Can I sue my doctor or the hospital if my child was born with cerebral palsy in Kentucky?

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Answered by: Scott Powell

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Louisville, KY
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The birth of your baby should be a joyous time. When you bring your baby home from the hospital, it should be the start of a lifetime of family bonding and joy. Something doesn’t seem right though. It’s been months, but your baby can’t do some of the physical things most children their age can do. You suspect the baby has cerebral palsy. It may have been caused by negligence by your doctor or the hospital during the birth.

Medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are about 10 times more than the average child. Experts estimate the lifetime cost for medical care for someone with cerebral palsy will be millions of dollars. Your child is likely to need money to cover medical expenses that they probably will incur the rest of their life. If your child has cerebral palsy or someone has a brain injury that was caused by negligence by your doctor or at the hospital, you can sue those responsible.

Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that happens shortly before, during or after birth. Causes could include lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery. This can happen when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck or is compressed or twisted; if there is a problem with the placenta; and when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal.

When medical practitioners detect these problems, there should be immediate response to make sure the baby gets enough oxygen. Doctors should continue to monitor the mother and the baby during the delivery. They also should be ready for emergencies. If your baby suffered cerebral palsy caused by lack of oxygen during birth, you might have a medical malpractice claim.

Cerebral palsy has several levels, ranging from mild to severe. However, all levels can have a dramatic impact on your child’s life. It is the most common motor disability in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 345 children has some level of cerebral palsy.

The types of cerebral palsy include:

  • This is the most common type. It shows up as jerky or exaggerated movements. Common signs include awkward reflexes; stiffness in part of the body; permanently tight muscles; and an abnormal gait while walking.
  • Athetoid (or nonspastic). About 10 percent of children have this type. It shows up as involuntary movement in the face, torso and limbs. Symptoms include: a still or rigid body; floppiness in the limbs; posture problems; or problems eating.
  • Only a small percent of all the cases fall into this category. Causes problems with balance and coordination. Symptoms: problems in speaking; depth perception issues; shakiness and tremors; or feet spreading apart while walking.
  • About 10 percent of all cases have multiple brain injuries that show up as more than one type of cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice can lead to other brain injuries

Brain injuries, like cerebral palsy, can be caused by medical malpractice. You have the right to compensation if you or a family member has a brain injury caused by the negligence of a doctor or a hospital.

These brain injuries could have been caused by failure to:

  • Diagnose a stroke or heart attack
  • Care for excessive bleeding during a procedure, leading to a lack of oxygenated blood in the body
  • Intubate a patient during surgery
  • Monitor a patient who is getting anesthesia
  • Treat an aneurism or blood on the brain
  • Administer the right medications
  • Administer the correct amount of medication
  • Diagnose/treat a pulmonary embolism
  • Properly use a vacuum extractor during a birth

Statute of limitations for Cerebral Palsy and brain issue cases

In Kentucky you have one year from the time of the injury or the birth of the child to file a claim. However, if an injury is not detected within the year, you have five years.

Children (and anyone who suffers a cognitive handicap) are not subject to the statute of limitation guidelines. They are subject to the one-year statutory cap; the charges can be filed up until the child is 18 years old. As soon as you discover your child has cerebral palsy or someone in your family has a brain injury caused by medical malpractice, you should call a medical malpractice attorney immediately.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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