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Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injuries

Cerebral PalsyCerebral palsy (and its complications) is by far the most common birth injury in the U.S. in any given year. While it can affect people of all ages, a disproportionate amount of new cases each year occur due to birth injury or medical negligence, and if your family is in such a situation, it is a good idea to understand how and why such a thing occurs more often in newborns than in any other age group. You may find that you have a case for medical malpractice on behalf of your child.

Symptoms & Statistics

According to the most recent available data, world rates for cerebral palsy reported at birth are somewhere between 1.5 and 4 per 1,000 live births. U.S. data estimates roughly 1 in 323 children have some form of cerebral palsy, but this data is based on children aged 8 years and up. The live birth rate for cerebral palsy is difficult to pin down, but it is thought to be around 2.5 cases per 1,000 live births. Of these, a significant minority counts medical negligence as at least one factor in how cerebral palsy presents.

Cerebral palsy can have a wide range of signs and symptoms, depending on where and when it presents. Some of the most common include:

  • Variations in muscle tone outside the normal range;
  • Abnormal reflexes, usually either exaggerated (spastic) or average with stiff muscles (rigid);
  • Fine motor skill issues, such as an inability to pick up small objects or tie one’s shoelaces;
  • Problems controlling facial nerves, leading to tics or other involuntary actions like drooling; and/or
  • Speech development delays.

Some children are born with cerebral palsy, but the main cause of most other cases is oxygen deprivation at birth. It is important to remember that sometimes oxygen deprivation will simply happen - for example, the umbilical cord may wrap around the newborn’s neck during labor even if everything else goes perfectly.

Bringing Suit

Not every medical error is enough to qualify as malpractice. However, if your child sustains a birth injury due to medical negligence, you have the right to sue. To prove medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that the doctor’s conduct was not in keeping with that of a reasonable doctor of similar age, talent and experience - namely, that they breached the standard of care, and your child suffered the consequences as a result.

By law in California, a doctor has a duty of care to his patient. If they breach that duty by their conduct, you must be able to show that you or your child suffered harm as a result - for example, if a doctor is not in the room when a newborn becomes stuck in the birth canal (known as shoulder dystocia), their absence may lead to nerve damage in the baby. It is well known that shoulder dystocia can cause palsy conditions, depending on the degree of oxygen deprivation and/or nerve damage. Another common instance of medical neglect that can cause cerebral palsy is when a doctor waits too long to commence a cesarean section; waiting too long means the newborn remains stuck in the birth canal, often in potentially dangerous positions.

Know Your Rights

Birth injury cases can be extremely complex, often requiring lots of minute points of evidence. To successfully obtain compensation for your child’s injuries and your family’s care, you need an experienced attorney. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice lawyers at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand how frightening and difficult cases of this nature can be, and will walk you through the process every step of the way, so as to maximize your chances for appropriate compensation. Contact us today to discuss your options. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, San Benito, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Monterey.

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Client Reviews
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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.