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What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a life-changing neurological disorder where a baby's brain doesn't develop correctly in the womb or is injured in some way during or shortly after birth. 

The condition leads to a variety of problems, most of which involve impaired movement, muscle control and vision as well as swallowing or learning difficulties. 

It's a severely debilitating and lifelong ailment with no cure, but treatment and therapy can help ease the symptoms. Sufferers develop it to varying degrees and the long term care, equipment and sometimes specialist schooling are expensive.

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe that it was caused by avoidable complications or mistakes made before, during or after the birth, then you may be able to claim for cerebral palsy compensation.

To find out more, call us free on or fill out our online form and we'll call you back at a time that suits you.

Did you know?

A type of cerebral palsy affects around two in every 1,000 babies born in the UK annually and approximately 1,800 children are diagnosed every year. There are an estimated 30,000 sufferers in the country today. Care in a number of these cases will have been helped by cerebral palsy negligence claims.

Source: Cerebral Palsy Sport, 2020

What are the typical causes of cerebral palsy?

The developmental damage that causes cerebral palsy most often occurs during pregnancy. Exact triggers can be difficult to diagnose but any problem that interferes with the supply of blood or oxygen to a baby's brain can cause it.

Perinatal problems in pregnancy

Possible causes of cerebral palsy before birth include:

Neonatal problems during or shortly after birth

A baby's brain can also suffer damage during childbirth or shortly after. For instance where:

Other situations that can increase the risk of cerebral palsy

These include:

  • Premature birth before the 37th week of pregnancy and particularly for those born at 32 weeks or earlier.
  • Low birthweight (under 2.5 pounds) or where the baby is part of a multiple birth, as with twins, triplets or more.
  • Where the mother or father is under 20 or the mother over 40. 

Where the mother smokes, drinks excess alcohol or uses illegal Class A drugs while pregnant.

What are the typical causes of cerebral palsy involving medical negligence?

We understand how devastating a diagnosis of cerebral palsy is. When medical negligenceis the cause, it just compounds the agony.

Sometimes complications with birth can cause the brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy. Examples of these complications that may involve medical negligence include:

  • An avoidable delay with the delivery of the baby leading to oxygen deprivation in the womb.
  • Avoidable brain injury during childbirth or after.
  • Preventable or misdiagnosed infections of the type we described above.
  • Dangerously low blood sugar levels that could have been prevented.
  • Undiagnosed or late action on new-born jaundice and other liver or kidney problems.
  • A delay in the diagnosis or treatment of serious medical conditions in the mother. 

All of these complications may be avoided by medical professionals reading the signs or symptoms, and acting fast to ensure that they're providing the best and safest chance for a healthy baby to be delivered.

If your child developed cerebral palsy because a midwife, doctor or other birthing assistant behaved negligently, it's likely that you'll be entitled to cerebral palsy compensation based on medical negligence

If you have had a similar experience, call us free on for a confidential chat with one of our friendly, legally-trained advisors. We know how tough it can be for the parents and family of a child with cerebral palsy and we're here to help you.

Julie, Katie's mum, contacted us about Katie's medical negligence case. Katie's appendix had burst and had gone unnoticed. Fearing long-term consequences, Julie and Katie contacted us to help make it right.

Katie's story

Julie, Katie's mum, contacted us about Katie's medical negligence case. Katie's appendix had burst and had gone unnoticed. Fearing long-term consequences, Julie and Katie contacted us to help make it right.

Are there different types of cerebral palsy?

Yes, there are four main varieties and we've outlined them for you below.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Typically the commonest form of the condition. It causes exaggerated reflexes (or spasticity) and stiff or painful muscles. Most children will have difficulty walking to a greater or lesser degree, depending on which subtype they have. 

Spastic diplegia: involves muscle stiffness in the arms or legs, affecting dexterity and walking.

Spastic hemiplegia: when one side of the body is mainly affected, typically with movement issues in the arm on the side affected.

