A parent’s guide to erb’s palsy claims

Incidents of medical negligence in maternity settings can cause significant birth trauma and permanent personal injury.

Families in these sad circumstances are not alone and help is available for injury claims for children with erb’s palsy.

What type of injury leads to an erb’s palsy claim?

This can be caused by an injury that has occurred during a child’s birth due to clinical negligence. The injury affects one arm and can be a result of an incident leading to shoulder dystocia and nerve damage.

Erb’s palsy is also known as Erb-Duchenne palsy or brachial plexus paralysis. The severity of the injury will vary on a case-by-case basis.

This type of injury can be a result of medical negligence.

Can my child recover from erb’s palsy?

For some, correct, timely and frequent physiotherapy can lead to a full recovery within a few months.

In more severe medical negligence incidents, the baby may never have the full function of the affected arm and would be entitled to pursue clinical negligence compensation which may include general damages, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, handicap in the open market and loss of earnings.

Children who have suffered a serious erb’s palsy injury are entitled to clinical negligence compensation to provide the quality of treatment, aids and support they need as a result of the incident.

Which circumstances lead to an erb’s palsy claim?

You can make a claim for erb’s palsy compensation if you believe that your child’s injury was caused by medical negligence.

When can the injury leading to erb’s palsy compensation occur?

Erb’s palsy can occur in the following circumstances:

  • Medical staff have failed to recognise that the baby is too large to safely proceed with a vaginal birth. In these instances, there is a considerable risk of the baby’s shoulder getting stuck. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck because it is too large for the mother’s pelvis. If this is not handled following the correct NHS protocols and guidelines, a brachial plexus injury is highly likely.
  • If forceps are used with too much force, instead of the correct manoeuvre being utilised during the course of the birth when it reaches crisis point, it may result in erb’s palsy.
  • The baby is in breech position making a vaginal delivery risky. There are guidelines available to medical staff offering best practice for the safe delivery of the baby in these situations however, if these are not followed, a brachial plexus injury may occur.
  • The mother is diabetic or significantly overweight and medical staff have failed to provide a timely caesarean intervention in order to ensure the safe delivery of the baby.
  • The second stage of labour is prolonged lasting for more than an hour increasing the risk of the baby suffering a brachial plexus injury.

Symptoms to look out for

The tell-tale signs of a brachial plexus injury are a floppy or weak arm. It can include a weak grip or difficulty in gripping items. There may be a loss of sensory function in the affected arm and / or a loss of movement in the upper arm.

The symptoms of shoulder dystocia should not be ignored. Erb’s palsy compensation is available when medical negligence is suspected to be the cause.

Affected families are advised to seek legal advice a soon as possible.

Other red flags

Poor circulation in the arm impacted and poor nerve and muscle development are all red flags that an injury has been suffered.

In order for an erb’s palsy claim to be successful, it must be proved that the brachial plexus injury could have been prevented had medical negligence not occurred.

Seeking legal advice will help to ensure that a child’s support needs can be met – both now and in the future.

Diagnosing erb’s palsy

It is crucial to gain a diagnosis through a GP who will refer your child to a paediatrician. An erb’s palsy diagnosis will require nerve conduction studies, x-rays and ultrasound scans.

Having an erb’s palsy diagnosis can help when making a claim, however, you can start a claim before a diagnosis is provided.

What happens after a diagnosis is confirmed?

Once a diagnosis is given, timely treatment could result in a full recovery depending on the severity of the damage caused.

Starting a compensation claim is recommended if a full recovery is not possible.

When can an erb’s palsy claim be made?

Claims for erb’ palsy compensation can be pursued until a child reaches their 21st birthday if mental capacity has not been affected.

Starting a claim as soon as possible means that a child can access the compensation they need sooner. Personal injury claims of this kind can take several years to conclude however, interim payments can be secured and past care costs included in a final settlement.

Can a clinical negligence claim be made for historical incidents?

Yes. Erb’s palsy compensation claims can be pursued until a child reaches their 21st birthday. However, if the affected individual has lost mental capacity, there is no time limit on making medical negligence claims.

When are medical negligence claims successful?

A specialist clinical negligence law firm is recommended as they have in-depth knowledge and expertise in this complex area.

A medical negligence expert will also have relationships with the right independent medical experts who can help to provide the evidence required to prove that the injury could have been avoided.

Does the injury have to be permanent to pursue medical negligence compensation?

To pursue a medical negligence claim the brachial plexus injury does not have to be permanent however, if your child has made a full recovery in a relatively short time, your legal team may advise that the costs of pursuing such a claim may exceed the value of any clinical negligence compensation.

How much are medical negligence compensation claims worth?

