Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer

Erb’s palsy, a condition obtained during childbirth, results from the injury to certain nerves in an infant’s body. Erb’s palsy is almost always preventable with proper medical care, as it usually develops as a result of excessive force during delivery and overall medical negligence. Many children who develop this condition recover, but some are left with lasting impairments. If your child has Erb’s palsy due to nerve damage, you may need to consult an experienced Chicago Erb’s palsy lawyer at our firm. 

You can file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your damages. Learn more about how Curcio & Casciato can help you do just that. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a consultation today. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are always at the top of their game, and they won’t rest until you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

Chicago Erb’s Palsy attorney

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuits

An Erb’s palsy lawsuit involves parents or family members of children afflicted with the birth injury to pursue legal action on behalf of that child. The condition is notably different from cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, and Klumpke’s palsy. However, both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are a form of brachial plexus palsy.

Erb’s Palsy vs Klumpke

Both of these birth injury cases involve injury to the brachial plexus nerves. The difference between an Erb’s palsy case and a Klumpke’s palsy case lies in whether the upper or lower arm is affected. In an Erb’s palsy case, the upper brachial plexus is paralyzed, which usually affects the forearm and the upper arm. In a Klumpke’s palsy case, the lower brachial plexus is paralyzed, which usually affects the hand muscles, finger and wrist flexors, and the forearm.

Similar forms of medical negligence can cause Erb’s and Klumpke’s palsy. For this reason, it’s important to hire a Chicago birth injury lawyer who has a successful track record with Erb’s palsy case verdicts. 

A brachial plexus lawsuit can be highly complex, but they have the potential to provide significant financial compensation for families affected by their child’s birth injury. Read on to learn more about filing Erb’s palsy lawsuits for your child’s brachial plexus injury.

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Brachial Plexus Injury

Erb’s palsy occurs as a result of damage to the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves running from the spine, through the neck, and down each arm. The brachial plexus is what gives the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers sensation and allows them to move. The nerves that run lower control the hand and fingers, while those that run higher provide shoulder movement and sensation. 

Erb’s is a type of injury to the brachial plexus. As such, it affects both the lower and upper arms. Injuries that occur higher in the brachial plexus may only affect the shoulder and upper arm area, while those that occur lower affect the hand and fingers. 

Signs of a Brachial Plexus Injury

Some signs that your child might have sustained a brachial plexus injury include the following:

  • Lack of reflexes in either arm
  • No movement in part or all of the arm
  • Weakness or loss of feeling in part or all of the arm
  • Minimal grip strength
  • Arm bent at the elbow and held tightly to the side 
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What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a condition in which a person experiences weakness and sometimes paralysis in the muscles of the arm. While it is possible that Erb’s palsy can be naturally occurring, the injury is most often a result of complications due to childbirth. According to the National Institutes of Health, Erb’s is “frequently the result of trauma sustained during birth, possibly from medical malpractice.” 

This case of medical malpractice may arise when a medical professional pulls on a seemingly “stuck” baby during the process of delivery. By pulling on the infant, the doctor or nurse can damage a network of nerves called the brachial plexus. The damage to these nerves is what causes Erb’s palsy.

How Common Is Erb’s Palsy?

There are approximately 12,000 cases of Erb’s palsy recorded in medical records each year. This breaks down to around 2 cases per 1,000 live births. It happens more often in larger babies, as the medical professionals responsible for their birth must sometimes pull them out if they are stuck in the birth canal.

Is Erb’s Palsy Painful?

Sometimes. Irregular or intense pain can be another symptom of nerve damage from brachial plexus birth palsy. Pain associated with this type of child’s injury usually happens in the arm, but it can also affect the shoulder. 

If you find that your child screams or cries when touched, especially when touched on the neck, shoulder, or arm, this could demonstrate the child’s Erb’s palsy. However, keep in mind that it could also be a sign of shoulder dystocia or even cerebral palsy. 