Spastic quadriplegia: the most serious subtype, it involves motor dysfunction across the whole body and can trigger associated disorders like epilepsy, learning, eating or sleeping difficulties.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the second most common type, marked by motor dysfunction in the arms, hands, and legs that make it difficult to control body movements and coordination.

It's a harrowing condition that causes writhing-type movements or quick and uncontrolled, jerky spasms as well as speech impairment, difficulty walking and sitting. 

There are three main subtypes of dyskinetic cerebral palsy that affect motor skills, coordination and walking and they can co-exist simultaneously:

Dystonia: where involuntary twisting and repetitive movements are present in one area or the whole body. 

Athetosis: involves slow, writhing movements that make it hard to maintain posture.

Chorea: sudden, fidgety and unpredictable movements and a general lack of uncoordinated.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This is the rarest form of cerebral palsy. Infants and children with ataxic cerebral palsy display widespread uncoordinated and jerky movements. 

These movements begin with a voluntary effort to do something that becomes uncontrolled and unpredictable. Walking, sitting, writing, speech, swallowing and vision are usually all affected.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Sadly, all the main times of the condition can combine in what's called mixed cerebral palsy. Combined dyskinetic and spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of mixed disorder. The symptoms vary but often include:

  • Muscle stiffness with unplanned stiff or floppy movements.
  • Seizures and cognitive problems.
  • Difficulties with speech, hearing and swallowing.
  • Facial tics and drooling.
  • Vision problems such as ‘lazy eye' and cortical blindness.

How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?

Cerebral palsy symptoms aren't always obvious after birth and usually only become apparent in a child's first two or three years. Signs of possible cerebral palsy include not reaching key developmental milestones - like not walking by 18 months or not sitting up by eight months.

Doctors typically diagnose the type of cerebral palsy a patient has by reviewing the child's medical history, thorough physical examination and imaging tests.

Brain scan imaging

Diagnosis may involve:

  • Cranial ultrasound scan - a handheld scanner that uses sound waves to create an image of your child's brain.
  • MRI scan - uses magnetics and radio waves to produce a more detailed view into the brain
  • CT scan - uses X-rays to create a very detailed image of the brain.

Other types of tests used

Specialists medical professionals will also use other advanced diagnostic tests to confirm cerebral palsy and also rule out other conditions. They include: 

  • An electroencephalogram(EEG) - a doctor will put small pads on the scalp to check brain activity and look for signs of epilepsy
  • An electromyogram (EMG) - tiny needles gently pressed into the muscles and nerves will show how well they're working.
  • Blood tests will check for other medical problems that can cause similar symptoms to cerebral palsy.

Doctors also use the gross motor classification system (GMCS) to measure severity of the condition by cataloguing a child's physical abilities and disabilities in detail.

Will my child recover from cerebral palsy?

Sadly, the answer's no as medicine stands today. It's an incurable neurological condition but various treatments and therapies can alleviate the symptoms and help your child be as independent as they can be as they grow up - and help you cope.

Medical treatment for cerebral palsy includes:

  • Physiotherapy.
  • Speech, swallowing, diet and language therapy.
  • Occupational therapy to help with everyday tasks.
  • Medicines to help with symptoms like muscle stiffness, sleeplessness and seizures or epilepsy.

Am I eligible to make a cerebral palsy compensation claim?

Medical negligence claims are both complicated and sensitive. Injuries or illnesses sustained at birth can be difficult to analyse. Sometimes it's not always easy to see who was at fault - whether cerebral palsy was caused by hospital negligence or human error.

The best way to find out if you have a cerebral palsy compensation claim is to call us free on now, or fill out our online form so we can call you back. We'll discuss the details of the birth, and our legally-trained advisors will be able to tell you in minutes if your case merits further investigation by specialist cerebral palsy solicitors.

