Cerebral Palsy: Causes and Legal Remedies

Cerebral palsy is a term that encompasses a variety of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It’s a condition that is often linked to factors that occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or soon after birth. For many families, learning that their child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy is not only emotionally taxing but also fraught with questions. Among those questions, one may linger: Could this have been prevented?

In some cases, the answer is yes, and there might be legal remedies available, especially if medical negligence played a role. Below, we’ll delve into the common causes of cerebral palsy and the legal options available in South Carolina.

Potential Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can result from a myriad of causes, and in many instances, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason. However, some of the common contributing factors include:

  • Insufficient Oxygen: Lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery can result in cerebral palsy.
  • Infections During Pregnancy: Certain infections in the mother can adversely affect the development of the child’s nervous system.
  • Premature Birth: The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of cerebral palsy.
  • Traumatic Birth: Use of excessive force during delivery or improper use of medical equipment can lead to this condition.

Understanding Medical Negligence

Medical negligence becomes a significant concern when lapses in the standard of care during prenatal visits, labor, or delivery lead to an avoidable case of cerebral palsy. Examples include failure to detect or treat infections in the mother, failure to monitor fetal

distress, or improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery.

Legal Framework in South Carolina

In South Carolina, medical malpractice laws govern cases of negligence that lead to conditions like cerebral palsy. The statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the negligent act or from the date when the act should reasonably have been discovered. South Carolina law also sets a cap on non-economic damages (like pain and suffering) per defendant.

What Legal Remedies Are Available?

  • Compensation: Damages can include medical expenses, long-term care costs, pain and suffering, and loss of future income.
  • Injunction: In some cases, legal action can force a hospital or medical professional to change their practices to prevent future incidents.
  • Settlement: An out-of-court settlement is also a possibility, although this generally requires negotiation between the parties involved.

Proving Your Case

Evidence is critical in proving medical negligence. This can include medical records, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimony to establish the standard of care and how it was breached. In South Carolina, you must also file a “Notice of Intent to File Suit” and undergo mandatory mediation before proceeding with a lawsuit.


The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is a life-changing event that can leave families with a multitude of challenges and questions. While legal action cannot reverse the condition, it can provide the financial support needed for long-term care and perhaps offer a measure of justice for the affected families.

If you have more questions or need specific guidance, consider consulting professionals who are well-versed in both medical and legal aspects of cases like this.