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When you or your partner check into the hospital to deliver a baby, you take it for granted that the birth will be safe and your newborn baby will go home healthy. Sadly, this does not happen when any member of the hospital staff commits medical malpractice leading to Erb’s palsy in your infant. This serious birth injury can result in a significantly reduced standard of life for the baby and emotional and financial stress for you and your partner.

For every 1,000 newborns, one to two go home with Erb’s palsy due to the tearing or stretching of a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus that runs from the infant’s spinal cord to his or her hands and arms. If your family is the victim of this type of medical malpractice, we invite you to contact the Erb’s palsy attorneys at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm.

Our experienced and passionate lawyers have helped families just like yours obtain justice through financial compensation for more than 40 years. As a third-generation family law firm, we understand the importance of family and providing for your children. When your child has special needs due to medical negligence, it is only right that those responsible for causing the problem to be held responsible via a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is named for an area of the neck called Erb’s point located between the fifth and sixth cranial nerves. When a doctor tears or stretches those cranial nerves during delivery, it can result in significant nerve damage to the baby’s arms and hands. Some people with Erb’s palsy cannot straighten their arm enough to use it purposefully, move their shoulder, or use all of their fingers. While your child may improve to some degree with physical therapy or surgery, full recovery is not always possible.

When an infant’s shoulder becomes stuck during the birth process, a doctor will sometimes use forceps or other interventions to facilitate the birth. He or she must use these instruments precisely to avoid causing lasting damage to the newborn. In severe birth injury cases, the injury affects the newborn’s entire trunk. That means the spinal cord has impaired ability to send messages to the affected hand, fingers, wrist, and arm. The arm will appear paralyzed to others.

A child has Erb’s palsy when only the upper nerves of the brachial plexus sustained damage. When damage occurs to both the upper and lower nerves, it results in a more severe condition called global or total brachial plexus palsy. However, neither condition should occur when medical providers act appropriately.

A birth injury lawyer from Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm will help you determine if legitimate medical malpractice occurred and then advise you on the next steps to file a lawsuit for compensation.

Erb’s Palsy Symptoms

The damage to a newborn baby’s arms is not always apparent to new parents right away. Our Erb’s palsy attorneys urge you to trust your instincts if something does not seem right to you.

Some of the signs to look for with Erb’s palsy include:

  • Your baby can move each of his or her fingers but not the shoulder on the same arm
  • The affected arm appears fully or partially paralyzed
  • Arm weakness or lack of feeling
  • Your baby’s arms point inward toward his or her body and the palms point outward away from the body
  • Grip strength is weaker in the affected hand than the non-affected hand

If there is any good news about Erb’s palsy, it is that some children can overcome the handicaps it causes with intensive daily physical therapy. Others will require surgery to correct the nerve damage caused by medical malpractice. Approximately 20 percent of children do not recover to any measurable degree and must live with the limitations caused by Erb’s palsy for the remainder of their lives. Regardless of your child’s specific situation, you have the right to pursue fair compensation for the birth injury by working with New York Erb’s palsy lawyers.

Brachial Plexus – Types of Injuries

The damage your baby sustains to the brachial plexus nerves during delivery and the degree of disability afterward depends on the type of nerve damage inflicted upon him or her.

The possibilities include:

  • Avulsion: This refers to nerves that tear away from the attachment point of the spinal cord. It is the most severe type of Erb’s palsy. A surgeon may be able to repair the avulsion your child has suffered by splicing and transferring healthy nerves from another part of the body. However, it is not possible to reattach the affected nerves to your baby’s spinal cord.
  • Neuroma: A neuroma is a nerve injury that causes scar tissue that disrupts the signals sent from the nerves to your baby’s muscles. It is a severe stretch injury that causes discomfort by pressing on the nearby healthy nerves. Unfortunately, this means that a full recovery is usually not possible, although your baby will likely achieve partial recovery with physical therapy.
  • Neuropraxia: With this condition, the nerve stretches too far but it does not result in tearing. Some people also refer to this injury as stingers or burners. It is the least serious and the most common type of nerve injury to infants during delivery. Because the nerves stretch but do not tear, the body can normally repair this injury on its own within about three months.
  • Rupture: The brachial plexus nerves break apart at a location in the body other than the spinal cord. This type of injury will not heal on its own without surgery. A surgeon will need to splice and then graft the affected nerves back together.

Erb’s Palsy Malpractice – Causes

Shoulder dystocia, which means that the baby’s head has come through the birth canal but his or her shoulders remain stuck, is the most common reason that new parents contact a New York Erb’s palsy attorney. In a typical delivery, the head is the most challenging to deliver and the remainder of the body comes out much easier. With shoulder dystocia, the larger size of the shoulders causes them to become lodged behind the pubic bone of the mother.

Every Erb’s palsy attorney understands that it is not always possible to prevent shoulder dystocia during active labor. However, doctors who deliver babies have received training to identify risk factors of shoulder dystocia. If you feel that your doctor should have recognized one or more risk factors and did not or failed to act in an appropriate manner after identifying the problem, you have the legal right to work with a birth injury attorney to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

Here are some of the most common types of medical errors leading to a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy in a newborn:

  • Failure to obtain the mother’s complete medical history, including whether she has ever had gestational diabetes, difficult previous deliveries, or larger-than-normal babies
  • Improper use of vacuum extractor or forceps during delivery or applying too much pressure to the baby’s head
  • Failure to warn mother that excessive weight gain during pregnancy could increase the risk of delivery complications
  • Did not inform mother about the potential need for Cesarean section delivery
  • Did not determine the size of the fetus during the mother’s third trimester of pregnancy
  • Failure to request additional help during the delivery
  • Failure to respond appropriately to the mother going well past her due date

Compensation in NY for an Erb’s Palsy Injury

Having a child with unanticipated medical needs can place a serious strain on your finances and relationships with your partner and other children.

When your New York Erb’s palsy attorney successfully procures a settlement, you may receive some or all of the following types of financial compensation:

  • Costs of corrective surgery, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
  • Modifications to your home and/or vehicle to accommodate your child’s physical needs
  • Pain and suffering for the child and family
  • Punitive damages to punish the doctor in highly negligent cases
  • Wages missed from work to take your child to appointments and/or during his or her surgery

New York Erb’s Palsy Lawyer – Free Consultation

The best time to contact a birth injury lawyer at Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm is immediately after the diagnosis when your memories of the delivery are still fresh. Keep in mind that you have just 30 months from the discovery of your baby’s Erb’s palsy to file a lawsuit against the negligent medical providers. When you factor in collecting evidence and proving medical malpractice, it can take 18 months or longer to settle your case. There is no risk to you in visiting us with for a case review since your initial consultation is free 212-869-3500.

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