Cerebral Palsy

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Indianapolis Cerebral Palsy Attorney

Millions in Compensation Won for Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Victims

Cerebral palsy is an incurable motor disorder that can have a profound impact on children and families. And while it’s the most common motor disorder in children, research has shown that in many cases, it is preventable if not for the negligence of medical professionals. 

If your child was born with cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence before, during, or after childbirth, you may have grounds to pursue financial compensation – and our team at The Cline Law Firm, LLC can help. 

As one of the region’s leading plaintiffs’ trial practices, we’ve earned a reputation for handling complex claims involving medical malpractice, birth injuries, and devastating disorders like cerebral palsy. We’re also led by one of the nation’s most respected trial lawyers, Attorney Lance D. Cline, and have amassed a proven record of case results for families across Indiana.

Our Indianapolis cerebral palsy attorneys proudly serve families across Marion County and beyond from our office in Carmel. Call (317) 526-4467 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options.

What is Cerebral Palsy? 

Cerebral palsy is a term used for a group of movement disorders caused by damage to areas of the brain responsible for muscle and motor control. It is non-progressive, which means it doesn’t worsen as a child ages. However, depending on severity and the type of cerebral palsy, it can create a lifetime of physical limitations.

Cerebral palsy is commonly classified into several subtypes. These include:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy, the most common form of CP, is characterized by muscular spasms and hypertonia, or severe muscle tension caused by too much muscle tone. Children with spastic CP may experience involuntary contractions and spasms, little to no control over limbs, delayed development, and muscle pain. 
  • Athetoid / Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy, which is also called dyskinetic cerebral palsy when caused by HIE, involves a combination of hypertonia (too much muscle tone and stiffness), hypotonia (too little muscle tone and contraction impairment), and involuntary spasms. It typically results in a lack of muscle control, involuntary contractions, abnormal posture, and difficulties with walking, fine, motor functions, sitting upright, and swallowing or talking. 
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. Ataxic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain which regulates and coordinates muscle activity. Children with ataxic CP often have difficulty controlling movements and fine motor functions, and problems with balance and coordination. Lack of muscle tone, visual problems, and speech difficulties are also common. 

In some cases, children may display symptoms of multiple types of cerebral palsy. This can happen when a child displays stiffness caused by excessive muscle tone in some muscles and signs of looseness or contraction impairment in others. This is generally referred to as mixed cerebral palsy. 

Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy

According to current medical understanding, cerebral palsy is believed to be caused by an injury to or problem with the brain. In cases of dyskinetic CP, this involves damage to the basal ganglia, which is responsible for relaying movements from the brain to the muscles. In cases of ataxic cerebral palsy, it is the cerebellum that is damaged.

Because cerebral palsy results from issues in the brain, a child may be born with the condition or develop it later (or even during birth) due to some type of acquired brain injury. Some common causes include:

  • Complications during birth or preventable birth injuries
  • Maternal infections during pregnancy
  • Fetal stroke before or during labor and delivery
  • Genetic disorders
  • Untreated jaundice
  • Traumatic brain injuries

While cerebral palsy cannot always be prevented, especially in cases involving uncontrollable risk factors or hereditary defects, there are instances when medical negligence may cause or contribute to its development. These are the situations that can give rise to a birth injury lawsuit. 

Medical Negligence As a Cause of Cerebral Palsy

Doctors, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare professionals have legal obligations to provide care that meets accepted standards. This includes standards for care before, during, and after delivery that are meant to avoid preventable brain damage that can lead to cerebral palsy. For example:

  • Before birth. Although there are cerebral palsy risk factors that cannot be avoided, there are many potential risks and complications that should be identified and treated in an appropriate and timely manner. For example, doctors should screen for, identify, and treat maternal infections and complications such as measles, CMV, and hypertension, and plan accordingly based on pre-existing risk factors to avoid oxygen deprivation during delivery.
  • During birth. Medical professionals have obligations to avoid preventable injuries during childbirth by properly monitoring a baby’s fetal heart rate for signs of distress and oxygen deprivation, responding in a timely manner to complications (such as by performing an emergency C-section), identifying complications such as placental abruption, and properly using assistive devices such as forceps. Medical professionals who do not foresee complications that could and should have been foreseen or fail to take reasonable steps to address them could be held liable for preventable injuries.
  • After birth. Providers are also obligated to provide acceptable care following childbirth and take adequate measures to address complications and risk factors that can cause brain damage, or to limit the severity of a brain injury. This can include appropriately treating severe jaundice, managing infections, managing asphyxiation caused by obstructions, and performing therapeutic head cooling. 

When providers fail to meet the standard and care and cause preventable birth injuries as a result, they may be held accountable for medical negligence and liable for the resulting damages in birth injury lawsuits brought by victims. 

