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Cerebral Palsy Compensation

If your child was born with cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence you have the right to claim compensation.

A photo of Mrs Swaffield

I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Making a claim for cerebral palsy

Discovering your child has cerebral palsy is devastating and may change your life. But if you believe that it is as a result of being let down by a midwife or doctor it can be even more difficult to re-establish a trusting relationship with the medical professionals that your child now needs.

Many children born with cerebral palsy have suffered an unavoidable injury but in some cases it is caused by medical negligence. This can be due to poor treatment during pregnancy, labour, delivery or in the neonatal period when your child is new born. Cerebral palsy can also arise as a result of mismanaged infection such as meningitis. If you believe that your child has been injured as a result of substandard medical care it’s your right that you are able to hold those responsible to account. In order to succeed in a cerebral palsy claim in the UK you must be able to show that you, during your pregnancy, labour or delivery, or your child received a level of care below an acceptable standard. If your child’s cerebral palsy has been caused by such failings you should be able to bring a claim for compensation.

When your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy it is understandable that you want to know how this happened, if anyone was to blame, and what the future holds.

Cerebral Palsy may range from mild, causing some physical impairment, to severe resulting in both severe physical and cognitive difficulties.  We know that having a baby with a disability will have a life changing effect.  The life that your family now faces is not the one that you planned.

As experienced clinical negligence lawyers, we recognise this. We combine specialist knowledge and skills with a sympathetic and sensitive approach to investigating your child’s case.

Investigating a clinical negligence case can be a long, complex process as we will need to instruct experts including obstetricians, neonatologists, and paediatric neurologists to review the treatment that was given.  We will be with you throughout this process, making sure you understand what is being done and why.  Some families find this demanding but we will be there to support you.

A successful claim, however, would mean your family will be able to access the support you will need throughout your child’s life.

Every case is different but Your Legal Friend can guide you through each stage of the process, from investigating whether there has been medical negligence to representing you in court where necessary. Our expert team understands that making a claim cannot undo the negligence you experienced but it can help to get answers and to secure compensation to help your child in the future, as their life will now be very different.

Our team of specialist medical negligence solicitors work on behalf of victims of medical negligence in a wide variety of negligence cases, including representing those that have been affected by cerebral palsy. If you’ve been affected you can get in touch with our team today.

The time limit on making a cerebral palsy claim.

 

Cerebral palsy legal claims must be started in Court by the child’s 21st birthday. Or if the child will never be able to manage their affairs themselves or instruct a solicitor on their own, there may be no time limit. If you are unsure whether you or a family member are still in time to make a claim our cerebral palsy solicitors can help.

Armed with the knowledge and experience you need, one of our specialist lawyers can help you.

Despite having up to 21 years to bring a claim we urge those affected by medical negligence to take the first steps sooner where possible. This can help because there is a better chance that your medical records will be available and easy to access, your recollection of what you were told and the treatment options outlined to you will be clearer and so your witness statement will contain more detail. All of this will help strengthen your case and of course we will be able to get you answers more quickly.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
Read less

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Our expert team will call you...

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of birth injury cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a cerebral palsy case.

Cerebral palsy compensation claims team.jpg

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our birth injury compensation team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value cerebral palsy cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors, call us now on 0151 550 5228 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

What our customers say

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“I found the staff to be friendly, helpful, courteous and they kept me well informed on a regular basis”

Mrs. Vora,
Loughborough

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“They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently”

Mr Dowse
Leeds

  For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today 0151 550 5228

10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the name given to cover a group of lifelong conditions that can have an impact on movement, co-ordination, and other areas. It occurs due to an injury in the brain either during pregnancy, birth, or shortly afterwards.

Cerebral palsy is split into three types. Types of cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy

This is the most common type of cerebral palsy, accounting for around three-quarters of all cerebral palsy diagnosis cases. The most common symptom for this type of cerebral palsy is rigid limbs but how severe this is varies from person to person. Movements may be stiff and jerky and as the child grows the muscles may become shortened. Children with this type of cerebral palsy may also have learning difficulties. This type is also sub-divided further – hemiplegia, diplegia, quadriplegia – to define the extent that the condition is having an impact.

