Posted on 02/14/2022

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Lawsuit: When to Sue

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Lawsuit: When to Sue

Brachial plexus birth injuries, including Erb’s Palsy, are often the basis of many birth injury lawsuits.

These injuries to an infant’s neck, shoulder, and arms during difficult childbirths can cause permanent disability. This includes a decreased range of motion, muscle weakness, and even a paralyzed, limp-hanging arm.

The effects of these childbirth injuries can be devastating, both emotionally, and financially for a family. They must deal with the cost of surgeries, physical therapies, and suffering caused by their child’s disability.

If your child is experiencing a disability caused by a brachial plexus birth injury, continue reading to learn how you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit and get the compensation you deserve. 

What is a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located between the neck and shoulder. It controls the movement of the shoulder, arms, and hands. 

Sometimes during a difficult or prolonged childbirth, a doctor might use forceps or vacuum extractors to pull the baby out of the canal. 

When these extracting tools are used incorrectly, or with excessive force, they can rupture the brachial plexus nerves in an infant’s neck and shoulder. A rupture causes temporary or permanent disability in their affected hands and arms.

Most brachial plexus injuries are temporary. However, some babies will require surgery and extended periods of physical therapy to restore function to their arms and hands.

In extreme cases where the brachial plexus nerves are completely severed, permanent disability will occur. This includes paralysis or severe muscle weakness and inability to move certain muscles in the shoulder, arm, or hands.

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Symptoms and Signs of a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury,

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of brachial plexus birth injuries can be difficult to spot immediately in infants. The symptoms are related to weakness, tingling, or pain in the affected arms and hands.

However, there are certain tell-tale symptoms that doctors and parents should recognize in their infant’s arms and hands, including:

  • A partial or full lack of arm, hand, or shoulder movement
  • A weakened grip affected only one hand
  • Numbness, or decreased sensation in the affected arm
  • A limp, hanging arm or an odd hand position, such as the “Waiter’s Tip” hand position

Are Brachial Plexus Injury and Erb’s Palsy the Same Thing?

Brachial plexus injuries encompass many different disorders, including Erb’s Palsy.

Erb’s Palsy is a specific form of brachial plexus injury that affects the upper portion of the brachial plexus. It causes weakness, paralysis, and a tingling, numbing sensation throughout the arm or hand. 

Unfortunately, these symptoms can be hard to spot in an infant. Though a “Waiter’s Tip” hand position, where the baby’s hand will be limp and dramatically rotated away from their body, is an indicator.

Other forms of brachial plexus injury include the following. 

Total Plexus Involvement 

This type of brachial plexus injury is more severe than Erb’s Palsy, which can cause permanent paralysis and an inability to move any muscles in the affected shoulder, arm, or hand. Total plexus involvement accounts for 20 to 30 percent of all brachial plexus injuries.

Horner’s Syndrome

When the brachial plexus nerves tear from the spinal cord, it affects the infant’s brain and face. This causes decreased pupil sizes, drooping eyelids, and an inability to sweat on the affected side of the face. 

Klumpke’s Palsy

Whereas Erb’s Palsy affects the upper portion of nerves in the brachial plexus, Klumpke’s Palsy affects the lower portion of nerves. 

Klumpke’s Palsy causes weakness or paralysis in the wrist, fingers, and forearm.

How Does Medical Malpractice Cause Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries?

Brachial plexus birth injuries are almost always caused by a difficult or prolonged delivery. In many of these instances, however, brachial plexus injuries are preventable. It’s caused by a doctor’s negligence or incompetence in the delivery.

Common doctor errors that can lead to brachial plexus injuries include:

  • Excessive force using forceps or vacuum extractors
  • Delaying Caesarian section
  • Failing to recognize and respond to fetal distress
  • Stretching the infant’s shoulders during headfirst delivery
  • Pressure on the infant’s arms during a feet-firth (breech) delivery
  • Failing to follow up after delivery
  • Administering dangerous medications during delivery that caused the difficult childbirth

How to File a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Lawsuit

If you suspect your child’s brachial plexus birth injury was caused by a doctor’s negligence, don’t wait to file your lawsuit. 

Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can review your situation to determine if you may have a valid case to sue your healthcare provider.

Your attorney will be able to help you gather medical records, understand the full extent of your financial damages, and guide you through the complex litigation process.

Settlement for a birth injury lawsuit can take months with ongoing investigation by medical and legal experts. Each state also has its own statute of limitations, which is a limited, open window period when a defendant can claim a medical malpractice lawsuit.

By talking to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today, you’ll improve your chances of getting the financial compensation you and your family deserve. 

Book Your No-Cost Consultation Today with Grover Lewis Johnson

Grover Lewis Johnson is a leading medical malpractice law firm located throughout Michigan with over 25 years of experience handling medical malpractice litigation.  

At Grover Lewis Johnson, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means you’ll only have to pay if we win or settle your case. In the event we are unable to settle or win your case, you’ll owe us nothing. 

We work hard to review every case to make sure you have the best chance at receiving a settlement before your case is brought to trial in court. However, if taking your case all the way to court is the best option, we will work with you every step of the way to help you win.

Don’t wait any longer to wonder if you can get financial compensation for your child’s brachial plexus birth injury. 

Contact us today for a no-cost consultation.

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels