Erbs Palsy Claims
Erb’s palsy is a medical condition causing paralysis of the arm due to nerve damage. It usually occurs during a difficult childbirth as a result of an injury to a baby’s shoulder. While Erb’s palsy can normally be effectively treated with the right care, this takes time and some level of long-term damage may remain.
Where Erb’s palsy was caused by a baby’s delivery being negligently managed, then it may be possible to make a substantial birth injury compensation claim. Having the right legal support can boost your chances of success and make the claims process much easier.
Minton Morrill Solicitors have a strong track record of successfully pursuing Erb’s Palsy compensation claims. Our specialist team have the experience and expertise to help your child get the compensation they deserve so that they have the right support to help with their injury.
Our experts can offer you:
- A free initial consultation to discuss your Erb’s palsy claim
- Close, personal support from a team who cares about you and your family
- Decades of specialist expertise with Erb’s palsy medical negligence
- A track record of millions of pounds in compensation secured for our clients
- No win, no fee Funding (so you don’t have to worry about costs)
- Specialist lawyers who hold a clinical negligence accreditation by the Law Society
- Specialist lawyers who hold the gold standard AVMA clinical negligence accreditation
- Specialist solicitors with high rankings in leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners
- Reassurance with our skills in alternative dispute resolution. This means that most Erb’s palsy claims we handle are settled before trial.
Book a free consultation with our Erb’s palsy solicitors
What is Erb’s palsy?
Erb’s palsy or Erb-duchenne palsy, also known as brachial plexus palsy, is where there is paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerve. Specifically where there is severing of the upper trunk C5-C6 nerves which form part of the brachial plexus. Erb’s Palsy is usually caused during childbirth when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck after their head is delivered. This is known as Shoulder Dystocia.
Babies who are born with Erb’s palsy may not be able to move their shoulder but may be able to move their fingers. If both the upper and lower trunk nerves are stretched and damaged, the condition is usually more severe than an Erb’s palsy diagnosis and is described as global or total brachial plexus birth injury affecting the shoulder, arm and hand.
Where Erb’s palsy was caused or made worse as a result of medical negligence, then it may be possible to claim compensation.
Read more about Erb’s palsy claims using the links below:
- What causes Erb’s Palsy?
- Who is to blame for Erb’s palsy and what can you do?
- Can you make a claim for Erb’s palsy?
- Can you sue a hospital for Erb’s palsy?
- Pursuing an Erb’s palsy negligence claim
- What can Erb’s palsy compensation be used for?
- Time limits for pursuing an Erb’s palsy claim
- Our successful Erb’s palsy compensation claims
You can also read our blog Understanding Erb’s Palsy.
Erb’s palsy is often caused when a baby’s neck is stretched to the side during a difficult child delivery. Excessive force by the medical staff in delivering the baby can cause injury to the delicate brachial plexus nerves. If a doctor, for example, pulls improperly or too hard during delivery this increases the risk of injury such as lots of twisting, turning, pulling and tugging.
Other causes of Erb’s palsy include birth injuries due to:
- Forceps: - Birth-assisted tools, such as forceps or vacuum extraction (ventouse), may be used improperly by the operator including performing inappropriate manoeuvres.
- Failure to properly monitor foetal size and to perform, or offer, a caesarean section in large infants. If a baby is unusually large and/or in the breach position, the chances of an Erb’s palsy injury increase. It ought to be possible for a Doctor to be able to tell when a baby is in the breach position and also what the baby’s estimated weight is. The failure to monitor this can result in an Erb’s palsy injury.
- Mothers with a small pelvis can be prone to have babies that may get stuck. It is again important for this to be reviewed alongside the anticipated size of the baby.
- In the event of an Obstetric emergency where there is fetal distress (the baby is being starved of oxygen), there may be a need to deliver the baby very quickly; the speed of which may result in an Erb’s palsy injury.
- Where a mother has previously given birth to a baby that has suffered shoulder dystocia, the likelihood is that such an injury may well be more common with the next birth. This ought to result in a detailed discussion about the mode of delivery.
A key part of making a claim for an Erb’s palsy birth injury will be establishing whether negligence occurred. By thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding a birth, our team can determine who owed the child a duty of care and whether this was breached due to failings in the care provided.
If it can be shown that clinical professionals breached their duty of care either during the pregnancy or during a birth, and that this caused or made worse injury to the brachial plexus, then it will normally be possible to pursue compensation.
If you’re the parent or guardian of a child under 18 with Erb’s palsy, you can make an Erb’s palsy compensation claim on their behalf. Once they reach their 18th birthday, your child has three years to bring their own claim if you haven’t already brought one on their behalf.
If you’re not the parent or guardian of the child, you can be appointed by the court as a ‘litigation friend’ as long as your interests don’t conflict with theirs and you are able to make decisions about the case in a fair and competent way.
When making a claim for Erb’s palsy caused by a birth injury, you would not be taking action against a particular hospital or clinical professional, but rather the NHS trust or private company that runs the hospital.
Find out if you have a claim for Erb’s palsy compensation
Our medical negligence team have extensive experience in successfully pursing Erb’s palsy compensation claims.
We seek and obtain important answers about what has gone wrong during childbirth and whether your child’s injury could have been avoided. When failings have occurred, we have a proven track record of obtaining the maximum level of compensation for your child.
We will carefully talk you through each stage of the litigation in an Erb’s Palsy claim.