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy

This form of the condition may also be known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy or dystonic cerebral palsy. It’s defined by unintended movements, which are present in around 20% of all cerebral palsy cases. Those suffering with the type of cerebral palsy have a good level of intelligence and understanding.

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy

Of the cerebral palsy types, this one is the rarest, accounting for just 5% of cases. In many cases, the symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy are less obvious than in other types. Symptoms may include difficulty with balance, spatial awareness, and unsteady movements.

  • Mixed cerebral palsy

Many people that are affected by cerebral palsy have more than one type of the condition, meaning symptoms can vary hugely between those affected. The extent also varies, with mild cerebral palsy symptoms that may not be very obvious, for instance.

Read less

Can I claim if my baby is affected by cerebral palsy?

If medical negligence is to blame for your baby’s cerebral palsy you may be able to make a medical negligence  claim against the  Hospital or Hospital Trust responsible. Successful cerebral palsy medical negligence cases must demonstrate that the level of care you received was below standard and that it caused the cerebral palsy, so ruling out other causes which may be congenital.

Every medical negligence case is different but our cerebral palsy solicitors will work with you to investigate your case and we will give you clear advice on the prospects of success.  If you want to know if you have a case that we can investigate for, our team is on hand to offer you the professional advice that you’ve been looking for. From the very beginning of the cerebral palsy compensation claims process, we’ll represent your interests and advise you.

How much compensation will I get for a cerebral palsy claim?

Every cerebral palsy negligence case is different and  the amount of compensation awarded will be determined by the extent of the disability and the extra help and support that is needed, both in terms of care, accommodation and equipment. We take the time to work with every one of our clients and their family to understand their needs  and how  lives  have  been changed as a result of the  cerebral palsy.

We can’t tell you how much your case is worth without first speaking to you and undertaking a thorough investigation and assessment but NHS compensation awards  Which take into account life changing injuries can be very large. In a cerebral palsy compensation payout 2015, one mother received a record payout in excess of £14 million after her son suffered severe brain damage during birth after those responsible for her care failed to carry out a caesarean section and properly monitor the labour.

If you’d like to talk to us about making a claim  for cerebral palsy compensation, our team are on hand to offer help. A cerebral palsy lawyer will  use their expert knowledge to assess your case and give you an indication of the likely value.

How long do I have to make a cerebral palsy claim?

Cerebral palsy legal claims must be started in Court by the child’s 21st birthday. Or if the child will never be able to manage their affairs themselves or instruct a solicitor on their own, there may be no time limit. If you are unsure whether you or a family member are still in time to make a claim against those responsible for medical negligence must be taken forward within three years from the ‘date of knowledge’ – the point that your first realised negligence had occurred.

 

Often in cerebral palsy cases it can be months or even years before the signs of the condition are evident and medical advice is sought. The diagnosing process can also be long, meaning that you may not realise the medical negligence has occurred initially. For this reason, the time limit starts from the date of knowledge. But it can be complicated unravelling exactly when this occurred. If you’re unsure our cerebral palsy solicitors can help.

Armed with the knowledge and experience you need, one of our specialist lawyers legal professionals can help you guide you in understanding how long you have to act.

Despite children having up to 21 years to bring a claim and up to three years for adults, we urge those affected by medical negligence to take the first steps as soon as possible. This can mean there is a better chance that your medical records will be available and easy to access. We’ll ask you to give a witness statement that will contain any more details that you can recall, All of this will strengthen your case and mean we are able to get you answers more quickly.

Read less

What causes cerebral palsy?

Causes of cerebral palsy occur when a baby’s brain doesn’t develop normally in the womb or if damage occurs shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy often develops due to problems that affect the baby while it is still in the womb.

There are several ways that cerebral palsy can happen, including:

  • Reduced oxygen supply to the brain causing bleeding
  • A mother catching an infection whilst pregnant
  • Asphyxiation, where the brain temporarily doesn’t get enough oxygen, occurring during birth
  • Meningitis
  • A serious head injury
  • Failure to diagnose or treat low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
  • Failure to diagnose or treat jaundice (Kernicterus)

In some cases, exact cerebral palsy causes are not always clear.

Cerebral palsy is not a genetic condition but there are some factors that can increase the likelihood of a baby developing the condition. Risk factors include:

  • Being born prematurely
  • A low birth weight
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • The mother being 35 years of age or older
  • The mother having unusually low or high blood pressure
Read less

Can cerebral palsy be avoided?

