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Erb’s palsy is a condition most often caused by circumstances of labor and delivery. It results from damage to nerves that control the arms. Symptoms include weakness, lack of sensation, and even paralysis in part or all of a limb. Many infants will recover in time, but some will have lasting complications, in spite of treatment.
In some cases, the damage to the nerves was caused by medical negligence or malpractice. If your child was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, reach out to an experienced lawyer if you think medical negligence caused the injury.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s palsy is a condition caused by damaged nerves. The nerves in question form a bundle called the brachial plexus, which runs from the spinal cord, through the neck, and into the arm. In the arm, these five significant nerves connect to smaller nerves that control the movement in all parts of the arm and provide sensation. 
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Anyone at any age can damage these nerves, but most instances of this kind of injury occur in childbirth.
In any case of childbirth in which the baby’s head, neck, and shoulder get stretched too far, Erb’s palsy may occur. The risk factors for this happening include having a baby of an abnormally large size, having prolonged and challenging labor, and having a baby present as breech, or bottom first.
Although in some cases, no one may be to blame for damage to the brachial plexus, it is the type of injury that most often could be prevented and which can be blamed on someone performing or assisting in the delivery.
Complications and Prognosis
The outlook for the majority of babies born with a brachial plexus injury is good. Most often, the damage is minor and heals naturally in time. Most of these babies will heal and recover all function and sensation in an arm by three to six months of age.
If the damage is moderate to severe, though, a baby may end up with long-term or even permanent disability.
In most cases, the nerves get stretched too far but don’t tear. In some instances, though, the stretching is enough to cause tears. In the worst situations, the nerves are entirely separated from the spinal cord. This is very painful and debilitating. Moderate to severe injuries are likely to require surgery and even then will probably not fully heal.
Children with permanent damage could have sensation in one arm, less movement, and even with complete paralysis in the affected arm. They’ll face the rest of their lives with a disability, with the expense of treatment and therapy, and with the need for specialized care.
Many children will overcome these challenges and live fulfilling lives, but they face a more significant burden than they would have if their birth injuries had been prevented.
An Erb’s palsy lawyer could help you determine if medical negligence played a role in your child’s injury. There are several ways in which your child’s brachial plexus injury could be the fault of a medical professional.
For instance, doctors are responsible for monitoring pregnant women for any possible complications. If your child was abnormally large or showed signs of being breech, your doctor should have noticed and made the appropriate decision regarding performing a Cesarean section. A C-section is typically used to avoid these kinds of injuries that occur during arduous labors. 
Another way in which your doctor could be negligible is in how much force was used during delivery. If a baby presents as breech, or its head gets stuck in the pelvis or birth canal, a doctor or other medical professional may feel pressured to get the baby out as quickly as possible.
Pulling on the baby in these situations will get it through the birth canal, but pulling too hard can stretch the nerves and cause Erb’s palsy. Misjudging force can easily lead to injury. The use of instruments like forceps can also cause damage that should have been avoided.
Finding an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer
If you suspect at all that your child’s injury during delivery was caused by doctor negligence, you should act quickly and talk to an Erb’s palsy lawyer as soon as possible. There are statutes of limitation on medical malpractice cases, and it is also essential to work with a lawyer while the details of the incident are still fresh for you and any witnesses.
It is crucial moving forward that you work with a lawyer experienced in these kinds of cases. Without this expert guidance, you could make any number of mistakes and miss your chance to get compensation for your child’s future. Look for a lawyer that has successfully brought birth injury cases to a successful conclusion.
Your lawyer should be able to show proof that he or she has won compensation for similar clients in the past and that those clients were satisfied with their work.
Filing a Lawsuit
To file a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice in the case of your child’s Erb’s palsy, you must be able to prove several things. A good Erb’s palsy lawyer will first be able to tell you if you have a case or not, and then will be able to make your case by proving these points.
A valid lawsuit will show that your doctor or other caregiver was responsible for caring for you and your baby during delivery, that this person failed to care for you in one or more ways, and that this failure led to your baby’s injury and disability.
Potential for Compensation
If you genuinely believe that your child’s injury was caused by malpractice, what you probably want more than anything is justice and acknowledgment that your medical team failed you. This is important, but you also need to consider your child’s future. Getting monetary compensation will help provide for that child’s treatment and support for the rest of his life.
Working with an experienced Erb’s palsy lawyer will give you the best chance of getting the most compensation. This may be achieved through a settlement with your doctor or hospital, or a jury in a trial may award it.
A settlement is most likely because the hospital will want to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. Yet, if terms cannot be agreed upon, your lawyer may want to take the matter to trial.
The amount of compensation your child may be eligible for will depend on several factors. These include the extent of the damage, the permanent nature of the injury, how much care in the future your child is expected to need and evidence against the doctor or caregiver who was negligent.
Your compensation will also take into account medical expenses, rehabilitation and equipment, and any possibly lost wages from missing work to care for your child.
For the best possible outcome for you and your child, be sure you work only with a professional and experienced Erb’s palsy lawyer. Your child’s disability is something she may have to live with forever, and getting justice and compensation is crucial.
- Erb's Palsy. (n.d.). American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine.
Retrieved from: https://www.aanem.org/Patients/Muscle-and-Nerve-Disorders/Erb-s-Palsy
- Erb’s palsy – Who is to blame and what will happen? (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724163/