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Realising that your child has a lifetime condition, like cerebral palsy, is an incredibly distressing experience. It is made even worse if you discover that their injury could have been avoided and that healthcare professionals may have been responsible.
All doctors and midwives have a duty of care to provide appropriate treatment in order to protect you and your baby from potential birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy.
If your baby has cerebral palsy there may have been a failure to provide appropriate treatment and you may be able to claim compensation.
Our specialist medical negligence solicitors are experts in helping people claim maximum compensation for cerebral palsy claims. They have helped many clients claim compensation against those responsible for their baby’s injury.
We also take pride in being there for our clients throughout the compensation process and beyond. Our team has longstanding relationships with leading support groups and charities and can help you access vital therapies to support your child.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions resulting from an injury to the brain that affect movement and co-ordination. The symptoms of cerebral palsy aren’t usually obvious immediately after a baby is born and normally become noticeable during the first two or three years of a child’s life. Symptoms can vary in severity, from minor problems to disability, and can include delays in reaching mobility milestones such as not sitting by eight months or not walking by 18 months.
What causes cerebral palsy?
In most cases, cerebral palsy occurs when a baby’s brain doesn’t develop normally while in the womb. However, it can also be caused by damage to the brain during or after birth. Doctors, midwives and nurses provide appropriate care to ensure your baby’s safety during and after their birth. However, medical negligence in cerebral palsy cases often involves a failure to:
- Act on signs of fetal distress
- Monitor the baby’s heartbeat adequately
- Deliver the baby early enough or by cesarean section
- Take appropriate action if the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck
Frequently Asked Questions
We know the thought of talking to a birth injury solicitor about making a compensation claim for cerebral palsy can be daunting. But it could be the first step you take to a more financially stable future.
If your baby has suffered an injury through birth, as their parent or legal guardian, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim on their behalf.
Here is what you need to know:
- The first step is to get in touch with us. Call our specialist birth injury team on Freephone 0800 884 0777 for a free, no obligation chat.
- We will ask for the details of your child’s injuries and how they were sustained. Based on this information, we will assess their case and advise if we believe there to be a reasonable prospect of success. We can often help even if you’ve been turned down by other law firms.
- We will gather evidence on the circumstances of your child’s injury to identify who the claim should be brought against. We will also investigate the extent of your child’s injuries, the impact on their life and their immediate needs. This will include liaising with healthcare providers and teachers to access their medical records and school reports.
- After we have investigated your claim and obtained appropriate expert evidence we will contact the relevant NHS trust or healthcare provider of those responsible for your child’s injury and put the claim to them. If negligence is admitted, then it is likely we’ll be able to settle the claim.
- We will arrange for an independent medical professional to assess your child’s injuries and advise what treatment, rehabilitation or care and support they need. This will help us to accurately calculate the level of compensation required. Sometimes this means waiting until your child has grown a bit more, to accurately assess the full extent of their injuries and the level of compensation they require. It is also likely that the defendant’s solicitor will request your child sees independent experts they’ve instructed to make their own assessments. We will be there to guide and support you and your child at every stage of the process.
- To support your child during their claim, we will work to secure interim payments so they have access to vital rehabilitation including medical treatment, care and support while their claim is ongoing. We work with leading rehabilitation specialists, case managers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and care providers to aid your child’s recovery and make daily life easier.
- If liability is not accepted, we may have to go to court and a judge will decide the outcome. Even if your case does go to court, many claims settle before the trial begins. If court proceedings start, our expert birth injury team will be with you every step of the way and will work hard secure maximum compensation. We will keep you updated throughout the compensation process and explain every stage as it happens.
It is possible that you can still make a claim if you discover, years later as an adult, the injuries or conditions you live with occurred as a result of your birth. You’ll normally have three years to make a claim from the date you discover that your injuries might have been the result of a medical error. If you have any concerns about the time limits for claiming compensation, our team will be able to discuss the process of claiming compensation in a free one-to-one consultation.
If your child’s claim is successful, before they reach the age of 18 their compensation will be paid into the court where it will be invested on their behalf until they turn 18. As the child’s parent or legal guardian, it is possible to apply directly to the court to release money to pay for things such as medical treatment or education support which will only be authorised if the court is satisfied that it is necessary. Any amount awarded to your child has to be agreed to in an infant approval hearing, before any amount can be paid out. Your child may need to attend this hearing or you may be able to attend on their behalf, depending upon their age and the severity of their injuries. Click here to read more about infant approval hearings.
If your child has the capacity to make their own decisions, once they reach the age of 18 they will be paid their compensation in full together with any interest that has accrued over time.
If they lack the capacity to manage their finances, their funds will be managed by the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection is a legal body dedicated to helping those who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. The Court of Protection will appoint a ‘Deputy’ who will manage the compensation that has been awarded to your child, to make sure their finances are properly taken care of and the award lasts for their lifetime. Parents and family members can be Deputies for their children but often professional Deputies are appointed to provide expert and dedicated support to the individual. So long as the lack of capacity has been caused by the injury suffered, the cost of a professional Deputy can be recovered through the claim itself.
When dealing with such claims we frequently partner with our sister firm Hyphen Law, which specialises in helping to manage the property and financial affairs of those whose lives have been affected by a brain injury or similar impairment and lack the capacity to make their own decisions. They can offer Professional Deputyship services as well as advice on other ways to protect your child’s compensation, such as personal injury trusts. Click here to visit Hyphen Law’s website and learn more or, alternatively, contact us on FREEPHONE 0800 884 0777. One of our team will be able to provide you with more information.
Yes. The general rule is that you have three years from the date of the accident or – if you are an adult retrospectively making a claim for a birth injury – the date when you realised your injury had been caused by someone else’s mistake or negligence.
If you are claiming on behalf of a child, you can claim at any time until the child turns 18. When the child turns 18, they can bring a claim in their own right but the three year time limit will then apply and they will have until they are 21 to do so.
There are exceptions to this rule. For example, there is no time limit for people who don’t have the mental capacity to make legal decisions and different time limits apply for some injuries or illnesses sustained abroad.
Time can be a critical factor in compensation claims, so it’s important to get in touch with our specialist birth injury team as soon as possible for expert advice.
The amount of compensation your child will receive depends on the severity of their injuries and the impact on their life both now and in the future. It is likely that significant, life-changing injuries will result in increased awards to provide funding for medical treatment, rehabilitation, care and support, adaptations to the home and other financial losses such as loss of earnings and pension. Click here to read more about compensation.
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If you have a question that is not listed above, please visit our FAQs page. Alternatively, please call our specialist team on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation chat.