Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits

Klumpke’s palsy lawsuits are filed by the parents of infants who experience a traumatic birth injury to their brachial plexus during delivery. By filing a legal claim, the family could receive compensation that will help cover the costs of ongoing medical care and other expenses arising from the paralysis.

Is your child's Klumpke's palsy related to a birth injury? Talk to a Klumpke's palsy attorney now

How Birth Injury Leads to Klumpke’s Palsy

Delivery teams are expected to provide the appropriate standard of care when attending to labor and childbirth. This includes making sure that both the mother and the baby are safe and do not suffer any injuries while under their care. When a delivery doctor or other medical personnel are negligent and use outdated or unsafe birthing methods, the baby can suffer a birth injury. One rare but serious type of birth injury is Klumpke’s palsy (also known by its longer name, Dejerine–Klumpke palsy).

Klumpke’s palsy arises when damage occurs to the brachial plexus, a group of cervical nerves controlling muscles in the arms (specifically, the C8 and T1 nerves). Most brachial plexus injuries are caused by a delivery complication called shoulder dystocia, in which the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal by the mother’s pelvic bone.

Some women and babies have a higher risk of shoulder dystocia than others. The most common risk factors that can lead to shoulder dystocia include:

  • Babies with a high birth weight
  • Mothers who are small
  • Prolonged labor
  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes

When doctors recognize the development of shoulder dystocia, they will often order a cesarean section (c-section) delivery, or use another generally accepted medical technique to overcome the complication. However, if the doctor misses signs of potential problems, birth injury could result, leading to Klumpke’s palsy or another birth injury, such as Erb’s palsy.

Types of Nerve Injuries Associated with Klumpke’s Palsy

Nerve damage leading to Klumpke’s palsy most often occurs when the nerve is streched too far by pulling or twisting the baby’s arm, neck or shoulder during delivery. The resulting force can lead to one of the following types of nerve injury:

  • Avulsion – complete severing of the nerve from the spinal cord
  • Rupture – a tear in the nerve away from the spinal cord
  • Neuroma – scar tissue that forms over a healed nerve, blocking the nerve signal
  • Neuropraxia – stretched or damaged nerve that is not actually torn, but can still cause problems

Some treatment is available for Klumpke’s palsy, depending on the severity and location of the nerve damage, and in some cases children can make a full recovery. However, in many cases the nerve damage is permanent, and the child will struggle with disability-related problems their entire life.

Symptoms of Klumpke’s Palsy

  • 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)

Did a Birth Injury Cause Klumpke’s Palsy?

Most cases of Klumpke’s palsy are caused by birth injury, although it can also happen later in life. To determine if a particular injury was caused at birth, it is necessary to review the hospital records of the delivery team to see what the doctors and other medical professionals said and did during the labor and delivery process. If the team did not respond appropriately or quickly enough to complications arising during childbirth, they may be liable for medical negligence or another form of malpractice.

Fortunately, you do not need to go after those medical records yourself. Klumpke’s palsy lawyers can help you obtain the records necessary to review your case, and they work with medical experts to investigate the viability of your case.

How Can a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer Help?

Parents who believe their baby’s birth injury was caused by negligence on the part of their OB/GYN or other medical providers should contact a lawyer right away. They may be able to receive compensation that can help with medical costs, future treatments, and other expenses related to their child’s Klumpke’s palsy.

Once you have connected with an attorney, he or she will help you by:

  • Providing a free case review to determine if your case is viable
  • Gathering evidence to support your case
  • Reviewing hospital documents with a medical expert to see where problems occurred
  • Filing paperwork with the appropriate venue to begin your case
  • Navigating the legal process to help your case move as quickly as possible

There are a lot of considerations to make, such as what damages you are able to claim and how your state’s statute of limitations may affect you. Therefore, it is important to connect with a law firm right away to get the process started as soon as possible.

Klumpke’s Palsy Settlements and Verdicts

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 – $1.85 million (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. – $100,000 (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 amounts 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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