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What do You Need to Prove to win a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?

If a doctor’s negligence caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you might have grounds to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. Under North Carolina law, injured persons can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, nurse, or midwife whose negligence caused your child’s cerebral palsy. Medical professionals owe their pregnant patients and the unborn babies a duty of reasonable care. This means that when they act negligently or recklessly, they can be held financially responsible for the injuries they cause.

The Legal Elements of a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, you will need to prove or establish four legal elements to win a medical malpractice lawsuit. You will be able to pursue compensation on behalf of your child who received the cerebral palsy diagnosis. The elements are as follows:

  • The medical professional was required to meet a standard of care
  • The medical professional breached the standard of care
  • The breach of care was the factual cause and the proximate cause of the injuries
  • The child suffered damages from the medical professional’s breach of care
What is the Standard of Care for Doctors?

In North Carolina, the standard of care is the proper practice, approach, or procedure for a particular medical situation. The action must be accepted by the medical community in that geographic location. For example, the action must be accepted by the medical community in North Carolina. When doctors fail to use this standard of care, they are said to have “breached” the standard of care.

For example, placing an internal fetal monitor on the fetus during the delivery during a complicated delivery is a practice accepted by the medical community. If a doctor did not place the monitor in time, he or she likely breached the standard of care.

Proving Causation in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

Plaintiffs in cerebral palsy lawsuits must prove that the doctor’s breach of care caused the cerebral palsy. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that the doctor’s mistake during labor and delivery or afterward caused the lack of oxygen to the baby that caused the cerebral palsy. The following are additional causes of cerebral palsy:

  • Rough handling of the baby
  • Dropping the baby
  • Improper use of forceps that cause a traumatic brain injury
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Failing to recognize a twisted or pinched umbilical cord
  • A prolonged period of time spent in the birth canal
  • Failure to conduct proper fetal monitoring
  • Failure to start a c-section in a reasonable period of time

In many cases, doctors will try to argue that an intervening act or condition caused your child’s cerebral palsy. They might say that the cerebral palsy was caused by a genetic malformation in your child’s brain, or that the cerebral palsy was unavoidable.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our lawyers have experience reviewing fetal heart rate monitor strips and labor and delivery records. We also interview medical experts, when necessary, who help us prove that the doctor, nurse, or midwife did act negligently, causing your child’s cerebral palsy.

Proving Damages in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

The final element is to prove damages. The damages in cerebral palsy cases can be substantial. An infant with cerebral palsy may need expensive medical care for the rest of his or her life. In cases of severe cerebral palsy, the child might not be able to get a job, earn a living, or substantially participate in schooling.

The “pain and suffering” component of damage awards in North Carolina can also be substantial. Many people with spastic cerebral palsy experience extremely tight muscles that can be extremely painful. Or, they might require a shunt to be placed in their brain, requiring multiple surgeries over their lifetime that can result in painful migraines. The pain and suffering component also covers emotional pain and suffering.

Birth Injury Lawsuits are Often Complex

Birth injury lawsuits are often some of the most complicated lawsuits. Proving that a doctor, nurse, or midwife’s negligence caused your child’s injuries is not easy. Taking the time to consider a lawsuit is extremely important, however. Recovering financial compensation for your child’s cerebral palsy could help you and your family survive for decades to come. Contact the experienced Charlotte birth injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation. Call our office at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Our attorneys can walk you through your options and build a successful case plan for you. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.

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