Many birth injuries that occur are often preventable and some of them, including Erb’s palsy, can result in permanent impairment. This type of birth injury causes partial or complete paralysis of the arm due to damage to the shoulder nerves. Although Erb’s palsy may be treatable with surgery and other medical interventions, some children may never recover the full use of their arm. If your child has Erb’s palsy and you think it was caused by medical negligence during birth, you may be entitled to compensation for you child’s pain and suffering and other damages.
The birth injury attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy understand the physical, emotional and financial hardships this condition can cause for a child and his or her family, which is why we are prepared to fight for your best interests. With the help of a Cincinnati Erb’s palsy lawyer, you could hold the negligent healthcare provider accountable.
We offer 100 percent free consultations, so we can review your case, evaluate your legal options and determine the amount of compensation you may be entitled. There is no risk or obligation to you. If you decide to move forward, all of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis. You will not be charged any legal fees unless you recover compensation for your case. Our office at 600 Vine Street is conveniently located in the downtown area just minutes from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that connect to the shoulder and arm. These nerves send signals from the spinal cord, allowing you to feel and move your shoulder, arm, hand and fingers.
Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves in a child’s upper arm become damaged when they are stretched, compressed or torn apart. This can result in shoulder pain, arm weakness or loss of motion in the arm. This condition is often a result of too much pressure being applied to the shoulder when pulling the child from the birth canal. There is a higher risk of this during a long or difficult birth. Many children with Erb’s palsy may recover both movement and feeling in the arm, unless the injury is particularly severe.
Types Of Erb’s Palsy Injuries
There are four different types of nerve injuries that can cause Erb’s palsy. They can all occur at the same time and share the same symptoms in a child. These symptoms include loss of feeling and partial or complete paralysis. It is the severity of the injury that determines treatment options and the extent of the recovery that may be possible.
This is the most common type of nerve injury. Neurapraxia occurs when the nerve is stretched but does not tear. The condition will send a shocking or burning sensation up and down the affected area. The child may experience severe discomfort during this time. Luckily, these types of injuries heal on their own, generally within three months. This means that a child will more than likely have full range of motion and develop normally.
Neuroma is a more serious stretch injury that can damage some of the nerve fibers and result in scar tissue forming as the fibers heal. The condition will also send a shocking or burning sensation up and down the affected nerve until it heals. The scar tissue may press down on the remaining healthy nerve, preventing a complete recovery. However, removing the scar tissue can allow a child to have more fluidity of motion on the arm.
A rupture occurs when the nerve is torn and will not be able to heal on its own. This type of injury requires medical care because it will not heal on its own. A doctor will usually splice and graft a different nerve from a healthy muscle in the child’s body onto the remains of the healthy nerve. This procedure can help a child regain some feeling and flexibility to the affected area. However, the recovery period can be difficult.
This is the worst type of nerve injury. An avulsion occurs when the nerve is torn completely apart from the spinal cord. Reattaching the nerve is not possible. This can cause the child’s arm to be rendered completely motionless. In certain cases, children with avulsions have been able to gain some function in the arm after grafting surgery, which requires using a nerve from another muscle in the child’s body.
If you believe your child has Erb’s palsy or any signs of a brachial plexus injury, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment. A doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound or other imaging tests to determine whether there is any damage to the nerves in your child’s neck and shoulder.
If you think the injury was caused by medical malpractice, it may be in your best interest to contact a qualified Cincinnati Erb’s palsy attorney today for a free consultation.
Causes Of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy may occur during a difficult labor, either because the baby is too large to be delivered naturally or the physician is pulling too hard on the baby’s head, causing excessive strain on the shoulders and brachial plexus nerves. It can also happen during a head-first delivery when the child’s shoulder is pulled on too hard.
When the baby is delivered through the birth canal in a breech birth (feet-first birth), the nerves can be stressed and injured when the child’s arms are pulled backward over the head as the physician pulls the baby out.
