New York Erb’s Palsy Lawyer

Childbirth can be a stressful time for both mother and the baby. There are a number of injuries a child may potentially suffer before, during and soon after birth. These injuries may range from bruises to brain injuries depending on the circumstances and the steps that the hospital and medical staff take to minimize the risks, which make mother and child vulnerable during the labor and delivery. One of the adverse conditions caused by physical injury during delivery is Erb’s palsy, also known as a brachial plexus injury.

Such injuries can result in lifelong disabilities for the child. And often, these injuries are preventable and tend to be caused by negligence or incompetence on the part of the doctor and/or the hospital or medical staff. If your child has suffered this type of debilitating injury due to negligence, our experienced New York Erb’s palsy lawyers can help protect your legal rights and help you secure the assistance and support you and your child need during this critical time.

Some of Our Results

  • $1,400,000: We recovered this amount for a newborn, who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. As a result, the child now suffers from Erb’s palsy.
  • $1,175,000: Settlement in an Erb’s palsy case.
  • $1,000,000: We recovered this amount for a baby who suffered from Erb’s palsy after doctors were negligent during the delivery. The child for whom we recovered this money is now a fully functional teenager.
  • $850,000: Settlement reached in Erb’s palsy case.
  • $2,850,000: Verdict for one of our Erb’s palsy clients that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,850,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts for many, many years.

Understanding Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is a type of obstetric brachial plexus disorder, which essentially means that it is an injury that occurs when the nerves in an infant’s upper arm are damaged. Erb’s palsy affects one or two out of every 1,000 children. It occurs due to a lesion at Erb’s point, the area near the baby’s neck where the fifth and sixth cranial nerves merge to create the upper point of the brachial plexus.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends out signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves are stretched, compressed, or in much more serious cases, ripped apart or torn away from the spinal cord. The nerves in the brachial plexus give mobility and sensation to the arm, hand and fingers.

Erb’s palsy is often caused by shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck) during a difficult birth. Children with Erb’s palsy are unable to move the affected shoulder or upper arm. In some cases, the injury can have an impact on the whole trunk, affecting the spinal cord’s ability to send messages to the arm through normal nerve impulses. This is why children with Erb’s palsy may appear as if their arm is paralyzed.

Erb’s Palsy: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the symptoms of Erb’s palsy can vary from relatively mild to severe. There are different types of nerve injuries that can damage the brachial plexus. For example, when a nerve is stretched or when a part of the nerve develops scar tissue, the brachial plexus may get damaged. Issues can also arise when nerves are ruptured or in extreme cases when the nerve is completely detached from the spinal cord.
When such nerve injuries occur, the symptoms displayed may be similar to paralysis or loss of sensation in the affected arm. Doctors may be able to make a diagnosis by observing the baby’s symptoms including weakness, loss of feeling and partial or complete paralysis in the affected arm.

Symptoms may also vary from child to child. While some babies may experience tenderness or weakness in the arm corresponding to the side of the neck where the nerve injuries occurred, other infants may display more severe symptoms. These symptoms may include being unable to move the arm as a result of partial or total paralysis. Also, children over the age of 2 may seem to favor one arm over the other. The level and duration of pain children experience may also vary depending on the nature and extent of the nerve damage.

Physicians may run one or more of the following tests to diagnose the extent and severity of a brachial plexus injury:

  • Electromyography or EMG: During this diagnostic procedure, a needle electrode is inserted through the skin into various muscles. This test evaluates the electrical activity of the muscles when they contract and when they are at rest. While the needle electrodes may cause some pain when they are inserted, this test, for the most part, is free of discomfort.
  • Nerve conduction studies: These tests are usually performed as part of the EMG, and measure the speed of nerve conduction when a small current passes through the nerve. This provides information about how well the nerve is functioning.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body in multiple planes. This can often show the extent of the damage caused by the brachial plexus injury and can help assess the status of the arteries that are important for the limb.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) myelography: This procedure uses a series of X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the body. CT myelography adds a contrast material injected during a spinal tap to produce a detailed image of the spinal cord and nerve roots during a CT scan. This test is ordered often when an MRI doesn’t provide enough information.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

There are several types of birth injuries that manifest at different phases of a child’s development. However, Erb’s palsy is a condition that happens during labor and delivery and often toward the end of a long and difficult birth. Erb’s palsy is preventable because it is primarily caused by a doctor pulling out the infant in a rough or abnormal way. Here are some of most common causes of Erb’s palsy:

Breech delivery: When infants are in a breech position (where the child is bottom first instead of head first), physicians should come up with plan for delivery. Most physicians schedule a C-section in order to avoid unnecessary risks and complications during the delivery.