Sadly, in most cases cerebral palsy is an unavoidable complication. But there are instances where medical negligence has caused the condition.

In instances where cerebral palsy could have been avoided if due care had been taken, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim to hold those responsible to account and receive financial compensation to support you.

How can medical negligence cause cerebral palsy?

There are several ways that medical negligence can cause cerebral palsy to occur in a baby. Cases of cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence include:

  • Failure of medical professionals to effectively diagnose and treat an infection during pregnancy, such as chickenpox, rubella, cytomegalovirus, or toxoplasmosis.
  • Infections picked up shortly after birth, including meningitis, not being treated quickly enough.
  • Poor level of care during the delivery leading to oxygen to the brain of the baby temporarily being reduced.
  • A failure to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and other signs during birth

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

Signs of cerebral palsy aren’t usually obvious immediately but become noticeable as the baby grows into a toddler. It’s important to note that there are different types of cerebral palsy and various levels of impact, some children may only have mild symptoms while others will experience them more severely.

Movement and development problems:

The main and most obvious symptoms are often related to movement and co-ordination. It’s often as children are developing that parents first notice the signs of cerebral palsy in babies.

  • Delays in reaching development milestones
  • Seeming too stiff or too floppy
  • Weak arms or legs
  • Fidgety, jerky, or clumsy movements
  • Random or uncontrolled movements
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Walking on tip toes

Other cerebral palsy symptoms:

  • Feeding, drooling, and swallowing difficulties
  • Constipation
  • Speech and communication difficulties
  • Epilepsy
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying awake
  • GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease)
  • An abnormally curved spine
  • Hips that dislocate easily
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Learning disabilities
  • Eye problems, including reduced vision and uncontrollable eye movements
  • Hearing loss
Read less

What does cerebral palsy affect?

The combination of symptoms in those suffering from cerebral palsy can vary and the effects of the condition can depend on the area of the brain that was damaged during birth or shortly afterwards.

Cerebral palsy symptoms can affect a person’s ability to communicate, move, learn, eat, and sleep.

The impact of cerebral palsy

  • Around a third of children affected are unable to walk
  • Around a quarter of those with cerebral palsy are unable to feed or dress themselves
  • One in ten children with cerebral palsy has no useful vision
  • About one in four children with cerebral palsy have epileptic seizures
  • Around one in fifty children with cerebral palsy is deaf

While the impact of cerebral palsy can be extensive, most sufferers of the condition do not have issues with their intelligence but may need dedicated carers and, in some cases, round the clock care to help them live normal, fulfilling lives.

Is cerebral palsy linked to learning conditions?

Cerebral palsy is linked to some learning difficulties. Across all cases of cerebral palsy, around half of children also experience a learning difficulty but the severity of this varies from child to child.

Learning disabilities affect the way a person learns new things. In children with cerebral palsy this is often most evident when they’re at school but it can affect all areas of their lives. However, it doesn’t have to have a serious impact on their daily routine, around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability and less than a quarter are classed as having ‘severe’ disabilities.

When should I seek medical advice for cerebral palsy?

In many cases, cerebral palsy in children doesn’t become obvious until the child has reached the age of two or three. However, the NHS advises that parents should seek medical advice and voice their concerns to their health visitor if they have any worries about how their child is developing and reaching milestones.

How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?

A baby with cerebral palsy is often diagnosed when the symptoms become recognisable and a parent raises concerns with their health visitor or GP.

When you approach a healthcare professional you should be able to rely on them to deliver an excellent standard of care. In cerebral palsy baby cases, this should include several checks that both make it possible to diagnose the condition and rule out other potential causes. Even if the initial signs are spotted early it isn’t always possible to give a quick diagnosis, in some instances it can take years.

If needed you will be referred to a specialist, who will conduct an examination and checks, such as looking at your child’s medical history and development, checking for the most common signs of the condition, and asking if there were any problems during pregnancy. An assessment of the child’s movements and learning abilities may also be conducted.

Brain scans can also be used to assess the damage to the brain that’s associated with cerebral palsy, a cranial ultrasound scan, MRI scan, and CT scan can all be used for this. Other tests that may be used when cerebral palsy is diagnosed are an electroencephalogram, an electromyogram, and blood tests.

