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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Does Your Child Suffer From Brachial Plexus Palsy or Related Injury?
– There are Answers to Your Legal Questions.

If you are the parent of a child suffering from brachial plexus—also called “brachial plexus palsy,” or BPP—you know that life can be more difficult when caring for a child with a birth-related injury. The time, care, stress, and medical costs related to BPP and caring for a BPP child can certainly add up.

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On top of these anxieties, many parents of BPP patients are concerned because the medical staff who cared for you and your child during pregnancy and childbirth—including nurses, doctors, obstetricians and other medical staff—were supposed to ensure that you and your child received appropriate and sufficient care. You may be concerned that these individuals, the hospitals, and the medical system failed their responsibilities to you and your child to prevent birth-related injuries like brachial palsy.

If you believe that you or your child received substandard medical care during the birthing process, or that the doctors and other medical staff made decisions or actions that caused or contributed to the BPP injury your baby sustained, then you may have cause to file a claim for compensation.

What is Brachial Palsy?

Elk & Elk

Brachial plexus palsy is a common birth injury that is typically characterized by damage to the group of nerve fibers running between the spine and through the neck and arms.

Typically, BPP is caused during birth and labor, when the birthing process is particularly difficult or stressful. The excessive force and stretching from this type of difficult labor can cause injury to the infant’s nerve fibers, particularly in those fibers in the baby’s upper extremities, such as its neck, arms, and wrists. Because of this phenomenon, BPP remains one of the most common types of birth-related injury to infants.

So what is the cause of BPP?

Sometimes, birth-related tools can cause or contribute to BPP injuries. Difficult labor may require the physician to use birthing assistance tools, such as forceps or other extraction tools, that can exacerbate the force and injury to the infant.

But even if extraction tools are not used during birth, BPP injuries can still occur if the delivering doctor applies excessive force to the baby while delivering by hand. In other situations, particularly during a prolonged labor, BPP injuries can be sustained while the infant is stuck inside the birthing canal, where the mother’s contractions can injure and put stress on the baby’s upper body and arms. Other causes of BPP-related injuries include:

  • Large birth weight and size of the baby;
  • Obesity of the birth mother;
  • Underdeveloped neck muscles in the baby;
  • Maternal diabetes;
  • Breech delivery; or
  • When the baby impacts with the mother’s pelvic bone during birth.

BPP-related injuries can vary widely based on the location of the nerve fibers damaged, the degree of the injury and the cause of the injury. Depending on the severity of the injury and the injury-causing force, the baby’s injuries can include:

  • Partial paralysis of the affected limb;
  • Full paralysis of the affected limb;
  • Diminished strength or grip;
  • Decreased motor function, sensory function and movement; and
  • Physical effects including bending toward the body and hanging limply at the side of the body of the affected arm. Treatment Options for BPP Infants.

The medical treatment for BPP patients can vary depending on the severity and nature of the injury. Sometimes, babies can heal naturally with time and normal care. Other patients can recover with minimal medicine or physical therapy, while other BPP infants may require surgery and prolonged physical care.

What Legal Resources Are Available to Me For my BPP Child?

Sometimes, the cause of your child’s birth is just bad luck: the pressure of birth, the shape of his or her body related to your body, or a difficult labor.

But sometimes, the cause is human error. And if your physician, obstetrician, nurse or medical staff failed to give you a reasonable standard of medical care then you may be able to file a claim to protect your child and your family’s future.

If during birth, your infant was negligently injured, you have the legal right to file for damages related to his or her injuries, pain and suffering, and future medical care. If you feel like your infant’s BPP injuries occurred as a result of this type of negligence and substandard care, then it is important that you seek legal advice from an attorney as soon as possible, who is an expert in brachial plexus palsy and other birth-related injuries.

Usually, a birth injury attorney will provide a free consultation and help you determine whether your case is strong enough to move forward against the physician, hospital or other medical caregivers. After evaluating all of the circumstances and facts, the attorney will help you determine whether your case has the requisite “cause” to move forward, including evaluating whether:

  • The physician, hospital or medical professionals owed you and your baby a duty of care when the injury occurred;
  • Whether those individuals breached that duty of care by their actions or failure to act;
  • And whether that failure to meet the duty of care caused your baby’s injuries.

Although the care required for your BPP infant is extensive, time-intensive and complicated, it is important that you make this decision to consult legal help quickly. That’s because most states have “statutes of limitations”—or time limits—by which you must file your claim. Typically, states mandate that you file your claim against the hospital, physician or medical professional within two years of your child’s injury. However, in some states the time limit is only one year: therefore, it is imperative that you believe you and your baby have been wronged that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What Can I Expect from a Brachial Plexus Legal Claim?

Just as no two families or situations are the same, no two BPP lawsuits are alike. However, most lawsuits involving brachial plexus palsy are intricate and require the leadership of an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about BPP and birth-related injury claims. Your attorney and his or her staff will need to research the facts underlying your case, interview witnesses and medical defendants, gather evidence and evaluate that evidence against the applicable legal standard. Your attorney will be your representative in dealing with the defendants, perhaps with the aim of negotiating a settlement for your claims. In other cases, and perhaps most importantly, if a settlement is not available, your lawyer may need to present your case before a court of law—and perhaps a jury—to argue your case.

In most cases, the aim of litigation is monetary compensation for losses to your life, finances, or child’s health. Many factors are considered in evaluating the compensation you may be able to claim in relation to a BPP case; however, many BPP cases involve claims for compensation related to:

  • Medication costs;
  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Costs related to physical therapy and occupational therapy;
  • Medical costs, including both past and future medical expenses;
  • Lost income or wages of the parents;
  • Cost of in-home care of your BPP baby; and
  • Emotional pain and stress related to your child’s injury;

Whatever your network, seek out help from a knowledgeable, expert attorney experienced in brachial plexus palsy cases and litigation; with the right legal support, you can know with certainty whether your situation warrants a litigation claim and you can obtain the compensation you and your child deserve.