When a C-section is not done, there is the risk of the baby getting stuck in the birth canal, causing the brain to be compressed for too long, causing a brain injury or oxygen deprivation. Erb’s palsy may occur when the child is delivered feet-first, which often leads to the child being pulled out causing the arms to go over the head and unnatural stress to be applied on the brachial plexus nerves.

Excessive force: When a physician pulls on the infant’s arms, Erb’s palsy may occur, especially when excessive force is applied. This causes unnatural stress and may result in nerve damage that leads to Erb’s palsy.

Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion: This is a condition also known as CPD where an infant is too large for the birth canal. Again, this is something physicians should be able to diagnose in the last few weeks of pregnancy and in such cases, they should schedule a C-section to avoid complications. When a child is too large and tries to push through, the infant’s head and shoulder may be forcefully squeezed causing damage to the brachial plexus nerves in the shoulder.

Head-First Delivery: During a natural birth, when the infant’s head gets stuck, the head pulls away from the shoulders, causing what is known as shoulder dystocia. In other cases, the doctor or nurse may have to pull the baby out when the baby gets stuck while coming out. This unnatural pull between the baby’s head and shoulder can cause damage to the brachial plexus nerves as well.

Cost of Raising a Child with Erb’s Palsy

The expenses associated with raising a child with Erb’s palsy will depend on the severity of the child’s condition. Parents of children with mild to moderate limitation in their range of motion will spend less on treatment and support over the course of a lifetime while those with children who have severe motion impairment will end up spending a lot more for treatment and rehabilitation. Regardless of the degree of impairment, parents face the following expenses that most commonly arise while raising a child with Erb’s palsy:

  • Ongoing medical bills: These include physical and occupational therapy costs, costs of surgeries, hospitalization, medications and medical equipment.
  • Lost wages: These costs can include the future loss of wages, which the patient will sustain as a result of his or her disabilities. This also includes the loss of income parents sustain as a result of caring for a child with Erb’s palsy.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: Children with Erb’s palsy will require ongoing and possibly, lifelong occupational and physical therapy services.
  • Psychological services: Erb’s palsy can result in a number of psychological issues that may need to be treated over the course of a lifetime.

Erb’s palsy may be a temporary or permanent condition. This may vary depending on the child’s prognosis. Some children with Erb’s palsy recover partially or fully with the help of physical therapy and other treatment methods. However, other children with severe damage to the brachial plexus nerves may only recover with surgical intervention or not at all. It may take months or even years after the injury, if at all.

In a number of cases, birth injuries to the brachial nerves can be treated with physical therapy and surgery. The nerves do take a long time to grow, recover and rehabilitate after an injury. So, many of these children do find that they display symptoms of Erb’s palsy even years after the injury. In some cases, this may continue for the rest of their lives.

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury because your doctor failed to anticipate reasonable risks or complications, or because your doctor performed dangerous actions during delivery such as using excessive force, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and/or the hospital. Such a lawsuit can help compensate you and your child for damages and costs associated with the injuries.

In Erb’s palsy cases, you may be able to seek compensation for all medical expenses associated with your child’s injury including past, present and future estimated costs. You can secure rehabilitation costs including money spent and to be spent for physical and occupational therapy. In addition you can seek compensation for permanent injuries, disabilities and past and future pain and suffering, and future loss of earnings of the child.

You may also seek compensation for costs of in-home care, specialized medical equipment, lost wages, etc. Many Erb’s palsy cases get settled out of court. However, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of a New York Erb’s palsy lawyer who has trial experience so he or she can competently represent you and protect your rights should your case go to a jury trial.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If your child has suffered a birth injury or has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, loss of livelihood, hospital and rehabilitation costs, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. 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.

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 cases in 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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