Cerebral Palsy & Medical Negligence

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that affect a person’s mobility, balance, and posture.  It is a non-progressive but long-lasting condition.

There are various different types of Cerebral Palsy:

  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy
  • Mix Cerebral Palsy
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy does not have a cure and any medical treatment relates to treating and preventing complications arising from the effects of Cerebral Palsy on the body.

What causes Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury or a problem that occurs during pregnancy or birth.  Often cases involving Cerebral Palsy are related to the infant not getting enough blood, oxygen (hypoxia of the brain) or other nutrients before or during the birthing process.

How can a hospital be liable for Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy can occur without any negligence at play but a large percentage of cases of Cerebral Palsy arise from the mismanagement of the mother’s pregnancy, labour and delivery of the baby.

The most common complications and areas of misconduct that arise during pregnancy, labour and the neonatal period:

  • Failure of the medical personnel to deal with an abnormal CTG trace (this displays the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s contractions)
  • Misuse of Oxytocin/Syntocinon which is used to induce and accelerate the labour
  • Injuries caused by forceps or vacuum delivery
  • Ineffective resuscitation of a sick newborn baby
  • Improper ventilation of a sick neonate
  • Failure to identify and treat hypoglycaemia in a newborn baby


Children who are born with a birth injury will need help and assistance throughout their lifetime.  They may require nursing care, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy.  There are various aids and appliances and technologies that can assist the child to lead the fullest possible life.

At McElhinney and Associates Solicitors we try to progress birth injury cases as swiftly as possible so that the infant can avail of all of the technologies, aids, appliances and treatments which will help the child progress and develop.

Time limits to bring a Cerebral Palsy medical negligence/medical malpractice claim:

As a parent of a child born with Cerebral Palsy, you can bring a case on behalf of your child to the courts. The time limit for bringing such a claim is not governed by the usual two-year time limit in the Statute of Limitations.  As the child is a minor, the Statute of Limitations would not run until their eighteenth birthday therefore any case can be brought right up until their twentieth birthday.  If the Cerebral Palsy is severe that would render the child under a disability and they are not governed by the Statute of Limitations.

Once proceedings are issued, cases take approximately two to three years to come before the court due to the complexity of these cases, the number of experts that are required to not only establish the mistake that was made and how that mistake caused the birth injury to the child but also all of the care and treatment that they will require into adulthood and beyond.

At McElhinney and Associates Solicitors we have successfully litigated and settled such birth trauma cases and have obtained compensation for our clients including compensation for house adaptions, technology aids and appliances, nursing care into the future etc.

How to make a claim:

In order to bring a claim for the injury to your child who has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy we must prove that the medical treatment offered during the pregnancy, labour or neonatal period fell below an acceptable standard of care.  In order to do so we take up a copy of all of the medical records including the mothers and child and we examine the records to see if mistakes were made or indicators missed that the child was in distress.  We then ask an expert from our panel of experts from outside of the jurisdiction to assess the care given and afforded to both mother and the child and to let us have their opinion on whether the mistakes amounted to negligence or not.  Once we have a supportive report from an expert confirming that there was negligence in the care then we can bring proceedings in the courts which will be served on the defendants and thereafter we work on gathering all of the reports necessary to calculate the level of care and services that the child will need into the future.

If you believe that your child developed  Cerebral Palsy as a result of the negligent care or treatment you received then please do not hesitate to contact us at McElhinney and Associate Solicitors for legal advice, email: admin@mcelhinneyassociates.com, Telephone:  074 91 75989 or 01 871 7571.

*In contentious business a Solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

**This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by McElhinney & Associates for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.

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