In the most serious circumstances when a child has suffered the most significant brachial plexus injury leading to a permanently damaged arm that is weakened, or is not functional, erb’s palsy claims can be worth £multi-millions.

Is erb’s palsy avoidable?

Yes. It can be avoided if the appropriate medical care is provided.

For example, during a pregnancy and birth, it should be clear to medical staff if a baby is too large and a caesarean section would be the safest method of delivery for both mother and baby.

Excessive force can lead to erb’s palsy claims

When a vaginal birth has been progressed despite red flags such as the size of the baby in relation to the mother’s pelvis, the baby being in breech position, or the second stage of labour has been prolonged beyond one-hour, shoulder dystocia becomes an obstetric emergency.

Excessive force may be used to deliver the baby at this stage leading to erb’s palsy.

Following NHS guidelines to prevent the risk of injury

In some cases, shoulder dystocia occurs during labour. This is a high-risk incident that could result in oxygen deprivation causing irreversible injuries such as brain damage.

Medical staff should be aware of NHS protocols and guidelines. These provide details of manoeuvres to safely deliver a baby in these situations to avoid an injury leading to erb’s palsy claims or other medical negligence compensation claims.

How will medical negligence impact my child?

In cases where the baby’s arm cannot make a full recovery due to the severity of the injury, their disability will affect them in different ways as they develop.

Erb’s palsy treatment

In some cases, surgery is an appropriate treatment. Medical negligence compensation will help to ensure the best possible care is provided.

Impact during childhood

Sport, and other physical activities, may prove difficult as they progress through school which may lead to loss of confidence and/or bullying.

Long term impact of medical negligence

An individual with erb’s palsy will be at a significant disadvantage in the workplace and this is factored into any compensation claim.

A claim for compensation will help to provide for the best treatment and any aids and equipment to allow more independence and improve the quality of their life.

How do I choose the right medical negligence solicitor?

Birth injury claims are complex, so it is highly recommended that a specialist law firm is instructed. Choosing the right expert for your family will help to make the legal process less stressful and ensure that your child’s needs are met both now, and in the future.

A good medical negligence lawyer will offer a strong track record of securing the right level of compensation in birth trauma claims.

The legal process can be lengthy depending on individual circumstances. Selecting a specialist lawyer, who you feel comfortable with, is important as you may be dealing with them for some time.

What are the criteria for choosing a solicitor for erb’s palsy claims?

There are some quality markers to help in the selection of the right medical negligence team for you. Legal directories such as Legal 500 rank the best lawyers in England and Wales by specialism.

The rankings include testimonials from clients, peers and medical experts and are worth reading to gain insight into the people behind the legal muscle.

It is important not to be deterred by the location of their offices. A good medical negligence solicitor will represent clients across the country. Finding, and instructing, the right solicitor is paramount when you pursue a claim.

What do previous medical negligence clients say about them?

When pursuing a birth injury claim, it is useful to have evidence that a solicitor has a strong track record of securing the right level of compensation.

In some cases, erb’s palsy claims can be worth £multi-million which requires a solicitor with the best credentials. Hearing medical negligence stories from previous clients is a good indicator.

What can I expect from the medical negligence process?

Birth injuries are a complex area of law and require both specialist legal and medical expertise to deliver the best outcome for families.

The law as it stands places the responsibility on the affected family to prove that their child’s injury could have been prevented with the appropriate level of medical care.

Information about what to expect when making a birth injury claim can be found on our FAQs page.

Why should I choose Diane Rostron?

Diane Rostron and her team of medical negligence experts offer in excess of 25 years’ experience in these complex, and highly contested, claims.

The team of parents offer more than robust legal representation providing sensitive and empathetic support to families every step of the way.

A mother, grandmother and leading birth injury expert, Diane Rostron has a strong track record of securing £multi-million claims to ensure that children with serious nerve damage as a result of medical negligence, can have the best quality of life.

Can I read about Diane Rostron’s previous cases?

Diane Rostron frequently appears on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines passionately talking about medical negligence and recently settled cases.

We are no win no fee solicitors who care and treat families affected by medical negligence with the empathy that they deserve. Our experts relentlessly pursue justice for children who have suffered significant, and preventable, birth injuries.

Read more on our latest news & blogs about the families the team have represented and Diane Rostron’s expert view on the issues facing maternity services today.

How do I contact Diane Rostron?

Our empathetic team of medical negligence specialists are available to advise families on whether they are entitled to pursue erb’s palsy claims.

If you believe that your child has suffered nerve damage that could have been avoided, you can pursue a claim for compensation.

We work on a no win, no fee basis. We can contact you at a time that is convenient for you and your family. We will listen and are here to help.

The specialists at Diane Rostron will support you every step of the way.

Make a claim today to receive the compensation that your child deserves.

Contact Diane Rostron

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