Helping the victims of medical negligence
If you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, an injury solicitor can help you claim the compensation you deserve
How Much Could You Claim?

Erb’s Palsy Claims

Brachial plexus palsy or paralysis, more commonly known as Erb’s palsy, is often a result of a birth trauma inflicted on a baby through excessive pressure on the brachial nerve. When the baby’s shoulder’s become trapped in the birth canal, it can stretch or tear the neck muscles, leading to paralysis in varying degrees.

Bringing up a child with Erb’s Palsy can be challenging, both emotionally and financially. A medical negligence solicitor can help ease the burden a little bit by helping you make a successful Erb’s palsy claim.

If your child suffers from Erb’s palsy due to medical negligence, you might want to pursue an Erb’s palsy compensation claim. But how do you go about it? During this stressful time, where do you even start?

Can I make an Erb’s Palsy claim?

Like all personal injury claims, Erb’s palsy has to be the result of someone’s negligence. If your pregnancy was neglected or mismanaged by a midwife or other medical professionals, you might have a case.

Some determining factors can include;

  • Using unnecessary force to deliver the baby
  • Not following protocols for shoulder dystocia (when the baby gets stuck in the birthing channel)
  • Underestimating the baby’s weight and size before natural birth
  • Failure to diagnose maternal diabetes, which can lead to large babies
  • Not performing a caesarean when it was clinically necessary

A professional medical negligence solicitor will have extensive experience handling birth injury compensation claims. As well as receiving compensation, a solicitor can also help you obtain answers about what has gone wrong.

If birth injuries could have been avoided, your solicitor will fight to get you the maximum level of compensation you (and your child) are entitled to.

Your solicitor will talk you through each stage, take a detailed statement from you, and get the relevant medical records. To smooth things along, you can assist your solicitor by gathering as much evidence as you can in advance.

Because Erb’s palsy can range in severity and the effects are not always immediately visible, a claim can be made at any point before your child’s 18th birthday.

Alternatively, your child will have three years from their 18th birthday to make an Erb’s palsy compensation claim in their own name.

What causes Erb’s Palsy?

As we’ve briefly mentioned, Erb’s palsy results from straining, stretching or completely tearing the brachial plexus nerves – a network of nerves in the shoulder. These nerves carry sensory signals from the spine to the arms and hands.

Injuries to the brachial typically occur as a result of trauma to the neck. When a baby’s shoulders are stuck above the mother’s pelvic bone and go unnoticed, your child can suffer various nerve injuries as a result, including;

  • Neuropraxia (stretching the nerve excessively)
  • Nerve ruptures
  • Neuroma (stretch injuries that damages nerve fibres and may result in scar tissue)
  • Avulsions (the root of the nerve is completely detached from the spine)

Serious injuries may require special treatment and can lead to partial or permanent paralysis. Where the nerves need reattaching, your child might also have to go through extensive surgery.

Shoulder dystocia can also have a knock-on effect and lead to other injuries, such as;

  • Fractures to the collar bone
  • Separation of the neck bones (called cervical subluxation)
  • Weakness of the facial muscles (facial palsy)
  • Dislocated shoulder

Signs of Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy is often not instantly visible. When the signs are not clearly noticeable at birth, symptoms as the child grow include;

  • An elbow that does not bend and/or a hand that turns backwards
  • Inability to grip with the affected hand
  • Partial or full paralysis
  • Horner’s syndrome (where the eyelid on the affected side droops and the pupil is smaller)
  • Torticollis, where a child faces away from the affected side and cannot face forward without effort
  • No sensory or motor function in the upper arm
  • Numbness in the affected area

What muscles affect Erb’s Palsy?

The C5 and C6 nerve roots of the brachial plexus control a series of upper arm, neck and back muscles. These muscles include the;

  • Deltoids
  • Biceps
  • Brachialis
  • Infraspinatus
  • Serratus anterior muscles
  • Rhomboids
  • Levator scapulae
  • Supinator muscles

The bottom line is that Erb’s palsy causes restriction of movement to the shoulder and elbows in varying severity. Victims struggle to rotate their shoulders and generally cannot supinate their forearms due to the weakness of the supinator muscles.

How is Erb’s Palsy diagnosed?

A paediatrician will generally diagnose Erb’s palsy in infants. They will assess your little one’s clinical signs, carry out a few physical examinations and tests, and may request additional x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI tests. They will also evaluable all the tell-tale symptoms before making a diagnosis.

We know by now that Erb’s palsy might not be immediately apparent, but as soon as your child displays any of the symptoms mentioned in our previous sections, you should consult a medical professional immediately.

The quicker the diagnosis is made, the faster you can begin treatment, which increases the chances of complete recovery.

It is worth mentioning that you should not confuse the diagnosis with the prognosis. The diagnosis identifies the condition, like Erb’s palsy, while the prognosis illustrated the likely outcome and recovery after medical treatment. So basically, the diagnosis will be the same for Erb’s palsy sufferers, but the prognosis will vary greatly.

What treatments are available for Erb’s palsy?

In some cases, babies with brachial injuries can completely recover on their own in the first two years. Unfortunately, the condition has a lifelong impact on other children.

Naturally, the type of treatment available to your child will depend on the severity of the case. Typically, if your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, the first step on the road to recovery includes physical therapy – either weekly or biweekly.

In more severe cases, physiotherapy will still leave the shoulder, arms, or hands feeling weak. Surgery can be an option. A nerve graft or nerve transfer might improve function in the affected area.

If your child suffers from Erb’s palsy as a result of medical negligence, your solicitor will consider all the treatment cost – current and future – to calculate your Erb’s palsy compensation claim.

How much is an Erb’s Palsy compensation claim worth?

It is not possible to say precisely how much compensation you might be eligible for, as every Erb’s palsy claim is unique.

Your solicitor will consider all the factors, including the physical and emotional pain, the effects of the injuries, and the ability to enjoy independence.

In the more serious Erb’s palsy cases, your child will need extensive specialist care throughout their life. Your compensation claim should provide for all these expenses, including;

  • Medical appointments, even with private practitioners
  • Physical / physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Alternations to your home and vehicle
  • Travel expenses to and from medical facilities
  • Loss of income
  • Private tutoring

As you can see, the elements of your claim are “tailor-made”, based on the individual case. The amount of compensation is designed to put your family back in the position you would have been if the injury had never taken place.

Therefore, your medical negligence solicitor will seek the maximum compensation to make life as easy as possible for your household to overcome any difficulties associated with Erb’s palsy.

If the other party accepts guilt, you may also qualify for an early compensation payment that can cover medical expenses while you wait for the full claim to settle.

How can I pay for my Erb’s palsy claim?

If your child is suffering from Erb’s palsy at the hands of a negligent medical professional, you can apply for a claim on a no win no fee basis.

There are no out of pocket expenses to you if your claim is unsuccessful. If you win your case, your solicitor will receive payment in the form of a success fee. This is a pre-agreed percentage of the compensation that has been awarded, which is capped at a maximum of 25%.

Your Erb’s palsy solicitor will discuss all of this with you before the claim, and there are no hidden costs. The agreed-upon fee will be fixed based on the settlement amount.

Living with Erb’s palsy

Many babies born with Erb’s palsy are diagnosed instantly and receive the correct treatment. These success cases usually recover within the first year, but some children will struggle with Erb’s palsy for the rest of their lives.

Whatever the extent of the damage, it is a traumatising time for both parents and baby. Compensation can go a long way to kick the stress and can go towards any care of special equipment your child needs – hopefully on the road to a full recovery.

To find out if you have a valid Erb’s palsy claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or enter your details into our online claim form, and someone will get back to you asap.