Erb’s palsy is relatively rare, occurring in 1 or 2 out of 1,000 births, but if your baby is one of those affected, this birth injury can be devastating. In most cases, Erb’s palsy results from negligence on the part of the delivering obstetrician. The accomplished birth injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy have a track record of winning damages for families whose infants are suffering the consequences of Erb’s palsy. We have helped parents throughout the greater Philadelphia area file successful medical malpractice lawsuits and we are eager to help you.
What Our Legal Team Can Do to Protect Your Baby
If your infant has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, you owe it to your family to contact us as soon as possible. Our capable Erb’s palsy attorneys will evaluate your case for free and will charge you no attorneys’ fees until we have won your case. Once you become our client, we will commit ourselves to pulling out all the stops to investigate the circumstances of your child’s birth in order to prove that the obstetrician’s negligence is liable.
We will examine all medical records and any history of negligence on the part of your doctor and will handle all negotiations with opposing attorneys and insurers, as well as with your doctor and the hospital. We will also consult with medical experts whose testimony will bolster our case. In short, we will take all necessary steps to develop a winning courtroom strategy.
What is Erb’s palsy?
The nerves connecting a newborn’s spinal cord to the arms and hands are known as brachial plexus nerves. These nerves can be damaged during childbirth, most commonly when excessive traction is applied to a baby’s head or neck during a head-first delivery or when the baby’s arms are in a raised position during a breech birth.
If the infant’s head becomes lodged in the mother’s pelvis — a condition known as shoulder dystocia — the child’s nerves can be adversely affected. When this happens, the physician is most likely liable for causing the damage.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
This injury may manifest as:
- Paralysis of the child’s shoulder, arms, or neck
- Loss of muscle control or sensation in the arms or hands
- General weakness in one arm
- Inability to reach with one arm or to wiggle the fingers
Types of Erb’s Palsy
There are four types of Erb’s palsy:
- Neurapraxia, a stretch injury that shocks, but does not tear the nerve, is most common and normally heals within 3 months
- Neuroma, a stretch injury that damages some nerve fibers, possibly resulting in scar tissue that may cause some permanent damage
- Rupture, a stretch injury that tears apart (ruptures) the nerve, that will not heal on its own
- Avulsion, a severe injury that occurs when the nerve is ripped from the spinal cord
It is sometimes possible for a rupture to be repaired using a nerve graft, but at present an avulsion is irreparable.
Risk Factors for Erb’s Palsy
The risk for Erb’s palsy is increased by:
- Large infant and/or small mother
- Mother with diabetes or a flat pelvis
- Elongated pregnancy more than 40 weeks)
- Drawn out second-stage labor that lasts more than an hour
- Baby in a breech position at delivery
What the doctor does or does not do during the birth process may endanger the child. As part of the required duty of care the physician is called upon to be prepared to perform a Cesarean if it becomes necessary, especially if any of the above risk factors is present.
It should be noted, however, that when a problem with the birth becomes apparent too late in the delivery process for a Cesarean to be feasible, the physician may have no choice but to rush to get the baby out before it suffocates. In such cases, the court will not usually find the doctor guilty of negligence.
What makes your doctor guilty of medical malpractice?
If your child was damaged by a birth injury that could have been avoided, we are more likely to win your medical malpractice case. Examples of errors in judgment of the doctor that may have resulted in Erb’s palsy include:
- Failure to take proper measurements of fetus’s weight before birth
- Ignoring a major risk factor in preparing for the birth
- Failure to manipulate the fetus into an easier position for the birth
- Failure to plan for a C-section when the procedure first seemed necessary
- Failure to prevent entrapment of the infant’s shoulder during childbirth
- Use of excessive force during delivery
- Delay in taking responsible, necessary action when complications arose
Our Legal Representation Can Help Provide the Resources Your Baby Needs
Although fortunately, many cases of Erb’s palsy resolve on their own within a few months and others respond well to targeted treatment — e.g. gentle massage, range-of-motion exercises, hydrotherapy, and occupational therapy during the first year, other cases will require surgery on the child as a young toddler. In the most intractable cases, the child may suffer long-term disability involving lifelong loss of mobility and sensation.
Our talented Erb’s palsy attorneys will seek damages to cover your expenses and your child’s pain and suffering, including:
- Medical, hospital, pharmaceutical, and rehabilitative costs
- Lost income while you take time to care for your child
- Specialized childcare services
- Physical, occupational, and psychological therapy for your child during development
- Alterations to your home to make it more accessible for your child
- Devices to assist your child as she/he navigates with the disability
- Your child’s physical pain and emotional suffering
- Your child’s loss of ability to engage in normal childhood activities
Whatever the circumstances of your particular case, Cooper Schall & Levy has the in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice law and the legal agility to give you a distinct edge during negotiations and/or litigation.
Contact Our Experienced Erb’s Palsy Legal Team Now
At Cooper Schall & Levy, we are more than determined attorneys; we are also compassionate individuals dedicated to fighting for the resources that will help your child cope with the difficulties caused by medical malpractice. We will fight aggressively to win you the compensation you need to provide your child every possible opportunity to live a full, happy, satisfying life. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.