How much is a lifetime of unimpaired mobility worth? A New York jury recently awarded a 17-year-old girl $103 million to compensate her for injuries incurred at birth. The jury concluded that hospital negligence caused the girl's cerebral palsy, leaving her wheelchair-bound with numerous neurological impairments. While the award pays for her care needs, it cannot give her the same mobile life as her uninjured twin sister.
Lifetime Consequences of a Hospital Error
The plaintiff was born nearly three months premature after her mother suffered pregnancy complications and was hospitalized. Although her due date was still three months away, the mother began experiencing contractions a week later. Hospital staff did not recognize the premature contractions until it was too late and the mother gave birth to twin girls.
Although one of the girls eventually began to display signs of the cerebral palsy that would leave her disabled, the other twin developed normally. Now 17, the first twin cannot walk or care for herself. Her sister, meanwhile, lives the completely mobile and independent life of a normal teenage girl.
Jury Verdict Provides for Care
The girl sued the hospital for causing her condition. In August, the jury awarded her $103 million after three days of deliberation. This amount is based on the unfortunate reality that the girl will require full-time care for the rest of her life. Due to her impairments, the girl might not have been able to earn enough to pay for a full-time care provider.
While this award will provide for the girl's physical and financial needs, it will not allow her to walk or lead an unimpaired life like her twin sister. The consequences of the hospital's errors will accompany her for the rest of her life.
Early Cerebral Palsy Indications
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by brain damage at an early age. Early brain injuries can damage the portions of an infant's brain that govern motor control and coordination. These injuries can irreparably impair developing brains, leading to lifelong consequences.
When an infant suffers this type of brain damage, cerebral palsy interrupts muscle development, causing varying levels of impairment. Cerebral palsy often reduces muscle tone, strength and coordination, impairing many motor functions. Symptoms vary in individual victims and can cause a range of consequences that affect different parts of the body.
Although some cerebral palsy cases result from prenatal conditions, medical errors are also a leading cause. If hospital staff does not respond to birthing complications appropriately, an infant can suffer brain damage from oxygen deprivation. Physical head trauma can also cause cerebral palsy. Despite the numerous risks of medical error, it can be difficult to determine whether a case of cerebral palsy resulted from preventable birth trauma at the hands of hospital staff.
Cerebral palsy is not usually apparent in newborns. Instead, parents should watch for signs of delayed development several months later. If a baby takes an unusually long time to learn to roll over, crawl or walk, cerebral palsy may be to blame. Other seemingly innocuous developmental cues can indicate a problem. For example, if a child develops a preference for one hand at an early age, it may be because the other hand is impaired due to a cerebral palsy-related delay.
Concerned parents should watch carefully for signs of cerebral palsy - especially in the case of fetal distress or traumatic deliveries. Some experts believe that early diagnoses can help manage some symptoms.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong and significant impairment. Parents who suspect that medical errors or birthing trauma played a role in a child's condition should contact an experienced Michigan cerebral palsy lawyer. While a lawsuit cannot restore a child's complete mobility, malpractice damages can secure a lifetime of care and financial protection.