2018 Klumpke’s Palsy News: According to the Orthopedic Clinics of North America, 4 in 1,000 children in the U.S. are affected by brachial plexus injuries like Klumpke’s palsy. If your infant was injured during childbirth, you may be able to recover money to pay for medical treatments. Talk to a birth injury lawyer to learn more.
Klumpke’s palsy is a rare condition caused by damage to the network of cervical nerves originating from the spinal cord, known as the brachial plexus. If your child has developed Klumpke’s palsy due to a brachial plexus birth injury sustained during a difficult delivery, you may be eligible to receive a settlement or other compensation to pay for treatment related to your child’s paralysis. Talk to a lawyer to get a free case review and find out what brachial plexus injury compensation may be available for you and your family.
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Why Parents are Filing Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits
Klumpke’s palsy, which typically occurs during a natural childbirth, is usually a result of medical malpractice. Unsafe maneuvers or forceful removal from the birth canal can cause permanent nerve damage to the affected arm and hand. Depending on the severity, the disease can lead to deformity of the hand or claw hand, and paralysis in the hand or arm.
Birth Injury Resulting in Klumpke’s Palsy
Klumpke’s palsy is most often associated with newborns who experience a form of birth trauma known as shoulder dystocia, in which one or both of the baby’s shoulders get trapped by the pelvis or behind the pubic bone. This typically occurs in large babies who aren’t birthed by cesarean section. Trauma or traction on the impeded shoulder during birth can cause a tear or lesion in the brachial plexus, which in turn leads to the type of paralysis that characterizes Klumpke’s palsy. Klumpke’s palsy results specifically from damage to the lower brachial plexus nerves, whereas damage to the upper part of the nerve group is known as Erb’s palsy (Erb-Duchenne palsy).
Symptoms Mentioned in Klumpke’s Palsy Cases
- Weakness in muscles of the shoulder, arm, or hand
- Limp, weak, or paralyzed arm
- Muscle atrophy
- Loss of feeling
- Drooping of the eyelids (Horner’s Syndrome)
Klumpke’s Palsy and Medical Malpractice
Some tools and techniques increase the likelihood of brachial plexus injury leading to Klumpke’s palsy. Doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals who employ forceps, a vacuum extractor, or another device that forcibly pulls the baby from the birth canal risk injuring the child.
During delivery, doctors are also expected to spot potential problems and respond quickly and appropriately when complications develop. Protracted labor, fetal distress, and shoulder dystocia are all examples of problems that could lead to birth injury.
Obstetricians who use improper techniques or do not take the appropriate precautions to prevent injury during vaginal delivery may face medical malpractice claims, especially if the baby develops nerve damage as a result. Klumpke’s palsy lawsuits can help parents receive compensation to pay for treatments and ongoing care related to their child’s paralysis.
Doctors should also be aware of risk factors in the mother and baby that could increase the potential for a difficult vaginal delivery. These include diabetes in the mother, an above-average size child, breech birth, induced labor, and multiple pregnancy (e.g., twins, triplets, etc.). Doctors should disclose this information during prenatal care.
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How a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer Can Help
When deciding whether to file a lawsuit, you should be aware that it can take up to two years – or longer – for a personal injury case to make its way through the courts. In some cases, settlements can be reached much quicker than if the case goes to trial, but defendants may also try to offer low settlement amounts in the hope that you will be desperate for the money.
A brachial plexus lawyer can help you resolve issues related to financial help. Compensation can come from several places, such as:
- Birth injury lawsuit
- Medical insurance claims
- Social Security/Supplemental Security income payments related to your child’s disability
It’s important to keep in mind that every case is unique, and many factors will affect both time and compensation amounts. Having an experienced brachial plexus lawyer from a law firm who has handled Klumpke’s palsy lawsuits in the past is the best way to ensure you will receive the highest compensation possible.
Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits and Settlements
Since the effects and experiences of Klumpke’s palsy patients vary, there have been dozens of individual lawsuits over the years. Most birth cases involve medical malpractice and medical negligence, as obstetricians, nurses, and midwives can cause nerve damage with various maneuvers and force during childbirth. Here are a few notable cases.
Myra Stennis – Louisiana
Myra Stennis claimed that her son, Marcus, suffers a permanent Klumpke’s palsy injury as a result of failure to perform proper maneuvers, excessive force, and negligence by Dr. Chris Rekkas during delivery in 1976. After noticing a “tight shoulder,” Dr. Rekkas forcefully pulled Marcus out of the birth canal. Dr. Rekkas advised Stennis to visit a pediatrician when she noticed her son’s arm was laying at his side and his opposite eye was drooping. Over the years, Stennis noticed her son biting his hands and nails until they bled, causing countless infections. Stennis was awarded $1.85 million for disability and disfigurement, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Adam J. Ceasar, Sr. – Illinois
Adam J. Ceasar, Sr.’s wife, Elvia, was both obese and diabetic during her pregnancy. She claimed that the concerns were not treated and they were not informed of the complications this would cause during the birth of their son. When she went into labor, complications of birthing an 11-pound infant with broad shoulders resulted in a traumatic birth. Dr. Barry used forceps, which were believed to have caused both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy in the child. Ceasar was to be awarded $100,000 for the medical malpractice settlement, but Dr. Barry filed for bankruptcy and stated that the family may not receive the full amount. The Supreme Court stated that, regardless of bankruptcy, the full amount must be awarded to Ceasar.
Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuit FAQs
Is My Family Eligible to File a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuit?
Most Klumpke’s palsy cases are the result of an injury during childbirth. Although individual birth injury cases may vary, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit on behalf of your child if you meet the following criteria:
- Your child’s paralysis or injury occurred during childbirth
- Your state’s statute of limitations has not expired – laws vary from state to state, so you should consult with someone who is familiar with the rules in your location
You may still be eligible to receive compensation even if your child does not suffer permanent nerve damage or paralysis. Damages are also awarded for pain and suffering, along with healthcare costs like surgeries, physical therapy, and prescriptions. Your lawyer can help you collect information regarding your case, and help you understand what you may be able to receive during your free consultation.
What Compensation Can I Receive for Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits?
Many parents wonder how much they could earn if they file a lawsuit in response to their child’s development of Klumpke’s palsy. Compensation related to malpractice and personal injury lawsuits differ greatly from state to state, but in general the following considerations will be made:
- Out-of-pocket costs for treatment, including surgery, medication, and physical therapy
- Lost wages, such as if a parent has to leave work or reduce hours to care for their child
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Consideration should also be made for lifetime costs of care and other expenses related to the birth injury. Since Klumpke’s paralysis can be permanent, it is important to secure money to provide for the affected child throughout the duration of his or her lifetime.
How Can I Pay for a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer?
Since many parents who have a child with Klumpke’s palsy balance medical bills and other treatment costs for their child’s condition, hiring an injury attorney may seem like a financial burden. Birth injury attorneys will only ask for compensation on a contingency basis, which means that they will accept payment after you have been awarded money through a verdict, settlement, or other judgment. After completing a free case review, a lawyer can work with you to help you understand your legal rights, the standards for a successful lawsuit, and what is involved financially.
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