Erb's palsy compensation claims

Erb's palsy compensation claims

For finding answers and getting justice

There are few experiences more distressing than seeing your newborn baby left with serious injuries due to a problematic birth. This is even more true when medical negligence results in your child developing Erb's palsy, a nerve condition that can result in lifelong disability.

If your child has been left with because of mistakes made by medical professionals, you're likely to be searching for answers. At Switalskis, we understand what you're going through. We understand your distress, and we're here to stand beside you and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors is dedicated to handling compensation claims, making sure your voice is heard and your child gets the compensation they deserve. We offer compassionate legal support at this difficult time, ensuring that the complexities of the claims process are made as simple and straightforward as possible. We'll do everything in our power to secure the best possible outcome for your case, so you can focus on what really matters - the wellbeing of your child.

Speak to one of our specialist solicitors in confidence by calling us on 0800 1380 458 , and we'll discuss the details of your medical negligence claim in greater detail. You can also contact us through the website .

To speak to one of our specialist Erb's palsy solicitors about your situation in confidence, call us on 0800 1380 458, or contact us through the website.

How Switalskis can help you

At Switalskis, we're more than just a team of expert medical negligence solicitors with many years of experience - we're allies in your fight for answers. We specialise in supporting families dealing with the consequences of Erb's palsy, and we take on every case with an understanding and determined approach, turning complex legal processes into simple, manageable steps.

Our team includes solicitors who are accredited as specialists by both the Law Society and the patients’ charity, Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) . We’re also recognised as being among the top clinical negligence teams in England by The Legal 500 UK, the foremost legal guide for clients.

When you choose us to help you claim compensation, we will:

  • Work closely with you to fully understand your unique situation. We take the time to listen, ask questions and absorb your concerns, so that we can provide advice that's specific to you and your circumstances.
  • Gather crucial medical evidence that strengthens your case. We work with medical experts to make sure that your child's Erb's palsy condition is properly assessed, and that the link to any medical negligence is clearly established.
  • Translate complex legal terms and jargon into clear language that’s easy to understand. We're committed to keeping you informed every step of the way, so you always know what's happening with your case.
  • Stand by your side and represent you in court if the case requires a court hearing. We’ll fight for the compensation that your child deserves.

We believe that it's important to understand what went wrong and why your child was subject to medical negligence resulting in Erb's palsy. At Switalskis, we’ll provide you with the advice and support you need each step of the way, to give you peace of mind and to secure you fair compensation to help you rebuild your life.

Read what our clients had to say about the help they received from Switalskis

What is Erb's palsy?

Erb's palsy, which is also called brachial plexus paralysis or brachial plexus palsy, is a condition that affects the brachial plexus - a network of nerves near the neck that control movement and sensation in the arm and hand. It's often caused by a birth injury, particularly during difficult deliveries where the baby's shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother's pubic bone. This complication is also known as shoulder dystocia.

When these nerves are stretched, compressed or torn, it can lead to weakness, loss of feeling, or even total paralysis in the affected arm. The impact of this nerve damage can range from mild to severe. In some cases, the condition could last a lifetime.

One of the hardest things about is that it's often preventable. It can occur due to medical negligence during the birth process, such as if a doctor or midwife applies excessive force to the baby's head and neck while handling shoulder dystocia. It may also happen when medical professionals fail to take the correct action in response to signs of potential complications.

Understanding is the first step towards seeking answers. That's where we, as your dedicated solicitors, come in. Speak to us and we can help you understand everything you need to know about the impact of this condition and the support you’ll need, as well as how this might affect the amount of compensation you can claim.

Groups of Erb’s palsy

Depending on which nerves have been mainly affected, children with Erb’s palsy are divided into four groups. As well as the symptoms, the grouping relates to prognosis, with 1 being the most favourable and 4 the worst.

The groups are as follows:

Group 1

Children have paralysis of the shoulder and elbow, involving the fifth and sixth (C5 and C6) cervical nerves. This results in the arm being turned towards the body, the elbow being unable to bend and the hand being in the ‘waiter’s tip’ position.

