Risks in Cerebral Palsy Cases: What Families Must Avoid

cerebral palsy birth injury victim with mom and in need of a traumatic birth injury lawyer


Cerebral palsy is a disorder caused by damage to or lack of development of motor areas in the brain that impacts body movement and muscle coordination. While there is no cure, treatment, and supportive care can help those with cerebral palsy live fulfilled lives. However, families must understand and avoid certain risks to ensure the best possible outcomes. This blog will overview key cerebral palsy risks and provide families guidance from traumatic birth injury lawyers in Pennsylvania on mitigating them.


Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers has decades of experience guiding clients through birth injury cases. Our talented and dedicated attorneys can give you personalized and strategic attention. Call our offices today at 1-800-535-1797 for your free consultation.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormalities or damage in the developing brain, most often before birth. This affects the child’s ability to control muscles and body movements. There are four main types:


  • Spastic cerebral palsy – muscle stiffness and movement difficulties

  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy – writhing movements

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy  – problems with balance

  • Mixed cerebral palsy – a combination of symptoms


The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may become more noticeable as a child ages. Besides movement disorders, other possible symptoms include intellectual disabilities, seizures, vision, hearing, and speech problems. While there is no cure, various treatments, medications, surgery, braces, and physical/occupational therapy can help manage symptoms and support development and function.


Understanding Negligence That Causes Cerebral Palsy


While the exact cause is often unknown, cerebral palsy frequently results from an abnormality or injury to the brain during fetal development or childbirth. In some traumatic birth injury cases, cerebral palsy is preventable and directly caused by medical negligence on the part of healthcare providers overseeing prenatal care or delivery.


When providers fail to meet the accepted standards of care and cause harm to the mother or baby, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Some examples of mistakes that could potentially lead to cerebral palsy include:


  • Failure to properly monitor the baby during labor

  • Failure to perform a C-section when indicated

  • Failure to treat or respond to signs of fetal distress

  • Improper use of birthing instruments like forceps or vacuums

  • Failure to treat infection in pregnant mother


In short, if negligent medical care directly causes injury to the brain of an infant that later manifests as cerebral palsy, the impacted family may have grounds for a cerebral palsy lawsuit. An experienced traumatic birth injury attorney in Pennsylvania can review the specifics of your case and options.


Key Cerebral Palsy Risks to Understand and Avoid

Missing Early Intervention Services Deadlines

Early Intervention (EI) services offer invaluable support, resources, and therapies for infants and toddlers at risk for or showing signs of disabilities or developmental delays. In Pennsylvania, EI services are available from birth to age five under Act 148.


These early services are vital because:


  • Maximize child’s development during critical early years

  • Teach families how to support child’s needs

  • Improve outcomes long-term


It is essential families understand EI deadlines and get enrolled right away. Otherwise, they lose out on this key support system.


Failing to Document Ongoing Medical Issues

Thorough medical records are key in cerebral palsy cases. Plaintiffs must definitively prove when, where, and how the brain injury occurred to show precisely how the providers breached the standard of care.


Comprehensive documentation throughout early life can help demonstrate the following:


  • Proof of cerebral palsy diagnosis

  • When symptoms first emerged

  • The exact nature and severity of the limitations

  • Conditions are lifelong


Meticulous medical records also help when negotiating hospital liens down the road or making claims to health insurers or government benefit programs.


Accepting Quick Settlement Offers

When hospitals or insurance companies approach families soon after catastrophic birth injuries, offering quick cash settlements, great caution must be exercised.


While getting money quickly can seem attractive, the long-term costs of raising and caring for a disabled child often far exceed initial offers. Families must take time to fully understand the prognosis, detailed costs of care, and total losses the child will sustain over a lifetime before settling.


An experienced traumatic birth injury lawyer in Pennsylvania can help families evaluate settlement offers against future costs of care, loss of earnings, and other damages to determine appropriate value. They also can negotiate liens down so families keep more of the settlement.


Most reputable cerebral palsy lawyers offer free consultations and only collect fees if they win your case. So, families have nothing to lose by hiring counsel to protect their rights and maximize recoveries.


