If you have a loved one with cerebral palsy, you want to do anything you can to give them the best possible life. Raising a typical child from birth to age 18 costs around $234,000. However, the average cost of raising a child with cerebral palsy is more than $1,000,000.
Our cerebral palsy lawyers have seen many examples where money makes a big difference in the quality of life. There are additional medical costs like therapy and treatment, adaptations to home and vehicles, educational expenses and taking time from work to deal with the necessities of care.
Recovering costs through a lawsuit is just one of the ways to get the resources you need for care. Read on to learn more.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is an overarching term for a group of movement disabilities caused by damage to the brain during pregnancy, birth or just after birth. Cerebral palsy has different effects on different people.
It affects balance, muscle tone and control, movement, coordination, reflexes, and posture. Cerebral palsy is a permanent life-long condition. Some of the effects of cerebral palsy may change as a person ages.
Many people with cerebral palsy also have other impairments. Most common are difficulties with vision, speech, hearing, intellect or with epileptic episodes. More than 800,000 people in the U.S. live with cerebral palsy.
What Causes CP?
There is no one known cause of CP.
Cerebral palsy is the result of many events either before, during or after birth that leads to a brain injury. For example, a loss of oxygen during the birth process or severe jaundice after birth can lead to brain damage.
During the process to file a lawsuit, cerebral palsy lawyers look closely at doctors’ records, hospital records, ultrasounds and more. If there is evidence that a birth injury caused CP, then a deeper dive into the facts is needed.
Consult With Cerebral Palsy Lawyers Early
The most important thing to know about your lawsuit is that the clock is ticking.
CP is a lifelong condition, but there is a limited amount of time after birth to file a lawsuit. In some states, that time limit may be as little as a year from the time of injury. In New York, it is important to preserve your rights as soon as possible.
The first step is to prepare the complaint (the lawsuit.) Part of the process is to have a medical expert examine the facts and produce a Certificate of Merit.
What Is a Certificate of Merit?
New York’s court system is crowded with people who want to file medical malpractice lawsuits. A certificate of merit indicates that an expert has reviewed the facts and feels that it is not a waste of the court’s time.
In New York, cerebral palsy lawyers must review all the facts of the case with a licensed physician and conclude that the case has merit to go before the court.
Before Your Day in Court
Once the court accepts your case and sets a date on the docket, there are several steps ahead. Some of these steps are time-consuming and can seem to repeat.
Pre-trial, both sides can request medical documents, answers to written questions and agreements to certain facts. This can go on for some time.
In the pre-trial phase lawyers on both sides interview potential witnesses under oath. A court reporter transcribes the proceedings.
Expect that you, your family and your medical providers (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) will give testimony. Both sides consult with certified medical experts, who may also give depositions.
Before you go to trial, there are formal requests to the trial court to rule on things like the qualifications of experts or the inclusion of certain parties in a lawsuit. This can include asking the court to dismiss claims or certain parties.
Not All Lawsuits Go to Court
The people and organizations you sue (the defendants) may look at the time, trouble and costs of the lawsuit and find it better business to offer a settlement out of court. This can happen at any time before the judge delivers a verdict.
A settlement means that you end the case against the defendants and agree that they have no further liability. Your attorney will advise you of any settlement offers. It is entirely up to you to direct your attorney to negotiate for more money, end the case or continue.
Weigh your legal options and the likelihood of favorable outcomes with your attorney. If you settle, you release the defendants from liability, they do not admit fault and the matter is kept confidential unless you negotiate other terms.
The Settlement Decision
Your attorney must present you with any settlement offers. Consider them with care. Agreeing to a settlement is faster and less stressful than going to court. It also limits the risk of going to trial and getting nothing.
On the other side, a guaranteed settlement outcome may be a fraction of a trial judgment. However, consider time and court costs in your deliberations.
Your Day in Court
After discovery, depositions, pre-trial motions, and possible settlement offers, your day in court arrives. Your attorney will prepare you and your witnesses to testify. If you are called, both sides have the opportunity to question you.
The other side has the same opportunity to present witnesses. When all of the information is given, the judge will instruct the jury which information is most important in determining the verdict. The jury may side with either side and award a reasonable damages amount. This may be more or less than the settlement offer.
Relief From Additional Costs of CP
Cerebral palsy lawyers can help you recover the additional costs for care after a birth injury. Important things to remember:
- CP is a lifetime condition
- Time limitation for a lawsuit
- Settlement any time before a jury verdict
- Settlements are negotiable
- Trial risks an unfavorable outcome
Every case of cerebral palsy is unique. Discuss your options with one of our experienced attorneys today.