Group 2

This has the same presentation as Group 1, but with a lack of wrist extension due to the involvement of the C7 nerve as well.

Group 3

All the nerves are affected and, therefore, the child has complete paralysis of the upper limb.

Group 4

The entire arm is paralysed and there is a demonstrable sensory loss. is present, which is characterised by drooping of the eyelid, a cheek that does not sweat and a smaller pupil on the affected side of the face. Torticollis, a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side while the chin is turned to the other, may also be present.

Very infrequently there is Klumpke’s paralysis, which involves the seventh and eighth cervical (C7, C8) and the first (TH1) nerves. The result is a flaccid (floppy) paralysis of the hand that is often associated with Horner syndrome.

When can I make an Erb's palsy compensation claim?

If you believe your child's was caused by medical negligence during birth, you may have grounds to make a compensation claim. This could be due to a number of causes - let's consider a few examples:

  • If excessive force was used on your baby's head or neck during a difficult delivery, resulting in the stretching or tearing of the brachial plexus nerves
  • If medical professionals failed to respond correctly to signs of potential complications - it might be that they didn't perform a necessary caesarean section in time, or didn’t respond properly to signs of shoulder dystocia
  • If tools such as forceps or a ventouse were used improperly and caused unnecessary harm to your baby

In each of these scenarios, there could be a case for medical negligence, making an compensation claim possible. The key will be proving that your child's injury was the direct consequence of mistakes or negligent behaviour on behalf of the medical staff in charge of the mother and baby's care.

To have grounds to make a medical negligence claim, you'll need to be able to demonstrate the following:

  • That the medical professionals involved owed you a duty of care, meaning they had a responsibility to provide care that meets a certain standard
  • That a healthcare professional committed a breach of duty by failing to meet the expected standard of care
  • That there was a direct connection between the breach of duty and the injury - in other words, we must prove causation by showing that the injury wouldn't have occurred if not for the substandard care
  • That the injury resulted in harm or loss, which could be physical, psychological or financial

Establishing this proof is a standard part of the medical negligence claims process, and as your solicitors, it'll be our job to prove this in order to create a strong foundation for your case.

What is the process for making an Erb's palsy claim?

We understand that the prospect of making a compensation claim can seem daunting. But at Switalskis, we're here to guide you through every step of the process. We've broken it down into six main stages to make it as clear and straightforward as possible:

Step 1: Initial consultation

We’ll have a free initial consultation to learn about your unique situation. We'll need to understand your child's condition, the circumstances leading up to their diagnosis, and the impact it has had on your lives. This meeting will give us a clear picture of what we need to investigate.

Step 2: Establishing your claim

Next, we'll meticulously investigate the circumstances surrounding the birth and medical care that led to the Erb’s palsy diagnosis. This might involve obtaining and reviewing medical records, consulting with medical experts, and investigating the care provided. The aim will be to prove that the Erb’s palsy was caused by medical negligence, and work out the potential value of the claim.

Step 3: Notifying the defendant

Once we have enough evidence, we'll send a letter of claim to the medical professionals involved, outlining the full details of the claim and the evidence supporting it. They'll then have four months to respond, during which time they can conduct their own investigation and decide whether to accept liability.

Step 4: Negotiation

Once the defendant has responded to the claim, our negotiations can start. Our expert medical negligence solicitors will negotiate on your behalf, using our expertise and experience to establish who was at fault and secure the highest possible compensation amount for you.

Step 5: Court proceedings (where necessary)

Most claims will be settled through negotiation, and a fair settlement will be agreed upon without needing to go to court. In rare cases, we may need to take your claim to trial - should this happen with your claim, we will of course be with you every step of the way.

Step 6: Settlement and compensation

If your claim is successful, you'll receive compensation. The compensation is often life-changing, helping to cover the costs of care, therapy, equipment and adaptations to housing and ensuring the best possible quality of life for your child.

We'll guide you through every stage of this journey, always keeping you informed and making sure your voice is heard. Our team of solicitors will be on hand to provide expert advice and support, fighting for the compensation that you and your child deserve.

Contact us today and let's start your journey towards recovery together. Call us today on 0800 1380 458, or get in touch via our form.