You may be worried that claiming cerebral palsy compensation could affect the standard of care other mothers might receive in the future. However, the opposite is true. Your claim will raise awareness of negligent care and help to prevent other patients suffering a similar experience.

You needn't be worried about making a complaint against your GP or hospital staff, because if your claim is successful, the medical staff will not be left out of pocket themselves because the final amount will be paid by the insurance policy for the surgery or the hospital in question.

Why make a cerebral palsy compensation claim?

First and foremost, compensation for medical negligence can help provide a better quality of life to somebody who is coping with the disabilities that cerebral palsy can bring.

Depending on the severity of the condition, sufferers could need any or all of the following:

  • 24-hour care
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Specialist education
  • Specialist medication and treatments
  • Various equipment to aid movement, including walking/standing frames

If your child's cerebral palsy is found to have been caused by medical negligence, your compensation could help pay for a lifetime of care towards their future. 

Knowing that the vital professional support and equipment needed to provide a good quality of life are guaranteed can take away some of the emotional, physical and financial strain for those suffering with cerebral palsy, and for their families.

What happens when people make cerebral palsy claims?

When you speak for free to our advisors, we'll gather the necessary information and evidence in support of your compensation claim as helpfully and sensitively as possible - and there's no time limit on the call either, so you won't be rushed. If we think you have a claim, we will connect you with our experienced solicitors to progress it.

There's no obligation and there's no need to feel anxious about the legal costs of claiming for compensation in cerebral palsy cases. We only work with specialist cerebral palsy solicitors who will manage your claim on a no win no feebasis, which means you won't be out of pocket.

If you don't win your claim, you don't pay a penny. There's no risk involved when it comes to claiming for the support and security you're legally entitled to, so you can ensure that you and your child get the best standard of care in the future.

To find out more about how no win no fee works, and to connect with one of our specialist medical negligence lawyers, call now.

How much do cerebral palsy claims usually pay out?

Medical negligence claims differ from other personal injury accident claims in that they are usually more complex and often take longer to settle. Cerebral palsy claims involving negligent medical care are very serious. 

This is because the damage caused is lifelong and usually profound in nature. Your child will need care throughout their life, covering medical treatment, therapy, professional care support, home modifications and likely specialist schooling too.

The general damages award will cover pain, suffering and the loss of amenity - doing everyday things. The special damages award covers all the financial expenses you incur now and in the future to make life as easy as possible for your child.

Your cerebral palsy solicitors will build the case for your claim and its value with great care as the special damages will need to provide support potentially for many decades to come. Depending on the severity of your child's cerebral palsy, this amount could be significant. 

The Judicial College sets the guidelines for general damages in such claims. General damages involving quadriplegic cerebral palsy causing severe cognitive and physical difficulties, with a significant effect on the senses and severe physical limitation range from £264,650 to £379,100. 

Your firm of cerebral palsy solicitors will also calculate special damages covering the financial losses and expenses for a child growing up with cerebral palsy. These will be awarded in addition to general damages in a successful cerebral palsy compensation claim.

The damages award for cerebral palsy claims is placed in a trust and as parent or official guardian, you'll be able to draw on funds as your child requires them. When they reach 18 years old, they will be able to do this themselves as an adult if they have the capacity to do so.

Every cerebral palsy claim is different

Each cerebral palsy compensation claim differs - the type of medical negligence that caused it and the scope of the harm caused.  Your solicitor will explain all the details to you when they start work on your claim and keep you closely informed throughout the process.

For example, they'll take into account:

  • Medical treatment, medications costs, adaptations made to your home.
  • The costs of specialist cerebral palsy care, including the care and sacrifices you and your family have made or expect to make.
  • Loss of earnings and opportunity to earn for the time you give up for care.
  • The effect your injury has had on your social life and hobbies.
  • The wider effects on your family.

Cerebral palsy claims compensation can't take away the trauma your child and you are going through. But it will help you to make all the necessary adjustments and ensure your child has the care they need to live life as normally as possible.

