Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions
The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.
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Can I sue for medical negligence if my child has Bell’s Palsy?
The birth of a newborn should be an exciting time for a parent. However, this joyous occasion doesn’t always go as planned, and the risks associated with childbirth can sometimes include instances of medical malpractice. Bell’s palsy is an example of a birth trauma that can sometimes occur due to the negligence of medical staff. It’s important to know the symptoms and causes of this condition if you plan to file a lawsuit for negligence.
Understanding Bell’s Palsy and How to Recognize it
In infants, Bell’s palsy is a weakness or paralysis of one side of the face. While it’s not a long-term condition, it can lead to serious consequences and health complications. This condition involves the loss of muscle movement in an infant’s face due to pressure put on a particular facial nerve at or before the birth.
Bell’s palsy is typically characterized by the following symptoms that often appear in the lower part of the face and are especially noticeable when the infant cries:
- The face (below the eyes) may look uneven.
- The mouth does not move the same way on either side.
- The eyelid might not close on the affected side of the face.
- Paralysis may occur on the side of the face that’s affected. In more serious cases, this paralysis can occur from the forehead to chin.
- The child may be unable to blink either one or both eyes
- The child may drool.
- The child’s face and/or eyes may droop.
Additionally, the child may experience facial weakness or numbness and be unable to feel sensation in the face.
What Causes This Condition?
The cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but problematic birth deliveries can play a part in developing this condition. Bell’s palsy can also occur after a head trauma, surgical errors, or viral infections. In the case of a birth injury, doctors using forceps in a negligent way can cause permanent or temporary Bell’s palsy. Forceps are a surgical instrument that doctors use during childbirth to help deliver the baby and are sometimes used as an alternative to a vacuum extraction.
Other causes of Bell’s palsy in infants include:
- The herpes virus
- Cold sores
- Maternal infections
- Upper respiratory infections like the common cold or the flu
- Difficult deliveries
Is Your Child’s Bell’s Palsy Due to Negligence?
As a parent, it’s natural to wonder if there was any way to have prevented Bell’s palsy from happening to your child. And the answer is “not really.” There is no definitive way to prevent this type of pressure injury; however, it is the responsibility of the doctor and medical staff to mitigate the risk of this type of birth injury. By properly using forceps (this has reduced the number of Bell’s palsy injuries) and ensuring that maternal infections aren’t passed from mother to child, medical personnel can reduce the risks.
If your child’s Bell’s palsy is due to a birth injury, don’t hesitate to seek legal action. At Tapella Law, we’ll help determine the cause of the injury, if doctors and medical staff were at fault, and if this situation could have been prevented. We’ll work hard to get you any compensation your child and family deserve. Contact our offices to get a free consultation either via phone or through our website.
Can we recover damages if our child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a medical mistake?
When a child is diagnosed with a disability like cerebral palsy, parents can feel overwhelmed. In addition to addressing important medical issues, parents may be worried about paying for their child’s expensive care. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the care of a person with cerebral palsy will be approximately $1 million during his lifetime.
If you feel your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical negligence by the doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff, it is possible to recover damages—money the law requires a party to pay for a breach of duty. While every case is different, it may be possible to be awarded compensation for:
- Medical expenses. A child with cerebral palsy requires doctor or hospital visits, tests, medication, surgeries, and other medical care.
- Medical equipment and devices. Depending on the severity of the disability, it can be necessary to modify a home or car. Children can also require special equipment fitted to their individual needs such as wheelchairs or crutches.
- Future medical expenses. Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy will require a lifetime of care. Caregivers will need to plan for the future, as well as address current medical needs.
- Physical therapy. A variety of physical treatments can both provide comfort and strengthen muscles.
- Mental health support. The mental and emotional stresses of living with a disability can increase, especially as the child grows older. Mental health specialists can contribute to the child’s sense of well-being and general mental health.
- Occupational therapy. Therapists can work with children to create and foster as much independence and self-care as possible.
- Speech therapy. Speech therapy can help a child strengthen mouth muscles and tongue. This can both improve communication and aid in feeding. This is important as up to 35 percent of children with cerebral palsy are malnourished.
- Punitive damages. Considered punishment for the liable party, these damages can be awarded against the doctor, hospital, or other provider responsible for the disability.
