Over the course of my legal career, I’ve handled a lot of medical malpractice cases involving cerebral palsy in babies and infants. While in each of these cases, the profound injuries were caused by medical errors by doctors or nurses, another thing sticks out in my mind.
As I think back on these cases, my heart is warmed because of the unconditional love the parents (my clients) showed for their children, despite any limitations that they had from cerebral palsy. Just this week, I was thrilled to see a Facebook post of one of my former clients at Disney World with all four kids—including their now eight-year-old little girl with cerebral palsy, right in between Mickey and Minnie Mouse! Her smile will melt your heart.
What is cerebral palsy and what causes it?
Cerebral palsy is a catch-all term that is used to describe birth-related brain injuries.
There are many causes for cerebral palsy. Not all of them involve medical mistakes, errors, or negligence. Some babies are born with cerebral palsy because of genetic issues, for example. When a woman abuses drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, that can be a factor that causes cerebral palsy. In other instances, the cause is unknown.
One cause of cerebral palsy that’s frequently related to medical or nursing mistakes, errors, and negligence is hypoxic ischemic injury. A hypoxic ischemic injury means that something cut off adequate oxygen and blood flow from the brain. (If you see the word “anoxic” that means the oxygen and blood flow was completely stopped).
Just like adults, a baby’s brain will be quickly and permanently damaged if whatever is causing the hypoxic ischemic condition isn’t addressed and corrected very quickly. This type of cerebral palsy is often formally diagnosed as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
In my experience in handling Texas medical malpractice and birth injury cases, I’ve seen many medical and nursing errors that caused hypoxic ischemic injuries, permanent brain injuries, and cerebral palsy to babies. These include:
∙ Failure to deliver a baby by emergency C-Section when the baby has a non-reassuring fetal heart rate on the fetal monitoring machine.
∙ Failure to deliver a baby by emergency C-Section when the baby is in fetal distress.
∙ Failure to treat an infection of the mom or baby during pregnancy or shortly after delivery.
∙ Failure to test and treat Rh incompatibility between the mom and baby. This causes an isoimmunization reaction called hemolytic anemia, where the mother’s immune system destroys the baby’s oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
∙ Failure to deliver a baby by emergency C-Section when there’s a breakdown of the placenta barrier, causing maternal-fetal hemorrhage. This causes the baby’s blood to mix with the mom’s blood and results in a damaging immune response.
Have you thought, “I don’t feel like I have time to hire and work with a lawyer?”
I’ve met with many parents of babies with cerebral palsy. If I were only given three words to describe them all, here’s what I would say: Scared. Overwhelmed. Exhausted.
Taking care of a baby is hard enough when there are no complications—I know that as a father of four. But when you add on the special care needs of a baby with cerebral palsy, it’s all-consuming. It’s also frightening because parents often don’t know what care, treatment, and therapy their child needs, or the resources that are available to help.
At Painter Law Firm, our competent, experienced medical malpractice attorneys do the heavy lifting, and make sure that a lawsuit doesn’t get in the way of parents’ ability to take care of their child. We can help parents of children with cerebral palsy in three significant ways.
First, we will investigate the medical records and determine the likely cause of cerebral palsy. This will allow us to explore whether a medical malpractice lawsuit should be filed to provide financial resources to take care of the baby for the rest of his or her life.
Second, we make sure parents are aware of government and other resources available for children with cerebral palsy.
Finally, if we determine that filing a lawsuit is appropriate, we will hire a physician life care planner. The life care planner will examine the baby, talk with the parents, and prepare a detailed report with recommendations for medical treatment, therapy, and other needs.
Two time limitations to keep in mind
Some people believe that the Texas statute of limitations, or deadline, to file a medical malpractice lawsuit involving a child doesn’t start running until the child turns 18 years old. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
The truth is that for a significant portion of a baby or child’s medical negligence claim, the statute of limitations is two years from birth. The reason for this is that, under Texas law, the parents own all claims of the baby from birth until the baby reaches the age of 18.
Think of all of the medical expenses and care that a child with cerebral palsy will have during those 18 years! If the parents don’t file a medical malpractice birth injury lawsuit in the two-year window, there won’t be any recovery for those harms and losses.
Even claims for medical care, loss of earning capacity, and other harms and losses that the person will experience beyond age 18 are time-limited. Under the 2003 Texas tort reform law, a statute of repose shuts the door on all medical malpractice claims at 10 years after the alleged negligence.
I hope that our strict Texas laws get the point across to you that the best time to hire an experienced Texas medical malpractice birth injury lawyer is now.
Plus, there’s another time consideration to bear in mind. From the many birth injury lawsuits I’ve handled, I’ve heard the consistent testimony of medical experts that children with cerebral palsy have better outcomes if therapy and treatment begin sooner rather than later. If a lawsuit is appropriate, the sooner it’s filed, the sooner financial resources will be available to take care of the needs of the infant or child.
We are here to help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of poor medical, OB/GYN, hospital, or labor and delivery, click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.