Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyers
Did your child suffer a brachial plexus injury during childbirth? Contact our law firm for a FREE case evaluation and let’s talk about your legal options. You could be entitled to substantial compensation. Our brachial plexus injury lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience protecting the rights of families in Chicago, and we have recovered hundreds of millions in settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Most of the time, brachial plexus injuries that occur during childbirth are the result of medical negligence on the part of the doctor, midwife, or another member of the delivery team. These types of birth injuries can cause the child to suffer chronic pain, loss of function, and other problems. While newly developed medical procedures can sometimes restore partial function and sensation, they are extremely expensive. Winning a medical malpractice lawsuit for brachial plexus injuries can help you afford the care your child needs.
Our Chicago brachial plexus injury lawyers are available 24/7. We serve clients throughout Cook County, Lake County, and across the state of Illinois. Call (312) 600-0000
Table of Contents
What Are Brachial Plexus Injuries?
Brachial plexus injuries refer to a group of nerve injuries that affect the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that extends from the spinal cord through the neck and into the arm. These injuries often occur due to trauma, particularly during childbirth. Brachial plexus injuries can result in various symptoms, including weakness, numbness, and loss of motor function in the affected arm. The severity of the injury depends on the extent of nerve damage. Mild cases may heal on their own, while more severe injuries may require surgical intervention and extensive rehabilitation to regain function. These injuries can have significant and long-lasting effects on a child’s daily life and mobility.
What Are the Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries?
Brachial plexus injuries encompass a range of nerve-related injuries that can occur in various ways, affecting the network of nerves controlling the arm’s movements and sensations. These injuries manifest in distinct types, each with its unique characteristics and implications. Understanding these types is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment.
- Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s Palsy is a brachial plexus injury that primarily affects the upper nerves of the plexus, often occurring during childbirth when excessive lateral traction is applied to the infant’s head and neck. This condition typically results in weakness or paralysis of the affected arm, especially the shoulder and elbow muscles. Erb’s Palsy may cause the arm to be held close to the body with a bent elbow, a condition known as the “waiter’s tip” position. Early physical therapy and medical interventions can help manage and improve Erb’s Palsy, but severe cases may require surgical repair.
- Global Palsy: Global Palsy, also referred to as total plexus injury, involves damage to the entire brachial plexus network of nerves. This severe injury results in paralysis of the entire arm, affecting both upper and lower nerves. Global Palsy often occurs in high-impact accidents or traumatic events. Managing global palsy is challenging, and treatment typically involves surgical interventions, nerve grafts, and extensive rehabilitation to restore arm function as much as possible.
- Horner’s Syndrome: Horner’s Syndrome can accompany brachial plexus injuries and results from damage to the sympathetic nerves within the plexus. Common signs include drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis), constriction of the pupil (miosis), and decreased sweating on the affected side of the face. This syndrome is not paralysis-related, but is indicative of specific nerve involvement within the brachial plexus.
- Klumpke’s Palsy: Klumpke’s Palsy affects the lower brachial plexus nerves, often resulting from excessive pulling during childbirth or traumatic events. This injury primarily affects the hand and forearm, leading to weakness or paralysis of the hand’s intrinsic muscles and loss of hand function. Klumpke’s Palsy may also present with Horner’s Syndrome symptoms in some cases. Early intervention with physical therapy and, in severe instances, surgical repair can help address the condition.
Diagnosis and management of these brachial plexus injuries require a comprehensive assessment by medical professionals, including neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists. Treatment plans are tailored to the specific injury type and severity, aiming to maximize functional recovery while minimizing long-term complications. Early intervention is crucial for optimizing outcomes in brachial plexus injury cases. A brachial plexus injury attorney at Ankin Law can help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation to pay for these expenses.
Call Ankin Law at (312) 600-0000 to recover compensation for your child’s brachial plexus injuries. No fee unless you win.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Brachial Plexus Injuries?
Brachial plexus birth injuries occurring during the labor and delivery process can have a profound and lasting impact on newborns. Identifying the responsible parties for these injuries is crucial when seeking legal recourse to address the harm done to the child and the family. Liability for brachial plexus birth injuries can involve several parties, each with distinct responsibilities.
Medical professionals involved in the childbirth process, including obstetricians, nurses, midwives, and healthcare facilities, may be held liable for brachial plexus birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice. Negligence during labor and delivery, such as improper techniques, excessive force, or failure to respond to complications, can lead to these injuries. Healthcare providers have a duty to adhere to established standards of care to ensure the safety of both the mother and the newborn.
Obstetricians and attending physicians bear a significant responsibility during childbirth. If they fail to exercise the appropriate level of care, they can be held accountable for any resulting injuries. This may include inadequate monitoring of the baby’s position, improper handling of shoulder dystocia (a common cause of brachial plexus injuries), or the use of excessive force during delivery maneuvers. Obstetricians must make informed decisions and take preventive measures to minimize the risk of injury.
