Each year, approximately 3 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States suffer a brachial plexus injury during delivery. This condition is characterized by the partial or complete paralysis of an infant’s upper limb and is often the consequence of the attending obstetrician, who may stretch, compress, or tear the nerves as they remove the baby from the birth canal.
A baby who suffers damage to their brachial plexus nerve may never fully regain the use of their arm or hand. When medical negligence is to blame, the baby and their family deserve to receive compensation to pay for medical bills and other expenses.
A Firm With a Reputation FOR Success
With over 50 years of collective legal experience, our New Jersey brachial plexus attorneys have the skills and resources to effectively represent and even maximize your claim. Led by Dennis Donnelly, a recognized leader in the field of birth injury litigation, our compassionate and trial-tested legal team has recovered over $140 million on behalf of clients in settlements and jury verdicts.
Some of our case results include:
- $2.25 milllion for baby diagnosed with Erb's palsy
- $4.5 million for improper use of forceps during delivery
Defining a Brachial Plexus Injury
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originates in the spinal cord at the neck and stretches to the axilla. This intricate plexus encompasses five nerves that conduct signals to a person’s shoulder, arm, and hand.
Each sensitive nerve is responsible for controlling the movement, sensibility (feeling), and muscle function of the upper limb. Because this plexus is so delicate, it can be torn or damaged easily, especially during the birthing process.
The Dangers of a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
The most common scenario for a brachial plexus injury is when the infant’s head and neck are pulled to the side as its shoulders are passing through the birth canal. The doctor needs to think fast before the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. A frantic, inexperienced, or oblivious physician may try to forcibly dislodge the baby by using medical tools or implementing an inadvisable maneuver. These actions can easily strain or tear the nerves in the baby’s brachial plexus.
The following factors can put your baby at additional risk of sustaining a brachial plexus birth injury:
- Prolonged labor
- Breech birth
- Shoulder dystocia
- The use of forceps or a vacuum extractor
- Failure to order a timely c-section
- The baby’s shoulders are too wide
- High infant birth weight
Before a nerve injury can occur, the attending physician needs to decide if an emergency cesarean section (c-section) can safeguard the baby’s health and safety. A mother can file a negligence claim if the doctor fails to perform a timely c-section or accidentally injures her baby’s brachial plexus during the procedure.
Types of Damage to the Brachial Plexus Nerve
The following nerve injuries can occur when a doctor stretches a newborn’s neck during the birthing process:
Neuropraxia – the nerve is stretched, but not torn.
- Rupture – a nerve is torn, but not at the spinal cord.
- Avulsion – the nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord.
Avulsion is the most serious type of brachial plexus birth injury. It occurs when the nerve roots are ripped from the spinal cord. Symptoms of this injury include decreased sensation and muscle function in the baby’s shoulder, arm, and hand. This type of injury can’t heal on its own or be surgically repaired; the only way to treat this injury is for a doctor to complete a nerve transfer.
Brachial plexus birth injuries can lead to other debilitating medical conditions, including:
- Erb’s palsy
- Horner’s syndrome
- Klumpke’s palsy
What Are the Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury?
It’s important that you consult with a qualified birth injury lawyer if you believe your newborn is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a brachial plexus birth injury. These symptoms can range from minor arm weakness to total paralysis. A medical professional can examine your baby and test their nerves and muscle functions.
The symptoms of a brachial plexus birth injury include:
- Total or partial paralysis (lack of movement)
- A weak grip
- An arm bends toward the body
- An arm hangs limply
At The Donnelly Law Firm, we know what to look for when investigating and collecting evidence for a birth injury claim. Our brachial plexus attorneys in Summit, NJ can evaluate your baby’s medical records, research the doctor’s career history, and even work with medical experts and specialists to develop a thorough litigation strategy. Because we’re experienced in birth injury litigation, we can also calculate the maximum value of your claim and help you pursue a settlement or verdict that reflects your financial needs.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney Today
A brachial plexus birth injury can have a lasting impact on your child’s life. Sadly, these injuries are often preventable and the result of human error. If you’re ready to hold a negligent medical professional and/or facility accountable for your child’s condition, contact the New Jersey brachial plexus lawyers at The Donnelly Law Firm today.
Our award-winning team has over 50 years of collective legal experience and a comprehensive understanding of this complex field of law. We take pride in providing our clients in New Jersey with personalized legal services, compassionate guidance, and aggressive advocacy. With our guidance, you can secure restitution that accounts for your child’s existing and potential medical expenses.