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child's personal injury case Archives | Osborne & Francis

Can Cerebral Palsy Be Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Can Cerebral Palsy Be Caused by Medical Malpractice?

By | Medical Malpractice | No Comments

There is nothing more exciting for couples than the birth of their child. Their expectations for their new baby knows no bounds, but their biggest hope is that their child will be carried to term and born healthy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. There may be complications during pregnancy or childbirth that can cause a baby to develop cerebral palsy. Sometimes, those complications are a result of medical malpractice.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a serious health problem often resulting from not enough oxygen reaching an infant’s brain during labor or delivery. Its impact on the child and parents is lifelong, emotionally and financially. While some babies are born with cerebral palsy through no fault of anyone, about 10 percent of babies born with it developed it due to medical mistakes. That may not seem like a big number, but to those affected by cerebral palsy, it’s huge.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impedes muscle coordination and body movement. While there are numerous factors that can result in cerebral palsy, regarding birth injuries and cases of medical malpractice, the most common reason is a deficient amount of oxygen reached the baby’s brain during labor or delivery.

Most children who have cerebral palsy were born with the condition, whether caused by malpractice or other factors, although it may not be diagnosed by doctors for the first few years of life. Cerebral palsy is considered a non-progressive condition, which means that it doesn’t get worse over time. It occurs in about three out of every thousand births in the nation.

When Medical Malpractice Leads to Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is often caused by hypoxia (insufficient oxygen to the brain), asphyxia (insufficient oxygen to the body), premature delivery, or trauma during birth. All of these causes can result from medical malpractice and mistakes made during labor or childbirth.

However, just because a baby is born with cerebral palsy, it doesn’t always mean that medical mistakes have been made. There are times that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals act with the greatest care while attending to mother and baby, and there are still negative outcomes. But when medical negligence is the cause of cerebral palsy, these are the most common mistakes:

failure to monitor the fetal heart rate appropriately during labor and childbirth

failure to identify and treat infections in the mother during her pregnancy

failure to identify a prolapsed umbilical cord

failure to schedule and perform a cesarean section when the baby is too large to deliver vaginally

delaying a cesarean section needed due to an emergency

other negligence or mistakes in using medical instruments like forceps or vacuum during delivery

Once the baby is delivered and it is discovered that he or she has suffered a lack of oxygen, there is often still time to prevent cerebral palsy from developing if the doctor acts quickly. Time is critical – every moment that passes without the baby having enough oxygen increases the risk of cerebral palsy. One way that oxygen deprivation can be helped is with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the baby being placed in a chamber that is full of 100 percent oxygen, which floods the tissue and slows the trauma to the brain. This treatment can lessen or eliminate the baby’s case of cerebral palsy.

If a doctor doesn’t act quickly or opts to not use hyperbaric oxygen therapy (when it is available), then the subsequent case of cerebral palsy can be found to be the doctor’s fault.

Taking Care of a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Taking care of a child with cerebral palsy is costly, can take a toll on the family emotionally, and it often requires a lifetime of care. That care, which includes medical expenses, therapy, home care, rehabilitation, and more, can easily reach $1 million in a lifetime. If the condition was caused by medical malpractice, a lawsuit can be filed which holds the responsible party liable for his or her negligence and provides compensation to the child and the family.

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and you suspect that there was medical malpractice involved, contact medical malpractice attorney, Joe Osborne, at (561) 293-2600 for an evaluation of your case.

Can Parents File a Personal Injury Lawsuit on Behalf of Their Child?

Can Parents File a Personal Injury Lawsuit on Behalf of Their Child

By | Personal Injury | No Comments

When a child is injured due to a car accident or negligence on someone else’s part, it can be a tricky situation to settle or litigate because they are not yet 18 years of age. These cases require an attorney who is knowledgeable about the special procedural requirements in cases that involve children. Minors in Florida cannot pursue their own personal injury claims because they are not of the legal age to do so. That means that a parent or legal guardian must pursue the case on the behalf of their child. And in some cases, parents must obtain court approval regarding settlement agreements when a minor is involved because Florida law requires it. The law is intended to protect the interests of the child by providing judicial oversight.

When Can a Parent Settle a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Child?

Florida statutes allow parents or guardians to settle a personal injury claim on their minor child’s behalf without approval from the court when the settlement amount does not exceed $15,000. However, when it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit (if the claim isn’t settled by insurance companies), court approval is required. Additionally, some insurance companies will require that court approval is given prior to making any payments on a settlement on behalf of a minor.

If the settlement that is reached is over $15,000, then the parent or guardian is required to seek court approval by filing a Petition for Approval of Settlement. This petition includes the details of the facts of the case, issues of liability, a number of damages, the amount of the settlement being sought, and lawyer’s costs and fees. The judge then reviews the terms of the settlement to determine if they are in the child’s best interest. It’s important to understand that the law requires that the parents or guardians of the child also act in the best interests of the minor, and the judge will make sure that they are complying with that requirement.

How is the Settlement for a Minor Distributed?

Just as there are special requirements for filing and settling a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor, there are also special procedures for the distribution of monetary settlements when they are awarded to a minor.

If the net amount of the settlement (after attorney’s fees are paid) is $15,000 or less, the process is usually simple. The judge will typically have the funds distributed to the parents so they can be used for the best interest of the child. However, when the net amount is over $15,000, it’s required that a formal guardianship is set up to safeguard the funds for the child. In this type of situation, once the judge approves the settlement amount, the money is placed in a restricted annuity or bank account which can only be accessed by court order. The court will then use its discretion when allowing funds to be withdrawn based on the necessity and the reason for the withdrawal. Usually, when the funds are used for housing, education, or medical care, the court will approve the transactions, however, that can depend on each specific case.

Get the Right Help for Your Child’s Personal Injury Case

If your child has suffered an injury in an accident that was someone else’s fault, he or she may be entitled to compensation for injuries. Settlements that are pursued minors can be complex, which is why you need to find the right personal injury attorney to handle your child’s case. Contact Boca Raton personal injury lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 296-2600 or complete the online contact form to get the ball rolling in your child’s case. He will ensure that your child’s rights are protected and help him or she obtains compensation for the injuries suffered.