Erb’s Palsy Attorneys & Lawyers
An Erb’s Palsy lawsuit can provide monetary relief for the many costs associated with caring for a newborn with Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy is an injury that occurs most often during labor and it’s often preventable.
Luckily, Erb’s Palsy is also treatable and, with good medical care, newborns can often heal from the condition so that it doesn’t impact their ability to function permanently.
However, the condition does mean extra care during the early years and may result in high medical bills. Many parents also find that it’s difficult to work during this time or that they need to take time off work frequently to care for their child’s medical needs.
Hiring a birth injury lawyer to file an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit is a good way to recover some monetary compensation to help your family through a difficult recovery process.
What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy has a few different names, such as shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus palsy. These confusing medical terms simply mean that there’s an injury in the neck of the infant which impacts the nerves to their arm. This might be a complete tear or a repositioning of the nerves which causes damage. As you can imagine, damage to these nerves means that the child won’t have full function of their arm and may have diminished feeling in that area of the body.
Infants can’t tell you verbally when something hurts them or describe symptoms of numbness. But most infants with Erb’s Palsy will show a diminished ability to use the arm that’s affected by the injury. In some cases, the baby’s arm will be angled awkwardly or turned in toward their body. The condition may be painful for the baby and some infants will cry when the arm is jostled, touched, or there’s pressure put on the injured area.
What Was the Cause of Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy is caused by an injury, often during the birthing process. The injury itself occurs because the baby’s arm or head were pulled in an unnatural way. This can happen due to rough handling after delivery. For instance, picking up the baby without securing the back and neck may cause too much stress to the neck or arm. In many cases, the injury occurs during childbirth itself.
Some issues that can arise include difficulty in delivery. If the baby is positioned in an awkward way or the birth canal is too narrow for the baby to pass, the injury can occur trying to free the baby’s shoulders during birth. The medical staff is trained to hasten delivery once the baby is in the birth canal because there’s a risk of oxygen deprivation which can be very serious.
Some cases of Erb’s Palsy can be caused by staff incorrectly using forceps or other medical equipment to pull the baby from the birth canal during delivery. The baby may be pulled by their neck and face during the delivery process to help free them which can cause the condition. With a breech delivery, pulling on the feet might result in injury to the neck and arm if they’re positioned awkwardly in the birth canal.
You might not consider some of these issues of medical negligence. After all, your physician has no control over the size or positioning of the baby during labor and delivery. The truth is that most cases of Erb’s Palsy are preventable.
Could Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy Have Been Prevented?
It’s very likely that your child’s Erb’s Palsy could have been prevented. If the injury was sustained after birth, through rough handling by the staff, that’s a clear case a medical negligence. You might think that cases where the birth canal was too small or the baby was lodged in an awkward position were unavoidable. But in most cases, they are avoidable because standard protocol should inform physicians of the baby’s positioning prior to active labor.
If the baby hasn’t dropped or appears to be breech, the physician should attempt to turn the baby or may opt for a c-section to avoid this type of complication. During pregnancy, the physician should be monitoring the size of the baby and positioning. Today’s measurements are very accurate in this regard, so it’s entirely possible to schedule a c-section to avoid a difficult delivery in cases where the baby might be too large.
A lot of Erb’s Palsy cases are caused during delivery because the staff is rushed to get the baby out of the birth canal because they’re trying to prevent a more serious injury. In those cases, Erb’s Palsy may actually be a calculated risk that the doctor is taking because it’s far less detrimental than possible brain damage from lack of oxygen. The truth is that it’s the physician’s responsibility to avoid both risks
Why File an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit?
You might not immediately consider filing an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit, especially if you feel like your physician was trying to serve you well. If the doctor made the choice to risk the less severe Erb’s Palsy to make certain the infant wasn’t deprived of oxygen for too long, that can seem like an excellent choice.
You also might not consider Erb’s Palsy a condition worth suing over. Most babies will fully recover from Erb’s Palsy with proper medical care. They won’t suffer any lasting effects from the injury and the settlement might come well after the child is already in full health.
There are still many reasons to consider filing an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit. Some examples include:
• To prevent future cases. Even if you like your doctor and understand how the injury took place, you still want to prevent cases of Erb’s Palsy. Filing a suit means that the physician and hospital will take cases like yours seriously and look at protocols to prevent future injuries.
