Legal Considerations for Families Affected by Birth Brachial Plexus Injury

June 30, 2023

Your child's birth was supposed to be one of the most joyous days of your life. Instead, a brachial plexus injury can leave your child hurt, and your life changed forever. The brachial plexus is a complicated network of nerves between the shoulders and neck. These nerves control muscle function and movement in the arms, chest, shoulders, and hands. Birth injury brachial plexus often leads to severe damage to your child, possibly requiring years of medical treatment and even permanent injury.

Medical malpractice is commonly the reason for a brachial plexus birth injury. When this is the case, you could be entitled to significant financial compensation for your and your child's injuries. At McEldrew Purtell, our highly experienced birth injury attorneys know what you are going through. We offer a compassionate but aggressive approach to protecting your rights and winning the compensation you deserve.

What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

The brachial plexus is a critical area of your child's body between their neck and shoulders. It is a network of nerves that connect the spine to the upper limbs and extremities, such as the arms and hands. Injuries to the brachial plexus nerves can cause lifelong damage, making it difficult for the injured child to move their upper body. 

Common causes of a brachial plexus injury during birth include:

  • Traveling through a small birth canal
  • Damage to nerve roots 
  • Forcep or other delivery tool injury
  • Shoulder dystocia, causing the neck and shoulder to stretch
  • A nerve that is torn or ruptured during labor
  • A delay in ordering a C-section

Physical, Emotional, and Financial Consequences

The consequences of a brachial plexus injury from birth can be devastating across multiple areas of your and your child's life. Your child will likely suffer physical symptoms and limitations. These often include reduced range of motion, loss of control of the upper body, and other brachial plexus injury birth trauma. This may even include neonatal brachial plexus palsy, a serious potential consequence of this injury. 

Emotional consequences will also occur for both you and your child. You must watch your child experience pain and deal with the many limitations this places on them in later life.

The financial consequences are also severe. A brachial plexus injury at birth will require long-term treatment. This may include the need for:

  • A physical examination of your child
  • Muscle transfers
  • Nerve grafts
  • Nerve transfers of a healthy nerve to affected areas
  • Nerve surgeries
  • Ongoing care for low birth weight
  • Treatment for some other severe injury

Legal Considerations of Birth Brachial Plexus Injury

A brachial plexus injury will have many consequences on your life, but it is also important to understand the legal considerations behind a potential medical malpractice case.

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury as a Result of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional breaches the applicable standard of care. This standard of care is what a medical professional in that situation, with their training and experience, would do in a given situation. Brachial plexus birth injuries are often the result of careless acts by medical staff, improper training, and more.

A brachial plexus birth injury lawsuit is likely appropriate in these situations. The doctor's mistakes can cause severe financial, emotional, and physical harm to your child. As a result, you could be entitled to significant financial compensation from a successful lawsuit.

Importance of Timely Legal Action in Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy Cases

Time limits called statutes of limitations apply to medical malpractice claims, including those for brachial plexus injuries. The statute of limitations sets a particular time frame for filing your complaint before it could be lost. If you fail to file in time, your case will very likely be dismissed by the trial court.

Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, according to 42 PA.C.S. § 5524(2). Certain exceptions apply to this time limit that may make it last longer, but it is always best to file your claim soon after the injury to preserve your legal rights and the evidence you need to prove your case.

Medical Witnesses for Building a Strong Case for an Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury

A strong brachial plexus injury case uses medical witnesses and experts to prove who caused the birth injury. Medical witnesses in these cases testify about the medical cause behind the injury, the effects of the symptoms, and the physical toll it will take on your child. These medical witnesses often include:

  • The doctor or medical staff that caused your child's injuries
  • Medical experts who investigated the brachial plexus injury
  • Experts in the field who can testify about the effects of this injury

Legal Support During Long-Term Physical Therapy and Surgical Treatment

Brachial plexus injuries usually require much physical therapy and other treatment. This may even include surgical treatment on nerves, limbs, and other areas to achieve a complete recovery. However, most children deal with some type of complication from their birth injury for the rest of their lives.

You need legal support from experienced brachial plexus injury attorneys during this time. Our office understands what you are going through and how to help support you while your case is ongoing. Your child deserves medical treatment immediately, and treatment should not have to wait until after your lawsuit is finished.

Fair Compensation and Accountability for a Birth-Related Brachial Plexus Palsy

A medical malpractice lawsuit can help hold a negligent doctor responsible for what they did to you and your child. This accountability helps you and your child. It also helps to prevent future errors that may affect other families. 

A successful brachial plexus birth injury lawsuit may win you compensation such as:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Costs of physical therapy and ongoing treatment
  • Costs of disability accommodations for your child
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death damages

Partner With a Medical Malpractice Attorney To Secure a Brighter Future for Your Family

The Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at McEldrew Purtell stand ready to help you. We know how to fight for your family and seek the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers know what you are going through and how to give you peace of mind and a better future. Let our firm investigate and pursue your birth injury case and seek the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation of your case. We want to help you and your child recover from this ordeal.