Compensation can provide families with some relief from the stresses that accompany raising a child with a disability and be vital in helping the child live a happy, productive life. Not all cases of cerebral palsy are preventable, but it is important to determine if a medical mistake was made. If your child’s cerebral palsy was avoidable, you are entitled to compensation. Contact us at 855-522-5291 to discuss your case.
Was my baby’s cerebral palsy caused by a doctor’s mistake?
You have just received a devastating diagnosis: your baby has cerebral palsy. No one seems to be able to tell you why this happened, but you have heard that a mistake during delivery could be the cause. The only way to find out could be to educate yourself and call a medical malpractice attorney.
The Basics of Cerebral Palsy
The term cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affect brain and nervous system functions. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by injuries to or abnormalities of the brain as the baby grows in the womb, but can also be the result of a head injury, brain infection, or bleeding on the brain during the first two years of life, when the child’s brain is still developing. Cerebral palsy can also be the result of complications during labor and delivery. Depending on the type and severity of brain damage that has occurred, children with cerebral palsy may experience the following:
- Lack of muscle control and coordination
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty eating
- Visual impairment or blindness
- Hearing loss
- Food aspiration (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs)
- Gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up)
- Speech problems
- Tooth decay
- Sleep disorders
- Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
- Behavior problems
- Intellectual disabilities
There is no cure for cerebral palsy and treatment is focused on helping the person become as independent as possible through therapy, rehabilitation, and home health care.
If Negligence Caused Your Baby’s Cerebral Palsy, Get Help
While it was once believed that oxygen deprivation during delivery was the primary cause of cerebral palsy, it is now understood that this accounts for only about nine percent of cases. In the remaining cases, premature birth, complications during birth, and problems occurring immediately after birth cause the damage to the brain. In any one of these scenarios, a mistake or negligence on the part of medical staff could be to blame. Don’t face your child’s uncertain future without at least finding out if you might be able to recover damages. Fill out our online contact form now.
Will my baby’s brachial plexus injury cause permanent damage?
If you experienced a difficult vaginal delivery and later notice signs that your baby seems to be having trouble moving his arm or hand, he may have suffered an injury to the nerves around his shoulder known as the brachial plexus. Your doctor may tell you the weakness is temporary, but, in some cases, the damage is permanent and you may need the help of a medical malpractice attorney to get the financial assistance you will need to care for your baby.
How Did This Happen?
In a brachial plexus injury, the nerves in the shoulder area are damaged, which can cause weakness or paralysis in the baby’s arm. This can happen during difficult deliveries, including the delivery of larger-than-average babies, breech deliveries, and deliveries during which the shoulder gets stuck after the baby’s head emerges, known as shoulder dystocia. During these problematic births, any of the following can happen:
- The infant’s shoulder is grabbed and pulled during a head-first delivery.
- Pressure is put on the baby’s raised shoulder during a breech (bottom-first) delivery.
- The baby’s head and neck are pulled to the side as the shoulders pass through the birth canal.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Depending on the extent of the damage to the nerves, the baby may demonstrate weakness in all or just part of his arm. While weakness restricted to just the upper arm is known as a brachial plexus injury, conditions affecting more of the arm are identified as follows:
- Erb’s paralysis. In this condition, both the upper and lower parts of the arm are affected.
- Klumpke paralysis. Along with the upper and lower arm, this condition also affects the hand, impeding the baby’s ability to make a fist or grasp objects.
Symptoms of the injury are usually apparent immediately after birth, but, with short hospital stays for new mothers, they frequently go unnoticed. Signs you may notice soon after bringing your baby home include:
- No movement in the baby’s upper or lower arm or hand.
- Absence of the Moro reflex—a movement reaction to a sudden loss of support—on the affected side.
- Arm bent at the elbow and held against the body.
- Weak or decreased grip on the affected side.
Gentle massage and range-of-motion exercises may help the newborn regain use of the arm. If the condition does not improve after a few weeks, a specialist should be consulted; surgery may be necessary.
Whose Fault Is It?
While you may not want to place blame on the doctor or hospital for your baby’s injury, the fact is that your baby did not have a brachial plexus injury before he was delivered. The doctor’s or midwife’s actions and the decision to not perform a Caesarian section led to the injury your baby has suffered. If the damage turns out to be permanent, your child will have a lifelong disability. Call us toll free at 855-522-5291 to find out how we can help.