When giving birth to a child, parents expect that their doctor will provide them with the best of care. Unfortunately, some doctors may take actions that could result in an injury to a newborn child. For example, a child could develop cerebral palsy if they are provided with negligent care during delivery. If your child was a victim of medical malpractice and developed cerebral palsy, you should consult with an experienced Arkansas cerebral palsy lawyer today.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is dedicated to providing parents with the legal representation they need to hold a negligent doctor accountable for medical malpractice. Your child should not have to suffer because of a medical mistake that was avoidable. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your malpractice claim, contact Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
There are some common misconceptions surrounding cerebral palsy. A common one is that cerebral palsy is a disease. However, cerebral palsy is not a disease – it is a condition that develops sometime before, during, or after the birth of a child. The condition’s symptoms will vary from child to child but could include seizures, vision problems, hearing loss, abnormal physical sensations, and difficulty with a number of motor skills, such as speaking, walking, or swallowing.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for cerebral palsy. Nonetheless, there are medications and treatments available that could mitigate some of the adverse symptoms. These treatments and medications often help people with cerebral palsy improve their communication and motor skills. However, medical treatments such as surgeries and physical therapy are expensive and could be required for years. Additionally, children who have cerebral palsy often need special education services. It is not uncommon for the cost of raising a child with cerebral palsy to average over $500,000 over the course of their lives.
While much about the condition is unknown, it can be caused by a medical professional’s negligence. If your child was the victim of medical malpractice, you should not have to bear the expense of treating caring for your child. Our Arkansas cerebral palsy attorney is committed to holding medical professionals who make costly and life-altering mistakes accountable for the harm they cause.
Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy During Birth in Arkansas
Cerebral palsy consists of a number of health disorders that drastically affect a person’s balance and posture. This disorder typically develops because a child suffers trauma to their brain that is still developing. As a result, a child may exhibit symptoms like unstable walking, involuntary muscle movements, and a number of other symptoms.
Understanding the symptoms and causes of cerebral palsy can help a victim if they elect to pursue a legal claim against a doctor that caused their injury. The following is a list of common medical malpractice issues that could result in a child developing cerebral palsy.
When delivering a child, using excessive force when pulling a baby from the birth canal can result in a head injury that may lead to cerebral palsy. One scenario where this might occur is when a doctor employs the use of birth-assisting instruments to deliver a child.
Forceps and vacuum extractors are often used to help pull a child from the womb by attaching them to the head of a child. However, if a doctor uses excessive force when utilizing a birth-assisting instrument, they can cause serious damage to the head of a child.
Lack of Oxygen
When a child lacks oxygen to the brain for a significant amount of time, this can be enough to cause the child to develop cerebral palsy. An umbilical cord being wrapped around the neck of a child during delivery is an issue that could cause cerebral palsy. When a doctor observes that an umbilical cord is wrapped around a baby’s throat, they should consider other options for delivery that may not endanger the child, like a cesarean section.
Prolonged labor is another issue that could result in a baby developing cerebral palsy due to loss of oxygen. If a child remains in the birth canal for too long, the lack of oxygen could result in the child developing cerebral palsy. This is likely to be a problem if a child is in breech presentation (feet-first) when entering the womb. Failure to attempt a procedure to rotate the child or consider a cesarean section could make a doctor liable if a child develops cerebral palsy.
A doctor that is in charge of a pregnancy should ensure that a mother is properly cared for during the duration of her pregnancy. This care should include determining whether a mother has an infection that could be passed on to her child. If a doctor fails to treat a maternal infection that could have been treated, the doctor could be held liable if the infection causes the child to develop cerebral palsy.
There are other causes of cerebral palsy that are not listed above. Issues like premature birth, hemorrhaging, low birth weight, and other factors could cause an infant to develop cerebral palsy. To learn more about filing a lawsuit for malpractice causing cerebral palsy, contact an experienced Arkansas birth injury lawyer.
When to File a Lawsuit for Cerebral Palsy in Arkansas
If your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice on behalf of a doctor or hospital, you should consider speaking with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations determines the amount of time that a person has to file a particular type of claim.
