Tag Archives: dan newlin

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders involving brain and nervous system functions such as movement, hearing, seeing and thinking. The term cerebral refers to the brain and palsy refers paralysis or lack of control with one’s body. It is a disability resulting from injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. Approximately 8,000 infants born in the United States are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.

The causes of cerebral palsy vary and may include:

  • Injury due to lack of oxygen in the brain
  • Bleeding or infections in the brain
  • Severe jaundice
  • Infections in the mother during pregnancy

In some cases, the injury is caused by low levels of oxygen suffered before or during birth. This can be the result of negligent medical care provided to the mother and child during the birthing process.

Signs of cerebral palsy may appear in the first months or years of a child’s life, typically prior to age three. In more than 80% of cases, symptoms are apparent within the first month of life. In instances where the infant’s brain is injured by low oxygen levels, there may be signs of this brain injury present at the time of delivery. However, it is very common for infants to experience the symptoms of cerebral palsy before an official diagnosis is given. Learn more about the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

Life with cerebral palsy varies based upon the severity of the brain injury. Some people require little or no assistance. Those with severe cerebral palsy may require special medical, educational, and social services. Cerebral palsy can put tremendous financial stress on the family of a child with the disorder. In 2003, the average lifetime cost of cerebral palsy-related expenses for one person was estimated at $921,000.

There are many factors that can cause cerebral palsy, including lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, the mother is usually placed on a fetal monitor. This device monitors and records the baby’s heartbeat. If the baby suffers from a lack of oxygen, then there will be signs of this distress in the baby’s heart tracing. Doctors, midwives, and nurses are trained to know what measures are necessary in order to relieve the distress. If these measures do not work to correct the lack of oxygen and relieve the distress, then immediate delivery of the baby is necessary to prevent brain injury. If there is a significant delay in recognizing the distress, taking the appropriate measures to relieve the distress, and or in delivery of the baby, then a prolonged lack of oxygen can result in an injury to the baby’s brain. This brain injury can later be diagnosed as cerebral palsy. Alternatively, when improperly used, delivery instruments such as forceps and vacuums can result in bleeding into the brain or skull fracture.

If your child has Cerebral Palsy, and was injured during birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, your child’s injury may be the product of medical malpractice. You need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Palsy, is the network of nerves that supply feeling and control to the shoulders and arms. Brachial Plexus Palsy is an injury to the nerves in the neck and upper chest. The injury can result in a loss of movement and feeling in the arm, hand and fingers. This injury often occurs during childbirth if the baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, and the appropriate delivery techniques are not used.

There are four types of Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus Palsy):

  • Neurapraxia occurs when the nerve has been damaged, but not torn.
  • Rupture occurs when the nerve is torn, but not separated from the spine
  • Avulsion occurs when the nerve is torn from the spine.
  • Neuroma occurs when scar tissue grows around the injury, and places pressure on the injured nerve, interfering
  • with the nerve’s ability to send signals to the muscles.

Symptoms of an Erb’s Palsy injury include:

  • A limp arm
  • Lack of movement in the arm or hand. The affected arm may flop when the infant is rolled from side to side
    Missing Moro reflex, which causes an infant to react when startled by a sudden, loud noise by stretching out the arms and flexing the legs
  • Inability to maintain the arm in a normal position (flexed at the elbow and held against the body)
  • Decreased grip on the affected side

The brachial plexus nerves can be injured when there is excessive pulling of the baby’s head during delivery. While some factors may increase the risk of injury, like high birth weight or breeched birth, Erb’s Palsy can also be the result of improper delivery methods by your doctor or medical team.

If your child has Erb’s Palsy, and was injured during birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, your child’s injury may be the product of medical malpractice. You need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.

What is a NICA claim?

The “Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Act” is a law passed by the Florida Legislature in 1988. The abbreviation “NICA” is often used to refer to the “Neurological Injury Compensation Act,” and sometimes used to refer to the “Neurological Injury Compensation Association,” which is the agency created to administer the NICA program.

The NICA program’s original purpose was not to provide benefits to families with injured children. The program was intended to shield obstetricians and hospitals from liability for causing catastrophic injuries to newborn babies because of negligence during labor and delivery. The statute grants obstetricians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers immunity from being sued in certain situations, and replaces the family’s right to file a medical malpractice law suit with the right to recover compensation from the NICA program.

To recover NICA benefits a family must file an administrative claim for the benefits with the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings and prove, among other things, that the injuries occurred at (or very near) the time of birth. However, the family does not have to prove that the injuries were caused by negligence of the obstetrician or anyone else.

