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Los Angeles Brachial Plexus & Erb’s Palsy Lawyers

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Giving birth should be a happy occasion. However, five children out of every 1,000 born experience injury during birth. For those who suffer injury to their brachial plexus, they may develop disabilities, but doctors may be able to prevent them – if they know what it is and catch it early. Unfortunately, not all medical practitioners understand the warning signs and fail to call off the canal birth, leading to serious injury.

If your baby suffers an injury during childbirth, from brachial plexus or other birth injuries, call Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP today. The law may entitle you to compensation. We’ve helped over 100 clients get justice for their child and are ready to help you do the same.

What is the Brachial Plexus?

The brachial plexus, also called Erb’s point, is a grouping of nerves centered above the shoulder where the neck connects with the fifth and sixth cranial nerves. These nerves allow movement and feeling in the upper limbs.

What is Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy?

Also known as Erb’s palsy, this obstetric disorder occurs when the nerves in the upper arm become hurt during birth. It often results from shoulder dystocia during a difficult birth. The condition may range from mild to severe. Erb’s palsy only refers to an injury on the upper nerves. The more severe version affecting the entire cluster is total or global brachial plexus palsy.

Infants affected by this injury won’t be able to move the shoulder or upper arm; however, they may wiggle their fingers. More severe forms of this injury could affect the entire trunk, as it can cut off the spinal column’s ability to send signals to the limbs. An affected arm may look paralyzed.

What Causes It?

This injury most often occurs during a difficult birthing and stems from one of three circumstances:

  1. Awkward Birth Angle. If the baby passes through the canal at an odd angle, such that the head is at one side as someone pulls the arm in the other, it may damage the brachial plexus.
  2. Excessive Pulling. If the baby entering the canal slows, the doctor may have to help by pulling. If someone does this too forcefully, it may injure the brachial plexus. Such a situation is more common with large babies passing through a small canal.
  3. Breech Birth. If the baby is born in breech position, the act of birth can pull the arms back over the head. If a doctor or other medical professional pulls the child too hard, this stresses the brachial plexus, potentially damaging it. Extreme circumstances may also result in shoulder dislocation.

Which Situations Are At Risk?

Any lateral traction or stretching the baby’s head and neck during birth increases the risk of brachial plexus damage. However, the development of shoulder dystocia triples the risk. Other factors are:

  1. Forceps or vacuum extraction tool use during birth
  2. Second labor stage exceeding one hour
  3. Large infant body
  4. Small maternal body
  5. Abnormal/excessive maternal weight
  6. Excessive infant birth weight
  7. Breech position

Unfortunately, some medical practitioners do not recognize the early warning signs of these conditions and fail to elect a C-section or other procedures while delivering the baby. This mistake can be dangerous. When a child experiences extreme pressure in the birth canal or becomes stuck, their nerves can sustain serious damage. When this affects the brachial plexus, the nerve network in charge of sending messages from the spine to the arm, hand, and shoulder, paralysis, ruptures, and scar tissues can form. This can lead to anything from lifelong paralysis to issues with sensation, motor skills, and muscle control.

Doctors should check for signs of possible brachial plexus/Erb’s Palsy before childbirth. These include significant maternal weight gain, large birth weight, small or short mother, malformed pelvis, or prior history of Erb’s or shoulder dystocia delivery. When a doctor fails to see the signs and makes the wrong decisions, they can be held responsible and sued in civil court for medical damages related to the treatment and ongoing care of the child, who may be unable to participate in normal life activities due to their injury.

Does My Baby Have Erb’s Palsy?

If your baby has a weak arm or holds it in a paralyzed manner, it may suggest damage to the brachial plexus. Signs to look for are:

  1. Limp arm, bent at elbow, held close to body
  2. Reduced grip strength
  3. Paralysis (partial/full)
  4. Lack of sensory function in upper arm
  5. Lack of motor function in upper arm
  6. Numbness
  7. Reduced circulation/lack of muscle development

How do I Treat Erb’s Palsy?

Treatment for Erb’s palsy requires care from a multidisciplinary recovery center and/or licensed professionals, including neurologists, neuro/orthopedic surgeons, and physical/occupational therapists. At the very least, a pediatric neurologist should see your child. Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury and involve a multi-faceted approach that could include surgery, therapy, home care, or more.


If your child has been born with Erb’s Palsy or brachial plexus, you’re probably feeling scared, angry, and stressed. However, you have legal rights. You can take the doctor to task for his negligent actions. Doing so could save others. At Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, we’re passionate about the rights of our clients. That’s why we’ve obtained over 100 $1 million or more verdicts on behalf of our clients – and our skilled, compassionate staff is ready to help you. Has your child been born with Erb’s Palsy or brachial plexus? Don’t wait another minute to act – your time to file could be limited.

Call our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP today for more information and a free, confidential case consultation. (310) 477-1700

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If you have a legal matter you would like to discuss with an attorney from our firm, please call us at (310) 477-1700 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and we will get back to you.

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