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A brachial plexus injury settlement helps parents recover damages for their child injured by medical negligence. A brachial plexus injury most often occurs during childbirth and is often preventable. If you think medical malpractice caused your baby’s injuries, you could make a case for a settlement with the help of an experienced birth injury lawyer.
The Brachial Plexus and Injuries
The brachial plexus is a group of five nerves that connect the arm to the spinal cord. They provide all parts of the arm with sensation and the ability to use the muscles in the arm to move it.
The nerves are damaged when they get overstretched. The severity of the damage may range from stretching to tears and even being completely pulled from the spinal cord.
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The more severe the damage, the more lasting the disability will be. If a newborn’s brachial plexus is just overstretched, they may suffer some side effects, but the nerves will likely heal within a few months, leaving no permanent disability.
When the damage is more severe and includes tears and rips, even corrective surgery cannot typically restore full function to the arm. These children will face lifelong disabilities.
How the Brachial Plexus Gets Damaged
During childbirth, the head and shoulder of the baby may get forced away from each other, which causes the neck to stretch. The nerves run through the neck, so this stretching motion can damage them.
If the stretching is hard enough, it can even rip the nerves. This kind of damage occurs when the baby’s arm, shoulder, or lower body is pulled too hard coming out of the birth canal while the head remains inside.
In too many cases of brachial plexus injury, the situation could have been prevented with better judgment on the part of the doctor delivering the baby.
Risk factors for such an injury include:
- Long and difficult labor
- A high birth weight
- A breech birth position.
Doctors should always monitor these situations and make informed decisions to avoid complications. When doctors make the wrong decision or fail to recognize a difficulty, an injury can result.
Another way in which a doctor or midwife may be negligent in a brachial plexus injury is in pulling too hard on a baby during delivery. This happens when there are complications and when the baby’s head gets stuck in the pelvis or birth canal.
The doctor may tug on the baby to get it out and to avoid asphyxiation, with the unintended consequence of injuring the nerves.
The doctor may also use tools like forceps or vacuum extractors that similarly place too much force on the baby.
What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury Settlement?
If you believe that your disabled child suffered a brachial plexus injury because of medical malpractice, you may be in an excellent position to receive a brachial plexus injury settlement. A settlement starts with a lawsuit.
You have the right to file a lawsuit against the doctor, midwife, or hospital you believe to be responsible for your child’s injury.
With a lawyer experienced in birth injury cases, you can put together the evidence that will prove that your child will suffer a disability because of the action or inaction of your medical caregiver.
If made well with solid evidence, your case could result in a settlement for your child. This is a cash amount, which a judge or jury may award if your case goes to trial or in a settlement negotiation between lawyers.
The amount of the settlement will depend on the severity of your child’s injury and the extent of medical malpractice or negligence.
What Can a Brachial Plexus Injury Settlement Cover?
If your child has suffered severe brachial plexus damage, you could be facing a lot of expenses now and in the future. Your child may be living with a lifelong disability that causes paralysis in the arm, pain, loss of sensation, or muscle weakness.
A brachial plexus injury settlement covers several expenses associated with the injury:
- Surgeries to try to correct the damage
- Ongoing physical therapy
- Assistive devices, like braces and slings
- Educational interventions
- Mental and emotional healing
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of wages from the need to stay home with your child
A brachial plexus injury settlement may range from a small amount to cover corrective surgeries to significant amounts that will cover all costs expected over a child’s lifetime. How much you can get depends on many factors.
An Example of a Brachial Plexus Injury Settlement
There are many examples of parents winning brachial plexus injury settlements for their disabled children. Some are small, while others are huge. One such example was awarded to an Illinois family in 2003.
The parents of a young girl born in Evanston brought a suit against the hospital, accusing the doctors of using excessive traction during delivery. The baby presented as breech during childbirth, meaning her bottom was coming out of the birth canal first. The doctors should have recognized this and ordered a Cesarean section.
Instead, the physician pulled on the baby to get her out, resulting in severe damage to her nerves. She now faces lifelong disabilities, ongoing physical therapy, and multiple surgeries.
The family won a $20 million settlement, which will help that child cover the costs that she will face for the rest of her life.
If you believe that your child is owed a brachial plexus settlement, you can hire a lawyer to help you take the next steps.
An experienced lawyer will know if you have a strong case and will be able to help you make that case in front of a judge or jury if a negotiated settlement proves to be inadequate.
- Brachial plexus injury in newborns: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). MedlinePlus - Health Information from the National Library of Medicine.
Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001395.htm
- Carlos Sadovi, Tribune staff reporter. (2018, August 27). Lawsuit over girl's birth settled for $20 million. chicagotribune.com.
Retrieved from: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2003-11-11-0311110225-story.html