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Erb’s palsy isn’t always a devastating condition. Most children usually recover and have no lasting effects. For some, though, the damage causes lasting and permanent disabilities. These children may have one arm entirely or partially paralyzed, they may have a weak or malformed arm, or they may have sensation loss.
An Erb’s palsy lawsuit is an option for those parents who believe their child’s disability was preventable and caused by medical malpractice. If this sounds like you, line up a good birth injury lawyer to help you make your case and file a lawsuit to seek compensation.
Erb’s Palsy and its Causes
Erb’s palsy is a condition characterized by weakness, loss of sensation, and paralysis in the arm. It can occur in any one part of the arm or the entire arm, and the symptoms may be mild or severe, including total loss of sensation and movement. 
The condition is caused by damage, ranging from mild to severe, to the nerves of the brachial plexus. These are the nerves that run from the spine to the arm, where they connect with smaller arms and provide sensation and the ability to move all parts of that limb.
The general cause of Erb’s palsy is damage to one or more of the five brachial plexus nerves. Pulling on the arm, shoulder, or neck stretches those nerves. During childbirth, there are many ways in which that pulling action can be strong enough to damage a baby’s nerves.
A doctor may pull too hard if a baby gets stuck in the birth canal or by misusing instruments. If a baby is unusually large or presents as a breach, the risk for this kind of injury occurring is more significant.
A Lawsuit to Cover Expenses
If the damage caused by brachial plexus injury is moderate to severe, a child may need a lot of treatment. Even with treatment, a child may not recover fully. While many babies born with Erb’s palsy will heal naturally, the rest will need physical therapy, surgeries, and possibly therapy and adaptive devices for life. These things add up and are costly.
If your child is facing multiple surgeries and other treatments as a result of suffering lasting brachial plexus injury during childbirth, you are facing the bills. Even after paying for all of the necessary procedures, you will still likely have a child with some degree of permanent sensation loss and paralysis in one arm.
Depending on your situation and your child, an Erb’s palsy lawsuit may be a way to get the compensation needed to care for your child.
Medical Malpractice and the Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit
A good reason to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit is if you feel like your child’s injury and resulting disability could and should have been prevented. Even if you don’t think your doctor actively did something to hurt your child, not taking action can be equally negligent. 
For instance, if your baby showed signs that he was going to present as a breech birth and that your labor was going to be long and complicated, which are risk factors for brachial plexus injury, and your doctor did not decide to do a Cesarean section, he or she could be held accountable for the harm. It could have been prevented with a better medical decision.
Another example of potential malpractice may occur if your doctor used too much force to help your baby out of the birth canal. A common cause of Erb’s palsy is when the baby’s head gets stuck, and the person delivering it pulls too hard to try to get it out. The head and shoulder get torn apart, and the nerves get stretched and damaged.
Examples of Lawsuits
You would not be the first parent to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit. Others have been brave enough to step forward and demand accountability and justice for the mistakes made that harmed their children. In one example, a lawsuit brought in New York in 2013 resulted in $2.1 million in compensation for the child affected by Erb’s palsy. 
The child’s mother claimed that she was not given appropriate prenatal care and that the midwife delivering her baby pulled too hard on her head.
The case eventually went to trial. After three weeks, six members of the jury agreed with the mother and her lawyers that medical negligence occurred. Not all Erb’s palsy lawsuits go to trial. Most will end in settlements to save the time and cost of a court case. If a solution is not satisfactory for the plaintiffs, though, it may go to trial.
How an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Can Help
A lawsuit is a way to get justice for your child living with a disability. It may not heal the child’s arm, but the sense of justice and accountability can be a powerful way to heal emotionally. In more practical terms, a lawsuit can provide your family with compensation that will help pay for your injured child’s care.
Your child may need multiple surgeries to correct the damage, and this is expensive. You could also lose money because you can’t go to work. You may need to stay home to care for your child. Additionally, your child may need ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, and care, and may need to have adaptive equipment to be able to function normally.
If you are struggling because your baby has an injury that resulted in permanent Erb’s palsy, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit. Let a lawyer with experience in birth injury cases help you take the next steps to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.
- Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy) OrthoInfoAAOS. (n.d.). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Retrieved from: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00077
- Erb’s palsy – Who is to blame and what will happen? (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). National Institutes of Health.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724163/
- Joe MahoneyThe Daily Star. (2013, April 18). Jury awards family $2.1M in malpractice case. The Daily Star.
Retrieved from: https://www.thedailystar.com/news/local_news/jury-awards-family-m-in-malpractice-case/article_3f65ea88-ee1e-501b-bc53-07d01abcb5c6.html