Failing to Understand Government Benefits


A variety of government benefit programs can provide invaluable financial assistance to families raising children disabled by cerebral palsy. However, the application processes can be confusing and intensive. Risks include:


  • Failing to understand which benefits a child qualifies for

  • Submitting incomplete applications that get denied

  • Letting deadlines for appeals pass after denials

  • Not budgeting for expenses benefits don’t cover

  • Losing eligibility without proper asset protection planning


An attorney experienced in birth injury cases can help explain available benefits, coordinate skilled assessments to support your claim, and guide you through the application and appeals processes.


Making Unwise Decisions Without Skilled Support

Raising a disabled child presents many complex ongoing decisions about medical care, therapies, equipment, modifications, schooling, and finances. The risks of emotional stress and information overload are immense in making the wrong choices.


Traumatic birth injury lawyers in Pennsylvania can refer experienced social workers, case managers and care coordination professionals focused specifically on cerebral palsy. These professionals become trusted advisors to help families:


  • Navigate healthcare, insurance, social services, and legal systems

  • Locate optimal providers and treatment plans

  • Access equipment, medical supplies, modifications

  • Evaluate and select appropriate special education and therapists

  • Plan and budget for lifelong care needs


Having objective guidance from those immersed in this world minimizes the grave risks of the wrong decisions.

Letting Statutes of Limitations Run Out

The Pennsylvania statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases dictates strict legal action deadlines. Key limits are:


  • Minor injury: 2 years

  • Death: 2 years. However, death claims due to medical malpractice fall under Pennsylvania’s Wrongful Death Statute, which has a two-year deadline from the date of death. It’s not directly tied to the medical malpractice statute.

  • Minors: age 20, or 2 years after they reach age 18


Missing these deadlines forever bars families from recovering rightful compensation from those responsible for their child’s disabilities. An attorney can file proper forms to “toll” limits and pause timelines while assessing cases. Promptly consulting counsel avoids the risks of losing your family’s rights to seek accountability and justice. Tolling has specific legal grounds and requirements, and it’s best to consult an attorney to understand if it applies to your case.


Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What Are Common Causes Of Cerebral Palsy?

While sometimes the cause is unknown, common causes include brain damage or injuries during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or shortly after birth. Birth trauma, infections, jaundice, problems with the placenta, umbilical cord, or lack of oxygen to the brain are also potential causes.

  1. Does Cerebral Palsy Qualify For Any Government Benefits Programs?

Yes, cerebral palsy is recognized as a qualifying condition for Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid and Medicare based on disability, school services under IDEA laws, vocational rehabilitation services, and more. Experienced attorneys can guide families through securing crucial benefits.

  1. How Do I Know If My Child’s Cerebral Palsy Was Caused By Medical Malpractice?

Determining whether cerebral palsy resulted from preventable medical negligence requires in-depth investigation into care throughout the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and post-birth period. An attorney and medical professionals can fully assess for any lapses in standard care that caused the injury.

  1. What Costs Are Covered In A Cerebral Palsy Settlement?

Depending on the specifics of the case and losses directly resulting from providers’ negligence, a settlement could cover current and future medical costs, rehabilitation services, lifelong in-home care, special education, modified vehicles/housing, and more plus pain and suffering damages.

  1. How Can A Lawyer Help My Child After A Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis?

The right lawyer can help investigate when, why, and how your child sustained brain damage, coordinate professional case evaluations, negotiate with healthcare providers and insurers, file a lawsuit proving malpractice, help access benefits and community resources, set up special needs trusts not to jeopardize government benefits, and structure a settlement providing lifelong care and compensation.


Key Points and Risks to Understand


  • Early intervention services are critical right after diagnosis

  • Keep meticulous medical records showing lifelong implications

  • Seek professional support before accepting any settlement offer

  • Understand which government benefits your child qualifies for

  • Consult attorneys to avoid missing legal deadlines

  • Rely on experienced CP advisors to navigate care decisions


Contact Our Traumatic Birth Injury Lawyers in Pennsylvania


The cerebral palsy lawyers at Raynes & Lawn have years of experience assisting families in Pennsylvania and nationwide who face medical malpractice and catastrophic injuries during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth.


Don’t hesitate to contact our talented and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers to protect your rights and your child’s future. Justice may be a long process, but the outcome and results our attorneys achieve can make a tremendous difference for your family. Call us today at 1(800) 535-1797 for more information.