Parents whose child has suffered from a brachial plexus injury resulting in Klumpke’s palsy may wonder if they should file a medical malpractice lawsuit. It’s important to know up front that in many cases, Klumpke’s palsy develops due to negligence by a doctor or the use of an improper technique during delivery.
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.
What Is Klumpke’s Palsy?
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. These nerves control the arms, and when damaged, they can cause cause weakness and loss of motion in the arm and hand.
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). Depending on the severity, the disease can lead to deformity of the hand or claw hand, paralysis of muscles in the hand, and weakness in the shoulder and arm. Severe cases can cause lifelong paralysis in the affected arm.
Klumpke’s palsy is also known as Dejerine-Klumpke palsy, Klumpke paralysis and Horner’s syndrome.
Prevalence in Newborns
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 shoulders get trapped by the pelvis. 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 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.
Finally, 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.
Klumpke’s Palsy Compensation Amounts
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.
Filing a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuit
Before you can file a Klumpke’s palsy claim in court, you need to find a lawyer or law firm that handles brachial plexus injury lawsuit cases. Reputable and experienced birth injury lawyers will never ask you to pay money up front, and they will offer a free case review to help you determine how much you might be able to receive in compensation for your child’s injury.
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.
Your lawyer can help set expectations around the amount of time your lawsuit will likely take and how much money you could expect to receive. However, 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 who has handled Klumpke’s palsy lawsuits in the past is the best way to ensure you will receive the highest compensation possible.
Finally, in addition to filing medical malpractice lawsuits, a brachial plexus lawyer can also help you resolve issues related to other financial help, such as medical insurance claims or receiving Social Security/Supplemental Security Income payments related to your child’s disability.
Talk to a Brachial Plexus Lawyer Now
Many parents may want to focus on caring for their newborn rather than pursuing legal action, but it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible after your child is diagnosed with Klumpke’s paralysis or another brachial plexus injury. Statutes of limitations for personal injury differ from state to state, and if you wait too long, you could lose the chance to receive compensation that could give your child access to more effective treatment options and long-term care.