Although there are many possible causes of cerebral palsy, it is most often the result of a birth injury. The term “birth injury” can be broadly defined as any type of harm to a baby that occurs during or near the time of birth. This includes trauma (excessive force/pressure), birth asphyxia (oxygen deprivation), neonatal infections, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, causing cerebral palsy, and other complications.
Birth injuries are often preventable, meaning that they occur because of negligent actions by medical professionals or hospital systems. If this negligence causes a permanent health condition or disability, such as cerebral palsy, it constitutes medical malpractice. Parents have the option of pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of their child.
How do I know if a birth injury caused my child’s cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy has many possible causes, including brain damage as well as genetic factors. Many cases stem from preventable birth injuries involving medical malpractice.
Of course, for parents who are not medical experts, it can be difficult to determine the difference. If you are unsure of exactly what caused your child’s cerebral palsy, or whether a medical professional or organization acted negligently, feel free to reach out to us for a case evaluation. This is free of charge and completely confidential (moreover, there is no obligation to pursue a case with us following the initial evaluation). We can provide our professional opinion on what caused your child’s cerebral palsy, and whether we think you may have a case.
However, because we are not doctors, we cannot offer medical advice.
What should I prioritize in choosing a cerebral palsy attorney?
When looking for a qualified cerebral palsy attorney, it may be useful to get answers to the following questions:
- What is the firm’s legal focus?
Lawyers that specifically handle birth injury cases are much more knowledgeable about the intricacies involved in this area of law.
- Does the attorney consult medical professionals?
Medico-legal consultants have in-depth knowledge of standard of care. They can help to determine exactly where malpractice may have occurred, and how medical professionals should have acted in specific scenarios. (We have in-house certified nurses who assist with our cases, and also consult outside medical experts.)
- Has the lawyer handled cases similar to your child’s?
Do they understand your child’s unique symptoms, and the medical complications/errors that may have caused them?
- How successful have their past cases been?
You can ask about their record of verdicts and settlements. We provide information on ours along with a detailed explanation of how these numbers are calculated.
- What other qualifications does the attorney have?
You may want to ask about their participation in important legal groups (such as the Birth Trauma Litigation Group), awards, peer-reviewed publications, etc.
- What do former clients think of this attorney?
Other clients’ experiences can tell you what working with an attorney is like. See our testimonials here.
- Does the attorney work on a contingency fee agreement?
This means that you would pay nothing unless they win or settle your case. The best attorneys will have this policy — it is a sign of their confidence in their legal abilities (and of course minimizes the financial risk to clients).
These considerations are important when choosing an attorney that’s right for you and your child. Our step-by-step guide offers more detailed information on choosing a good cerebral palsy and birth injury attorney.
When should I call a Michigan cerebral palsy attorney?
It is important for parents to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitations, or SOL places limit on the amount of time you have to pursue a case, determined by Michigan state law.
If you are unsure when your SOL expires, feel free to contact us and we can help you figure it out.
What should I expect in the legal process?
Each case is unique, but there are steps of the legal process that are involved in all of our cases:
- Initial contact:
Our firm is available to speak with you 24/7 with compassion. Our intake specialists will reach out at a convenient time for you to ask questions about your pregnancy, birth, and child’s health. You can share any information you deem relevant and ask any questions. We are here to listen. If you are interested in pursuing a case, the intake specialist will provide one of our attorneys the details of your case, and they will look for a specific instance of malpractice.
- Case evaluations:
This is when the attorneys, along with one of our in-house nurses, work to determine if they think you have a birth injury case. We may call to ask a couple of follow-up questions after the initial intake. After the case evaluation, we will let you know whether we think malpractice occurred; you can then decide whether you would like to work with our firm. In some situations, we may not be the best fit for your case, and will refer you to a trusted colleague who will be better equipped to help you (we would of course ask for your consent before making a referral).
If we believe that we can assist with your case, we will send a retainer document that describes the legal process. An attorney will speak with you on the phone to make sure that you understand this document and answer any questions you may have. We will ask you to send a signed copy back to our office.
- Medical authorizations:
After the retainer, we will send you some forms authorizing us to obtain your medical records.
- Investigating a case:
Once we have received your medical records and other necessary paperwork, we will begin investigating the details of your case and getting input from leading medical experts. We are committed to keeping you informed on our progress, but you will not need to participate much during this phase. We understand that our clients are often very busy, and that caring for their children must be their top priority.
- Pursuing a case:
After we file a case and all the paperwork is processed, you will participate in a deposition. This is a meeting during which you will need to answer questions under oath. Typically, depositions take one day to complete. You may also need to attend settlement conferences and mediations if the occasion arises. In some cases, your child will also need to undergo a medical exam, which will be organized at your convenience.
- Settling a case:
Many cases can be resolved via settlement rather than proceeding to trial. In order to determine the future care needs of your child (which should influence settlement amount), we will consult with life care planning experts and economists. We will then advise you on whether we think the settlement offer is fair, but the decision of whether to settle or proceed to trial is ultimately up to you.
- Going to court:
If you do not receive a settlement offer and accept it, you may need to go to court for further litigation.
- After a case is closed:
If we are successful in obtaining financial recovery (a settlement or verdict), part of this will be our compensation. This is called a contingency fee agreement. You will be informed of what percentage we would take during the initial intake phase. If we do not succeed in obtaining a recovery, you would not pay us anything.
Does ABC Law Centers handle cases outside of Michigan?
Yes. Although our firm is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, we handle cases in the state of Michigan and nationwide across the U.S. We work with co-counsel and local counsel in states where the firm is not licensed to practice law.
Our attorneys focus exclusively on cases involving cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
Please reach out to us today to learn more. We are happy to talk to you free of any charge or obligation to pursue a case with us. Clients pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win their case.