Supporting your claim
Usually, we will take a detailed witness statement from you and obtain the relevant medical records. On review of these, it may be necessary to obtain expert evidence from an Obstetrician, Midwife, Paediatrician and possibly a Plastic Surgeon and Orthopaedic Surgeon to provide their view on the cause of the Erb’s palsy injury and whether it could have been prevented with better medical care.
It may also be necessary to involve a specialist Barrister if the evidence suggests there has been sub-standard care so that the strength of a case and the experts’ views can be fully explored.
If the case is supported by the experts, we will invite the Hospital to accept responsibility for the poor care. If they try and defend the case without good reason, it may be necessary to take them to Court.
If you can prove sub-standard care led to an avoidable injury, your child is likely to be entitled to claim Erb’s palsy compensation. Different types of compensation may be payable to your child by the Defendant dependent on the severity of their injury and their needs.
- General Damages for the injury itself, determined by the severity of the injury.
- The cost of Physiotherapy.
- The cost of Occupational Therapy.
- The cost of Hydrotherapy.
- The cost of surgery, such as nerve graft or tendon/muscle release.
- Loss of earnings.
- Handicap on the open labour market.
- Aids and equipment.
Other heads of damage for compensation are likely to be sought in addition to these examples above and our specialist Erb’s palsy lawyers will carefully review and advise you about these.
In Erb’s palsy claims involving children, the time limits for pursing a medical negligence claim are different to adults. The limitation period for children to pursue a claim stemming from their birth, for example, is when they turn 21 years old, if they have mental capacity. Limitation can be complicated and it is important that you speak with our specialist Erb’s palsy solicitors so that we can advise you on this. Even if your child is over the age of 21 it may still be possible to successfully pursue a case.
We have substantial experience of successfully recovering significant compensation on behalf of clients who have suffered an Erb’s palsy injury. We have set out three examples of this below.
1. Megan (name changed to protect client confidentiality)
Megan is a young girl who sustained an Erb’s palsy injury at her birth after her mother went into cardiac arrest during labour. The cardiac arrest caused Megan to be deprived of oxygen before she was born which triggered an obstetric emergency necessitating immediate delivery of Megan. Because of this rushed emergency delivery, Megan sustained a major brachial plexus/Erb’s palsy injury to her left arm resulting in significant weakness. She required surgery on two subsequent occasions to try and rectify the injury but was still sadly left with a significant disability likely to affect and limit how she lives in the future.
This was a complex medical negligence claim requiring careful consideration with medical experts in the fields of Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Orthopaedic Surgery. The expert evidence was that the Hospital had been negligent in inserting an epidural into Megan’s mother and had further failed to recognise the epidural had been incorrectly inserted which caused the cardiac arrest. The Obstetric medical expert said that if this mistake had not happened, Megan would not have been delivered in an emergency situation and, therefore, would not have sustained a serious Erb’s palsy injury. The Hospital initially defended the claim, but with perseverance and hard work we were able to succeed with the claim and obtain significant compensation for Megan for the lifelong Erb’s Palsy injury to her left arm.
2. Sally (name changed to protect client confidentiality)
Sally is a young girl who sustained an Erb’s palsy injury. She was almost completely paralysed in her right arm and required intensive physiotherapy, particularly from her mother, for the first 8 months of her life. Sally then started to use her arm more frequently but continued to experience weakness in her arm. She had difficulty with dressing, brushing her hair and lifting heavy objects and suffered numbness and aching in her arm and shoulder. Sally was also not able to put her right hand behind her head.
Although Sally sustained an injury at her birth, it was not clear whether this was an Erb’s Palsy injury that could have been avoided. Having obtained the medical records, expert evidence was sought from a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. His expert opinion was that excessive traction had been applied during Sally’s assisted instrumental delivery. The medical records also noted the right arm was anterior at the time of delivery which is often a sign that an Erb’s Palsy injury is more likely to have been caused by inappropriate actions from medical staff. Further, there was a relatively lengthy final stage of labour where Sally was born about 8 minutes after delivery of the head. Excessive traction was likely to have been greater along with the time it took for the delivery to be performed.
The claim was not defended by the Hospital and it was possible to reach a negotiated settlement that was also approved by the Court. This ensured Sally was appropriately compensated for the Erb’s palsy injury which she had sustained at birth.
3. Thomas (name changed to protect client confidentiality)
Thomas suffered Erb’s palsy that had lasted for more than 12 months involving the C5 and C6 nerve roots. He needed surgical exploration and repair of the right brachial plexus with nerve graft to the C5 and C6 nerve roots. He then underwent a further surgical procedure (a right functional gracilis muscle transfer) to improve right elbow flexion. Despite this, Thomas suffered significant limitation of movement of his right arm and weakness of the right shoulder and elbow. This meant he was unable to actively extend his right wrist. He needed help with dressing, doing up buttons, pulling zips, using cutlery and cutting up food. The weakness in his right upper half meant he struggled to lift objects. He also had surgical scars and the medical evidence indicated he required further surgery and would have a lifelong handicap that would result in his being disadvantaged in his future career as an adult.
Following the involvement of our specialists Erb’s palsy compensation team of lawyers, it became apparent that excessive traction had been used during the delivery of Thomas’ shoulders which included damaging, twisting and/or jerking movements as well as failing to perform the appropriate manoeuvres to ensure safe delivery of the shoulders. The Hospital conceded fault and we worked together with Thomas’ family to obtain substantial financial compensation for the avoidable birth injury that he suffered and his lifelong disability.