If you need an experienced Chicago cerebral palsy lawyer or a Chicago shoulder dystocia attorney, our firm has extensive experience with both types of cases.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

This type of injury occurs most often from a difficult delivery, especially involving larger babies. If the negligent medical professionals in charge of the birthing process stretch the infant’s neck to the side and push down on the shoulder, this could cause an injury. In rarer cases, it can also occur in older patients who suffer a fall or a strong downward push on the shoulder.

Erb’s Palsy Risk Factors

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Risk factors that can lead one to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit include the following.

  • Gestational diabetes: If the mother has poorly-managed blood sugar levels, their babies could be born larger than normal. This makes delivery more difficult and makes it harder on the baby’s shoulder and neck.
  • Breech birth: A breech birth is a feet-first birth. When this happens, babies are at a somewhat higher risk of spinal cord injuries or Erb’s palsy injuries. This is because there is more pressure on the affected arm during the birthing process.
  • Large baby or small mother: If the infant is large or the mother very small, this could lead to the child’s injuries, a negatively-affected arm, or other medical malpractice cases. 
  • Improper use of birthing tools or an improper delivery method: In more complex deliveries, a doctor may try to use birthing tools to speed up the delivery. If the doctor engages in medical negligence, this could lead to injuries to the baby’s head, neck, or shoulders in the birth canal. 
  • A long second stage of labor: The second stage of labor is the “pushing stage.” If this stage lasts over an hour, it puts the baby at greater risk of injury in the birth canal.

What Nerve Is Affected in Erb’s Palsy?

Medical malpractice cases involving Erb’s palsy affect certain nerves within the brachial plexus. Medical professionals state that most birth conditions of this type occur mostly during the birthing process, but they can also occur in adults. 

The specific nerves affected in Erb’s are the axillary nerve, musculocutaneous nerve, and suprascapular nerve. Around 45% of all birth injury lawsuit cases are Erb’s palsy lawsuits. 

How Is Erb’s Palsy Diagnosed?

In most cases, medical professionals will perform a physical examination of the child’s condition. They will also conduct certain tests, such as an EMG, an MRI, or a CT scan. The EMG helps gather evidence about the nerves and muscle fibers. The MRI and CT scan both gather evidence about the child’s condition via imaging.

How Is Erb’s Palsy Treated?

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In many medical malpractice suits, our Chicago personal injury lawyers will examine the way that doctors treat a specific ailment. This is to confirm whether or not the doctor upheld the standard duty of care in their treatment of the condition.

The severity of the condition often dictates which forms of medical treatment a doctor will employ. Many professionals recommend beginning with “watchful waiting” before proceeding with surgical intervention. However, during this waiting period, patients usually undergo physical therapy.

Surgery is most effective for Erb’s palsy during the first year after the injury was sustained. Therefore, the “watchful waiting” period usually lasts no longer than nine months. If the assigned doctor chooses not to opt for surgery, there is a significantly higher chance of complications later in life for the affected patient.

Is Erb’s Palsy Considered a Disability?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are federal programs that compensate individuals who meet the definition of “disabled.” Under SSI/SSDI rules, Erb’s palsy can be classified as a disability only if it is severe enough. So, what makes Erb’s palsy meet the criteria for being “severe” enough? 

Erb’s generally affects only one arm; unfortunately, that alone is not enough to qualify as a disability. However, if the condition occurs in both upper limbs or if it is paired with another impairment, like a soft tissue injury to an extremity, it may be considered a disability under SSI/SSDI regulations.

To qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits, you must have complete medical documentation to prove the disability. Medical findings, records of the development and functioning of the child, and a formal diagnosis must all be provided.

Is Erb’s Palsy a Neurological Condition?

It is one of the most common neurological birth conditions. Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and brachial palsy are all neurological conditions that can lead to paralysis, muscle weakness, and lack of muscle control or movement in infants.

Can Erb’s Palsy Get Worse?

can erb's palsy be cured

Fortunately enough, Erb’s palsy is a very treatable condition. It is often not nearly as detrimental to your child’s health as cerebral palsy, which is caused by brain damage. Most children who are diagnosed with Erb’s palsy end up making a full recovery, though it is not always guaranteed. 

