Treatment for Erb’s palsy can sometimes be expensive. After all, there’s the costs of physical and occupational therapy, in addition to the costs of surgery (if needed). There is also the possibility of medication and the costs associated with doctor visits. The ultimate goal is to get your child’s arm moving normally by the age of 2, yet it takes quite a toll financially, and the costs are typically much more than the average family can afford.
Yet, if you don’t have the money to pay for these things, you are also running a race against creditors and potentially bankruptcy, causing unnecessary stress on your marriage and family life –especially when you expected to have a normal, healthy baby.
Sometimes the best way to relieve this tension is to seek payment from the parties responsible for the birth injury, demanding that these unforeseen costs are met so that you can move on to have the family life that you had anticipated. If your infant developed Erb’s palsy as the result of negligent medical care, it’s important to understand your rights and what you may be entitled to by filing an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.
How Did My Infant Get Erb’s Palsy? Do I Have a Legal Case?
Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial plexus palsy or shoulder dystocia, is an injury to the brachial plexus nerves that damages, tears, re-positions, or severs the nerves connecting the neck to the arm. The symptoms of Erb’s palsy seem fairly obvious because the infant doesn’t move or has limited movement to the affected arm. Sometimes the arm is turned in towards the body, and sometimes merely touching the affected arm causes the baby to scream out in pain.
Erb’s palsy is typically caused by difficult labor, particularly from the physician and/or medical staff having to pull and tug at the infant in positions that are abnormal. If an infant becomes lodged in the birth canal, there is a heightened risk of oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage. Physicians must act quickly in these situations, and in some cases, many may feel that risking an Erb’s palsy injury is better than delaying the delivery any longer and increasing the chances of brain damage.
Erb’s palsy can be caused from several different kinds of tugging. If the baby is born face first, Erb’s palsy can happen from pulling the baby out by the face and neck. If the baby is born feet first, Erb’s palsy can happen from pulling the baby’s legs and feet, causing the arms to go over the head and cause unnatural stress on the shoulder joint; if the baby is proportionately too big for the birth canal, the baby can be pushed and squeezed through the birth canal causing unnecessary stress on the arms, shoulders, and neck.
Sometimes the baby’s shoulder gets caught on the mother’s pubic bone; and, lastly, Erb’s palsy can happen outside of labor if the medical staff lift the baby from his or her arms instead of a firm hold on the baby’s back and neck.
Additionally, improper use of tools that assist in delivery, such as a vacuum extraction tool or forceps, can also lead to Erb’s palsy.
Most cases of Erb’s palsy are a result of incorrect medical procedures during the delivery period. If your baby was injured due to improper techniques performed by your physician or anyone on the medical staff, then you more than likely have a legal case and cause to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.
What Happens if Erb’s Palsy Isn’t Treated?
If left untreated, Erb’s palsy may possibly result in permanent nerve damage. In some cases, the permanent nerve damage means that infants can lose sensations and movement in the affected arm, and in other cases, the permanent nerve damage means that the infant will have at least partial use, numbness, or lack of sensation.
Fortunately, most infants will heal from Erb’s palsy injuries. However, parents or guardians are still generally responsible for any treatments, medication, and rehabilitation. An Erb’s palsy lawsuits helps recover the compensation lost due to medical expenses.
Could Erb’s Palsy Be Prevented?
As you can see from the causes of Erb’s palsy, some causes are overt medical malpractice –such as lifting the baby from his or her arms instead of securely from the neck and back. However, even the other causes of Erb’s palsy are preventable.
While it doesn’t seem like a doctor is responsible for what angle the baby comes out at, the doctor is responsible for making sure that your baby is delivered safely without causing complications to the mother or the baby during delivery.
In some instance, Erb’s palsy is caused in haste to get the baby out to prevent further complications to the mother and to prevent the baby’s brain from being compressed in the birth canal for too long, which leads to more serious problems, such as a brain injury. Some doctors will claim that it’s worth it to have a child with Erb’s palsy if it means the child didn’t instead have a brain injury, but that is unacceptable: a doctor should be preventing both injuries.
What Are Some Ways That Erb’s Palsy Could Have Been Prevented?
Doctors are responsible for running a number of tests to determine the health of the baby, the size of the baby, and how the baby is positioned as a means to estimate how the baby will be delivered and if there will be any complications. To that end, the doctor is responsible for estimating the size of the baby and whether he or she will be able to progress through the birth canal naturally, the doctor determine if the position of the baby is at risk for a complicated birth (and potentially plan a C-section), the doctor should plan a c-section if there is any risk to the mother’s or baby’s health, and during delivery, the doctor should not use unnecessary force to pull the baby out.
In addition, if something appears to have gone wrong, it is the doctor’s responsibility to act accordingly and to do whatever is reasonably possible in order to prevent the potential injuries.
How Can an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Help Me?
If your doctor did not act accordingly and your child has Erb’s palsy due to abnormal tugging or pulling, or complications due to your doctor not planning accurately, you have the legal right to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit. Lawsuits for medical malpractice and personal injury were created in order to compensate victims and their families that endure medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries due to the negligent medical behavior of others.
In most cases, you may entitled to compensation for damages that include:
- Medical expenses associated with your infant’s injury, including past, present, and estimated future costs
- Any rehabilitation costs, including physical and occupational therapy
- Physical pain endured by your infant due to the injuries
- Costs, if applicable, for in-home care, specialized medical equipment, and lost wages
Will I Have to Go to Trial?
Fortunately, most Erb’s palsy lawsuits are settled out of court. There is a small chance, however, that your case will not settle, and therefore, a trial is the next step.
How Long Will An Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Take?
Most birth injury lawsuits require a lot of research, interviewing, and other important tasks. As a result, your case may go on several months, and in some cases, years. In order to learn why lawsuits take so long, it’s important to understand the steps your lawyer will take to win your case.
After gathering information regarding your Erb’s palsy case, your attorney will send a complaint to the defendant. A complain is an official letter that clearly states the details of the lawsuit and why the defendant is being sued. The complaint is physically delivered to the defendant; the defendant usually has 30 days to answer it.
After the complaint has been answered, the longest process of the lawsuit begins: the discovery phase. During the discovery phase, your attorney will provide evidence of your infant’s injury, as well as evidence that the injury was caused by medical negligence. Negotiations regarding a settlement typically occurs during this stage, which can take several months alone.
If a settlement isn’t reach, your case will go to trial, which can take quite a while, depending upon the details of your case. Settlement compensations typically begin within a few months after the case closes. If your case goes to trial, however, the defendant has the legal right to appeal, which can hold up your compensation for several months. It’s best to be prepared to wait, but keep in mind that once your case is over, you’ll be compensated.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
It’s difficult to determine the exact amount you’ll receive from an Erb’s palsy lawsuit as several factors must be analyzed, including the costs of medical treatment, the estimated costs of future treatment, the extent of the injury, and other pertinent details.
Your attorney, however, should be able to give you a good idea of what you can expect to receive once all the details are analyzed. Compensation is usually paid out in a lump sum or in payments. Generally, larger settlement amounts are paid out in monthly payments.