How Do I Know if I Have a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Case?

Determining whether medical negligence is to blame for your child’s cerebral palsy, and whether you have a viable case, is not an easy task. To investigate potential claims properly, you need extensive knowledge of law and medicine, as well as input from medical experts who know accepted standards in the profession and when providers fail to meet them.

At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, we’ve devoted our practice to handling these types of complex claims and have extensive experience litigating birth injury lawsuits. We have the insight to properly evaluate cases and the connections to work with the right medical experts who help us analyze when and how providers erred in their obligations to provide adequate care before, during, or even after childbirth.

While we dig deep when conducting investigations into the underlying cause of a birth injury like cerebral palsy, there are some general examples of potentially actionable issues that can help you gauge whether you might have a case. Some of these include:

  • Failures to diagnose and address known complications, including placental or uterine rupture, umbilical cord complications, pre-eclampsia, shoulder dystocia, and more.
  • Failures to perform a C-section, or delayed C-sections, amid complications.
  • Failures to monitor fetal heart rate, identify signs of fetal distress, and respond appropriately.
  • Failures to properly treat birth asphyxia and related injuries, including failures to perform or substandard performance of hypothermia therapy (brain cooling), which must be administered within several hours following asphyxia to protect brain cells and prevent more serious or lasting injuries. 
  • Improper use of Pitocin and other labor-inducing drugs, or improper use of forceps and vacuum extractors.

If these types of errors, or any other questionable medical care occurred during your prenatal care or childbirth, you may have a potential case. However, the best way to be sure is to bring your case to the attention of proven lawyers. At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, we offer FREE and confidential consultations precisely for this reason. 

Proving Liability in a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

Proving that a medical practitioner was negligent, and therefore liable for resulting damages, is a complex process. Generally, it will involve several crucial steps and pieces of evidence:

  1. Establishing Doctor-Patient Relationship: The first step in any malpractice case is to establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship between the injured party (or their parent/guardian) and the medical professional accused of negligence. This relationship forms the basis of the duty of care owed by the medical professional to the patient.
  2. Breach of Duty of Care: Medical professionals are held to a standard of care expected of reasonably competent practitioners in the same field under similar circumstances. To prove negligence, it must be shown that the medical professional breached this duty of care. In the context of cerebral palsy cases, this could mean providing that a provider deviated from standards during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. 
  3. Causation: It's not enough to establish that there was a breach of the duty of care; it must also be shown that this breach directly caused or significantly contributed to the development of cerebral palsy. This can be challenging, as CP can have multiple causes, including genetic factors and complications unrelated to medical negligence.
  4. Expert Testimony: Malpractice cases often rely heavily on expert testimony from qualified healthcare professionals in the same field as the defendant. These experts can help establish the standard of care, identify deviations from that standard, and link those deviations to the development of cerebral palsy. Their testimony is crucial in helping judges and juries understand complex medical issues.
  5. Medical Records and Documentation: Detailed medical records, including prenatal care records, labor and delivery records, and neonatal medical records, are essential pieces of evidence in cerebral palsy cases. These records can help establish what occurred during pregnancy and childbirth and identify any deviations from the standard of care.
  6. Timeline of Events: Creating a clear timeline of events leading up to and following the birth of the child with cerebral palsy can help illustrate how medical negligence may have played a role. This timeline can include prenatal appointments, the onset of labor, actions taken during delivery, and subsequent medical interventions.
  7. Consulting Legal Professionals: Proving medical negligence and pursuing a cerebral palsy case often requires the expertise of experienced medical malpractice attorneys. At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys can assess the strength of your case, navigate complex legal procedures, and advocate on your behalf to seek compensation for damages.

Compensation in Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Claims

Victims who are successful in their cases are entitled to financial compensation for damages resulting directly from the birth injury. In the case of cerebral palsy, these damages can be extensive and will typically include expected future losses associated with raising a child with this condition.

Recoverable damages in cerebral palsy cases include:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Costs for future therapy, assistive devices, and home modifications
  • Expenses for rehabilitation services, special education, and supportive care
  • Lost income suffered by parents and lost earning capacity of the child
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life
  • Other economic and non-economic losses

In Indiana, medical malpractice claims are subject to a statutory cap that places an absolute limit on the amount of damages victims can recover. Presently, this cap is $1.8 million for injuries that occurred after July 1, 2019.

How Long Do I Have to File a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit in Indianapolis?

Civil lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations, a legal deadline by which claims must be filed so victims don’t lose their right to recover damages. The type of claim being filed and other factors determine the statute of limitations in a case. 

