Parents count on doctors to use the utmost care when delivering their baby. Unfortunately, some doctors are reckless and cause the baby to suffer an injury that could affect the child for the rest of his or her life.
If you believe your baby’s brachial plexus birth injury was caused by medical negligence during the delivery, contact our Cincinnati brachial plexus attorneys today for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We will review your situation to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit and can manage every aspect of the case on your behalf. We have the resources to launch a comprehensive investigation to determine when malpractice occurred and how it contributed to your baby’s injuries.
You will not be charged for our services unless you are compensated at the end of the legal process.
What Is A Brachial Plexus Injury?
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs from the spinal cord to your shoulder and arm. The nerves send signals from your spinal cord to your arm, allowing you to feel and move your shoulder, arm, fingers and hand.
If doctors are not careful during the delivery of your baby, they can stretch, compress or tear these nerves, causing your baby to suffer a brachial plexus injury.
Types Of Brachial Plexus Injury
There are several different types of brachial plexus injuries, depending on the severity of the damage to the nerves:
- Neurapraxia – This is the most common type of brachial plexus injury. It occurs when the nerve is stretched or compressed but not torn. This type of brachial plexus injury often heals within three months. If the upper nerves are damaged, the condition is called Erb’s palsy.
- Neuroma – This is more severe than neurapraxia because some of the nerve fibers are damaged. This can cause the victim to develop scar tissue that presses on the healthy parts of the nerve. In most cases, victims experience some level of recovery, but the injury does not heal completely.
- Rupture – When a nerve ruptures, it is torn apart and will not heal on its own. Babies who experienced a rupture often need surgery to have a chance of making any kind of recovery from this injury.
- Avulsion – This is the most severe type of brachial plexus injury. It occurs when the nerve is pulled out from the spinal cord and there is no chance it will regenerate.
There are several signs of a brachial plexus injury to watch for in your newborn, such as inability to use an arm. Infants with brachial plexus birth injuries often hold the affected arm toward the body and cannot move it on their own.
You may also notice the hand having a claw-like appearance because the child cannot move his or her fingers. There are also cases when the infant is still able to move the arm a little but cannot raise it over his or her head. Your baby may experience pain as well, in the neck, hand or arm.
If you notice any signs of a brachial plexus injury, seek medical treatment immediately so doctors can diagnose what is going on. If it is a brachial plexus injury and you think it was caused by medical malpractice, contact a Cincinnati brachial plexus attorney today for a free legal consultation.
What Causes A Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?
Brachial plexus birth injuries happen during less than one percent of live births, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The injury usually occurs when doctors have trouble getting the baby’s shoulder out of the birth canal. If doctors pull too hard and apply too much pressure they can cause the baby’s shoulder to hit the mother’s pubic bone, resulting in nerve damage.
Brachial plexus injuries are more likely to occur during long or difficult births, such as when the baby is abnormally large or is being delivered feet first (also known as a breech birth).
Sometimes doctors need to use vacuums or forceps to help them get the baby out, but these can also damage nerves in the brachial plexus if doctors are not careful.
How To Prove Medical Malpractice Occurred
Our brachial plexus attorneys in Cincinnati will carefully review the birth of your baby to determine if any of the doctor’s actions can be considered medical malpractice.
Establishing that mistakes were made during the delivery does not prove medical malpractice occurred. We need to show the medical professionals who treated you did not meet the accepted standard of care for the situation.
The standard of care is a legal requirement for doctors and other medical professionals to provide care that meets accepted standards in the medical community for the situation. In other words, doctors need to act the way other similarly-trained medical professionals would if they were in a similar situation. If we can prove the doctors who treated you did not meet the standard of care, and show this caused your child to suffer a brachial plexus injury, we may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Common examples of actions that might violate the standard of care include:
- Allowing a breech birth if the baby could have been moved around to make the birth easier
- Not doing a C-section if it was a viable option
- Failing to take action to correct the baby’s positioning in the womb
- Reckless use of forceps or vacuums to help with delivering the baby
- Not preparing for a difficult birth when there is a high risk of one, such as when the mother has a narrow pelvis, fibroids in her birth canal, gestational diabetes or excessive weight gain during the pregnancy
- Not checking the mother for signs that child birth might be a long or difficult process
The brachial plexus attorneys in Cincinnati at our firm have detailed knowledge of how to prove medical malpractice.
Types Of Treatment
Some brachial plexus injuries will heal on their own over time and do not require surgery. However, your child will likely require ongoing physical therapy to prevent joints from stiffening up and to maintain range of motion in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. These exercises usually begin when the child is about three weeks old.
If the child suffers a rupture or avulsion of the nerves, doctors may recommend surgery to correct the damage. For instance, doctors could attempt a nerve graft, which involves taking another nerve from the child and splicing it with the damaged nerve. Another option might be to completely replace the nerve with one from another muscle.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine your child’s timetable for recovery. It could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or years. In some cases, the child will never fully recover and will continue to have weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand for the rest of his or her life.
Having a permanent physical disability can make your child’s life much more difficult. Your child may have difficulty performing tasks that would be easy for able-bodied children. He or she may need medical treatment for the injury for the rest of his or her life, including physical therapy, prescription medications and possibly mental therapy to deal with the psychological effects of having a disability.
Fortunately, a Cincinnati brachial plexus attorney may be able to pursue compensation for your child’s current and future medical bills related to the injury, including physical therapy, doctor appointments, surgeries, prescription medications, and pain and suffering.
Damages Cap For Medical Malpractice
Ohio places no limitation on the amount of economic compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This means our brachial plexus lawyers in Cincinnati can pursue the full value of medical expenses, lost wages and the cost of hiring a caretaker.
However, Ohio does have a limit on the amount of non-economic damages you can pursue, this includes things like pain and suffering. According to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2323.43(A)(2), non-economic compensation cannot exceed $250,000 or three times the amount of economic losses, whichever amount is greater. However, if the greater amount is three times your economic losses, you cannot recover more than $350,000.
There is an exception to this in ORC 2323.43(3), which says compensation can go up to $500,000 if the victim is suffering from either of the following:
- Permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb or loss of a bodily organ system
- Permanent physical functional injury that prevents the person from being able to independently care for himself or herself or perform life-sustaining activities
Statute Of Limitations For A Brachial Plexus Lawsuit
Brachial plexus lawsuits are governed by Ohio’s medical malpractice statute of limitations (ORC 2305.113(A)). Under this law, claims must be filed within one year of the date malpractice occurred. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time, you lose the right to do so.
However, you might not immediately discover your child was a victim of medical malpractice. It might take weeks or months to find out something is wrong, even if you are exercising reasonable care and diligence. In these situations, you have one year from the date of discovering malpractice to file a lawsuit. However, you cannot file a claim more than four years from the date malpractice occurred.
The only exception to this four-year deadline is if you discover the injury less than one year before the four years are up. In these situations, you have one year from the date you discovered malpractice to file a lawsuit, even though this will take you past the four-year deadline.
Our brachial plexus attorneys in Cincinnati can review your situation to determine how much time we have to file a lawsuit over your child’s birth injury. We will make sure it is filed before the statute of limitations expires.
Contact A Cincinnati Brachial Plexus Attorney Today
Did your child suffer a brachial plexus injury during childbirth?
It may have been caused by medical malpractice on the part of doctors or others involved in the birthing process. This means you could be entitled to compensation for the damages your baby suffered.
Our Cincinnati brachial plexus lawyers understand how devastating these injuries can be and the damage they cause. We are committed to thoroughly investigating what happened to build a strong case so we can aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free legal consultation and do not charge for our services unless we obtain fair compensation.