To be covered by the NICA plan each of these requirements must be met:

1) An obstetrician who attended the delivery must be a member of NICA at the time of the delivery;

2) The baby must be born alive and in a hospital;

3) The baby must have weighed at least 2500 grams, i.e. about 5.5 pounds, at birth (2000 grams for multiple gestation);

4) The baby must have suffered injury to the brain or spinal cord caused by oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury;

5) The injury must have occurred during labor, during delivery, or during resuscitation right after birth; and

6) The baby’s injury must include severe and permanent physical AND mental impairments (or death).

A NICA claim may enable you to recover lifetime “medically necessary and reasonable medical and hospital, rehabilitative and training, family residential or custodial care, professional residential, and custodial care and service, for medically necessary drugs, special equipment, and facilities, and for related travel.”

“Family residential or custodial care” means care normally rendered by trained professional attendants which is beyond the scope of child care duties, but which is provided by family members. Family members who provide nonprofessional residential or custodial care may not be compensated under this act for care that falls within the scope of child care duties and other services normally and gratuitously provided by family members. Family residential or custodial care shall be performed only at the direction and control of a physician when such care is medically necessary.

In addition, a special statute of limitations is placed on NICA claims giving parents five years from the baby’s date of birth to file a claim. On the other hand, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim is much more complicated and can range from two years to eight years after the date of birth, depending on the unique circumstances.

If your child was injured during or before birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, and believe the injury may have been the product of medical malpractice, you need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.

What is negligence and how is it proved?

Because Cerebral Palsy claims involve the breach of a civil duty (as opposed to a contractual duty) that is owed to someone else, they are considered a tort crime. Necessary for the success of any tort action is a strong showing of negligence, or the breach of the standard of care owed to another person. Negligence, in terms of a birth injury or medical malpractice claim, means that because of the trusting, confidential relationship between a health care provider and a patient, and because of a doctor’s special skills and training, doctors owe their patients a special duty of care not normally owed to any given person from another. By establishing the applicable standard of care required in a given patient’s case, while also showing where a given medical professional deviated from the applicable standard of care, a patient can prove where negligence did occur. In essence, without a definitive answer concerning the appropriate standard of care in a given case, a patient’s claim of negligence is without merit, save for rare circumstances.

While state law generally determines how negligence is defined, the “standard of care” is generally defined by the medical community. It’s not the measure of what is optimum care or even the measure of what an expert thinks should have been done in hindsight. The issue is whether any reasonable physician could have done what the doctor in question did, based on the available information. Help defining “acceptable practice” can come from a medical expert’s experience, medical texts, literature and publications from groups such as the American Medical Association. However, in most cases the standard of care the doctor deviated from must be established at trial by expert testimony. In some states, this expert testimony must be established before a victim can even initiate a lawsuit. In essence, the only definitive method to determine the applicable standard of care, where and when a breach of standard of care (or negligence) occurred, as well as ascertaining whether a given instance of negligence caused damages can only be done by a medical expert witness. Through legal counsel, a patient will provide details and case-specific information to a third-party medical expert, who will testify concerning the elements of a given case, based on his or her professional opinion. In addition to expert testimony, negligence can be illustrated via the following means, among others:

  • Letters received from your hospital or health care provider
  • Medical receipts
  • Test results
  • Information related to your diagnosis
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Pictures of injuries
  • Any personal log entries recorded regarding your child’s medical history

Certain cases, albeit only a fraction of birth injury claims, will not require any proof of the applicable standard of care. In short, the damages sustained by a patient are obvious enough, per the view of a reasonable, third party, non-professional, to constitute negligence. Typically, even in these cases, providing expert testimony is a good idea, but may not necessarily be required to prevail in court, per applicable state statutes governing medical negligence.

If your child was injured during or before birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, and believe the injury may have been the product of medical malpractice, you need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.

Who can sue for Cerebral Palsy injuries?

Medical mistakes can cause injury to an otherwise healthy baby at any time during pregnancy, delivery or shortly after childbirth. Even the mishandling of an infant by any hospital worker can have lifelong consequences. Doctors are trained and required to adhere to a proper standard of care to prevent birth injuries. If a doctor fails to tell the mother of possible complications or makes a misdiagnosis, that standard of care may be violated. If a medical staff fails to follow protocol, both the mother’s and the baby’s lives could be endangered.

The first way in which a Cerebral Palsy claim may be filed is by the parents on behalf of the injured child. As a minor, the law requires that you represent your child in any claim for his or her injuries; your child is the plaintiff and the injured party, and it is your child who receives compensation. However, parents may also bring a claim on their own behalf for pain and suffering and for the costs of supporting a child whose injury greatly increases their costs of living.

If your child was injured during or before birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, and believe the injury may have been the product of medical malpractice, you need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.