Infant brachial plexus injuries are an unfortunate yet common occurrence in difficult deliveries. However, with the proper medical maneuvers or emergency techniques, physicians can often deliver an infant safely, without harm, in even the most difficult of childbirths. Yet, when forceful pulling, tugging, and other improper delivery techniques are utilized by physicians during a stressful delivery, the infant’s brachial plexus nerves are easily damaged. Parents are left with mounting medical bills, as well as the risk of their baby never fully recovering. Brachial plexus injury compensation claims are a way to help with medical expenses, care-giving, and other factors associated with the injury.
Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation Claims Defined
Parents or legal guardians of a baby who experienced a brachial plexus injury due to medical negligence have the legal right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician, hospital, or any other culpable party. Also known as a brachial plexus injury compensation claim, the lawsuit allows plaintiffs the right to seek damages from those responsible for their baby’s injuries.
For instance, if a mother went through a long, arduous labor, and the physician pulled too roughly on the baby’s arms, shoulder, or head, there is a good chance that the infant will experience a brachial injury. Since the injury was directly caused by the physician’s excessive force, the physician may be responsible for all expenses incurred for the care of the baby’s injuries.
Who is Allowed to Filed a Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation Claim?
Generally, the parents or legal guardians of the injured baby are allowed to file for damages, as they are the ones who provides the infant with medical and emotional care.
In some states, when injured infants reached adulthood, they have the right to file a lawsuit against the responsible party on their own behalf. However, since brachial plexus injuries may require immediate, ongoing physical and occupational therapy, medication, and in some instances, surgery expenses, it’s normally recommended that the parents or legal guardians file the compensation claim on behalf of the infant as soon as possible.
What Proof is Needed to File a Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation Claim?
It’s important to make sure that certain criteria are met before filing a compensation claim. Most states in the U.S. require that three conditions must have been in place in order to have a valid claim, including:
- A doctor/patient relationship: You must have had an established doctor/patient relationship with the physician when the injury occurred. Generally, if a doctor was responsible for the delivery of your baby, then a doctor/patient relationship exists. However, a doctor who offers you medical advice in casual conversation without any prior medical appointments or treatments would not qualify as a doctor/patient relationship.
- The doctor must have been negligent while you were under his/her care: In other words, you cannot file a lawsuit against your doctor if there was no negligent medical actions.
- The negligent actions must have caused your infant’s brachial plexus injuries: If your infant’s injuries happened at home or in a car wreck or any other places besides under the doctor’s care, then regardless if the doctor was negligent or not, your lawsuit may be invalid. The infant’s injuries must have been a direct result of the healthcare provider’s careless and negligent medical mistakes.
Be certain to keep track of all medical documents pertaining to your baby’s injuries, including any medical appointments, medications prescribed, surgery, or anything else that will help prove your case.
How Can I Tell if My Baby’s Brachial Plexus Injury Was Caused by Medical Negligence?
The most common reasons that brachial plexus injuries stem from medical negligence include:
- A physician pulls or tugs the infant with excessive force
- Improper use of birth-assisting tools
- Shoulder dystocia
- Prolonged second stage of labor/Failing to schedule and emergency C-section
- Failing to properly monitor and treat fetal distress
How Much Compensation Will I Receive From a Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation Claim?
Brachial plexus injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe. While some babies will naturally heal over time, others may need rehabilitation and medication. Some infants may require surgery and long-term physical therapy, and even then, the chance of 100% healing is not guaranteed. Since brachial plexus injuries vary greatly in severity, it’s difficult to determine an up-front, exact value of your case. In addition to the severity of the injuries, other factors, such as the laws in your state and the details surrounding how the injury took place are considered.
In general, however, compensation for brachial plexus injuries include damages for :
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Lost wages (if a parent should leave work to care full-time for the injured infant)
How Long Does a Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation Claim Take?
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine how long your case will take. Some brachial plexus injury cases are settled within months, while others may take a few years. If your case is settled out of court, the case is normally quicker as opposed to a case that goes to trial. These types of lawsuits can vary greatly, as previously mentioned, but a good rule of thumb is to remain patient during the process and remember that eventually there will be an outcome.
On average, however, most medical malpractice lawsuits take anywhere between 18 to 24 months. This time includes the initial filing of the claim until the outcome of the case, whether it be solved through a settlement or a trial. In some rare instances, claims may go on for many years. Although it’s understandable that you want this part of your life behind you as soon as possible, it’s not a good idea to rush your claim, as there may be additional research and evidence that your attorney needs time to complete. In addition, defendants usually offer a much lower settlement than you’re entitled to initially, but an experienced birth injury attorney can help negotiate a higher amount, even though it may take more time.
For more information about brachial plexus injuries, including details regarding the different types of brachial plexus injuries, diagnosis, treatment options, and more, refer to our article Brachial Plexus Injury.