What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a neurological birth injury resulting in arm or shoulder muscle weakness.  Also known as Erb-Duchenne paralysis, Erb’s palsy is an injury to the brachial plexus, which connects the spine to the arm and hand. This type of palsy is one of the most common birth injuries, with nearly 12,000 cases each year.

There are four types of brachial plexus injuries common with Erb’s Palsy:

  1. Avulsion — the nerve is torn from the spine
  2. Rupture — the nerve is torn but still connected to the spine
  3. Neuroma — the nerve is torn and healed but left scar tissue
  4. Neuropraxia — the nerve is stretched but not torn

Many cases of Erb’s palsy are mild and often heal on their own. In other cases, the nerve damage can cause permanent impairment.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy can develop in adults who suffer traumatic injuries, but it is more common in newborns who develop it during a difficult or prolonged birth.

Newborns with a high birth weight may be more likely to get wedged in the birth canal and require physical manipulation to be freed. A brachial plexus injury can occur if the doctor delivering the baby pulls too hard on the infant’s limbs or moves the head too forcefully.

Erb’s Palsy Treatment and Management

While Erb’s palsy often resolves within a few months with little lasting damage, severe cases can cause permanent muscle weakness, numbness, or paralysis. Healthcare providers may suggest you do exercises and physical therapy with your baby to keep their joints from becoming permanently stiff.

If the palsy doesn’t improve within a few months, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the infant’s muscles or nerves.

Erb’s Palsy May Be Caused by Medical Malpractice

Doctors are often able to prevent birth injuries with proper prenatal care and advanced planning, but Erb’s palsy can be caused by medical malpractice in some cases. Some acts of medical negligence that may lead to Erb’s palsy include:

  • Pulling too hard on an infant’s head, neck, or shoulders
  • Pulling too hard on an infant’s lower half during a feet-first or bottom-first (breech) delivery
  • Misuse of forceps, vacuum extractors, or other delivery tools
  • Not performing a C-section when risk factors are present

When a doctor or other healthcare professional fails to uphold their duty of care, they can be liable for the harm they cause. If you went through a difficult birth and your baby developed Erb’s palsy due to medical malpractice, you may be able to seek legal action.

Legal Options for Pursuing an Erb’s Palsy Medical Malpractice Claim

You must prove negligence to successfully pursue an Erb’s palsy medical malpractice claim. You’ll have to show that your medical professional failed to do what another in a similar situation would have done.

Hospitals, doctors, nurses, midwives, and others could be potentially responsible for causing Erb’s palsy. Your Erb’s palsy lawyer can investigate what happened and identify all the liable parties who may be responsible for your baby’s injury.

Possible Compensation in an Erb’s Palsy Case

The value of your Erb’s palsy case can vary according to several factors, such as the severity of the injury and its impact on your baby’s quality of life. Your medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your damages and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Your damages may be economic or non-economic. Economic damages are tangible, such as bills for current and future medical treatment, household services, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are more subjective and cover intangible losses, such as pain and suffering.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

Medical malpractice claims fall under personal injury law. Most states, including Pennsylvania, have a statute of limitations setting a deadline for how soon injury victims must file a claim. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. In addition, a minor has two years from the age of majority to file suit. However, if a child has sustained a birth injury, his or her parents may choose to initiate suit on the child’s behalf.

You must act fast when filing a medical malpractice claim. If you wait too long and the statute of limitations expires, your claim could be dismissed without you recovering any compensation.

Knowing when to file can be difficult since your child’s injuries may not be apparent right away. Even if you’re not sure if you have a case, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to see if you can file a medical malpractice claim.

How Can an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Help?

Medical malpractice claims can be complex, but your Erb’s palsy lawyer can help you prove negligence. They can handle each step of the process, such as:

  • Establishing the severity of the injury and how it occurred
  • Filing a legal complaint against the hospital, doctor, or medical professional responsible
  • Gathering evidence and expert witness testimony to support your claim
  • Pursuing compensation to help your family afford their medical bills, therapies, and other expenses

Contact an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Today

Erb’s palsy can cause your child lasting issues and weakness in their arm or shoulder, and treatment can be costly. If your child developed Erb’s palsy due to an injury at birth, contact Atlee Hall immediately. Our team of compassionate Erb’s palsy lawyers will provide support and guide you through your medical malpractice claim.

Call Atlee Hall today at (717) 393-9596 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.