• To help offset medical costs. During your infant’s recovery, there will be doctor’s visits and medical costs. There may also be rehabilitation and other costs associated with your child’s care during this time. For many families, this is a hardship, both financially and mentally.
• To help offset the loss of wages. A child with a condition such as Erb’s Palsy will need more constant care than a healthy infant. This often means that one parent will need to stop work or take extended periods off from their regular job.
• To begin a college fund for your child. For many parents, the medical bills are largely covered by insurance and they may not see any settlement money until after the child has recovered. That doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to compensation. You might put that sum of money into a college fund for your child or otherwise use the funds to plan for their future.
Is an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Worth It?
Pursuing an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit can be worth it for your family. After all, your child has suffered needless stress and pain. Your family has sacrificed time, energy, and funds to remedy an injury that they should not have had to endure. And the reality is that the work that goes into an Erb’s Palsy case is entirely worth the possible settlement.
Most childbirth injury cases settle out of court, which means that your lawyer will come to an agreement before beginning trial. Even if your case does go to trial, your lawyer will likely work on a contingency basis. What that means is that you won’t need to pay your lawyer any funds upfront. There is virtually no hardship for your family to pursue a lawsuit to recoup some of the funds you put out for your child’s recovery.
What to Expect in an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit
In the rare event that your Erb’s Palsy case does not settle out of court, the next step is to prepare for court proceedings. Your lawyer will likely have gathered the information prior to this point and gathering all of the information can be very time-consuming. The first step for trial would be to send the defendant a complaint, which basically a legal document explaining the basis for your lawsuit. The defendant has a set amount of time to respond to the complaint.
The next step is discovery. During this time, all of the evidence you have regarding your child’s injury and the medical negligence that caused it are shared. Your birth injury lawyer shares all reports and documentation about the child’s injury during this time. This phase of the trial can last for a long time – several months to more than a year. At this point, you may enter into negotiations regarding a settlement.
If the case does go to trial and you win, the defendant still has the right to appeal and they almost always use that right. An appeals process might last for a year or more, depending on the caseload at the court.
When Should You Start an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit?
As with all personal injury cases, there is a statute of limitations in most states. So it’s very important that you initiate any lawsuit as early as possible. In some states, you’ll need to file any suit within six months of when you discovered the injury (which may not be the same time the injury occurred). Your lawyer will need to see any documentation about your child’s injury.
Breach of Duty of Care Caused Erb’s Palsy
As discussed previously, almost all of Erb’s Palsy cases are caused by negligence or outright malpractice. Whether your doctor took a calculated risk or simply did not properly prepare for the specific issues of your delivery, the final diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy is not ever faultless.
Medical staff promised to provide a high level of care to their patients. That includes every patient at all times. If the medical staff lapsed in their duty of care which resulted in your child’s injury, a lawsuit offers you a way to collect some damages back. For most parents, the monetary aspect is only a small part. You don’t want medical staff to lapse in their duty of care. A lawsuit will make the hospital and staff double check their protocols more thoroughly.
How Long and Time Consuming is an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit?
The length of time that an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit drags on depends on the specific scenarios of your case. Often these personal injury cases are settled within a short period to time. You might be looking at months or even a few years, from start to finish. If you settle out of court, as most cases do, you might even be able to finalize the case within a few months, total.
What Kind of Compensation Will You Receive?
Compensation amounts are not an exact number. The judge, lawyer, and defendant look at a number of different factors. They consider the extent of the infant’s injuries, the cost of past and present care, and future care if the child will need more. They may also consider pain and suffering and loss of wages as well as the cost of any at home care.
How Do You Receive a Settlement or Trial Compensation?
If your case settles out of court, the defendant has thirty to sixty days to pay the agreed upon settlement. That payment goes to your lawyer. The injury attorney will deduct his own percentage before passing the settlement on to you.
If your case went to court and you won, that’s not the very end of the story. The defendant can appeal and they will in most cases. It doesn’t cost them anything to appeal and it’s the right. Appeals can last several months and might run as long as two years. Once the appeals process is finalized, payment is issued to your lawyer for disbursement.
Get Help Now
If your family has been affected by an Erb’s Palsy birth injury, the Cerebral Palsy Group can help. Having a newborn that faces an injury can be stressful and confusing. There will be further medical treatments, parents may need to take extended time away from work, and there is the natural worry that comes with any malady.
The Cerebral Palsy Group is here to provide resources to help you navigate through your child’s illness. Whether you need a support group to lean on or information to help research your options, please feel free to contact us.