March 5, 2019

Is cerebral palsy caused by medical errors?

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong and serious neurological disorder that is often caused by a lack of enough oxygen reaching an infant’s brain during labor or delivery. Head trauma before, during or shortly after birth can be a cause. While not all cases of cerebral palsy are caused by medical error, some certainly are. Medical errors or medical malpractice during labor or delivery can sometimes result in hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen to the brain, or asphyxia, which is insufficient oxygen to the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that 85 to 90 percent of cerebral palsy cases are congenital, or occur before or during the birth.

Cerebral palsy impairs muscle coordination and body movement. Harmful side effects of cerebral palsy can include breathing problems, trouble swallowing, speech impediment, as well as vision and hearing problems. Other side effects include cognitive impairments, seizure disorder, learning disabilities, and inability to control the bladder or bowels and more. 1 in 323 babies in the U.S. is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation.

Types of cerebral palsy

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – The most common form of CP, it accounts for for 70-80% of cases. Symptoms include stiff and tight muscles. Those suffering from spastic cerebral palsy may have difficulty moving from one position to another. They may have trouble controlling muscles that are needed to perform tasks such as holding an object or speaking. Spasticity is due to damage to the motor cortex of the brain before, during or after birth.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – This form of CP is characterized by involuntary movements, such as twisting and repetitive movements, slow movements or unpredictable movements. It results from damage to the basal ganglia of the brain.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Ataxic is characterized by shaky movements that may appear disorganized or jerky, as well as a difficulty in maintaining balance. Ataxia causes an interruption of muscle control in the arms and legs, causing a lack of balance and coordination. It has an impact on the movements required for day-to-day activities. Ataxia results from damage to the cerebellum. 

Medical errors that may result in cerebral palsy

  • Failing to properly monitor the mother or infant before, during or after childbirth.
  • Failure to identify fetal distress by not properly monitoring the fetal heart rate during labor and delivery.
  • The medical mistake of failing to identify and properly treat infections in the mother during pregnancy.
  • Delayed diagnosis and treatment of maternal medical conditions or infections.
  • Failing to identify an umbilical cord prolapse, a birth complication that occurs prior to delivery. Prolapse is when the umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby. It sometimes getting trapped against the baby’s body.
  • Medical errors regarding cesarean sections. This can include delaying a cesarean section needed due to an emergency or failing to perform a cesarean section in a high-risk pregnancy. Failing to perform a C-section when the baby is too large to deliver vaginally may also cause an injury. Medical mistakes relating to C-sections can lead to serious birth injuries.
  • Medical negligence in using medical instruments or equipment. This can include the improper use of forceps or vacuum during delivery.
  • Medication errors or the uses of medication that was inappropriate or dangerous for the mother or baby.
  • Inadequate monitoring of the mother and baby when anesthesia is used.
  • Medical diagnostic errors, such as incorrect reading of test results. 

Providing a child with cerebral palsy with the appropriate care can take a toll on a family, both financially and emotionally. Cerebral palsy often requires a lifetime of care. Costly rehab, therapy and home care, as well as other medical expenses can become burdensome to an already struggling family. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or is exhibiting symptoms of cerebral palsy, and you suspect medical malpractice, contact an experienced birth injury attorney today for help. 

The burden of proof in birth injury cases 

It’s hard to imagine that with just a single medical error, an infant’s life can be permanently harmed. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a birth injury case. Therefore, a plaintiff must do more than just prove that a child suffers from cerebral palsy. A medical expert is needed to testify as to the specific cause of the disability. The medical expert will also determine whether it is a result of medical error or medical negligence. A doctor or hospital failing to provide the accepted standard of care may be a factor in a cerebral palsy birth injury. Responsible medical parties in a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case can include an OB-GYN, surgeon, doctor, nurse, hospital or healthcare clinic or others.

