West Palm Beach Developmental Delay Lawyer
There is an unbelievable amount of misinformation that exists about developmental delays (DDs). The term is very broad and encompasses a wide amount of disorders and differences, and as such, it is very easy to misunderstand or misinterpret a tenet of what the term of art actually means. A medical professional may cause developmental delays in a child by committing malpractice, but some DDs occur naturally. It can be critical to understand which is which, and how you can best seek redress for the breach of the standard of care that you have experienced.
More specifically, developmental delays are defined as “chronic disabilities that can be physical, mental or both.” Developmental disability is a term that includes intellectual disabilities, but the two are not synonymous. Thus, while intellectual disabilities deal almost entirely with cognition and perception, developmental disabilities can also have a physical component. Conditions like epilepsy are often overlooked in favor of more flashy examples like fragile X syndrome that are exclusively mental or intellectual in nature.
Developmental delays can manifest in several ways as a child grows. Generally speaking, there are developmental milestones that a child is expected to reach as they age. When a child does not reach these milestones in a certain time, an underlying condition is often suspected. It can be hard to diagnose in the beginning, but if the delay persists, it can be a good marker of a potential problem for the future.
The causes of such injuries are varied, which can make it difficult to know when to impute malpractice to the attending doctor and when to write off a bad outcome as natural. Some of the more common causes are indeed natural or at least unavoidable: genetic disorders can cause physical abnormalities and cognitive impairments. However, there are many varieties of malpractice that can cause problems, most of them experienced during birth. The most common are:
- Oxygen deprivation at birth, due to a pinched or prolapsed umbilical cord or delayed cesarean section. This can lead to cerebral palsy, which can manifest as gross and fine motor impairments, as well as lack of muscle tone.
- Physical trauma from an improperly performed forceps or vacuum extractor This can cause cephalohematoma or subdural hematoma, which are types of head trauma.
- Damage from prolonged labor. Conditions such as shoulder dystocia, where the child becomes stuck in the birth canal, can cause long-lasting difficulties if they persist for too long.
A medical professional is in a somewhat unique position in terms of their liability for negligence, because most often, to establish someone’s actions as negligent, a plaintiff must prove that a duty of care existed between them and the defendant – in other words, that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise all reasonable prudence in their interactions. By law, a duty of care exists between a doctor and their patient, so the plaintiff does not have to prove it. If a medical professional did not provide you the same kind of care as another doctor of similar skill and experience would have, there is a strong presumption that they have committed malpractice.
A Professional Can Tip The Balance In Your Favor
If your child has been diagnosed with a developmental delay and you believe it to be due to the negligence of a medical professional, the best way to get results is with an experienced developmental delay attorney on your side. The firm of Gary Roberts & Associates has medical experts on staff, and we are well versed in the law surrounding these complex issues. We are based in West Palm Beach, and are able to work around your schedule with appointments at flexible hours. We are also able to accommodate Spanish speakers. Contact our office to discuss your options today; the first consultation is free.