These are all examples of medical malpractice, and the medical professionals involved in the delivery of your child could be held liable if these actions result in injury to your child. Other examples of medical malpractice that could lead to an Erb’s palsy injury include:
- Failing to the anticipate a difficult delivery due to the baby’s size compared to the birth canal
- Neglecting to monitor the baby’s position to ensure that injuries are avoided
- Improperly using forceps and/or vacuum extraction tools during delivery
- Failing to perform or delaying a cesarean section when it was needed
An Erb’s palsy lawyer in Cincinnati can help you determine if you may be able to file a claim against the medical professional who delivered your child and caused harm.
Forms Of Treatment Available
Treatment for Erb’s palsy may require surgery, physical therapy or exercise. Damaged nerves grow and recover very slowly, so it may take up to two years for some children to make a complete recovery.
If the injury is mild, non-surgical treatments are usually the best approach. Physical therapy including gentle massages to the affected area can help improve arm strength, flexibility and nerve function. Range of motion exercises can also strengthen the arm and nerves.
Children with Erb’s palsy may benefit from having Botox injections to the affected area and the use of electrical stimulation. If there is no improvement after these treatments, your child’s treating physician may require surgery.
If the injury is more severe and there is no improvement within three to six months, surgery may be the only option. Surgery on the nerves is most effective when the child is young, especially when it comes to needing microsurgery.
During microsurgery, physicians typically use a high-powered microscope and specialized instruments. A physician may repair a rupture or avulsion by splicing a donor nerve graft from another nerve of the child’s body or restore some function in the arm by using a nerve from another healthy muscle. In either case, this type of surgery can restore partial function, but not full or normal nerve function.
Through this kind of surgery, doctors may be able to repair the nerve and restore a significant amount of functionality. After surgery, your treating physician could require rehabilitation exercises to do at home to help improve your child’s arm strength and range of motion. Although many cases are treatable, some children may experience long-term challenges.
Medical professionals have an obligation to identify potential risks and act accordingly so that a child is not injured during birth. A Cincinnati attorney can help you fight for the compensation you need to help fund your child’s Erb’s palsy treatment and recovery process.
Compensation For Erb’s Palsy
If medical malpractice contributed to your child’s Erb’s palsy birth injury, you may be entitled to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to treatment
- Physical therapy
- Required medical equipment
- Loss of wages and future earnings
- Cost of hiring a caretaker
Families may also be able to recover compensation for mental anguish, pain and suffering and their child’s loss of quality of life.
However, unlike economic damages which can be monetized, there is a limit on the amount of non-economic damages you can pursue in the state of Ohio. Non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases cannot exceed $250,000 or three times the amount of economic losses, whichever is greater (Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2323.43(A)(2)). However, there is an exception to this rule. If your child’s injuries are substantial due to a severe deformity or permanent impairment, you could receive up to $500,000 in damages.
Deadline To File An Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit
Erb’s palsy lawsuits are filed under Ohio’s medical malpractice statute of limitations. The law states that claims must be filed within one year from the date you discovered or should have reasonably discovered that medical malpractice caused your child’s injury, but no more than four years from the date the medical malpractice occurred.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within the deadline, you will lose the right to file a lawsuit. Do not wait until you are no longer legally allowed to pursue compensation. Contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys to pursue compensation to help your child make the best recovery possible.
Contact A Cincinnati Erb’s Palsy Attorney For A Free Consultation
Is your child suffering from Erb’s palsy due to medical malpractice?
You may have questions about the legal remedies available to hold doctors accountable for malpractice and recover compensation to help pay for treatment and help remedy other damage to your child’s quality of life. This is why you should consider contacting an attorney with extensive knowledge of medical malpractice laws. With more than 200 years of combined legal experience, the team at O’Connor, Acciani and Levy knows how to pursue justice for those who have been injured because of the negligence of another.
Our Cincinnati Erb’s palsy lawyer can review medical records, consult with medical experts and obtain statements from medical professionals to try to prove that negligence caused your child’s birth injury. We will not hesitate to pursue all compensation you and your family deserve. You only pay us for our services if you get compensated.