Our erb's palsy compensation claims specialists

Photo of Suzanne Munroe
Suzanne MunroeDirector and Solicitor
Photo of Sarah Walker
Sarah WalkerDirector and Solicitor
Photo of Charlotte Reeves
Charlotte ReevesDirector and Solicitor
Photo of Kay Barnes
Kay BarnesDirector and Solicitor
Photo of David Thomas
David ThomasDirector and Chartered Legal Executive
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Is there a time limit to make a claim for Erb's palsy?

Generally, you have three years from the date of the incident to make a claim. However, if the claim is for a child, this three-year limit doesn't start until their 18th birthday. That means a claim can be made on behalf of a child any time before they turn 18, and they can make a claim themselves anytime between 18 and 21.

At Switalskis, we can help you understand if you have a valid claim and guide you through the next steps. We recommend that you get in touch with us as soon as possible, in order to make sure that there's no risk of missing any deadlines that might apply.

How are Erb's palsy cases funded?

Worried about how to fund your claim? Let's put those concerns to rest. At Switalskis, we believe that everyone should have access to justice, no matter their financial situation. That's why we offer different funding options to best suit your circumstances, including:

  1. No win, no fee agreements: most of the Erb's palsy claims we handle are on a no win, no fee basis, also known as a conditional fee agreement. This means that you won't have to pay anything upfront, and our fees will only apply if your claim is successful.
  2. Legal Aid: in some limited cases, you may be eligible for Legal Aid, meaning we'll be able to offer our services for free. If you’re eligible for this support, we’ll discuss this process with you when you get in touch.
  3. Legal expenses insurance: this may be included as part of your home or car insurance policy. We can review your existing policies to determine if this option is available to you.

We'll talk about all these options during our initial consultation to make sure we find the one that suits you best. We want to help you secure the compensation you and your child deserve, in a way that's as stress-free and straightforward as possible.

What treatment is available for Erb's palsy?

Every child with is unique, and treatment plans are tailored to their individual needs. These can depend on factors such as the severity of the birth injuries, the specific nerves affected, and the child's general health. Here are some of the most common treatment options:

  1. Surgery: in more severe cases, surgery is usually considered. This could involve nerve grafts, nerve transfers or muscle transfers, with the aim or restoring some function to the arm.
  2. Physiotherapy: this can help to improve movement and strength in the affected arm. Techniques used may include massage, stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
  3. Occupational therapy: this aims to improve your child's ability to perform everyday tasks, promoting independence and enhancing their quality of life.
  4. Specialist equipment and aids: in some instances, your child might benefit from supportive equipment such as splints, braces or bespoke seating, to aid posture and physical development.

It's important to remember that the cost of these treatments, any necessary aids or adaptations, and the future care needs of your child can all be factored into an compensation claim. At Switalskis, we’ll work diligently to make sure that all your child's current and future needs are considered. Our goal is to secure a settlement that not only recognises the harm done, but also helps secure the best possible future for your child.

How much compensation can I claim for Erb's palsy?

When considering the potential compensation you might receive from an claim, it's vital to remember that the final sum is always calculated based on the specific circumstances of each case. This means the precise figure can be quite complex to determine.

At Switalskis, we take into account several factors when estimating a potential compensation amount. This includes:

  • The severity of the Erb's palsy and its impact on your child's quality of life
  • Any future care or support needs they may require
  • Potential loss of earnings and opportunities for your family
  • Any additional costs incurred due to the injury, such as physiotherapy, surgeries and adaptations to your home

Remember, compensation is not just about recouping costs: it's also about securing a safer and more comfortable future for your child.

We know this can feel like a daunting process, but rest assured, our expert solicitors are here to guide you every step of the way. As each case is unique, we encourage you to contact us directly.

Why Switalskis?

Pursuing an Erb’s palsy compensation claim can be a lengthy process, and it’s important to have the right legal partner by your side to help you get the justice your family deserves. This is where the medical negligence experts at Switalskis come in.

Here are the values that we promise to uphold when claiming Erb’s palsy compensation:

Clarity in complexity

Medical negligence claims can be complex, but understanding them doesn’t have to be difficult. We always strive to break down complex legal terms into clear, understandable language, and we’ll be there to answer your questions and address any sources of confusion.

