis just before delivery or the umbilical cord becoming twisted and wrapped around the baby’s neck. Monitoring of the baby’s heart rate should detect any distress associated with oxygen starvation of the brain. If this is identified, delivery of the child may be brought forward with an assisted delivery (forceps) or caesarean section.
Statistics suggest that around 70% of cerebral palsy brain injuries occur in the antenatal stage of the pregnancy, 20% during labour and delivery and 10% caused by problems developing after birth.
Infection during pregnancy can have a devastating impact on a fragile foetus. German measles (Rubella) or Cytomegalovirus are just two examples of infections linked to the antenatal development of cerebral palsy brain injury. These viruses trigger the mother’s immune system to attack the infection but this may also cause inflammation in the baby’s brain causing damage.
This is where a baby suffers from severe jaundice that, if left untreated, leads to a build-up of unsafe levels of bilirubin in the blood that can result in permanent brain damage.
Blunt trauma to a baby’s delicate head can cause permanent brain damage.
Brain haemorrhage or stroke
Appropriate monitoring should identify the risk of a brain haemorrhage or stroke after a baby is born, particularly if the delivery was difficult, given both are high risk factors.
Is cerebral palsy always a birth injury?
Cerebral palsy is not always caused by birth injuries. The condition occurs when a baby experiences abnormal brain development or damage to their brain while it is still developing. The cause would be considered a birth injury if it involved damage to the brain immediately before, during or after the delivery.
What can cerebral palsy compensation be used for?
When assessing the level of compensation for cerebral palsy birth injury claims, we usually look at the following needs of the child/family:
- Professional Care (Past and Future)
- Occupational Therapy Needs
- Physiotherapy Needs
- Speech and Language Therapy Needs
- Accommodation (whether the family home needs adaption or a completely new house)
- Transport Needs (adapted vehicle, for example)
- Assisted Technology Needs (computers for communication, for example)
- Future medical treatment
- The child’s loss of earnings
- Court of Protection Costs
- Case Management Costs
A lifetime of much needed extensive professional input, care and treatment like that described above underlines why cerebral palsy claims result in such high value compensation claims.
Click here to read our case studies for further information about compensation received.
Is cerebral palsy common?
With an increase in birth-related concerns lodged against the NHS (1,100 in 2015) more children are being diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy. Our specialist medical negligence team are expert cerebral palsy solicitors with substantial experience investigating and settling very high value claims.
Are there any risk factors for cerebral palsy?
Yes, the following factors can sometimes increase the risk of a baby suffering from cerebral palsy:
- Premature birth – particularly if the baby is born before 32 weeks
- Low birth weight – particularly if the baby weighs less than 5.5 lbs at birth
- When twins or multiple babies are delivered
- Maternal age – particularly if the mother is over the age of 35 years of age
- Maternal health – particularly if the mother has very high or low blood pressure
- A complicated birth such as when the baby is in the breech position
What treatment is available for cerebral palsy?
There is unfortunately no cure for cerebral palsy because the condition originates from a serious brain injury. Treatment instead focuses on managing the condition under the following broad aims:
- Controlling the main movement problems and preventing further deterioration
- Alleviating pain
- Encouraging independence and, where possible, self care
- Optimising mobility
- Encouraging social interaction with other children / adults
- Help with communication and learning
- Utilising technology
Why should we pursue a cerebral palsy claim?
With successful cerebral palsy claims, there will be a system of care in place to help the child as they grow up. This network will be extensive and is likely to be run by a professional Case Manager who will liaise with all of the health care and other professionals in the network (rather than the child or their parents) to set up and organise treatment and therapy appointments.
A Court of Protection deputy may also be involved to manage the compensation money received for the benefit of the child. This again takes the burden away from the family (if they prefer) from this task. Click here to read more information about our specialist Court of Protection department at Minton Morrill.
Making sure that the injured child has every opportunity to enjoy their life, pursue their goals and effectively manage their disability is crucial. Compensation can help them achieve this.
Finally, obtaining the truth about a medical error and making sure lessons are learnt from it is often one of the key objectives for pursuing cerebral palsy compensation claims. Doctors and hospitals rightly need to be held accountable to prevent the same mistakes from happening to someone else.
Book a free consultation with our cerebral palsy solicitors
Our Experience of Cerebral Palsy Claims