Call us free on for a confidential chat in a caring and compassionate environment. Our legally-trained advisors are expert listeners and will be able to help you understand whether or not you have grounds to make a claim. 

There's no rush and never any pressure. Cerebral palsy claims and birth injury claims are about as serious as things can get and we understand just how carefully they need to be handled.

If you are eligible to make a claim for cerebral palsy compensation and you decide to go ahead, we'll connect you with one of specialist cerebral palsy solicitors. They'll take care of the rest.

How much do cerebral palsy claims cost to make?

Your cerebral palsy solicitors will make the claim using a no win no fee arrangement - also known as a conditional fee agreement. It's the contract between you and your cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer.

There are no upfront costs or hidden charges but if you win the claim, you'll be asked to pay any costs and expenses, not paid for by the other side, out of your compensation. This is likely to happen in most cases, as the other side's medical liability insurers are only required to make a contribution to your legal fees.

If you win your claim, your solicitor will typically make the following deductions from the compensation you are awarded:

  • A ‘success fee' for winning the claim
  • The other side will usually be required to make a payment towards your legal costs pay any shortfall may also be deducted from your compensation
  • The cost of the premium for any legal protection insurance you may have needed to ensure your claim is risk free

When you start your claim for cerebral palsy compensation, your solicitor will take out legal insurance protection on your behalf. This is sometimes called ATE (After The Event) insurance. 

If your claim is unsuccessful, then the other party's costs will be paid out of this insurance. 

If you don't receive any cerebral palsy compensation, then you won't have to pay for the ATE insurance. If your claim is successful, then it'll be paid out of your compensation as part of the fees.

Your firm of cerebral palsy solicitors will discuss this with you at the start of the claim, so you'll know what to expect when your claim settles. If you don't win your no win no fee claim, you pay nothing to anyone. 

If you're thinking about making a claim for cerebral palsy compensation after an incident of medical negligence, you might be worried that you'll be left out-of-pocket if your claim is unsuccessful, or that most of your compensation will be taken up by solicitors' fees.

There's no need to worry. We do everything we can to limit the costs that are deducted when cerebral palsy claims settle. avoid you being hit financially because of your claim. Recovering from an injury can be expensive, and we know how important it is for you to get support to cover the costs.

We don't think you don't deserve to be left under financial pressure, especially after as serious an incident as this which wasn't your fault. That's why we have measures in place to protect you from no win no fee hidden costs and charges, so there won't be any more surprises along the way.

You can speak to us for free, impartial advice on or fill in our secure online form. We'll be happy to answer your questions and can help you understand whether you could make a claim.

If you'd like to find out more about all the different stages of what typically happens in cerebral palsy claims for medical negligence, please visit our claims process page.


Cerebral palsy claims for medical negligence are complex and the trauma for the child and family is lifelong. Every aspect of present and future care must be considered as well as the physical impacts of the condition itself.

Compassion and attention to the details is really important. The lawyer's job is to build and fight the claim so that you, your child and your family receive the vital lifetime support you seek.

Josh Kushnick

Legal Operations Director National Accident Law

Why choose National Accident Helpline for cerebral palsy claims?

We know how valuable financial stability is to caring for a child with cerebral palsy. We don't believe anybody should be left to endure the enormous financial and emotional impacts after a terrible birth injury accident that wasn't their fault.

We also think you deserve a clear and unequivocal apology too. We're proud of our experience working with personal injury claims and we're proud to offer more than just a compensation service, because more than anything, we want to help you.

Our advice is always completely free and confidential, and there's no obligation to start a claim for cerebral palsy compensation when you contact us.

If you'd like to talk to a professional advisor about what's happened to you and your precious yours, call us today on .

More customer stories

What are the time limits for making cerebral palsy claims for compensation?