How is cerebral palsy treated?

There is no cure for cerebral palsy and those diagnosed with the condition will live their whole lives with the effects. But cerebral palsy treatment has advanced significantly in recent decades and can help those with the condition live a normal life as much as possible, including being independent.

The range of cerebral palsy treatment for adults and children cover many different areas and a team of healthcare professionals will continuously evaluate and reassess their care plan to reflect a patient’s changing needs.

Treatment options available to those diagnosed with cerebral palsy may cover:

  • Physiotherapy– Through exercises and stretching, physiotherapy can help maintain and improve movement, providing additional strength and preventing the muscles from shortening. You may also be provided with walking aids if necessary.
  • Speech therapy– Children that have difficulty communicating could benefit from speech therapy, which could include speech exercises, alternative methods of communication, or speech aids.
  • Occupational therapy– Some patients with cerebral palsy find that everyday tasks, such as getting dressed or going to the toilet a challenge. Occupational therapy can help with this. By identifying ways that these tasks can be easier to carry out, this treatment can help give those affected a confidence boost and more independence.
  • Medication– Some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy, such as seizures or muscle stiffness, can be relieved through medication.
  • Surgery– Issues with movement and some other problems can be relieved with surgery. Surgery can, for example, be used to restore movement to body parts that have been restricted by a tight muscle, reduce stiffness in the legs, or correct a curvature of the spine.

How does cerebral palsy affect babies as they grow older?

Advances in medical science and care means that the effect of cerebral palsy as children grow older can be controlled but there are some key issues, among them:

  • Premature aging– Due to the strain that living with cerebral palsy places on the body, patients can find that they experience premature aging in certain areas, such as on the joints, exasperating mobility issues.
  • Difficulties in the workplace and at school – Patients of cerebral palsy may need special requirements that can mean both work and school are challenging. Around half of those affected by cerebral palsy also experience learning difficulties, which, in turn, can affect education and professional life.
  • Degenerative arthritis – Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, occurs when the joint’s surfaces becomes damaged. It can then become inflamed and break down, causing pain and affecting movement.

What is the outlook for cerebral palsy?

Life with cerebral palsy is different for each person affected by the condition and this can make it difficult to predict exactly how each person will be affected throughout their life.

However, generally speaking, cerebral palsy life expectancy is the same as those that don’t have the condition. Many people with cerebral palsy go on to live full, independent lives but it can limit activities that your child may be able to do by themselves.

A cerebral palsy prognosis is generally positive and the effect it has on the brain won’t worsen over time. However, it can place a strain on the body and living with cerebral palsy can be a challenge that some people struggle with.

Cerebral palsy – do you have an actionable claim?

To prove a clinical negligence claim has caused cerebral palsy, we must have evidence to show that actions taken by a doctor, nurse or midwife:

  • Were directly or indirectly responsible for harm or injury arising from complications before, during or after the birth, or
  • There was a failure to take action before, during or after the birth, which could have prevented birth complications.

A critical part of investigating your case is a rigorous examination of all medical records, investigations, scans and traces during your pregnancy, labour, delivery, and in the neonatal period.  We will listen carefully to you and take a detailed statement from you and your partner. The next step is to instruct independent medical experts to look at the treatment that was given, to review any other possible causes for the cerebral palsy, and to assess whether, with proper treatment, the brain injury could have been avoided.

What happens next?

If it can be clearly shown that there are good grounds for making a clinical negligence claim, we will send the doctor, trust or hospital involved a detailed letter setting out the basis of your case. They will have four months to respond to this. If they accept liability at the outset, we will seek to obtain an interim payment so you can get the help and support your family needs straightaway.  If they deny liability, we will prepare the case to go to court and trial if that is necessary.

How can Your Legal Friend help with your cerebral palsy claim?

We know that it can be hard to take the decision to seek legal advice. However as experienced clinical negligence specialists, we also know that families need to find answers and ensure that the people responsible are held to account. We can help you find out “why the system has failed you and what went wrong.”


From the first time we discuss your particular circumstances and throughout an often long process, Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring we protect the interests of you and your child, while diligently guiding and supporting you every step of the way.

