Cerebral Palsy Claims

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Cerebral Palsy Claims 

Cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence can have a truly devastating effect on a person's life. It is essential that anyone who has cerebral palsy due to negligence is provided with the compensation needed to enable them to live as normal a life as possible. 

The solicitors at JMW have helped countless children with cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence to win their fight for justice. Cerebral palsy compensation cases are very complicated, and the specialist clinical negligence solicitors at JMW have the experience to guide you and your family through the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

For a free assessment of your cerebral palsy claim in complete confidence, call us on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form and one of our specialists will be in touch. We will handle your cerebral palsy claim on a no win, no fee basis, or through legal aid funding.

On this page

“JMW have supported us as a family from the beginning, when we first found out Vinnie-Ray had suffered brain damage. We cannot thank Steven Brown enough for handling Vinnie’s case with expertise and in a professional, friendly and sensitive manner. JMW are like an extended family.

The support we receive from Steven and the Deputyship team goes above and beyond. Without JMW in our corner Vinnie wouldn't be where he is today. We have been able to get carers in place for Vinnie and specialist equipment, adaptations and treatment, which has made a massive difference to him and to the family.

JMW have helped to ensure that Vinnie will receive the best care and treatment to give him a better quality of life.”

Viv Randall, grandmother to JMW client Vinnie-Ray

Case Studies

How JMW Can Help With Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claims

The cerebral palsy lawyers at JMW Solicitors are among the most qualified and well-respected specialists in the field, and are ideally positioned to support families making medical negligence claims for cerebral palsy.

We have secured many multi-million-pound compensation settlements for people who have made a cerebral palsy compensation claim due to negligence by a medical professional. Compensation has helped families with the accommodation, care, therapy and equipment their child needs in order to live with the condition.

JMW's cerebral palsy solicitors can demonstrate their expertise in a number of ways:

  • We have extensive previous experience of securing high-value settlements on similar cerebral palsy negligence claims; you can read about the cases JMW has helped with here
  • We have high rankings in the respected independent legal guides Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500
  • Our team includes members of the Law Society's specialist panel of clinical negligence solicitors and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitors panel

You can place your trust in JMW's specialist team to treat your case with professionalism, efficiency, sensitivity and understanding. Our aim will always be to resolve your cerebral palsy compensation claim as efficiently as possible, obtaining the maximum amount of compensation available.

Over many years, we have proven to be highly skilled and experienced in seeing cerebral palsy compensation claims through to a successful conclusion, and can provide the guidance that will help you and your family not only now, but for many years to come.

Additionally, we will help to ensure that the process of claiming cerebral palsy compensation does not come at your expense. We handle cases through a no win, no fee agreement, and legal aid is also available for most cerebral palsy claims. If you require this support, JMW can handle the application to obtain legal aid on behalf of families.

FAQs

Q
What is cerebral palsy?
A

Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain. 

This damage usually occurs:

  • During the development of the foetus
  • Shortly before or after birth
  • During birth
  • During the newborn period

The condition covers a huge range of non-progressive brain damage, which can vary in severity from fairly mild (causing minimal physical impairment), to severe, resulting in profound physical disabilities and severe learning difficulties.

. Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition and cannot be cured, which means that people with cerebral palsy are likely to require ongoing therapy to help them carry out everyday tasks and improve their quality of life.

For more information on cerebral palsy, visit the NHS website.

Q
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?
A

Cerebral palsy leads to a number of disabling symptoms that may manifest at different points in a child's life. These include:

  • Stiff or floppy muscles, making it difficult to move naturally
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Irregular or involuntary movements, including constant fidgeting, muscle spasms and tremors
  • Delays in reaching key development milestones, such as learning to sit, stand and walk
  • Severe learning difficulties and intellectual impairment
  • Difficulties with eating and swallowing
  • Seizures and fits
  • Problems with speech and communication
  • A curved spine, leading to an unusual posture
  • Hips that dislocate easily
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Reduced vision and squinting
  • Hearing loss

Cerebral palsy affects different individuals in different ways, but in many cases can cause severe disability.

Q
What are the different types of cerebral palsy?
A

The term 'cerebral palsy' encompasses a number of related but distinct conditions, and each type of cerebral palsy has its own specific symptoms. The three main forms are spastic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy and dyskinetic cerebral palsy, which manifest in the following ways:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy - mostly associated with muscle stiffness and tightness, leading to abnormal movements and limitations in the child's range of movement.
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy - causes the muscles to alternate between stiffness and floppiness, resulting in spasms, uncontrolled movement and abnormal muscle tone. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is also sometimes known as athetoid cerebral palsy.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy - causes balance and coordination issues, resulting in wobbly or awkward movements and occasional tremors that make it difficult to walk, hold objects or write

Additionally, some children will be affected by mixed cerebral palsy, which combines symptoms from multiple types of cerebral palsy. Most commonly, this means the child will experience symptoms of dyskinetic and spastic cerebral palsy simultaneously.

