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Cerebral Palsy – Compensation and claims

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by brain damage, which affects an individual’s movement, balance, and posture. 
 
According to estimates, around 1 in 400 babies born in the UK have a type of cerebral palsy. This equates to about 1,700 children born in England and Wales every year with the condition. 
 
In some cases, medical errors during pregnancy or childbirth can cause brain damage and lead to cerebral palsy. This can be through:
 
  • Inadequate treatment of maternal health conditions during pregnancy
  • Failure to monitor fetal development during pregnancy
  • Failing to act on distress of the baby during labour which results in the baby being deprived of oxygen during birth
  • Mismanagement of forceps or ventouse during delivery of a baby.

Any such negligent behaviour could mean you have a legitimate claim. 
 
Ready to talk? Speak to a cerebral palsy solicitor at Leigh Day about your case. Call 020 7650 1200 or

What causes cerebral palsy?

Brain damage is the cause of cerebral palsy, but there are many different things that may trigger that damage before, during and after birth. 
 
Sometimes these causes occur due to negligent action or inaction from the medical professionals involved in the antenatal care, birth or postnatal care of the baby. 
 
Find out more about what causes cerebral palsy.

Proving medical negligence caused cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy medical negligence cases aim to prove the negligence resulted in the development of cerebral palsy. 
 
Such negligence could include:
 
  • Failure to act upon maternal infections or medical conditions during the pregnancy
  • Poor management of your labour and delivery
  • Failure of the medical staff to appropriately monitor or act upon your baby’s heartbeat during labour
  • Damage to the baby’s head or skull during delivery
  • Failure to act upon signs of infection in the baby after birth
 
There are three primary examples related to these causes. 

Instrumental delivery

An instrumental delivery is when forceps or ventouse are used to assist with the delivery of the baby. This is typically when the baby is not progressing through the birth canal as they should. There may be concerns about its wellbeing, or the mother may be too exhausted to push.
 
Incorrect usage can cause skull fractures or severe brain damage leading to cerebral palsy. 
 

Stroke

Impacted blood flow to the baby’s brain can cause vascular insufficiency (commonly referred to as a stroke). Various factors can lead to a stroke in a baby during pregnancy, including genetic and pre-existing ones. 
 

Group B Strep

Group B Strep2 is a bacterium that occurs natually in about 25% of women at any one time.  Is usually causes no harm to women but can be passed on to babies during labour and can cause sepsis and meningitis. If left undiagnosed and untreated this can lead to catastrophic brain damage. 
 
If it’s not diagnosed and treated in new-borns due to medical professionals missing symptoms or not arranging proper treatment, it can result in cerebral palsy and a claim.  
 

Making cerebral palsy claims

If your child has cerebral palsy and you believe it was down to medical negligence before, during or after birth, you may have a claim. 
 
If you wish to consider bringing a claim, contact Leigh Day for a free consultation, including advice about a potential claim. 
 
  • Call 020 7650 1200 and speak to one of our expert cerebral palsy lawyers or


We are happy to visit you at home if this is easier or more comfortable – as we realise the challenges involved looking after a child with cerebral palsy. 
 
An experienced cerebral palsy solicitor from our team will listen to your story, assess your realistic chances of making a successful claim and advise on your next actions.  
 
A named partner will then be assigned your case alongside a strong support team, should we take on your claim. It can be useful to collect any supporting evidence that may assist your claim, such as medical reports, documents, statements and financial records. 

Cerebral palsy compensation 

The value of compensation varies depending on the specifics of each case. However, as any compensation awarded needs to cover a lifetime of care for your child and other needs related to it, claims are generally valued between £1 million and £7 million. 
 
Compensation typically covers the costs of care and support for the rest of your child’s life. 
 
A portion may also be in light of the emotional distress cerebral palsy negligence has caused to you. It can be paid in a lump sum, periodical payments or a mixture of both.
 
You can use compensation to cover the costs of:
 
  • Care
  • Therapy (physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, occupational health, speech and language)
  • Technology and aids and equipment 
  • Transport needs
  • Accommodation/housing (for the child and family)
  • Loss of earnings
  • Special education needs
 

Why choose Leigh Day?

The team of cerebral palsy lawyers at Leigh Day has more than 30 years’ experience and a wide range of technical expertise. 
 
You and your family can rest assured that you will receive expert advice from some of the UK’s top lawyers. Some of our successes include settling cerebral palsy compensation claims and securing compensation for cases including:
 
  • More than £30 million for a seven-year-old boy who was starved of oxygen at birth. Read more.
  • A seven-figure sum for a 12-year-old girl with athetoid cerebral palsy after suffering permanent brain damage. Read more
  • £1.6 million plus £250,000 per annum for a client with cerebral palsy after an emergency forceps delivery.
 
Stephen Jones is a Leigh Day partner who specialises in clinical negligence. He has a strong track record of success working on cerebral palsy claims. This includes settling numerous cases on behalf of children with cerebral palsy due to the mismanagement of the mother’s labour and birth. Stephen is a member of the Law Society and AvMA clinical negligence accreditation panels.
“His understanding of the medical facts is unwavering and his attention to detail is second to none.” – Chambers and partners 2019.
Contact Leigh Day to talk about your cerebral palsy claim. Call 020 7650 1200 or 

Cerebral palsy claims: FAQs

Are there different types of cerebral palsy?

There are three main types of cerebral palsy, and people with cerebral palsy commonly have two or more of them:
 
Spastic cerebral palsy – which includes children with spastic quadriplegia, spastic diplegia or spastic hemiplegia have increased muscle tone, which can cause:
 
  • Delayed developmental milestones for moving.
  • Abnormal movements.
  • Movement inhibition.
  • Stiff and spastic muscles.
  • Difficulties controlling muscle movement.
  • Difficulties moving from one position to another.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (dystonic, athetoid or choreoathetoid) – children tend to make involuntary movements because they find it difficult to control their muscles, which change from floppy to tense. It can cause:
 
  • Dystonia, repetitive and twisting motions.
  • Athetosis, writhing movements.
  • Chorea, unpredictable movements.
  • Poor posture.
  • Painful movements.
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking. 

Ataxic cerebral palsy – causes poor balance, limited coordination, tremors, and shaky movements that are difficult to control. 

How will my child be affected by having cerebral palsy?

People with cerebral palsy can be affected in different ways. In some cases, the condition is barely noticeable, and your child will grow up to live a largely independent life. However, in other cases, they will require help with every daily aspect of their life. Certain conditions do occur more frequently in children with cerebral palsy. These can include:
 
  • Mobility problems
  • Motor control and coordination difficulties
  • Learning difficulties or cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty with feeding, swallowing and speech
  • Lack of bladder and bowel control
  • Sleeping problems
  • Sensory impairment (hearing and visual loss)
  • Difficulty processing shapes and spatial relationships
  • Epilepsy
  • Emotional and behavioural problems
  • Spinal problems
 

Are there any time limits on bringing a cerebral palsy claim?

The general rule is that an adult with cerebral palsy has three years from the age of 18 to start a claim, unless assessments have ruled that they never had legal capacity. 
 
In the case of children, the three-year period starts from when your child turns 18 and ends when they turn 21. If your child is over 21, it may still be possible to extend this time limit if assessments have identified that they do not have legal capacity. For example, if they are suffering from an intellectual impairment and cannot make decisions for themselves.
 
Click to read Brain injury at birth guide for parents

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