Cerebral palsy is the name given to cover a group of lifelong conditions that can have an impact on movement, co-ordination, and other areas. It occurs due to an injury in the brain either during pregnancy, birth, or shortly afterwards.

Cerebral palsy is split into three types. Types of cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy

This is the most common type of cerebral palsy, accounting for around three-quarters of all cerebral palsy diagnosis cases. The most common symptom for this type of cerebral palsy is rigid limbs but how severe this is varies from person to person. Movements may be stiff and jerky and as the child grows the muscles may become shortened. Children with this type of cerebral palsy may also have learning difficulties. This type is also sub-divided further – hemiplegia, diplegia, quadriplegia – to define the extent that the condition is having an impact.

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy

This form of the condition may also be known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy or dystonic cerebral palsy. It’s defined by unintended movements, which are present in around 20% of all cerebral palsy cases. Those suffering with the type of cerebral palsy have a good level of intelligence and understanding.

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy

Of the cerebral palsy types, this one is the rarest, accounting for just 5% of cases. In many cases, the symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy are less obvious than in other types. Symptoms may include difficulty with balance, spatial awareness, and unsteady movements.

  • Mixed cerebral palsy

Many people that are affected by cerebral palsy have more than one type of the condition, meaning symptoms can vary hugely between those affected. The extent also varies, with mild cerebral palsy symptoms that may not be very obvious, for instance.

Read less

If medical negligence is to blame for your baby’s cerebral palsy you may be able to make a medical negligence  claim against the  Hospital or Hospital Trust responsible. Successful cerebral palsy medical negligence cases must demonstrate that the level of care you received was below standard and that it caused the cerebral palsy, so ruling out other causes which may be congenital.

Every medical negligence case is different but our cerebral palsy solicitors will work with you to investigate your case and we will give you clear advice on the prospects of success.  If you want to know if you have a case that we can investigate for, our team is on hand to offer you the professional advice that you’ve been looking for. From the very beginning of the cerebral palsy compensation claims process, we’ll represent your interests and advise you.

Every cerebral palsy negligence case is different and  the amount of compensation awarded will be determined by the extent of the disability and the extra help and support that is needed, both in terms of care, accommodation and equipment. We take the time to work with every one of our clients and their family to understand their needs  and how  lives  have  been changed as a result of the  cerebral palsy.

We can’t tell you how much your case is worth without first speaking to you and undertaking a thorough investigation and assessment but NHS compensation awards  Which take into account life changing injuries can be very large. In a cerebral palsy compensation payout 2015, one mother received a record payout in excess of £14 million after her son suffered severe brain damage during birth after those responsible for her care failed to carry out a caesarean section and properly monitor the labour.

If you’d like to talk to us about making a claim  for cerebral palsy compensation, our team are on hand to offer help. A cerebral palsy lawyer will  use their expert knowledge to assess your case and give you an indication of the likely value.

Cerebral palsy legal claims must be started in Court by the child’s 21st birthday. Or if the child will never be able to manage their affairs themselves or instruct a solicitor on their own, there may be no time limit. If you are unsure whether you or a family member are still in time to make a claim against those responsible for medical negligence must be taken forward within three years from the ‘date of knowledge’ – the point that your first realised negligence had occurred.

 

Often in cerebral palsy cases it can be months or even years before the signs of the condition are evident and medical advice is sought. The diagnosing process can also be long, meaning that you may not realise the medical negligence has occurred initially. For this reason, the time limit starts from the date of knowledge. But it can be complicated unravelling exactly when this occurred. If you’re unsure our cerebral palsy solicitors can help.

Armed with the knowledge and experience you need, one of our specialist lawyers legal professionals can help you guide you in understanding how long you have to act.

Despite children having up to 21 years to bring a claim and up to three years for adults, we urge those affected by medical negligence to take the first steps as soon as possible. This can mean there is a better chance that your medical records will be available and easy to access. We’ll ask you to give a witness statement that will contain any more details that you can recall, All of this will strengthen your case and mean we are able to get you answers more quickly.

Read less

Causes of cerebral palsy occur when a baby’s brain doesn’t develop normally in the womb or if damage occurs shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy often develops due to problems that affect the baby while it is still in the womb.

