Discovering that your child has suffered a birth injury can turn a moment of joy into one of shock. Brachial plexus injuries are among one of the most common kinds of birth injuries, and are often caused by the negligence of medical providers attending the birth. If your child suffers a brachial plexus injury due to medical malpractice, your family may be entitled to compensation.

What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

A brachial plexus injury is damage to the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves that connect the arm to the spinal cord and send signals between the spinal cord and shoulder, arm, and hand. A brachial plexus injury involves the stretching, compression, or tearing of these nerves.

Brachial plexus injuries come in varying degrees of severity. Stretching or compression of nerves can cause the baby to experience numbness, weakness, or other odd sensations in the affected shoulder and arm. More serious injuries involving tearing of nerves can cause more permanent disabilities, including a loss of sensation or motor function in the affected arm.

Common Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries

A brachial plexus injury typically occurs during a vaginal birth when the baby has trouble getting his or her shoulder through the mother’s pelvis. A brachial plexus injury can accordingly arise as a result of:

  • Macrosomia, or the baby being of a higher weight than average (which can increase the difficult of the baby passing through the pelvis)
  • Incorrect positioning of the fetus for delivery
  • Prolonged labor
  • Excessive force or improper manipulation of the baby during delivery
  • Shoulder dystocia, or the baby’s shoulder getting caught behind the mother’s pelvis after delivery of the head

While some brachial plexus injuries are simply unexpected and unavoidable, many other cases of injury are caused by the negligence of the physician or midwife conducting the delivery, when he or she places the fetus into the wrong position for delivery, uses the wrong force or too much force to move the delivery along, or fails to recognize signs of issues during delivery that can lead to a brachial plexus injury.

Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury often appear in the child’s arm that is affected by the injury. Signs include:

  • Lack of movement in the arm
  • Lack of Moro reflex (spreading out of the arms in response to being startled)
  • Decreased sensation or numbness
  • Claw-like hand
  • Weakened grip
  • Keeping the affected arm in an unusual resting position

Even after a child receives treatment for a brachial plexus injury, he or she may be left with permanent symptoms that can affect his or her physical capacity, including:

  • Stiffness in the arm joints
  • Lingering pain and/or numbness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Paralysis
  • Length and/or size differences between hands and/or arms

When a brachial plexus injury leaves permanent effects, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for your child’s lost quality of life due to the disabilities and/or disfigurement caused by the brachial plexus injury.

What to Do If Your Child Has Suffered a Brachial Plexus Injury

If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury during birth, you and your family may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice claim against the doctor responsible for delivery. In New Jersey, you generally have two years from the date of your child’s injury in which to file a medical malpractice suit. 

Successfully pursuing a medical malpractice claim may give your family the financial resources you need to help treat your child’s injury. Treatment for a brachial plexus injury often depends on the severity of the injury, and can range from medication and physical therapy for less debilitating injuries to surgeries for the most severe cases.

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Birth Injury Case in New Jersey

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Rochelle Park birth injury attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Garfield, Englewood, Bergenfield, Paramus. Call us today at 201-231-7847 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.