Hospitals and birthing centers can also be liable for brachial plexus birth injuries if their staff members fail to follow proper protocols and procedures. This might involve insufficient training, understaffing issues, or a lack of appropriate equipment. Healthcare facilities are responsible for ensuring a safe and conducive environment for childbirth and should address any deficiencies in their policies or practices.
Brachial plexus birth injuries often result from preventable mistakes or negligence during labor and delivery. When these injuries occur due to the actions or inaction of healthcare providers or facilities, parents may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Pursuing legal action can help families secure compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care, and the long-term impact of these injuries on the child’s life. Consulting with an experienced birth injury attorney at our law firm is essential to assess the circumstances, gather evidence, and navigate the legal process effectively.
Common Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Understanding the common causes of brachial plexus birth injuries is essential in identifying potential sources of liability in lawsuits, and improving birth practices to prevent such injuries.
Failure to Prevent Shoulder Lodging
One of the leading causes of brachial plexus birth injuries is shoulder dystocia, a condition where the baby’s head passes through the birth canal, but the shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. Healthcare providers must recognize and address this complication promptly. Failure to do so can result in excessive stretching of the baby’s brachial plexus nerves, leading to injury.
Excessive Pressure on the Infant’s Head
During childbirth, excessive downward pressure on the infant’s head can cause trauma to the brachial plexus nerves. This may occur when healthcare providers exert too much force in guiding the baby through the birth canal or when using delivery instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors. The use of excessive pressure can lead to nerve damage and subsequent brachial plexus injuries.
Pressure on the Raised Arms During Breech Birth
In breech births, where the baby’s buttocks or feet present first, there is an increased risk of brachial plexus injuries. This risk arises when healthcare providers exert pressure on the baby’s raised arms during the delivery process. If the arms are extended over the baby’s head and excessive force is applied, it can damage the brachial plexus nerves.
Pulling the Child’s Neck and Head Too Hard
Pulling the infant’s neck and head too forcefully during delivery, especially when the shoulders are lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone, can lead to brachial plexus injuries. The delicate nerves in the neck and shoulder region can be stretched or torn if not handled with care and appropriate techniques.
Improper Use of Vacuums or Forceps
Assisted deliveries using vacuum extractors or forceps require skill and precision. Improper use of these instruments, such as excessive force or incorrect placement, can result in brachial plexus injuries. Healthcare providers must be trained in the correct usage of these tools to minimize the risk of injury to the baby.
Preventing brachial plexus birth injuries often involves careful monitoring, prompt recognition of complications like shoulder dystocia, and the use of appropriate techniques during delivery. Healthcare providers should prioritize the safety and well-being of both the mother and the newborn, taking proactive measures to minimize the risk of these injuries during childbirth. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for the injuries their negligence causes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brachial Plexus Injury Lawsuits
What is the average settlement for a brachial plexus injury?
There is no average settlement for a brachial plexus birth injury because the extent of this type of injury varies so significantly. While lawsuits for minor injuries might bring tens of thousands in financial recovery, injured victims who suffer severe permanent damage might recover hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars through a settlement or lawsuit.
What happens if a brachial plexus injury is left untreated?
If left untreated, your child’s brachial plexus injury could result in a severe lifelong disability that include the loss of function, loss of sensation, and chronic pain. Although surgeries, specialist visits, and ongoing treatments can become extremely expensive, prompt medical intervention is recommended. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit can result in financial relief that helps you afford the care your baby needs.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit for brachial plexus birth injuries in Illinois?
The statute of limitations on brachial plexus birth injury lawsuits is generally 8 years from the date of the injury in Illinois. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Your birth injury lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on the time limits that may be applicable to you.
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Helpful Resources From Our Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyers
What Is a Birth Injury?
What is a birth injury? A birth injury is a trauma to a baby that occurs during the duration of pregnancy, labor, delivery, or following childbirth. While some birth injuries result in minor problems for the newborn baby, others cause severe, permanent disabilities that can affect the child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive capabilities throughout his or her lifetime.
Should I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Brachial Plexus Injuries?
If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury, he or she may suffer long-term damage that impacts his or her health and mobility. There are many ways that a person may suffer a brachial plexus injury, but these injuries are commonly acquired during birth. This birth injury may be caused by medical malpractice. If your child sustained a brachial plexus injury because of medical malpractice during birth, you may be able to file a malpractice lawsuit for brachial plexus injuries.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
If you or your loved one were injured by a doctor or other healthcare professional, you may need to learn how to prove medical malpractice. Malpractice can cause serious injuries, illness, or other harm, and comes in many forms. You may even develop permanent conditions and have a decrease in quality of life.