Empathy at every step

Every family’s circumstances are different, and we’ll work closely with you to understand your needs throughout the claims process. We listen to your concerns, respect your emotions and provide thoughtful advice that's specific to the details of your case. You're more than just a client to us - you and your family will be going through a challenging time, and we'll support you in all the ways you need.

Expertise you can trust

When dealing with a complex and lengthy Erb’s palsy claim, you’ll be in safe hands with Switalskis. Thanks to our decades of experience and proven track record in securing compensation for cases just like yours, you can put your faith in us to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Championing your rights

If your family has been affected by Erb’s palsy due to medical negligence, Switalskis will protect your rights and ensure your voice is heard. We'll not only help you claim the compensation you deserve, but also make sure that those responsible are held to account. In this way, your claim will play an important role in helping to prevent other families from having to go through the same experience.

We can support you in the following medical negligence situations

FAQs about Erb's palsy

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a serious and unexpected complication that can happen during childbirth. It happens when a baby's head passes through the birth canal, but the shoulders become stuck behind the mother's pubic bone. This situation needs immediate medical intervention, as it poses significant risks to both the baby and the mother.

This most commonly happens when the shoulder positioned closest to the mother's belly is unable to pass below the pubic bone. This means the baby is trapped, and normal delivery methods will no longer work. The medical team must then act quickly and use specialised techniques to safely deliver the baby.

Shoulder dystocia is a major cause for concern because it can lead to a lack of oxygen for the baby, as well as potential injuries to the mother. This creates a time-sensitive and challenging situation that needs expert care and swift action.

When shoulder dystocia happens, it needs specific medical techniques to release the baby's shoulder and provide a safe delivery. If the medical professionals responsible fail to provide this, it can put both mother and child at risk of further harm.

What kind of injuries can be caused by shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia, while rare, can lead to severe injuries for both the baby and the mother if not handled appropriately and promptly.

Here's an overview of the potential injuries that might affect the baby:

  • Brachial plexus injury: this is one of the most common injuries related to shoulder dystocia. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves controlling the arm's muscles. Excessive force during delivery can stretch or tear these nerves, potentially leading to disability in the affected arm.
  • Fractured bones: efforts to free the baby's shoulder may lead to the collarbone or arm bones getting fractured. While these fractures often heal, they can lead to other complications and need careful monitoring.
  • Oxygen deprivation: the delay in delivery associated with shoulder dystocia can result in a lack of oxygen to the baby's brain. This can cause brain damage, cerebral palsy or Erb's palsy, all of which can have serious lifelong consequences.
  • Fatalities: in very rare cases, shoulder dystocia can lead to a loss of life if the baby is not delivered quickly and carefully.

Additionally, shoulder dystocia can pose risks to the mother's health:

  • Haemorrhage: the effort to dislodge the baby's shoulder might cause tearing or other injuries to the mother's uterus, leading to heavy bleeding or haemorrhage.
  • Uterine rupture: in some cases, the stress of treatment can cause the uterus to rupture, a life-threatening situation that needs immediate medical intervention.
  • Emotional trauma: a shoulder dystocia delivery can be extremely distressing, and can potentially cause long-term emotional and psychological effects that impact the mother's overall wellbeing.
  • Infections and further complications: any injuries to the reproductive organs might lead to infections or further complications, cause chronic pain or even affect future fertility.

The potential injuries caused by shoulder dystocia show why it's so important that high-quality care is provided to mothers and newborn children. When this doesn't happen and injuries are caused by shoulder dystocia, you may have grounds to make a claim.

How can shoulder dystocia be caused by medical negligence?

