The form of cerebral palsy now known as spastic diplegia was first categorised in the eighteenth century and was initially described as static encephalopathy. It was quickly identified as a catastrophic injury caused by permanent brain damage often due to oxygen deprivation occurring before, during or shortly after birth. There are other less well known causes of cerebral palsy, including kernicterus which is usually due to medical negligence. It is now known that this condition mainly occurs naturally rather than as a result of negligent clinical care. There are four basic classifications know as ataxic, athetoid, spastic and mixed cerebral palsy dependent on the part of the brain that has been affected which are further subdivided into monplegia, diplegia, triplegia, hemiplegia and quadriplegia dependent on the limbs involved. In cases where the condition has been caused by errors on the part of a healthcare professional it may be possible for a cerebral palsy solicitor to make a medical negligence claim for compensation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to frequently asked questions about cerebral palsy please click on the links below :-

causes of cp

what does cp mean to a family?

limitations of cp for a child

what is a brain injury?

how can cp be cured?

treatment of cp

how to cope with a cp child

how to deal with a disabled child

how to explain cp to other people

brain injury in children

ischaemic hypoxic brain injury

spastic quadriplegia cp

hemiplegia cp

living with cp

life after cp


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Medical Negligence Law

Due to Australias federal system, the relevant law relating to clinical negligence is dependent on location. Some of the states and territories rely on the common law and some have new legislation to deal with clinical negligence. In areas where the common law applies, the standard of care is set by the courts, who do not judge a doctors competence by reference to other doctors practices and ability but by absolute standards. In common law areas cerebral palsy solicitors obtain judgement in a medical negligence compensation claim by showing that the doctors conduct did not conform to the standard of care demanded by the law of that state or territory. In the areas of Australia where legislation has been introduced, the common law has been displaced and a doctors conduct is compared, not to absolute standards, but to the conduct of other doctors faced with a similar problem in a similar location. Even in the event of the treatment failing a doctor will not be judged to have been negligent provided that a substantial body of other doctors would have taken the same approach provided the treatment was a logical course of action notwithstanding the fact that alternative treatment may have been more successful.


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Compensation Claim Awards

Compensation payable in a cerebral palsy compensation claim is dependent on the severity of the brain injury and the associated disability. Compensation is intended to put a victim back in the position that they would have been in had the injury not occurred which in the case of this condition simply cannot be attained. Compensation in these cases can however ensure that the victims life is made a little more comfortable and that relatives and carers are better equipped for the task. Compensation is generally divided into several categories with different rates of added interest and may include a lump sum or periodical payments as follows :-

  • Special Damages in a cerebral palsy medical negligence compensation claim represents items that can be calculated with accuracy including :-

    • medical & legal expenses
    • cost of care both past & future
    • general expenses & costs
    • cost of domestic residence alterations
    • parental time & expense

  • General Damages in a cerebral palsy medical negligence compensation claim represents items that must be assessed including :-

    • pain & suffering
    • loss of potential lifestyle
    • loss of potential income


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Risk Factors

Risk factors for cerebral palsy should be considered by doctors prior to the birth in order that risk can be alleviated by use of recognised protocols. Failure to take requisite action in the presence of a risk factor may mean that a cerebral palsy solicitor will succeed in a medical negligence compensation claim against a healthcare professional. The fact that one or more risk factors is present does not mean that an infant will necessarily suffer from this condition. Risk factors may include :-

  • breech birth presentation
  • complicated labour/delivery
  • infant vascular or respiratory problem
  • first child or born fifth or subsequent
  • low Apgar score for heart rate, breathing, muscle tone and reflexes
  • twins especially if one dies
  • obvious nervous system malformations
  • Low birth weight - less than 2 kilos
  • premature birth - less than 37 weeks
  • multiple births
  • blood type incompatibility mother/infant
  • micro-organisms attack on childs central nervous system
  • severe maternal proteinuria – months 6 to 9
  • maternal bleeding – months 6 to 9
  • maternal hyperthyroidism
  • maternal seizures
  • maternal German measles
  • mother 40 years old plus
  • mother below 20 years old
  • father below 20 years old
  • African-Caucasian ethnicity


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Kernicterus is a rare condition that all healthcare professionals involved in post-natal care should have been made fully aware. Kernicterus is a condition that is relatively easy to treat by the use of a ‘blue lamp’ which gives light of a particular frequency. If left untreated kernicterus has serious consequences that lead to athetoid cerebral palsy. Kernicterus is caused by high levels of a naturally occurring toxin, which is a breakdown product of haemoglobin, in the childs blood stream. An infant is less able to metabolise this naturally occurring by-product which causes jaundice. Symptoms of kernicterus include yellow discolouration of the skin, difficulty in rousing, reduction of awareness, poor ability to suckle, high pitched cry together with general weakness, limpness or floppy muscle tone. There are recognised risk factors and healthcare professionals should also be fully aware of the symptoms. This condition is a medical emergency demanding urgent and immediate treatment at the mere suspicion of its presence.


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Cerebral Palsy Solicitors

If you would like expert legal advice at no cost from a cerebral palsy solicitor, without further obligation, just complete and send the contact form or email our offices and a member of our medical negligence team will phone you. We will take details over the telephone and will give you our initial thoughts on both liability and the anticipated amount of compensation. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further, then that is your right and you will not receive any charge for our advice. If you do decide to proceed we operate the no win no pay scheme.

LEGAL HELPLINE 1800 339 353



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