Erb’s cannot necessarily get worse, but there is a possibility that your child may not make a full recovery from it. Without receiving proper treatment and therapy, a child may carry this handicap with them for the rest of their life. In some cases, Erb’s palsy may not even be detected until months following a child’s birth. The later the palsy is caught, the less effective the treatments will be. 

As immediate treatment is the most effective in curing this condition, a delay in diagnosis could make all the difference in how your child heals. Treatment within the first four weeks of a child’s life is most effective, and through proper therapy, they can be expected to recover completely within one year’s time. However, physical therapy may only heal nerves that have been stretched. If the nerves were torn, surgery may be required. 

The compensation in a lawsuit for Erb’s palsy is based on the following:

  • Mounting medical bills (past and present): Costs of physical therapy, surgeries, adaptive equipment, counseling, and other related medical expenses
  • Lost wages: If a family member needs to quit their job or take time off of work to care for the child, they may be compensated for lost wages.
  • Future earnings losses: If the injury has limited the child’s ability to earn wages in the future
  • Pain and suffering: Emotional distress, loss or diminishment of the quality of life, grief, etc. 

An experienced Chicago emotional distress attorney can show you how to calculate pain or suffering and help you calculate lost wages.

Can Erb’s Palsy Be Cured?

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Rather than seeking professional medical advice about a cure, it is important to discuss a prognosis with your physician. The good news is that most infants who suffer from Erb’s do not see permanent injuries. In fact, most affected infants fully recover in anywhere from three to nine months. However, this only applies to mild nerve injuries.

When the injury is more severe, the prognosis is not as positive. Physical therapy, while it cannot always cure Erb’s, does help improve the chances of a better outcome. The exercises are simple and gentle, and they help with range of motion, stimulation, stretching, and arm movement.

When an infant suffers from severe damage, they may need surgery. If surgery cannot help, then they may see lifelong paralysis and expensive medical bills. That’s when parents tend to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit. Speak with the birth injury support team at our law firm. We’ll pair you with an experienced Erb’s palsy attorney who can file a birth injury lawsuit on your behalf.

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Compensation

The amount of compensation you are able to receive from an Erb’s palsy lawsuit simply depends. Some cases may bring in tens of thousands of dollars, while others reach as high as the millions. When it comes down to it, the amount of possible compensation is determined by a few key factors. 

The severity of the child’s birth injury is one of the most weighing factors, as well as how much it costs to treat those injuries. If the injury to the brachial nerves caused significant trauma and resulted in numerous treatments and/or operations, you can expect much more than if it were cured within a few physical therapy sessions. Having proper medical records of the injury is also crucial in determining the value of your case. Without it, you may receive less or even no compensation at all.

A skilled Chicago birth injury attorney such as those at Curcio & Casciato can help ensure you’re in the best position for a favorable outcome. You may be able to hold the physician or hospital accountable for negligence. Our medical malpractice lawyers know how to sue a hospital for negligence and are some of the best in the business, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 

How Much Is a Brachial Plexus Injury Worth?

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There is a very wide range of average amounts for Erb’s palsy lawsuit settlements. This is due to a few reasons. One reason is that some medical malpractice state laws place caps on how much you can recover. However, this is not the case in Illinois. Another reason is that birth injury cases settle with amounts that correspond to their severity. The more severe the injury, the higher the settlement or recovery amount.

The Erb’s palsy lawyers at our firm have extensive experience handling birth injuries when brachial injuries or shoulder dystocia occurs. That’s why we pride ourselves on aggressively fighting for just compensation.

Experienced Chicago Erb’s Palsy Attorneys

If your child has experienced a birth injury such as Erb’s palsy, you may be entitled to compensation. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Curcio & Casciato is dedicated to exclusively representing injured parties and their families in a wide range of personal injury matters, including birth injuries. In order to give your case the best chance it has, contact our Chicago Erb’s palsy attorneys to get started on your medical malpractice case today. 

Without experienced Erb’s palsy lawyers, the legal process can feel extremely daunting. Call our law firm today to establish your attorney-client relationship with us and to get started on your Erb’s palsy settlement or another medical malpractice settlement.