Erb’s Palsy Lawsuits

Erb’s palsy lawsuits are filed by parents whose child suffers a brachial plexus injury due to medical malpractice during childbirth. An Erb’s palsy attorney can help the family receive money to pay for long-term treatment of this severe birth injury and other care their child may need in the future.

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How Birth Injury Leads to Erb’s Palsy

Women trust their medical teams to take appropriate precautions to avoid injury to their infants during labor and delivery procedures. When the OB/GYN doctor and other medical staff fail to use well-established birthing techniques, newborns can suffer significant orthopedic injury to the neck and shoulder. One such injury is known as Erb-Duchenne palsy (often shortened to Erb’s palsy).

Erb’s palsy is a form of paralysis caused by damage to the brachial plexus, a set of nerves that controls upper arm muscles, including the deltoids, biceps, and brachialis. The most common delivery complication that can lead to such damage is shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the baby’s shoulder becomes trapped by the mother’s pelvic bone.

The risk of shoulder dystocia is greater for some babies and women than others. Some of the most common risk factors that can lead to shoulder dystocia include:

  • Larger-than-expected babies
  • Smaller-than-average mothers
  • Prolonged labor
  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes

When a child is at risk of shoulder dystocia due to one of these conditions or other complications that may arise during labor, there are a number of generally accepted birthing techniques that a delivery team can use to avoid injuring the baby, such as a c-section. When medical providers fail to adhere to the accepted standard of care, however, they can be held liable for medical negligence or another form of malpractice.

What Types of Nerve Injuries Lead to Erb’s Palsy?

The most common cause of injuries leading to Erb’s palsy is the use of unnecessary force applied to the baby’s head, neck or shoulder during delivery. When such force is applied, newborns can suffer from the following types of nerve injury:

  • Avulsion – when the nerve is completely severed from the spinal cord
  • Rupture – when the nerve is torn somewhere other than at the spinal cord
  • Neuroma – when a healed nerve is unable to transmit signals due to scar tissue or other pressure
  • Neuropraxia – when the nerve is stretched or otherwise damaged but not torn

Some children can recover from these nerve injuries, given the appropriate treatment and physical therapy. However, Erb’s palsy treatments can be expensive, and it can often take a long time to recover fully – if full recovery is even possible. Other children may be permanently disabled by the nerve damage.

Common Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

  • Severe pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness or unusable muscles
  • Partial or total paralysis of the arm
  • Stiff joints
  • Muscle atrophy
  • No feeling or sensation in the affected arm or hand

Did a Birth Injury Cause Erb’s Palsy?

While Erb’s palsy can arise from a number of potential injuries, the majority of Erb’s palsy cases are caused by traumatic injury during childbirth. Medical teams may fail to fully appreciate the baby’s size and anticipate how it will cause complications during delivery. They may also fail to respond in a timely and effective way to complications during the labor process.

It is important to realize that you are not alone with the questions you have about what happened in the hours and minutes leading up to your child’s birth. When a newborn suffers profound head, neck, or shoulder injury during the labor and delivery process, it is often the result of a medical team’s failure to use appropriate medical techniques to protect the child. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer who can bring in medical experts of their own to investigate the case and help determine whether those injuries should have been avoided.

How Can an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Help?

If you suspect that your child’s injuries were the result of the labor and delivery team’s failure to appropriately manage the pregnancy or delivery, your child may be legally entitled to compensation. Experienced Erb’s palsy attorneys can help you obtain and review the delivery team’s medical records to determine if the injuries could have or should have been prevented.

If you have a viable case, your attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the responsible party and recover money through a settlement or verdict. That money will help offset the cost of future medical interventions, long-term care, loss of function, and pain and suffering. An Erb’s palsy lawyer can also offer guidance about the statute of limitations and other requirements in your state, to ensure you meet the appropriate deadlines.

