West Palm Beach Brachial Plexus Injury Attorney
Delivering a child is one of the most complex yet common procedures for a doctor. It happens every day, yet a shocking amount of things can go wrong. One of the most widely seen complications from a difficult birth is a brachial plexus injury (BPI) to the newborn. While not usually life-threatening, obstetric BPIs can create complications and new questions for a child and their family.
Causes & Symptoms of BPIs
Brachial plexus injuries are sustained when the nerves in a baby’s neck and shoulders are damaged, most often due to a difficult labor and childbirth. Other causes include breech birth, fetal macrosomia (a baby too large for its stage of development), and maternal diabetes.
BPIs can be divided into two categories, Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Erb’s palsy refers to an injury to the upper part of the brachial plexus, while Klumpke’s palsy is an injury to the lower part. The symptoms of a BPI can vary, depending on severity, but some persist more often than others.
Low-grade BPIs can even occur in adults, during activities like contact sports – they can sting or “burn,” leaving numbness or sharp pain in the arm, but this effect typically lasts less than five minutes. Babies usually sustain more severe BPIs during childbirth, and severe BPIs do occur in adults, but almost always as a result of trauma. The symptoms include a lingering paralysis in the shoulder or hand, severe pain and very rigid muscles. Klumpke’s palsy can lead to the appearance of a “clawed” hand, caused by the inability to move the finger muscles outside a small range of motion. In extreme cases someone with Erb’s or Klumpke’s palsy can actually lose sensory perception in the arm or hand.
If your child sustains a BPI at birth, you may have a case against the delivering physician for medical malpractice. It is important to understand that not every negative consequence of a difficult labor or childbirth can be attributed to malpractice; it must be proved that the doctor’s negligence was a direct cause of your child’s injury for compensation to be potentially available. There are four points that must be demonstrated in order to prevail in a medical malpractice suit.
You must establish that a legal duty of care existed between the injured person and the doctor – if the doctor and you have a doctor-patient relationship, then a legal duty of care exists. You must then establish that a breach of that duty has occurred. The doctor must have failed to uphold a reasonable standard of care that another physician of similar skill and experience would have upheld. You must also be able to show that you or your child suffered actual, demonstrable harm.
Most importantly, it must be shown that the doctor’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury. This is both the most important and the most difficult step to show in most cases; it is plausible in many instances that the physician will be able to argue that they demonstrated reasonable care and that negative consequences happened solely as a result of bad luck. An oft-seen example is when a child experiences shoulder dystocia – becomes lodged in the mother’s birth canal – and the doctor orders a cesarean section, but does so too late to avoid a BPI or other type of birth injury.
A Good Attorney Can Make The Difference
If your child has sustained a BPI, it can be in many ways worse than if you are injured yourself. In a difficult time like this, you need a knowledgeable brachial plexus injury attorney who can handle the work of trying to get your family the compensation they deserve. Gary Roberts & Associates has a long history of success as a firm in these types of cases, and we will work around your schedule, instead of making you work around ours. We are able to converse with those who prefer to speak Spanish, and our West Palm Beach office is open at reasonable hours. Contact us today to discuss your options.