In Arkansas, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date of the injury. If a plaintiff fails to file their claim within this specific timeframe, they will lose the option to pursue compensation in the courts.
The Burden of Proof in an Arkansas Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The burden of proving another person was negligent falls on the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. When it is a medical malpractice claim, your Arkansas cerebral palsy attorney will be required to retain the services of a qualified expert medical witness. The only time a medical expert is not necessary is when the error in question “lies within the jury’s comprehension as a matter of common knowledge.”
In a medical malpractice claim, “common knowledge” means that a jury should be able to recognize the negligent conduct without any specialized knowledge or experience. For example, if a surgeon operated on a person’s leg instead of their arm, the mistake is readily apparent. However, if the error resulted in cerebral palsy or a similar medical condition, an expert opinion will be required.
Under Arkansas law, the expert testimony must come from a medical professional who practices in the same specialty as the defendant. Through this testimony, our Arkansas cerebral palsy lawyer will have to establish three factors.
First, the expert testimony must demonstrate what the appropriate level of care should have been under the circumstances. This includes establishing what degree of knowledge and skill the defendant should have possessed.
Next, the medical opinion needs to establish that the defendant failed to provide the level of care according to the acceptable standard when treating the plaintiff. A decision or course of treatment does not meet this standard only because it differs from what another doctor might have done or ended with a negative result. It must be a clear deviation from what a prudent medical professional would have done.
Finally, the defendant’s actions must have been the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Medical Standard of Care and Cerebral Palsy in Arkansas
Medical malpractice claims are challenging. Determining the applicable appropriate medical standard of care is often the most difficult part of the process. Typically, our experienced Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys will have to show two specific elements.
First, a plaintiff must establish what standard of care should apply to their case. Following that, the plaintiff must demonstrate precisely how the defendant’s conduct deviated from that standard.
The medical standard of care is the amount of attention and skill that a reasonably prudent, similarly-trained medical professional, who practices within the same medical field as the defendant, would provide under comparable circumstances. That explanation is a mouthful of legal jargon because it is a complicated concept.
Our Arkansas cerebral palsy attorney will have to establish that the defendant’s made an unjustifiable mistake or error. The crucial element is not the treatment’s outcome but rather if the defendant deviated from the accepted practices. There are situations where a medical professional does everything they should; however, the result is still negative. Through expert medical testimony, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s decisions or behavior fell outside what a prudent medical professional would have done when faced with the same situation.
Proving Medical Negligence in an Arkansas Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Proving that a medical professional breached, or violated, the medical standard of care is challenging. The most compelling evidence typically comes from the plaintiff’s medical expert. Through detailed testimony, a medical expert provides evidence by walking the jury through the medical procedure or thought process of a prudent professional. By reviewing the diagnosis, course of treatment, and the procedural methodology, our medical expert will try to demonstrate exactly what the defendant did or failed to do.
Our Arkansas medical malpractice lawyer will also have to establish a causal relationship between the breach of the medical standard of care and the injury that resulted in cerebral palsy. Simply put, if it were not for the defendant’s conduct or failure to act, the patient would not have suffered the adverse medical condition. This connection is also challenging to prove as there are numerous potential adverse complications during even the most routine procedure.
Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages in Arkansas?
Some states have enacted legislative caps on the amount a plaintiff is permitted to recover in a medical malpractice case. This means that even when a plaintiff conclusively proves that a medical professional’s negligence caused their injury, a jury is restricted on the amount of compensation they could award. The full extent of the plaintiff’s losses does not matter.
Fortunately, in Arkansas, there is no statutory cap on medical malpractice damages. This also means there is no restriction on the amount that could be awarded for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Our Arkansas Cerebral Palsy Attorneys Are Ready to Represent You and Your Family
If your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice, contact an experienced Arkansas cerebral palsy attorney as soon as possible. With over 20 years of legal experience, medical malpractice attorney Ken Kieklak has litigated a wide variety of medical malpractice claims and would be proud to represent you. To schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your legal situation, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438.