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Cerebral Palsy Series - Working With Cerebral Palsy   

Date: 5 March 2018

This article will provide an insight to how Sarah and the team work on Cerebral Palsy cases and how they generally play out in the medico-legal world.

A case begins when the client makes contact, usually once the symptoms have started showing at missed milestones as discussed in What Is Cerebral Palsy , usually when the child is around eighteen months old. For the developmental reasons stated in that article the case cannot be closed or settled until the child is aged around seven, but work can be started.

This early work can be split into two steps for establishing the case, unless the child is older, in which case it can be done all at once. First it must be proven that there has been sub-standard care, such as not acting on signs of stress whilst the baby is in the womb, or not treating jaundice quickly enough.

Once that sub-standard care has been proven, it must then be shown to be the cause of the Cerebral Palsy. As a disorder Cerebral Palsy is not always the result of negligence, a small percentage is down to genetics or complication caused by a premature birth. It is the job of Sarah and her team to find the cause and effect.

As the child grows the firm works with medical experts to prove liability and work out ways to help the family cope with the immediate needs. If a case can be proven before the age of seven there can be an interim payment to help with those. Every case is different so this money has been used on a range of different things such as a family holiday or a new, more accessible house.

When the child is seven and the effects of their Cerebral Palsy are more evident the firm starts to investigate the Quantum, or value, of the case by exploring the level of compensation.

The compensation is argued for in terms of Compensation Packages that are tailor made to meet the needs of the family as well as the child with Cerebral Palsy. These are worked out by Sarah, the specialist expert and the family. This means the money is best used to support the particular needs of each case. For example one child might need extra hydro-therapy or, one of the more common in Blackpool, an all-terrain wheelchair for use on the beach.

Whilst it is about finding ways to support the specific needs of the families often the needs supported in the packages can be broken down into the following main areas:
• Care: whether to support independent living, to pay for carers or to support parents as carers.
• Aids and equipment such as the wheelchair.
• Physiotherapy
• Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)
• Assistive technology such as computer aids, special toys, light rooms and environmental control systems.
• Accommodation to fit the needs of the child and the whole family.

Once these packages have been completed settlements are then argued for. For various reasons these cases rarely go to trial and settlements are reached outside of court. However, there also has to be a court order at the end due to the children being minors. This is because the court looks after the money so the judge needs to approve everything. These are a formality and the main reason is to sort the Anonymity Order to help protect the child and their family. These will be explained in a later article.

That was how a cerebral palsy case plays out in a nutshell, we hope you found it informative and interesting. As always if you would like any advice about anything mentioned please give us a call for free on 01253 356051.