Q
How common is cerebral palsy?
A

According to data quoted by the charity group Scope, cerebral palsy affects around one in every 400 children in the UK, while data from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence indicates that cerebral palsy affects around two in every 1,000 live births each year.

Meanwhile, Cerebral Palsy Sport states that around 160,000 people currently have cerebral palsy in the UK, including 130,000 adults and 30,000 children. Approximately 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy every year.

Q
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
A

There is no combination of factors that always results in cerebral palsy, and it is well-recognised that the foetal brain is equipped to sustain periods of relative deprivation of oxygen..

Sometimes, there may be signs that the baby was in distress during labour, and steps should have been taken to deliver the child sooner - for example, using a ventouse, forceps or caesarean delivery. It is often a delay in delivery that can lead to catastrophic brain damage as a result of the baby being deprived of oxygen.

There are also other causes of cerebral palsy mainly occurring in the time shortly after birth, including:

  • Hypoglycaemia caused by not effectively monitoring a baby’s blood sugar levels
  • Kernicterus caused by mismanagement of newborn jaundice
  • A failure to diagnose an infection such as meningitis
Q
How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?
A

Diagnosis usually involves a period of waiting for the definite and permanent appearance of specific motor problems, but most cases can be diagnosed by 18 months. Until recently, there was a widespread belief that all cases of cerebral palsy were a result of birth complications but, following extensive research, it is now realised that this is not the case. Even though the cause of many cases of cerebral palsy is not known, it is estimated that about 10 per cent can be directly attributable to brain injury during birth.

To determine whether a child has cerebral palsy, doctors will assess the following:

  • Review the child's medical history and development, and whether or not the child sustained a birth injury or any other problems before, during or shortly after birth
  • Check the symptoms of cerebral palsy, including a review of the child's movements and learning abilities
  • Perform a brain scan, such as a cranial ultrasound scan, an MRI scan or a CT scan
Q
How much compensation am I entitled to?
A

Anyone living with severe cerebral palsy will require assistance in many aspects of their life. These can include:

  • 24-hour specialist care
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Specially adapted accommodation
  • Aids and equipment
  • Education costs
  • Assistive technology

However, these can be very expensive over the course of a child's life, and families struggle to afford them without financial help. This is where medical negligence claims can help. Families who claim compensation can use these funds to cover the cost of everything that enables a person to lead as fulfilling a life as possible, in spite of their avoidable disabilities.

The child's lifelong care, therapy and accommodation needs, together with their earning potential had they not suffered the cerebral palsy negligence, determine the value of their claim. A team of experts, including medical professionals, care experts and various therapists, is instructed to assess the child and what they need to improve their quality of life.

Detailed witness evidence is vital to establish how much compensation should be awarded to the child. Witness statements will usually be necessary from the child's parents/carers to try to build up a picture of the child and their day-to-day life, including details of their care requirements and any behavioural problems. It is also important to consider whether any independent witness evidence is necessary - for example, from teachers, support workers, doctors, therapists and the case manager.

Once all the necessary evidence has been obtained, it will be exchanged with the trust's solicitors. Usually, before the trial, a meeting takes place with the trust's legal team (which is usually attended by the family) to try to tie up the outstanding issues and ideally agree on the amount of compensation payable. If no settlement is agreed here, the case may progress to a trial for a judge to determine the outcome.

For a family that has been left devastated by their child's avoidable and significant injury, and consumed with worries about how they fund their specialist care, there is a significant sense of relief when their case settles. This is why it is important to speak to specialist cerebral palsy solicitors who can help you to achieve the best possible outcome.

We explore why specialist accommodation is necessary for people living with cerebral palsy to help them better cope with the condition. Read more here about the difference it can make to lives.

What Our Clients Say

Explaining Why Cerebral Palsy Compensation is So High

Due to the high level of assistance required, a child with cerebral palsy can receive an amount that initially seems very high, often running into millions of pounds. However, this amount is carefully calculated to ensure families who claim compensation are able to afford the high level of care that will be required throughout their child's life.

Despite this, there can be a misconception that such an amount represents a 'windfall' for the family. To understand how far-reaching these misconceptions are, we carried out a survey asking for people's opinions on compensation amounts. The results were startling, and highlight a perception among many people that compensation amounts awarded to those whose lives have been drastically affected through medical negligence seem too high.