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Erb’s Palsy Settlements and Verdicts

Statistically, 1 – 2 babies in every 1,000 will have a brachial plexus nerve injury leading to Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy (another birth injury with similar causes). As a result, many brachial plexus palsy lawsuits are filed each year, some of which result in settlements or favorable verdicts for the plaintiff. Here are a few notable stories.

Alex Sims – Las Vegas, Nevada

After being induced for labor, Sims overheard the on-call doctor, Dr. Frank DeLee, talking about attending happy hour (her regular doctor was out of town). According to video of the birth, conversation with the nurses in the room confirmed that the doctor had just come from a bar, where he was drinking tequila and possibly other alcoholic beverages. In addition, Dr. DeLee was wearing Bermuda shorts and no shoes. During the birth, Sims’ son Jason suffered a brachial plexus injury, causing permanent Erb’s palsy. Sadly, this was not the first time Dr. DeLee had caused problems, as Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners records showed he had paid more than $2.7 million in total to at least six other families due to similar birth injuries. As of early 2019, no news of the case’s resolution has been made public.

Libbey Bryson – Flint, Michigan

In 2013, Bryson won $12.9 million from a jury verdict in her case against Genesys Regional Medical Center over her daughter’s brachial plexus injury. The injury, which led to Erb’s palsy, required Bryson’s infant daughter to undergo multiple surgeries when she was six months old and three years old, neither of which were able to restore use of the affected arm. During labor, the child’s shoulder became stuck on Bryson’s pubic bone while exiting the birth canal, and in her lawsuit, Bryson claimed the doctors used excessive force to free her. Instead, Bryson argued, the medical providers should have ordered a cesarean section or used another, safer technique. The jury ultimately agreed with her, although the total amount of the award was later reduced to about $3 million, the bulk of which the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld in April 2018 after Genesys appealed the verdict.

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Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit FAQs

Is My Family Eligible to File an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit?

The majority of Erb’s palsy cases affecting young children are related to injuries sustained during childbirth. While circumstances vary from person to person, you may be able to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit on behalf of your child if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your child’s paralysis stems from an injury caused during childbirth
  • The statute of limitations has not run out in your state – laws vary greatly from state to state, so you consult with someone who is familiar with the rules in your location

Note that you may be able to get compensation even if your child does not experience permanent nerve damage. Damages can be awarded for pain and suffering actually experienced, along with medical costs like surgery, physical therapy, and prescriptions.

During your free consultation, your lawyer will help you understand the criteria for a successful lawsuit. He or she will also help you research similar cases and collect evidence for your own case, if you decide to file.

What Compensation Is Eligible for Erb’s Palsy Lawsuits?

Cases of Erb’s palsy are treated as medical malpractice, allowing patients to seek a number of different economic and noneconomic damages:

  • Medical expenses, including prescriptions, surgeries, and other medical care
  • Therapy costs, including physical, occupational, or psychological
  • Lost wages of the caregiver (parent or other guardian)
  • Pain and suffering, whether physical, mental, or emotional
  • Lower quality of life, such as an inability to enjoy certain activities

It is important to keep a hold of receipts, invoices, insurance statements of benefit, and other records of your child’s medical history related to the Erb’s palsy diagnosis. If you travel to see specialists, you should also keep records of your travel expenses, including transport, lodging, and food.

For an estimate of how much you could receive from an Erb’s palsy settlement or verdict, discuss your case with an experienced law firm today.

How Much Does an Erb’s Palsy Attorney Cost?

The upfront cost to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit is nothing. Your attorney will first meet with you for a case review to learn about your situation. During your free case evaluation, you will be able to ask whatever questions you may have, such as how the lawsuit process works and how long it could take before you receive compensation.

If you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will work on a contingency fee. In other words, your lawyer will only get paid if you receive a settlement or jury award from a favorable verdict. At that time, your lawyer will receive a percentage of the compensation amount as payment for the case. This arrangement lets you pursue your lawsuit without having to spend much-needed money that can go towards your child’s care and daily living expenses.

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