Brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy, which occurs during labor and delivery, may leave children with lifelong disabilities. These injuries not only take an emotional toll on the child’s family, but they also pose a number of financial challenges. Families are left shouldering additional expenses such as cost of surgery, physical therapy, ongoing treatments, cost of medication and so on.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by parents or a person caring for a child with Erb’s palsy may have.
What is Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury?
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that run from the spine to the shoulder, arms and hands. This system of nerves carries signals from the brain that control movement, sensation and function from the shoulders all the way down to the fingertips. When the nerves of the brachial plexus are injured, inflammation occurs. Trauma to the nerves interrupts signals from the brain thereby disrupting sensory functions. As a result, brachial plexus injuries can affect a child’s mobility, control and motor function on the affected side. According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, some of the common symptoms include limited mobility on the affected side; weakness/numbness in the affected arm; impaired reflexes; and pain or tingling in the affected areas.
Why do brachial plexus injuries occur during childbirth?
Brachial plexus injuries occur during childbirth and typically involve cases where the labor is prolonged and/or the delivery is complicated by one or more factors. For example, when the baby is in breech position (feet first) or when an infant is larger than average, there is the risk of the infant getting stuck in the birth canal. These types of injuries occur when doctors who lack competence and/or experience improperly use birth-assistive tools such as forceps or vacuums to get the baby out. This may result in stretching, tearing or trauma to the infant’s head, neck and shoulders.
Can you treat brachial plexus injuries?
Yes, they can be treated. However, the type of treatment and the prognosis will depend on the overall heath of the child and how severe the injuries are. Some children may require ongoing treatment and therapy. If there is a severe rupture, surgery may be necessary. Treatments should be provided to children in a timely manner to prevent further disabling injuries.
Can you prevent brachial plexus injuries or Erb’s palsy?
These types of injuries, in most cases, are preventable by carefully monitoring mother and child during the pregnancy. This meticulous monitoring should continue through labor and delivery. Physicians should also be able to recognize risk factors such as a large baby, breech positions, medical history of the mother, etc. and plan for the delivery accordingly. A timely Cesarean section (C-section) will also help prevent these types of injuries. Doctors should order C-sections when signs of distress or complications begin to surface.
What can I do if my child was injured during birth?
If your child was injured at birth due to the negligent (careless) or incompetent actions of a physician or medical provider, it is important to speak with an experienced birth injury lawyer regarding your legal rights. In most cases, your family is entitled to compensation for damages including all medical expenses associated with your child’s injury including past and future costs; rehabilitation costs including physical and occupational therapy; physical pain endured by the child due to the injuries; cost of in-home care, medication and specialized medical equipment; lost wages and benefits for parents who take time off or quit their jobs to care for their child, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm helped a family secure a $43,940,000 verdict for a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The appeals court reduced the amount because the verdict was so large. Another client secured a $2,850,000 verdict in an arm injury case (Erb’s palsy) that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,846,000, again because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to the doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head.
We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation hospitals deliver babies who are born with injuries stemming from negligence (carelessness) and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children. The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):
• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131 BIGGEST HOSPITAL IN THE WORLD
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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