Falling down icy steps or getting into a car accident is a traumatic experience, but it is doubly so when you’re pregnant. Not only are you concerned about the injuries to yourself, but to your unborn baby as well. Trauma to a fetus while the mother is pregnant could just cause temporary injuries, but life-long conditions such as cerebral palsy can also occur. While cerebral palsy and other conditions can be caused by genetic mutations, a greater number are due to injuries to the pregnant mother.
Any injury to the mother that causes damage to the fetus’ still-developing brain can be the precursor and cause of cerebral palsy – a condition that has no cure. When this type of injury occurs because of someone else’s negligence, it is truly tragic because the child could have had a life without the extra complication of a disruptive neurological condition. You and your family deserve compensation for the damage the negligent party caused. This is why it is important to seek legal counsel.
What accidents can cause cerebral palsy?
In a recent article published by JAMA Pediatrics, research shows that children whose mothers suffer mild accidents while pregnant are 33% more likely to develop cerebral palsy than mothers who suffered no accidents at all. For mothers who suffered severe accidents, it was 50% more likely their child would develop the condition. A group led by Asma Ahmed, MD, PhD, MPH, of the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto wrote that “Injuries affect between 6% to 8% of pregnant people, with most of those injuries being unintentional. Vehicle crashes and falls are the most common unintentional injuries in pregnancy.”
Despite this, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly was the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy. Your child may not be diagnosed with the disability until months or even years later, and by then, it may be difficult to pinpoint a possible cause. However, if you experienced an accident while pregnant, there is a good chance that it could have been the instance in which your fetus sustained damage to their brain and led to developing the condition.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations on filing a personal injury lawsuit or medical malpractice lawsuit is three years starting from the time of the incident, as per DC Code § 12-301. However, there may be times where the statute of limitations is “tolled,” meaning that the clock doesn’t start running right away. The best thing you can do is speak with an attorney quickly, so that you are not time barred from filing your lawsuit
Some accidents that can cause damage to an unborn baby include:
- Mild to severe car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Bike accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
Any accident causing undue, sudden jostling or force could have damaged the baby’s brain. This is why it is important that if you have experienced an accident of any sort, even if you think you weren’t injured or if you’re not in any pain, that you see your healthcare provider to check on the status of your fetus.
How medical malpractice can cause cerebral palsy
Unfortunately, even if you take extra care in avoiding reckless drivers or slippery sidewalks, you can’t avoid mistakes or wrong calls made by the medical team that is taking care of you during your pregnancy. Even injuries that happen at the time of the birth can be a cause of cerebral palsy.
Instances of medical malpractice that can lead to the development of the disability in your child include:
- Oxygen deprivation. Whether the care provider doesn’t notice the lack of oxygen (usually due to the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck) during the delivery process or earlier during an ultrasound appointment, this negligence can lead to brain damage for your child.
- Brain swelling or bleeding. This can be caused by vacuum extractor or forceps errors by your OBGYN.
- Skull fractures. If left untreated, skull fractures can affect oxygen levels or cut off the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
- C-Section errors. Delays in necessary C-sections, infections, or surgery complications can all lead to fetal brain damage.
- Failure to monitor. If the fetus is improperly monitored whether during the pregnancy or delivery, it can lead to infection or injury.
- Postpartum negligence. Postpartum care is just as important to the health of your child as the care provided throughout the pregnancy and delivery.
Negligence, whether the negligence of someone driving a car, the negligence of someone who didn’t put rock salt on their icy steps, or even the negligence of your own medical care team, can lead to lifelong consequences, not just for you, but for your child as well. While there are medications, therapies, and even surgeries for your child to help them with their disability, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. While nothing can lessen the love a mother has for her child, she and her child deserve restitution for the harm done to them.
If your child suffers from cerebral palsy, and you believe it to be due to an injury caused by negligence, you deserve compensation. Not only the financial losses that come from treating your own possible injuries, the injuries your child sustains, and costs of treating the condition itself (through therapies, surgeries, and medications); but you also deserve compensation for the emotional challenges you and your family are facing. No one ever should have to pay for the pain and suffering caused by someone else, including you.
Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our offices.