Statute of limitations in Pennsylvania cerebral palsy cases 

If you feel your child was the victim of medical negligence or has cerebral palsy as the result of a medical error you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries, as well as resulting medical treatment. It is not too late to hold the responsible medical providers accountable for their negligent actions. A statute of limitations establishes the deadline for filing a lawsuit. If the injured victim is a minor at the time the injury or accident occurred, such as in the event of a birth injury, the statute of limitations does not begin until the victim turns 18. An injured child or minor has 2 years to file a lawsuit after they turn 18.

If your baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe that medical error or hospital error could have been the cause, you need to contact a medical malpractice lawyer. An experienced cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer can review the details of the case and help determine if medical negligence did cause your child’s birth injury. Medical errors leading to cerebral palsy can occur during pregnancy, labor and birth. They may also occur immediately following the birth of your baby.

Distasio & Kowalski medical malpractice lawyers

The birth injury lawyers at Distasio & Kowalski in Wilkes-Barre can help you to obtain the compensation you deserve. It is our goal to help your family overcome the lifelong difficulties associated with cerebral palsy or other birth injuries. This can include compensation for past and future medical expenses and caretaking costs, as well as for pain and suffering. We are a personal injury firm dedicated to getting injury victims the best possible legal results and holding medical professionals accountable for the harm they cause.

Read more on birth injuries and medical malpractice compensation on our website. Learn more about the early signs of cerebral palsy and screening on the CDC website.

February 7, 2019

Peter Biscontini Appointed to Luzerne County Convention Center Authority

Peter J. Biscontini, Esquire has been appointed by Luzerne County Counsel to the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority for a 5-year term ending December 31, 2023. The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority oversees the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Attorney Biscontini is with the Wilkes-Barre personal injury firm Distasio & Kowalski LLC. He focuses on representing plaintiffs in cases involving Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Workers’ Compensation.  Attorney Biscontini earned his Juris Doctor at Duquesne University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Kings College. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Luzerne County Bar Association.

Distasio & Kowalski LLC is a Wilkes-Barre personal injury firm that helps the innocent victims of Auto/Truck Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability, and Personal Injury/Wrongful Death. Learn more at www.dklawllc.com.

October 22, 2018

Michael J. Kowalski to present at NEPATLA event

Attorney Michael J. Kowalski is scheduled to present at the Northeastern PA Trial Lawyers Association Personal Injury Potpourri continuing education event on December 6, 2018. Speakers will provide an overview of timely and important personal injury topics for civil litigators in NEPA. The day-long seminar will feature topics including Nursing Home Litigation, Tips and Strategies for Effectively Representing Injured Workers, Effective Use of Arbitration & Mediation to Settle Personal Injury Cases, and many more. Atty. Kowalski is a partner in the Distasio Kowalski personal injury firm in Wilkes-Barre. He will present on the topic of Deposing the Defendant Doctor in a Medical Malpractice Case. The NEPATLA provides advocacy, education, resources and support for civil litigators in the Northeast Region of the State.

Distasio Kowalski is a personal injury firm that represents the victims of auto accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, birth injury cases as well as other injury cases.

 

October 9, 2018

Lack of regulation for modified stretch limousines pose dangers

The horrific fatal crash of yet another modified stretch limousine this past weekend has us again talking about the lack of safety regulations for these vehicles. 20 were killed in the New York limousine crash, making it the deadliest transportation accident in the U.S. in nearly a decade. According to news reports, a Ford Excursion limousine went through a stop sign and hit a parked vehicle before crashing into a ditch. Two pedestrians and all 18 people in the limo died. Among those killed in the limousine accident were four sisters. Others included couples just starting their lives together and friends who came together to celebrate a 30th birthday. This limousine crash is an unspeakable tragedy that may have been prevented.