Generally, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions in Indiana is two years from the date of injury. However, in cases involving birth injuries like cerebral palsy, there may be exceptions. For example:

  • Minor Victims. If the injured victim was a minor under the age of six, Indiana law provides additional time to file. Generally, parents will need to file claims by the child’s eighth birthday. 
  • Discovery Rule. Children with cerebral palsy are not always diagnosed at or shortly after birth. Sometimes, diagnoses come only after parents notice things like developmental delays, missed milestones, and various symptoms that don’t present until a child is older. These are cases of delayed discovery, and they can qualify as an exception to the two-year statute of limitations.
  • Medical Complaint Review. Indiana law requires the submission of a proposed complaint to the Indiana Department of Insurance before any medical malpractice lawsuit seeking more than $15,000 in damages can be filed in court. This complaint is reviewed by a panel that determines whether victims can proceed with their lawsuit, and it must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. However, once the complaint is submitted, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until the panel reaches a decision, which means that as long as complaint is under review, victims will still retain the right to file a claim even if the original statute of limitations expired during the review period. Once the panel issues its decision, victims will then have 90 days to file their lawsuit. 

Determining the statute of limitations in a specific case can be complicated, but because it’s a matter that can make the difference between being able to recover compensation and being barred from a recovery, you need to know the deadline that applies to yours. For this reason, our team strongly recommends that any family with a potential birth injury lawsuit reach out to us as soon as possible for an evaluation. 

Call For a FREE Consultation: (317) 526-4467

The Cline Law Firm, LLC is a trusted trial practice that has become known for handling highly complex claims. Led by one of the nation’s most respected plaintiffs’ trial lawyers, Attorney Lance D. Cline, we’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation in birth injury lawsuits involving infant brain damage, permanent disability, and cerebral palsy, and are standing by to discuss how might be able to help you.

To request a FREE consultation with an Indianapolis cerebral palsy attorney from our firm, call (317) 526-4467 or contact us online. Based in Carmel, we serve clients throughout Marion County, the state of Indiana, and beyond.

Millions of Dollars Recovered For Our Clients

Real Results

The Cline Law Firm, LLC exists for the sole purpose of listening to and advocating for individuals and families who have sustained great harm and losses as a result of the negligent, intentional, or other wrongful conduct of others. It is the sole type of legal work that attorney Lance D. Cline has done during his 40-year legal career. Every lawyer and employee of our team is solely and fully dedicated to helping victims of such conduct in our society.

  • $5,634,669 Verdict for a Wrongful Death Caused by Pneumonia

    Lance D. Cline obtained a jury verdict of $5,634,669.84 for the wrongful death of a fifty-two-year-old Indian female married to a sixty-four-year-old Indian male at the time of her death. The couple had no children. The decedent developed MRSA pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia.

  • $4,100,000 Verdict for Birth-Related Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries

    Lance D. Cline tried this case to a jury in 2012. The plaintiff was a minor male who sustained injuries to brachial plexus nerves in his right arm at the time of his birth. A shoulder dystocia occurred during the vaginal delivery.

  • $3,500,000 Verdict for a Brachial Plexus Nerve Injury During Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Lance D. Cline tried this lawsuit to a jury in a conservative, northern Indiana county in 2018. The sixty-five-year-old plaintiff had a history of multiple dislocations in his left shoulder between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five that led to the performance of a Magnuson-Stack procedure upon his left shoulder at the age of twenty-five that prevented further dislocations.

  • $1,285,000 Verdict For a Minor Who Sustained Permanent Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries at Birth

    Lance Cline presented expert witness testimony from two board-certified obstetricians and a biomechanical engineer with expertise and knowledge regarding physician-applied forces during child delivery. The Defendant made no offer of settlement before the trial. The jury deliberated for ninety minutes before ignoring the medical review panel opinion and returning a verdict in favor of the client in the amount of $1,285,000. That was a record verdict in the county where the case was tried.

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  • The Inner Circle of Advocates
    The Inner Circle of Advocates
    Founding member, Lance D. Cline, is one of only two Indiana lawyers ever invited into this most prestigious and selective organization of plaintiff trial attorneys.
  • Best Lawyers
    Best Lawyers
    Lance D. Cline has been voted by his peers as a Best Lawyer in America in the fields of medical malpractice and personal injury every year since 1997, as the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer of the Year three times and as the Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year in 2019.
  • Super Lawyers®
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    Lance D. Cline has been selected by his peers as an Indiana Super Lawyer and as one of Indiana's Top 50 Lawyers since the inception of the award in 2004. He has also been selected as one of Indiana's Top 10 Lawyers in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Lance D. Cline has been a member of ITLA's Board of Directors since 1984 and was selected by his ITLA peers as the Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2018.
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