This perception is incorrect, and to challenge it we have created an infographic. The visual explains why large compensation awards are often necessary for children with severe cerebral palsy, and shows the many different factors that must be considered when deciding on a final figure. It also includes a breakdown of typical figures involved. The infographic, which is based on a JMW case that settled for £10 million, shows that even though the amount seems high, it only covers costs to help with things most people take for granted.

How Can Medical Negligence Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy can be caused by many different types of negligent medical treatment. The list below covers some of the main causes that the specialist medical negligence solicitors at JMW have come across in the cases we have handled, but is by no means exhaustive:

  • Delays in delivery
  • Poor interpretation of the foetal heart rate monitor
  • Misuse of drugs used to speed up labour
  • Failure/delay in diagnosing infection
  • Poor treatment of newborn jaundice, leading to kernicterus brain damage
  • Errors leading to dangerously low blood sugars - hypoglycaemia
  • Failure to carry out a C-section in a timely manner

The condition is relatively rare, and is even more rarely caused by negligence. However, if there is evidence that negligence was involved, for the medical negligence lawyers investigating these cases, the focus is usually the care provided to the mother and unborn child during labour and the period shortly after birth.

How Do I Make a Cerebral Palsy Medical Negligence Claim?

The first step to making a cerebral palsy claim is to get in touch with our expert medical negligence team on 0345 872 6666, or by completing our online enquiry form. Based on our insights into cerebral palsy claims and birth injury claims more generally, we will be able to advise you on whether you have a strong case, and explain in detail the process of how your claim for cerebral palsy compensation will need to progress.

If you decide to make a claim, our medical negligence experts will work to obtain full disclosure of GP and hospital records for the mother and child. These must include records of the baby's heart monitoring (CTG traces) and, in particular, any brain MRI/CT scans, or cranial ultrasound scans. 

We also look at any relevant guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) or the Royal College of Obstetricians, which might assist in identifying what monitoring/assessment or treatment that should have been provided.

Following a detailed analysis of the notes, a witness statement is taken from the mother, and possibly her partner (or any other person present at the birth), which is carefully cross-referenced with the relevant medical records.

After this, a team of independent medical experts, including experienced doctors and midwives, will be called upon to prepare reports on the care provided to the mother and baby, and whether critical mistakes were made during the child's birth. Expert opinions are crucial to establish whether the child's brain injury was the result of medical negligence.

If the expert evidence indicates that poor care administered by medical staff has led to the child's cerebral palsy, the solicitor and barrister will begin making preparations to progress the claim.

Occasionally when claiming compensation, a full admission of legal liability may be made after a letter setting out the allegations has been sent to the trust responsible for the care provided. This can enable your child to access an interim compensation payment, which can be crucial to ensuring your child has the specialist care they need. 

A case manager will be appointed and through them, the parents can obtain the necessary aids and equipment to care for their child. This can include a vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair (if the child is wheelchair dependent), any relevant therapies such as speech, language and physiotherapy, as well as suitable accommodation if appropriate.

If the trust decides to defend the allegations then the case will continue until admission is made, an out-of-court settlement is agreed, or it finally goes before a high court judge to decide the outcome. However, few cases ever reach court and most are settled successfully at a much earlier stage.

Are There Time Limits for Making Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claims?

If your child suffers an injury due to negligence that causes them to develop cerebral palsy, a parent or guardian can make a claim on behalf of their child at any time up until they turn 18.

Additionally, the affected individual can make a cerebral palsy claim on their own behalf from their 18th birthday onwards. They will have three years to make a claim before the deadline passes; however, if they lack the mental capacity to make their own birth injury claim, their parents can do so with no time limit.

There are some exceptions to this rule in very limited circumstances, so if you are unsure about the rules surrounding making a cerebral palsy claim, speak to the specialist solicitors at JMW today.

How Long Does a Cerebral Palsy Negligence Claim Take?

Cerebral palsy compensation cases, like many other birth injury claims, can be extremely complex to resolve, which means it may take between five and seven years for a case to reach its final settlement. This is because it will take several years for medical experts to properly assess the impact of birth injuries on a baby's brain, and to observe what level of disability or impact on mental capacity will result from the child's injury.

However, because every cerebral palsy case is unique, the duration of the claim will also vary greatly depending on the circumstances. By consulting the experts at JMW, we will aim to provide you with a realistic appraisal of how long it may take to resolve your claim, while making every effort to bring the case to a conclusion as soon as possible.

Talk to Us 

It is essential to have a solicitor experienced in this field of medical negligence law because cerebral palsy cases are often strongly contested. Our specialist lawyers will do their utmost to help you claim the maximum amount of compensation, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Legal aid is available for cerebral palsy claims and most children will qualify as it is only the child's income and assets that are taken into account. We are also able to take on cases on a no win, no fee basis. 

For an assessment of your potential claim, please contact us on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form and one of our specialists will contact you shortly.

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