Cerebral palsy

In most clinical negligence claims it is because the baby had a shortage of oxygen during birth, due to a delay or failure to carry out an emergency caesarean section.

Sometimes an emergency caesarean section is delayed, leading to a shortage of oxygen. If a doctor or member of medical staff has been at fault, you may be able to make a claim for compensation and this is one of the most common reasons for medical negligence cases.

The vast majority of births in the UK lead to the delivery of healthy children, but when this does not happen, it can be the result of hospital mistakes. Problems due to error in childbirth include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Ruptured placenta
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Infant death/stillbirth
  • Injuries to the mother
  • Broken collarbone
  • Umbilical cord problems

1. What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition affecting movement and co-ordination. Symptoms vary from person to person and other conditions are also often present, such as visual or auditory impairment, difficulty with speech and growth delay.

2. What causes cerebral palsy?

It is caused by damage to the brain, normally before, during or soon after birth, as a result of an infection, premature birth, trauma to the baby’s head, high or low blood pressure during pregnancy or a difficult birth, to name but a few possible reasons. In most medical negligence claims it is because the baby had a shortage of oxygen during birth, due to a delay or failure to carry out an emergency caesarean section.

3. Do I have a claim?

As detailed above, the cause of the brain injury can be very complicated. Your case will need to be investigated thoroughly by experienced solicitors, with the assistance of medical experts, to determine the likely cause of the injury and whether it was caused by substandard treatment.

4. How much compensation might I receive?

Compensation usually consists of general damages for pain, suffering and loss of life enjoyment and special damages for past and future financial losses. In severe brain injury cases, the overall settlement is often millions of pounds, due to the high level of care and change in accommodation required by the individual during their lifetime.

5. How can I fund my claim?

Children will usually qualify for legal aid, which is calculated by assessing the merits of a case and the financial means of the party involved. 

Although the accessibility of Legal Aid has been reduced drastically in recent years, Legal Aid continues to be available for children with a severe disability caused by an injury sustained during delivery or up to eight weeks after the 37 weeks gestation period.

Taylor&Emmet is one of a small number of firms in this region awarded a contract to carry out legal aid work in medical negligence claims. For more information, contact our specialist solicitors who will be happy to discuss your case in confidence.

Case studies


Liability was admitted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust failed to act on scans at 34 and 36 weeks gestation which showed that foetal growth was restricted. It was admitted that earlier action would have avoided the subsequent stillbirth. Both the mother and father suffered significant psychological trauma in addition to enduring the stillbirth itself. The case was eventually settled for £57,000.

Erb’s palsy

Various allegations were raised in relation to an expectant mother’s management during pregnancy by North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. For example, it was alleged that it should have been recognised the mother was suffering from gestational diabetes and that there a failure to use the McRobert’s procedure during delivery which would have made safe delivery of the baby much more likely.

Unfortunately the delivery was prolonged because of a shoulder dystocia and it was suggested that the failures all contributed to the eventual injury to the new-born boy. A brachial plexus injury was caused to the shoulder which caused restrictions in later life. In the future it was likely that there would be constraints with heavier lifting and more physical jobs such as in the armed forces would not be possible. Liability was denied but settlement was eventually agreed and approved by the court for £120,000.

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If you are interested in understanding how Taylor&Emmet can help you with your medical negligence claim then please contact:


James Drydale

James Drydale

Head of Clinical Negligence

Call 0114 218 4058

Email James

Office: Sheffield

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