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Cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy claims

Injuries caused by childbirth

We have considerable experience of acting for many children who have suffered the devastating complications of brain injury, either during or shortly after childbirth. We have also acted for children who have suffered Erb’s palsy.

It is important that medical negligence cases are investigated thoroughly and that the best experts are involved from the outset. Investigating whether there has been fault and then the value of child birth injury cases is a complex exercise and careful consideration must be given to the child’s current and future needs, including medical treatment, care, equipment (including assistive technology), accommodation and education. This is vital in order to ensure that correct financial provision is made for the child for life.

If you or a member of your family has suffered significant injury as a result of care provided during childbirth and are concerned about the treatment you have received, then it may be possible to pursue a claim for compensation. Ultimately, whether or not there is a claim will depend on the specific circumstances in each case. If you would like some initial advice about a possible cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy claim then you can call us on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online

Our clients have the added benefit of reference to our private client team at Clarke Willmott which has specific experience of dealing with large sums of compensation for minor children or adults lacking capacity – this includes investment advice, court of protection deputyships and trusts.

Child brain injury and cerebral palsy claims

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a condition that may affect a person’s co-ordination, movement, motor-skills and cognitive abilities. It is caused by abnormal brain development or a brain injury that occurs during pregnancy, labour or childbirth.

Cerebral palsy compensation claims

This is one of the most devastating and highly litigated areas in birth injury claims. A child born with cerebral palsy will have lifelong care needs and the impact of their needs upon the parents will be life changing. Cerebral palsy is not always the result of birth injury and not always the result of clinical negligence. Sometimes there is no clear cause for the condition and it is often attributed to an unpredictable event during the antenatal period.

Sometimes, cerebral palsy can be the result of oxygen starvation during labour and birth or due to complications in the early neonatal period such as hypoglycaemia, hypocalcaemia or untreated severe jaundice (hyperbilirubinaemia and kernicterus). Not all cases of oxygen starvation will be negligent but there are times where the medical team may have failed to respond to signs of a distressed baby and failed to ensure prompt delivery.

Cerebral palsy claims are notoriously complex and often strongly defended as they are often very valuable claims. It is crucial that you instruct a solicitor who has experience of cerebral palsy claims as they take a very long time to investigate, not least because the most experienced experts have huge waiting lists. They also take a long time to value and it will be necessary for the child to be visited and examined by suitable experts to assess their condition, prognosis and needs.

Erb’s palsy claims

Erb’s palsy is a condition where the baby suffers partial or sometimes complete injury to the brachial plexus nerve complex. A complete injury to the brachial plexus results in a flail (or useless) arm. This injury can occur when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. This is a condition known as “shoulder dystocia”. Injury to the brachial plexus is almost always avoidable with appropriate recognition of shoulder dystocia and appropriate delivery technique. There are clear practices and protocols for delivery which should be followed in cases of shoulder dystocia.

Legal Aid for brain injuries during childbirth

Clarke Willmott is one of the few firms able to obtain Legal Aid funding in cases where a baby has suffered a brain injury at or around the time of birth. If you are considering making a birth injury claim, always ask a solicitor if they are Legal Aid contract holders, a genuine mark of expertise. You should also ensure that your solicitor is an accredited member of The Law Society, AvMA or APIL specialist Clinical Negligence panels.

There are strict rules which govern whether or not a claim will benefit from Legal Aid and not all claims will be eligible.

Case Examples

  • The medical negligence team acted for the family of P’ who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy following complications during his birth at a local birthing centre and later at a local hospital. Read more here
  • Kerry Fifield, Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for a 10 year old boy who suffered brain damage at birth due to the negligence of the doctors and midwives involved in his delivery. Read more here

Helpful links:

Frequently asked questions

How do I make a claim?

There are numerous ways you can contact Clarke Willmott if you want to discuss your compensation claim with us. You can go through our website and access a form there and we will get back to you or you can simply telephone us, all of the numbers are available on our website and we’ll speak to you as soon as we can.

In reality, not every claim is worth pursuing – some cases are simply too complicated or expensive and have a poor chance of success. Start by seeking advice from one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors. The initial consultation is free and will help you understand whether your claim is likely to have a positive outcome for you.

How can I pay for the expenses of my claim?

One of the big things that concerns people when thinking about contacting a lawyer is how much is it going to cost them. And what we can do, is we can reassure you on that at the very start because we will be looking for the best solution for you. That can include working with you to see if you’ve already got any existing insurance cover that will cover your legal costs.

The alternative and most common way that we proceed with cases is on a no win, no fee basis. Which means that  there is little or no risk to the client. They are regulated by our regulator and so you can guarantee that it will be a proper product, you’ll be given full advice at the outset so that you can decide whether you want to proceed, but financially there should be very little risk, in fact no risk to you.

It’s important to consider how you’re going to pay your legal expenses especially as the cost of pursuing a medical negligence claim can be high. However, there are funding options available that could help reduce the expense, such as an existing insurance policy covering claims of this nature, a Conditional Fee Agreement (often called ‘no win no fee’) or legal aid.

Before you embark on your claim, we will talk you through:

  • The potential cost of pursuing your medical negligence claim
  • What percentage of these costs you might get back
  • What funding options are available to you.

How much compensation could I get?

In terms of thinking about how much compensation you will get, it’s important to note that every case is different. In our jurisdiction, we have a system that’s what we call a compensatory system. The object of bringing the claim is to put you back in the same position you would have been in, as best money can, as if you’ve never had the accident. So it’s impossible to say for any given case at the outset how much money people will get.

What we will do is we will look at all sorts of things that make up the value of the claim. So if you’ve been unable to work and had a loss of earnings, we’ll calculate that. We’ll make sure that we’re getting good advice from experts as to the cost of all the equipment, prosthetics, wheelchairs and everything else that you might need. We’ll also be able to include things like the claim for costs for care and assistance, for things that you can no longer mange yourself. But as I say, every case is individually assessed, and we will look at your case on an individual basis.

Every case is different, but here are some examples of compensation awarded to our clients:

  • £8.6 million – awarded to a child with cerebral palsy resulting from negligence during birth.
  • £1.5 million – awarded to a client who suffered a stroke due to negligence following a heart bypass procedure.
  • £500,000 – awarded to a family whose child suffered brain damage after a GP negligently failed to refer them to hospital.
  • £220,000 – awarded to a client who faced a delay in the treatment and diagnosis for a malignant melanoma.

If I have a claim, how long will it take?

One thing that concerns people who are bringing a claim is how long it’s all going to take? When are they going to get their compensation.  And there is really two things to say about that. The first is this: If we can establish liability on your behalf, we can prove that someone else is at least partly to blame for your injuries, we can usually get interim payments on account of damages quite quickly so we can start to help you with financial concerns or to fund the things that you need at the earliest part of your case.

In terms of how long the whole claim will take, that is actually very dependant upon the medical position and how well you are going to recover from your injuries and when we’re going to know how well you’ve recovered from your injuries. Everybody’s injury is different. Some people can reach a final position within a matter of a few months or a year or so, other people require much more lengthy rehabilitation, perhaps a number of other medical procedures. And this is important because we will only want to try to settle your claim when we can reasonably predict the future. And in doing so, that makes sure that we get the right level of compensation for you.

Looking for legal advice?