Shoulder dystocia itself is often unpredictable and can't always be prevented. However, there are some situations where shoulder dystocia happens as a result of medical negligence, or injuries happen because doctors fail to properly manage the condition. Examples include:

  • Failing to monitor mothers and babies who might be at high risk of shoulder dystocia
  • Failure to properly monitor the mother during labour, leading to delays in recognising and diagnosing shoulder dystocia
  • Improper use of medical instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors, causing further harm to the baby and the mother
  • A lack of training or experience in providing emergency care, leading to injuries that could have been prevented
  • Failure to perform a timely caesarean section, resulting in a longer period of shoulder dystocia and increasing the risks of injury
  • Failure to communicate with the patient about the risks, options and necessary interventions, leading to incorrect decisions and additional harm
  • Inadequate post-delivery care, resulting in complications going unnoticed and untreated

All of these mistakes can be seen as negligent treatment, and can put your baby at a higher risk of long-term injuries, including a brain injury that could affect them for the rest of their life.

If you believe that you or your child suffered injuries due to negligent care during a shoulder dystocia delivery, speak to Switalskis to find out whether you might be able to make a claim.

What are the risk factors for shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a complex and unpredictable medical event that can happen during childbirth. Though it can happen without any warning, certain factors increase the likelihood of shoulder dystocia.

Understanding these risk factors is essential in identifying the condition and making sure it's treated properly:

  • If the baby is larger than average
  • If the mother is obese, with a high body mass index
  • If the mother has gestational diabetes or pre-existing diabetes, as this can lead to larger babies
  • If shoulder dystocia happened in a previous birth, this will increase the likelihood of it happening in subsequent pregnancies
  • If the pregnancy goes beyond the 40-week mark, as this also may lead to a larger baby
  • Cases of multiple birth - for example, the mother is delivering twins or triplets

These factors do not necessarily mean that shoulder dystocia will happen but they increase the risk. Many women with one or more of these risk factors give birth without experiencing shoulder dystocia.

Medical professionals are trained to recognise and respond to these risks. If they fail to do so and this results in a medical emergency, this could result in a claim for compensation.

What are the signs of shoulder dystocia?

Timely recognition of the signs of shoulder dystocia is important for taking immediate, appropriate action to make sure the safety of both mother and child. Here are the key warning signs and indicators:

  • The "turtle sign": this is one of the most characteristic signs of shoulder dystocia. After the baby's head emerges, it appears to retract back into the birth canal, similar to a turtle drawing its head back into its shell.
  • Failure of the shoulders to descend: in a typical birth, the shoulders follow the head smoothly. For cases of shoulder dystocia, the shoulders do not descend naturally and there is no shoulder rotation, indicating that the baby may be lodged.
  • Prolonged labour: a significant delay between the delivery of the head and the rest of the body might signal shoulder dystocia.
  • Ineffective contractions: if contractions do not seem to be progressing the delivery, it might be a sign that the baby's shoulders are stuck.
  • Unusual positioning of the baby's head: the baby's head may be turned to one side or appear to be tightly flexed against the chest, indicating a possible obstruction.

Recognising the signs of shoulder dystocia needs expertise, experience, and a calm response from the healthcare team. With immediate diagnosis and proper management, an obstetric emergency can be avoided, and the baby can be delivered safely.

How should shoulder dystocia be treated?

When shoulder dystocia happens, quick action is necessary to ensure the safety of both the baby and the mother. Here are the different ways this condition can be avoided:

  • Changing the mother's position, such as having her bring her knees to her chest, can create more space for the baby to pass through
  • Applying gentle pressure just above the mother's pubic bone can help to shift the baby's position
  • Making a surgical cut in the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and the anus) can enlarge the opening, allowing the baby to be born
  • An emergency caesarean section may be needed to deliver the baby

Correct treatment of shoulder dystocia needs skill, experience and quick thinking on the part of the healthcare team. Failure to manage this condition appropriately may lead to serious complications for the baby and the mother. If this happens to you, you could make a compensation claim against the medical professional who was responsible.

Find out how Switalskis can help you

Birth trauma can cast a shadow over what should be one of the happiest times of your life. But remember, you’re not alone. If your family has been impacted by due to mistakes made by a medical professional, get in touch with the specialist team of solicitors at Switalskis today.

Our legal experts are here to listen, understand your unique circumstances, and fight for the best possible outcome for you and your child. Call 0800 1380 458 or contact us through the website to discuss your concerns in confidence with a legal specialist.

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