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Erb’s Palsy & Other Brachial Plexus Injuries

Long Island Erb’s Palsy lawyers serving Suffolk County, Nassau County and all five boroughs of New York City.

If you are searching for a birth injury lawyer in New York City or Long Island in connection to your child’s brachial plexus injury or Erb’s Palsy, an attorney at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye is available for a free consultation to help determine if your child is eligible for compensation. There are protocols that doctors can follow to prevent brachial plexus injuries; unfortunately, some do not. If your child’s injury was due to avoidable errors or negligence on the part of healthcare practitioners, the responsible parties may be held liable for damages to cover medical bills and other expenses and losses.

At Edelman, Krasin & Jaye, our Long Island medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and resources to prove liability in a brachial plexus injury and/or Erb’s palsy case. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to answer your questions and you will not be charged any fees unless we win a jury award or settlement for your child.

What are brachial plexus injuries?

A brachial plexus injury (occurring in roughly 2 of every 1000 live births) is a type of birth injury that affects the bundle of nerves emerging from the spinal cord at the baby’s neck, and running from the shoulder to the fingers. The most common brachial plexus injury (60 to 70 percent) is Erb’s palsy, the result of an injury to the upper part of the brachial plexus, which can affect the shoulder, upper arm (bicep), chest, thumb, and fingers.

Brachial plexus injuries are classified by severity:

  • Avulsion is a less common injury that occurs when the nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord.
  • Rupture of a nerve is a more common injury, involving tearing of the nerve away from the spinal cord.
  • Neurapraxia (stretching) of a nerve is the most common injury.
  • Neuroma is the forming of scar tissue over a nerve that has tried to heal.

Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury are apparent soon after birth and include a lack of movement of the arm or hand, an arm flexed at the elbow and held against the body, a decreased grip in one hand, or a lack of Moro reflex (an involuntary reflex seen in the first month of life) in one arm.

Though brachial plexus injuries may go away within a few months, others must be treated with surgery and some have more severe lifetime consequences; in many cases, only time will tell. Though filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is not the right course of action for all families in this situation, you are invited to contact our Long Island birth injury lawyers to discuss your options and learn about the rights to your child and your family under the law.

When are brachial plexus injuries grounds for a birth injury lawsuit?

A brachial plexus injury generally occurs when a doctor or midwife uses excessive force when coping with shoulder dystocia (when one of the baby’s shoulders is stuck and does not come out right after the delivery of the head).

Medical professionals should be alert for possible risk factors, including:

  • Disproportionate relative size of the baby and mother
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Previous brachial plexus injuries
  • Slow descent or dilation

Doctors should have a plan of action in place in advance, including various maneuvers to gently extricate the infant, or the use an episiotomy or C-section if necessary.

If these protocols are not followed, and a doctor presses, pulls, or twists a baby’s head, neck, arms or shoulders excessively, or uses forceps or vacuum suction too vigorously, he or she (and the hospital where the birth takes place) may be liable for any injury that occurs.

The plaintiff in a birth injury lawsuit in New York State must demonstrate that such excessive force was used. This is why it is so important to have high-caliber medical malpractice attorneys such as those at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye on your side. Our lawyers have decades of experience in the area of birth injury law and can conduct a thorough investigation of the birth to build the strongest case possible on behalf of you and your child.

Prognosis for babies with Erb’s palsy

Though some brachial plexus injuries resolve themselves in a matter of months, others require extensive surgeries and treatment to correct, and even then it may be possible only to mitigate rather than to cure the condition.

Long term consequences of brachial plexus injury may include:

  • Decreased nerve, muscle, and bone growth and functioning
  • Decreased strength and stamina
  • Movement, balance, coordination, and dexterity challenges
  • Joint dysfunction and wear
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Limb length discrepancy
  • Scoliosis
  • Partial paralysis of the diaphragm (breathing problems)
  • Drooping eyelid or constricted pupil
  • Psychological challenges

Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus injuries can have a profound effect on a child and his or her family, resulting in disruptions, limitations, and expenses that they would not otherwise have to cope with. If you believe that your child may have been injured through medical malpractice, contact a Long Island personal injury lawyer from Edelman, Krasin & Jaye to find out what compensation may be available to you.

Compensation for birth injury malpractice

Treatment and surgery to correct a brachial plexus injury can be significant in the short term, and long-term care and treatment for a child who will carry the consequences of an injury into adulthood will be substantial. When the NYC birth injury attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye determine that a client has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, we typically advocate for compensation to cover medical and therapy costs (past and future), lost earning potential, diminished quality of life, and pain and suffering.

A review of data related to brachial plexus injury lawsuits between 1985 and 2001 shows that 60% resulted in monetary awards, averaging about $300,000, with one verdict of more than $3 million. The amount of compensation will vary due to the extent of the injury and the nature of the medical malpractice.

An Erb’s Palsy attorney can help in your time of need

If you think your child’s Erb’s palsy may be due to medical malpractice, contact the Long Island birth injury lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye at 516-742-9200 to discuss a potential brachial plexus injury lawsuit. Your consultation is free, is offered at no obligation to you. Start getting answers to the questions that are troubling you about your child’s injury and future. Remember that our success is our client’s success!

  1. Birthinjury.org, Brachial plexus, http://birthinjury.org/brachial-plexus.html
  2. Boston Children’s Hospital, “About Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy”, http://www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/programs/a-_-e/brachial-plexus-program/about-brachial-plexus-birth-palsy
  3. National Library of Medicine, MedLine Plus, “Brachial plexus injury in newborns,” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001395.htm
  4. United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc., “What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?” http://www.ubpn.org/?option=com_content&view=article&id=106&Itemid=91
  5. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Medical and Legal Issues Related to Brachial Plexus Injuries in Neonates, http://www.jaoa.org/content/106/4/209.full