Birth injury cerebral palsy compensation claims affect the newborn. This means you can make a claim on their behalf any time up until their 18th birthday. You do this as a ‘litigation friend', a role that parents, family members, a guardian or other officially recognised carer will perform.

If your child has sufficient mental capacity to make a claim as a legal adult, they'll have three years from 18 to their 21st birthday to do so.

There are exceptions to the post-18 three-year limitation, for instance if your child is so badly affected by cerebral palsy that they can't make the claim themselves.

If you've got any questions about making a no win no fee compensation claim, contact us for free and impartial advice on . We'll listen to what you've been through and let you know if we think you could make a no win no fee claim for cerebral palsy compensation

It's important to add that we'll never rush or pressure you. We're here to give you impartial and free no win no fee compensation advice so you can decide what to do next.

Frequently asked questions...

Cerebral palsy claims fall under the medical negligence category of personal injury claims. They are very serious in nature, always complex and multi-layered. That means they can take time to settle - potentially up to three years or more. However, cerebral palsy compensation payments can be staged to help you with the ongoing costs of treatment. Your cerebral palsy solicitors will explain everything to you and make sure you get the support you and your child need.

Simply put, medical negligence is where a medical professional or medical institution like a hospital harms a patient by act or omission in the course of treatment or surgical procedure. It also includes things like medical misdiagnosis where a wrongly-identified condition or one missed entirely harms the patient.

Yes, of course. Our helpline, our own law firm, the law firms we work with around the country and all insurers are operating as pretty much as normal with many people working securely from home. There may be some minor delays - for example if your ankle injury compensation claim needs a court hearing. However, much of the work is carried out by phone, email and using the government’s internet claims system anyway, so things are as close to business as usual as they can be.

Contact us first and we’ll check your grounds to claim and then connect you with one of our specialist solicitors if you want to proceed.

We are the UK's leading provider of personal injury advice, services and support and have lent a helping hand to over two million people nationwide.

We cover the whole of the UK, as do the legal firms we work with - so it doesn't matter where you are, we can help.

Compassionate and stress-free claims handling.
Compensation on a No Win No Fee basis means you'll never be out of pocket.
We've handled over 40,000 medical claims.
Trusted, friendly and confidential support when you really need it.

When you're looking for a personal injury company to help you make your claim, you might be worried about the credibility of the solicitors you'll work with. We know how serious cerebral palsy claims are and the traumatic experience you and your child are going through. With us, you're in safe hands.

We work with a national panel of personal injury solicitors who we carefully choose based on specialisms - this means you'll get the legal representation you need for the best chance of making a successful claim.

As well as working on a no win no fee basis, our solicitors will also protect you from upfront costs and no win no fee hidden charges. Our no win no fee charges guarantee means you won't have to pay anything before starting your claim. 

To find out whether you could claim, or for advice and answers to your questions, contact us free on to talk to one of our friendly, legally-trained advisors.

Is National Accident Helpline a claims management company?

No, we aren't. National Accident Helpline is an independent personal injury advice brand owned by legal practice National Accident Law. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the independent professional ethics and standards regulator that licences all solicitors across England and Wales. Our SRA registration number is 655606.

Claims management companies are overseen by a different regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). CMCs do not have their own law practices. We advise on personal injury claims as part of National Accident Law. We also work with a national network of specialist law firms who we choose carefully and check closely to make sure you receive an outstanding customer experience. 

Our specialist medical negligence and cerebral palsy solicitors handle the cerebral palsy claims we receive - so you can always be sure of compassionate and expert representation that places you and yours first.

The impacts of cerebral palsy can't be understated. They don't only affect the child profoundly, they affect everyone involved in their care - particularly the parents and immediate family involved. 

Our job is all about reassurance, letting people know that help is at hand  and that cerebral palsy compensation in a successful claim will transform their quality of life. The law is there to help and it's really satisfying to be able to start easing the pressure of a very difficult situation

Emma Walker

Claims Preperation Team Manager, National Accident Helpline