My child has cerebral palsy. Can I claim compensation?

One of the most frequent questions that we’re asked at Boyes Turner is, “My child has cerebral palsy. Can I claim compensation?”

Our specialist medical negligence lawyers are experts in obtaining high value damages awards for babies and children with cerebral palsy. Each year we secure millions of pounds in compensation for our disabled clients which helps provide them with the additional care, therapies, equipment and adapted accommodation that they need to live as independent and fulfilling a life as possible. Every case is different, every child is unique, and the size of the claim depends on their personal circumstances and needs, but every one of our clients has suffered their injury as a result of negligent medical care.

Cerebral palsy is a broad term which covers a range of neurological problems arising from permanent damage to the brain during its development.

Common features are abnormal motor function affecting muscle tone, body posture and movement. Walking, speaking, swallowing, hearing and vision may be affected. The disability may affect the whole body, one side of the body or just the lower limbs. There may be epilepsy. Intellectual capacity can remain intact or there may be learning disability resulting in lifelong mental incapacity.

Each pattern of damage is described with its own terms.

For example:

  • hemiplegia affects one side of the body
  • diplegia affects corresponding parts on both sides of the body symmetrically
  • quadriplegia affects all four limbs

There are other medical terms which doctors use to describe various types of difficulties with muscle tone and movement, such as spasticity, athetoid/dyskinetic or dystonic.

The brain injury which causes cerebral palsy is not progressive but without proper maintenance, such as physiotherapy to avoid contractures, correct seating for good posture, or speech therapy to help swallowing for safe feeding, the child’s general health will deteriorate.

With such a wide range of disabilities all covered by the name ‘cerebral palsy’ we usually need to know more information about the type of disability, the circumstances of the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth and neonatal care before we can answer the question, “My child has cerebral palsy. Can I claim compensation?”

The parents may already have been given this information during their discussions with their child’s paediatrician about the nature of their condition. In addition, our lawyers can find this information in letters that the parents have been sent by the hospital, the mother’s and child’s medical records, reports from the hospital’s own investigations or the results of brain scans, such as MRI.

This fact-finding is important because although there are many different types of cerebral palsy, some are more likely to have been caused by negligent medical care than others. The more we understand about the circumstances of the mother’s pregnancy and the baby’s birth and neonatal condition, the more quickly we can advise our clients whether they can claim. The type of injury and extent of the disability will also enable us to assess the size and value of any potential compensation.

Our recent cases include obtaining an admission of liability by a hospital and a court judgment on liability for a ten year old boy whose severe spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and severe learning disabilities were caused by asphyxia in the minutes leading up to his birth. The hospital staff failed to continuously monitor the fetal heart rate when his mother was admitted to hospital during her pregnancy with a suspected placental abruption. The failure to monitor led to a delay in recognising that the baby was suffering from hypoxia (lack of oxygen). By the time an emergency caesarean section had been carried out, the baby had suffered brain damage. Having secured judgment on liability, Boyes Turner’s cerebral palsy specialists obtained an interim payment of £250,000 to help meet the boy’s urgent needs whilst we work with the boy’s family and experts to value the full extent of the claim.

In another very recent case, Boyes Turner secured a damages settlement of £3.3 million for an 8 year old child with severe whole body cerebral palsy who, sadly, also has a very short life expectation as a result of their disability. The child’s mother was having a trial vaginal birth following a previous caesarean section. When the fetal heart monitor revealed that the baby’s heart rate was falling, delays in performing a forceps delivery led to the baby suffering asphyxia. Read about our other cerebral palsy cases click here .

Sympathetic at all times to the highly emotional nature of our case, we could not have chosen better. They pursued our complex case with energy and determination from the outset.

BOYES TURNER CLIENT

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