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When to Sue If Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a number of disorders affecting a baby's brain function and body movement, caused by an injury or lack of oxygen flow to a baby's brain in the womb, during delivery, or sometime after birth. While in some cases there may be no way to tell how or why the injury occurred, in others injury or lack of oxygen could be the result of negligence by the treating physician or obstetrician.

If that's the case, obstetricians may be liable for birth injuries like cerebral palsy. Here's what you need to know.

Medical Malpractice Elements

If you are trying to make a claim that a medical professional like an obstetrician or nurse is liable for your child's cerebral palsy, you will need to prove that physician was negligent. Medical malpractice claims are similar to negligence claims in that they require plaintiffs to prove four main elements.


You must demonstrate that the doctor, nurse, or hospital had a legal duty to care for your baby. This is normally proven by the fact they agreed to help deliver your baby, and the doctor (and all other medical staff involved) have a duty to meet the generally accepted standard of care in doing so.


You must prove that the doctor failed in his or her duty to care for your baby. This involves two elements: (1) establishing the accepted standard of care, by using testimony from experts or other qualified medical practitioners or accepted case law; and (2) establishing the doctor's actions fell below this standard of care.


You must prove that the breach of duty, and not something else, actually caused your baby's cerebral palsy. For example, if a baby is partially suffocated by the umbilical cord in the womb and the doctor failed to recognize the problem or failed to properly remedy it during the birth, and the lack of oxygen caused the cerebral palsy, he or she may be liable.


Finally, you must prove that your child has cerebral palsy. If the doctor acted negligently but caused no injury, there would be no claim, because the breach didn't cause any injury.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

If you're wondering whether you have a medical malpractice claim based on your child's cerebral palsy, your best source of information will be an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact one in your area today.

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