Erb’s palsy is a somewhat common disorder that appears in many newborns because of complications during their delivery. Childbirth injuries and complications can sometimes cause nerve damage, and if that damage affects the bundle of nerves in the baby’s neck and shoulder, they might develop Erb’s palsy. This palsy usually affects the arm and shoulder and might include partial or total paralysis of the limb.
If your doctor committed errors or mistakes during your child’s birth that caused Erb’s palsy, you and your family might be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’s Maryland attorneys for Erb’s palsy from childbirth complications today to discuss filing a lawsuit and fighting for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 to learn more about what your case might be worth and how to proceed with filing a claim.
Causes of Erb’s Palsy During Childbirth
Erb’s palsy usually results from an injury to the nerves in the shoulder and neck area. The bundle of nerves that comes off your spinal cord and passes through this area is called the “brachial plexus.” This grouping of nerves is made of 3 “cords,” the lateral cord, posterior cord, and medial cord, which branch off from the C5, C6, C7, C8, and T1 vertebrae. These cords later branch off into the chest, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, and fingers, so any injury to the brachial plexus can mean injury and paralysis anywhere in that area. This paralysis is often diagnosed as Erb’s palsy if it affects the arm.
Adults and children can acquire Erb’s palsy as well, but this is an unfortunately common injury for newborns who suffer complications during childbirth. The shoulder can become cramped or stretched during a delivery, putting excess strain on the brachial plexus. Especially if the delivery is taking a long time, the baby is especially large, or the birth canal is especially narrow, the pressure of the delivery could cause injury to the brachial plexus and cause Erb’s palsy.
Often, a doctor should seek to perform an emergency C-section or use other delivery techniques if the baby is having a hard time coming out, but doctors might resort to using force instead. Whether the doctor uses forceps, a vacuum extractor, or their hands, additional force might only be dangerous in this situation. If the doctor tries to pull the baby out, it might make the cramping on the shoulder worse and cause additional injury to the nerves there.
Damages for Erb’s Palsy in Childbirth Injury Claims
Ultimately, Erb’s palsy might only be a temporary condition. Babies have an excellent ability to heal, and many injuries can be repaired and allow the baby to live a normal life. However, not every child born with Erb’s palsy caused by medical complications gets to do so.
If your baby acquired Erb’s palsy from a childbirth injury, you may need to pay for additional medical procedures to try to reverse the injury, physical therapy to deal with the pain and try to improve motion, occupational therapy to teach the child how to live with the injury, and other care to help your child with the reduced function in their arm. As your child grows into an adult, the condition could make it harder for them to work and support themselves. The damages for all of these financial effects can usually be claimed as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that caused the injuries.
In addition, your baby can often receive damages for the physical pain and mental anguish of the injury. Although the limb might be paralyzed, this can still be quite uncomfortable or painful for the patient, justifying financial compensation. Additionally, the mental and emotional damage of living with an avoidable disability and growing up with a somewhat visibly noticeable injury can also be severe, often justifying high damages.
Talk to a lawyer about what your case might be worth. Doctors and their medical malpractice insurance companies are often unwilling to pay high damages, so settlement offers you receive might be low. Our attorneys can go over what your claim should be worth and help you know when to refuse settlement offers and fight your case in court.
Suing a Doctor for Erb’s Palsy Complications
If your child suffered Erb’s palsy, you might be entitled to sue the doctor to get the compensation you need. These lawsuits are typically filed against the doctor directly for their fault in causing the injury, but you might also be able to include the hospital in the lawsuit if the doctor or other members of the medical team were hospital employees.
In this lawsuit, your lawyer will work to prove that the injury was caused by your doctor’s negligence. The fact that the injury occurred is not, by itself, enough to justify a lawsuit. Instead, your lawyer must prove that the doctor caused the injury through a lack of care or skill and that the injury should have been avoided by different choices in techniques or by more delicate skill in performing the delivery. Often, these cases require your lawyer to put on testimony from a medical expert who can speak to what your doctor did wrong.
You will also need to prove the damages you faced in court for the jury to award you damages. This means providing proof of medical bills and other economic damages, which your lawyer can assemble and present in court. Your lawyer can also advise you on when it might be better to avoid the cost and time it takes to go to court by accepting a settlement instead of pressing the case in court.
Call Our Maryland Lawyers for Erb’s Palsy Injuries During Childbirth for a Free Legal Consultation
The lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras represent parents of injured newborns and fight to hold their doctors and the hospitals that treated them accountable for mistakes and complications during the delivery. If your child suffered from Erb’s palsy or another type of paralysis in the arm from a birth injury, call us today. To schedule a free consultation with our Maryland attorneys for Erb’s palsy childbirth complications, call us at (410) 694-7291.