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Erb’s Palsy

Representing Families Throughout New York City Following An Erb's Palsy Diagnosis

Erb's palsy is a birth injury that occurs in one to two of 1,000 newborns. The condition is a type of brachial plexus palsy, meaning it results from damage to the network of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand. When an infant suffers from Erb's palsy, its affected arm and hand are weaker than they should be and have decreased ability to move and feel. Erb's palsy is frequently caused by a difficult birth (dystocia), during which the fetus is large or awkwardly positioned, the mother's pelvis is small, or the uterus and cervix fail to contract and expand normally. When a birth becomes particularly difficult and the doctor must deliver the baby quickly, the force used to pull the baby from the birth canal may stretch one side of the infant's neck, stretching the nerves as well, and resulting in a birth injury.

When Erb's Palsy Is Considered a Birth Injury

Erb's palsy is frequently caused by the delivering doctor or other medical professional who fails to recognize that there is a serious problem early enough to correct for it. If the delivering doctor fails to realize that either the fetus must be manipulated into a more manageable position or a Cesarean section is needed, his or her mistake can result in the baby's temporary or permanent disability. While in the majority of cases Erb's palsy may respond well to early therapeutic interventions, 10 percent of affected children face a lifelong disability. If your child is diagnosed with Erb's palsy, you owe it to your child and your family to have your case evaluated by a first-rate birth injury attorney to see if you have a viable medical malpractice case. If you live within the five boroughs of New York City, you should consult with Prime Law Firm. We have a great deal of experience in this area of the law and a track record of winning substantial claims for our clients.

How Prime Law Firm Can Help

At Prime Law our attorneys are well-schooled in both astute negotiation and forceful litigation. Once we take your birth injury case, we will work tirelessly to obtain the damages you and your family are entitled to. Erb's palsy is likely to involve not only physical and emotional pain, but myriad expenses. As soon as your child is diagnosed with this condition, you should come to us so we can investigate the particular circumstances surrounding your child's birth to determine whether there was medical negligence involved.

If we can prove that the delivering doctor was at fault for allowing inappropriate pressure to be put on the infant's neck or shoulder, causing serious nerve damage, you will be awarded compensation for:

  • Medical, hospital, and rehabilitative expenses
  • Any necessary surgical expenses
  • Wages lost while you took time to care for your baby or child
  • Specialized childcare
  • Physical, occupational, and psychological therapy
  • Medication
  • Alterations or devices to make your child's home environment more suitable
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Your child's loss of ability to engage in normal childhood activities

If we find that the errors made by the doctor were especially egregious, for example if he or she was impaired by alcohol or drugs during the delivery, you may also be granted punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the offending party and also to act as a harsh warning to other potential offenders.

Risks for Erb's Palsy

The risks for Erb's palsy are well-known, so it is inexcusable for an obstetrician to be caught short in recognizing the potential dangers of:

  • Small maternal size
  • Large infant size
  • Excessive weight gain by the mother
  • Prolonged labor
  • The fetus being in a breech position

If the doctor was unaware of one of these warning signs, and so failed to turn the fetus or perform a Cesarean in a timely manner, he or she can be held responsible for your baby's Erb's palsy. Similarly, if your doctor used birthing tools improperly during delivery, he or she can be considered liable.

Symptoms of Erb's Palsy

The symptoms of Erb's palsy are quite recognizable during a routine examination of the baby, so if a doctor fails to diagnose the condition at birth, perhaps preventing early therapeutic intervention, this may also be declared medical malpractice. Noticeable signs of Erb's palsy are:

  • Weakness or lack of motion in one arm
  • Loss of sensation in one arm or hand
  • Partial or total paralysis of the arm or hand
  • Arms turned inward, toward the body
  • One arm larger than the other

It is extremely important that Erb's palsy be diagnosed early so that physical therapy can be started immediately. Otherwise the condition may worsen of become permanent.

Treatment of Erb's Palsy

Babies with Erb's palsy will most often regain normal movement and feeling in the affected limb, but only with diligent daily physical therapy exercises. Parents can play a significant role in assisting their child's recovery, but this will be time-consuming and sometimes painful for the child. The exercises will help reach and maintain maximal range of motion in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand, preventing the joint from becoming permanently stiff, a condition known as joint contracture. Children with Erb's palsy will need ongoing physical, occupational, and often hydrotherapy to continue to heal.

Since nerves recover very slowly, it typically takes several months, or even years, for nerves repaired at the neck to strengthen the muscles of the lower arm and hand. While consistent rehabilitative exercises may repair the nerve damage in some cases, in other cases surgery may be necessary. Usually, the surgery involves grafting nerves from a muscle in another part of the body to the injured site. Even after surgery, many children with brachial plexus injuries will continue to have some weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand. In some cases, further surgery at a later date may be necessary.

Let Our Excellent Birth Injury Attorneys Fight for You and Your Child

At Prime Law Firm, our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice laws and have the ability to fight forcefully to obtain just compensation for your child's birth injury. We understand the betrayal of trust you feel when your child has been harmed by a doctor you put your faith in, and we will work hard to get you the justice you deserve. Call us or fill out a contact form on our website for a free consultation. We will always treat you with respect and compassion and will charge you no legal fees until we win your case.