Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain before, during or after birth and there are a number of different potential underlying causes.
Often, the damage is not caused by and cannot be prevented by medical intervention; for example if it is due to genetic reasons, neo-natal stroke or a premature birth.
Sadly though, there are some cases of cerebral palsy which have been caused by a failure to deliver a distressed baby in good time leading to brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.
Cerebral palsy claims arising from clinical negligence
In order to succeed in a claim for cerebral palsy, specialist lawyers have to show that the medical staff owed a duty of care towards the patient, and that they were in breach of that duty.
Unlike criminal cases where the burden of proof is beyond reasonable doubt, in these cases the claimant need just show that on the balance of probabilities (ie more than a 50% chance) the damage wouldn’t have happened but for the negligence.
A doctor or midwife will not have acted negligently if he or she acted in accordance with generally accepted and reasonable practice. It is for this reason that cerebral palsy claims should be dealt with by specialist lawyers who will obtain reports from the appropriate experts.
This will usually be a midwife, obstetrician, neonatologist, neurologist and neuroradiologist,(depending on the history) to see if the brain damage has been caused by negligent care
Why cerebral palsy claims are important for sufferers
As cerebral palsy can severely affect muscle control and movement, those suffering from the condition may require assistance in everyday tasks. In very serious cases, they may need round the clock supervision and care.
The aim of compensation in cerebral palsy claims is to obtain damages to cover the cost of care, to assist with the purchase of suitable accommodation, the costs of adaptations that may be required to the property to enable theclaimant to live as full a life as possible.Compensation will also pay for case management, therapies, specialist equipment, and transport.
Given the lifetime care required to look after those with cerebral palsy, compensation in these types of claims is extremely high, and can run into millions of pounds.
The way that compensation is usually awarded is by way of a lump sum, and then annual payments to meet care and other needs for the rest of the claimant’s life.
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