The dangers of modified stretch limousines

Why did not one passenger survive the limousine crash? It’s a question that investigators hope to answer. The concerning lack of safety regulations for these vehicles will certainly come into play. Modified stretch limousines are largely untested and unregulated. They often don’t have the strict safety measures that factory-built vehicles are required to have. This includes things such as side-impact airbags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits. When limousines are first built, they must meet these strict safety regulations. After a vehicle leaves the factory, the oversight stops. When vehicles, such as this Ford Excursion are stretched and converted into a limo, the safety features are sometimes weakened or removed completely. This can result in serious danger in the event of a crash.

Although some automakers do produce stretch limos that are safer than many we see on the roads, there are many more out there that have been converted and are simply not safe. Some limos have been radically altered after factory and have not been properly safety tested. To modify a vehicle into a stretch limo, an ordinary car or SUV is cut apart and then lengthened with metal plates to create a much longer body. This often weakens the structural integrity of the vehicle. The modification may weaken the frame and reduce its ability to withstand the impact of a crash. Because of the way the seats are configured, most limo passengers are without the protection of seat belts and side airbags. Exits may have been blocked or removed during modification. This makes it extremely difficult to get out of the vehicle quickly and safely in the event of a crash. In addition, these long vehicles are extremely difficult for drivers to maneuver. Modifications may have created blind spots that prevent the driver from seeing properly. Limo drivers should also be properly screened, licensed and trained to drive this particular type and length vehicle. As seen in the New York tragedy, not all drivers are properly licensed.

More regulations needed for modified stretch limousines

Tragically, although they carry large groups of people, there is far less regulation and oversight of these modified vehicles than newly manufactured vehicles. Modified limos are often not engineered properly from the beginning and they often receive no testing and no quality control. Without adequate testing, dangerous structural deficiencies can be missed. Additionally, modified stretch limousines are exempt from federal seatbelt laws, because of their banquette seating. The lack of seat belts can prove deadly in the event of a limousine crash.

Many people who choose to hire a stretch limo are doing so because they are celebrating and want to be sure to be transported safely. They are doing what they believe is the responsible thing to do when celebrating, having a designated driver. Modified limos are carrying wedding parties, birthday celebrants and young prom-goers. They have no idea they may be putting themselves in harms way in a potentially dangerous vehicle. Without the protection of seat belts, airbags and other safety measures, even the slightest accident can cause serious injuries. Strong federal regulations must be put in place for modified stretch limousines to keep passengers safe. They need to be held to higher safety standards, so horrific tragedies like this don’t happen again.

The lack of regulations is concerning, so what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?

  • Do your research before hiring a limousine company.
  • Be sure the company is registered with the state and that all drivers are properly licensed. Ask if the limo has been modified or if it is a factory-built stretch limo, which is required to meet strict safety regulations.
  • Call the Better Business Bureau to check on the company and to check for any complaints or red flags.
  • Finally, the limo that crashed this past weekend had recently failed an inspection and the driver lacked the proper license for driving that vehicle. If you have a bad feeling about a company you’reD dealing with or the situation just doesn’t feel safe, don’t take any chances; look for another means of transportation.

Distasio & Kowalski is a Wilkes-Barre personal injury firm that specializes in representing the victims of auto accidents. Our clients are our top priority. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this fatal limousine crash.

 

 

October 3, 2018

Daniel Distasio named Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyer

WILKES-BARRE, PA – October 3, 2018 – Attorney Daniel Distasio, a partner in the Wilkes-Barre personal injury firm of Distasio & Kowalski, LLC, has been selected by The National Trial Lawyers for inclusion in is Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania.

This honor is given to only a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field. Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and achieved outstanding results in their careers in either civil plaintiff or criminal defense law.

With his selection to The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100, Mr. Distasio has shown that he exemplifies superior qualifications, leadership skills and trial results as a trial lawyer. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process, which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. The National Trial Lawyers is a professional organization comprised of the premier trial lawyers from across the country.

Distasio & Kowalski LLC, a personal injury firm located in Wilkes-Barre, specializes in Auto & Truck Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Birth Injury Law, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death. For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit www.dklawllc or call 570-970-5400.