A brachial plexus injury that occurs in a newborn can be mild and temporary, but also may be severe and long-lasting, even permanent. A child injured in this way during birth may face a lifelong disability. While treatments are possible, for the worst of these injuries, no amount of therapy will bring about complete healing or a complete reduction of symptoms.
If your child has Erb’s palsy or another condition related to a brachial plexus injury, you have the tough job of making sure your child lives the best possible life with a disability. That can mean a lot of expenses as well as intangible costs. An experienced birth injury lawyer can help you make a case and start a lawsuit if you suspect that your child’s injury could and should have been prevented by the medical professionals you trusted to deliver your baby.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
Injuries to the brachial plexus are most often a result of a difficult labor. Risk factors include a breech position at birth, a large birth weight, and a long labor with obstructions or other complications. When the baby’s head, neck, or shoulders are pulled too hard during labor or part of the baby gets stuck in the birth canal resulting in excessive pressure, the nerves of the brachial plexus can be overstretched or even torn.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of five nerves that control sensation and movement in the arms. They run from the spinal cord, through the bones of the neck, and into the arm. Here they attach to the smaller nerves that further branch out into the arm and down to the fingers. Damage to these nerves may be mild overstretching or may result in tears. An avulsion is the worst kind of injury and occurs when a nerve is completely torn away from its connection to the spinal cord. A birth-related brachial plexus injury may affect one or more, sometimes all five, of the nerves.
The majority of cases of childbirth brachial plexus injuries have good outcomes. Small injuries to the nerves can heal with time. On the other hand, more severe injuries can cause lasting complications. When the nerves affected are those that control the upper arm, the result is Erb’s palsy. Klumpke’s palsy describes damage to the nerves of the lower arm, and when all five nerves are damaged it is called global palsy. Often any kind of palsy caused by brachial plexus injury is called Erb’s palsy.
When the nerve damage is severe, surgery may be needed to make repairs, but this rarely completely corrects the damage. Most children with severe brachial plexus injury will be permanently disabled to some degree and will always live with Erb’s palsy. The complications associated with this condition include weakness in certain muscles of the arm or shoulder, partial or complete paralysis, tight and overly contracted muscles, and loss of sensation.
When to Seek a Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer
If your child is facing lifelong complications from a brachial plexus injury, she is also facing a lot of challenges. While these children can go on to live normal, healthy, and long lives, they also may require adaptive devices, physical and occupational therapy, medications for pain, and accommodations at school and in the work place. A young child may also experience bullying and teasing and could need therapy due to emotional trauma.
In cases in which the injury to the brachial plexus could have been avoided, consulting with a lawyer is a good idea. Poor judgement or even negligence on the part of a medical caregiver during childbirth can cause these injuries. A brachial plexus injury lawyer can help you decide if your case is valid and if it can be proved that someone was to blame for your child’s injury.
Generally, for a case like this you need to be able to prove a few things about the care you received during labor and delivery. You must demonstrate that there was a medical professional, such as a doctor, providing your care, that he or she either took inappropriate actions or neglected to take appropriate actions while caring for you, and that those mistakes or that lack of action led to your child’s injury and disability.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you believe that your doctor, midwife, or other caregiver made mistakes that caused your child’s brachial plexus injury, filing a lawsuit could potentially help you. You may not know where to start, though, or how to proceed and develop the proof you need to make your case. This is where a brachial plexus injury lawyer can help.
These are professionals who are experienced in litigating and settling birth injury lawsuits. A lawyer experienced in this type of legal action can look over the evidence and decide if there is a case to be made. He or she can then help you put your case together, file the right paperwork, and get started on a lawsuit. Your lawyer will represent you in court, in arbitration, in hearings, and wherever you need to make your arguments in the legal arena. If a hospital or doctor is willing to settle, your lawyer can negotiate for you and get you the most compensation possible.
There are many documented cases of parents winning compensation for their disabled children because of medical mistakes made during delivery. In fact, more than half of all brachial plexus injury cases end in monetary settlements. So it is worth your time and effort to talk to an experienced lawyer who can win a settlement for you.
How to Find a Good Lawyer
It is important that you look for a lawyer with experience in birth injury lawsuits. These lawyers know the law with respect to medical malpractice inside and out. You should also select your lawyer based on positive recommendations from past clients and on success rates. You want a lawyer not just with experience in this type of law, but who has also won cases and has gotten monetary damages for clients.
Shop around before you settle on one particular brachial plexus injury lawyer. You don’t have to go with the first lawyer you find. Interview potential legal representation and find out what they have done for past clients. Any good lawyer will be more than willing to meet with you to answer questions and to help you feel more comfortable with proceeding. You won’t regret seeking justice and compensation for your child, but you do need to find the right lawyer to do so.