There are several ways that cerebral palsy can happen, including:

  • Reduced oxygen supply to the brain causing bleeding
  • A mother catching an infection whilst pregnant
  • Asphyxiation, where the brain temporarily doesn’t get enough oxygen, occurring during birth
  • Meningitis
  • A serious head injury
  • Failure to diagnose or treat low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia)
  • Failure to diagnose or treat jaundice (Kernicterus)

In some cases, exact cerebral palsy causes are not always clear.

Cerebral palsy is not a genetic condition but there are some factors that can increase the likelihood of a baby developing the condition. Risk factors include:

  • Being born prematurely
  • A low birth weight
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • The mother being 35 years of age or older
  • The mother having unusually low or high blood pressure
Read less

Sadly, in most cases cerebral palsy is an unavoidable complication. But there are instances where medical negligence has caused the condition.

In instances where cerebral palsy could have been avoided if due care had been taken, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim to hold those responsible to account and receive financial compensation to support you.

There are several ways that medical negligence can cause cerebral palsy to occur in a baby. Cases of cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence include:

  • Failure of medical professionals to effectively diagnose and treat an infection during pregnancy, such as chickenpox, rubella, cytomegalovirus, or toxoplasmosis.
  • Infections picked up shortly after birth, including meningitis, not being treated quickly enough.
  • Poor level of care during the delivery leading to oxygen to the brain of the baby temporarily being reduced.
  • A failure to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and other signs during birth

Signs of cerebral palsy aren’t usually obvious immediately but become noticeable as the baby grows into a toddler. It’s important to note that there are different types of cerebral palsy and various levels of impact, some children may only have mild symptoms while others will experience them more severely.

Movement and development problems:

The main and most obvious symptoms are often related to movement and co-ordination. It’s often as children are developing that parents first notice the signs of cerebral palsy in babies.

  • Delays in reaching development milestones
  • Seeming too stiff or too floppy
  • Weak arms or legs
  • Fidgety, jerky, or clumsy movements
  • Random or uncontrolled movements
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Walking on tip toes

Other cerebral palsy symptoms:

  • Feeding, drooling, and swallowing difficulties
  • Constipation
  • Speech and communication difficulties
  • Epilepsy
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying awake
  • GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease)
  • An abnormally curved spine
  • Hips that dislocate easily
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Learning disabilities
  • Eye problems, including reduced vision and uncontrollable eye movements
  • Hearing loss
Read less

The combination of symptoms in those suffering from cerebral palsy can vary and the effects of the condition can depend on the area of the brain that was damaged during birth or shortly afterwards.

Cerebral palsy symptoms can affect a person’s ability to communicate, move, learn, eat, and sleep.

The impact of cerebral palsy

  • Around a third of children affected are unable to walk
  • Around a quarter of those with cerebral palsy are unable to feed or dress themselves
  • One in ten children with cerebral palsy has no useful vision
  • About one in four children with cerebral palsy have epileptic seizures
  • Around one in fifty children with cerebral palsy is deaf

While the impact of cerebral palsy can be extensive, most sufferers of the condition do not have issues with their intelligence but may need dedicated carers and, in some cases, round the clock care to help them live normal, fulfilling lives.

Cerebral palsy is linked to some learning difficulties. Across all cases of cerebral palsy, around half of children also experience a learning difficulty but the severity of this varies from child to child.

Learning disabilities affect the way a person learns new things. In children with cerebral palsy this is often most evident when they’re at school but it can affect all areas of their lives. However, it doesn’t have to have a serious impact on their daily routine, around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability and less than a quarter are classed as having ‘severe’ disabilities.

In many cases, cerebral palsy in children doesn’t become obvious until the child has reached the age of two or three. However, the NHS advises that parents should seek medical advice and voice their concerns to their health visitor if they have any worries about how their child is developing and reaching milestones.

A baby with cerebral palsy is often diagnosed when the symptoms become recognisable and a parent raises concerns with their health visitor or GP.

When you approach a healthcare professional you should be able to rely on them to deliver an excellent standard of care. In cerebral palsy baby cases, this should include several checks that both make it possible to diagnose the condition and rule out other potential causes. Even if the initial signs are spotted early it isn’t always possible to give a quick diagnosis, in some instances it can take years.

If needed you will be referred to a specialist, who will conduct an examination and checks, such as looking at your child’s medical history and development, checking for the most common signs of the condition, and asking if there were any problems during pregnancy. An assessment of the child’s movements and learning abilities may also be conducted.

Brain scans can also be used to assess the damage to the brain that’s associated with cerebral palsy, a cranial ultrasound scan, MRI scan, and CT scan can all be used for this. Other tests that may be used when cerebral palsy is diagnosed are an electroencephalogram, an electromyogram, and blood tests.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy and those diagnosed with the condition will live their whole lives with the effects. But cerebral palsy treatment has advanced significantly in recent decades and can help those with the condition live a normal life as much as possible, including being independent.

The range of cerebral palsy treatment for adults and children cover many different areas and a team of healthcare professionals will continuously evaluate and reassess their care plan to reflect a patient’s changing needs.

Treatment options available to those diagnosed with cerebral palsy may cover:

  • Physiotherapy– Through exercises and stretching, physiotherapy can help maintain and improve movement, providing additional strength and preventing the muscles from shortening. You may also be provided with walking aids if necessary.
  • Speech therapy– Children that have difficulty communicating could benefit from speech therapy, which could include speech exercises, alternative methods of communication, or speech aids.
  • Occupational therapy– Some patients with cerebral palsy find that everyday tasks, such as getting dressed or going to the toilet a challenge. Occupational therapy can help with this. By identifying ways that these tasks can be easier to carry out, this treatment can help give those affected a confidence boost and more independence.
  • Medication– Some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy, such as seizures or muscle stiffness, can be relieved through medication.
  • Surgery– Issues with movement and some other problems can be relieved with surgery. Surgery can, for example, be used to restore movement to body parts that have been restricted by a tight muscle, reduce stiffness in the legs, or correct a curvature of the spine.

Advances in medical science and care means that the effect of cerebral palsy as children grow older can be controlled but there are some key issues, among them:

  • Premature aging– Due to the strain that living with cerebral palsy places on the body, patients can find that they experience premature aging in certain areas, such as on the joints, exasperating mobility issues.
  • Difficulties in the workplace and at school – Patients of cerebral palsy may need special requirements that can mean both work and school are challenging. Around half of those affected by cerebral palsy also experience learning difficulties, which, in turn, can affect education and professional life.
  • Degenerative arthritis – Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, occurs when the joint’s surfaces becomes damaged. It can then become inflamed and break down, causing pain and affecting movement.

Life with cerebral palsy is different for each person affected by the condition and this can make it difficult to predict exactly how each person will be affected throughout their life.

However, generally speaking, cerebral palsy life expectancy is the same as those that don’t have the condition. Many people with cerebral palsy go on to live full, independent lives but it can limit activities that your child may be able to do by themselves.

A cerebral palsy prognosis is generally positive and the effect it has on the brain won’t worsen over time. However, it can place a strain on the body and living with cerebral palsy can be a challenge that some people struggle with.

To prove a clinical negligence claim has caused cerebral palsy, we must have evidence to show that actions taken by a doctor, nurse or midwife:

  • Were directly or indirectly responsible for harm or injury arising from complications before, during or after the birth, or
  • There was a failure to take action before, during or after the birth, which could have prevented birth complications.

A critical part of investigating your case is a rigorous examination of all medical records, investigations, scans and traces during your pregnancy, labour, delivery, and in the neonatal period.  We will listen carefully to you and take a detailed statement from you and your partner. The next step is to instruct independent medical experts to look at the treatment that was given, to review any other possible causes for the cerebral palsy, and to assess whether, with proper treatment, the brain injury could have been avoided.

If it can be clearly shown that there are good grounds for making a clinical negligence claim, we will send the doctor, trust or hospital involved a detailed letter setting out the basis of your case. They will have four months to respond to this. If they accept liability at the outset, we will seek to obtain an interim payment so you can get the help and support your family needs straightaway.  If they deny liability, we will prepare the case to go to court and trial if that is necessary.

We know that it can be hard to take the decision to seek legal advice. However as experienced clinical negligence specialists, we also know that families need to find answers and ensure that the people responsible are held to account. We can help you find out “why the system has failed you and what went wrong.”


From the first time we discuss your particular circumstances and throughout an often long process, Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring we protect the interests of you and your child, while diligently guiding and supporting you every step of the way.