Erb’s Palsy (also known as Brachial Plexus paralysis/injury) is a condition resulting from nerve damage to the nerves that supply movement and feeling to an arm, causing it to become paralysed or weakened. This is often due to difficulties or trauma experienced during childbirth. In some instances, these difficulties may be caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional. When this occurs, you or your child could be entitled to substantial compensation.
If your child is living with Erb’s palsy due to medical negligence, Ashtons Legal can help. We offer expert support and guidance so that you can get the compensation you and your child deserve.
Our solicitors understand that nothing can make up for the damage done by those you thought you could trust. However, compensation can help you to improve your child’s quality of life and help you move forward after this traumatic incident.
At Ashtons Legal, we have a great track record of successful medical negligence claims. We can help parents and carers who are unsure and emotionally drained to navigate this difficult situation.
Our Erb’s palsy claims solicitors can offer you:
- A free initial consultation on your claim
- No win no fee funding
- A negotiation-led approach that means most claims are settled out of court
- Independently accredited expertise you can trust
- A very high track record of successful claims
- A sensitive, personal service to support you during this difficult time
- A free rehabilitation service to aid your child’s or your recovery.
Have a question about Erb’s palsy claims? Please take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions About Erb’s Palsy Claims or get in touch and we will be happy to guide you.
Contact our Erb’s Palsy Solicitors
To make a compensation claim in respect of Erb’s palsy, contact our experts today to book a free consultation.
Ashtons Legal Medical Negligence Team
As a client-centred firm, we offer a high-level bespoke service based on each client’s unique needs. We aim to be approachable and sensitive, making the claims process easier and less stressful.
Our team has an excellent success rate and can, therefore, give you the best chance of securing maximum compensation for your Erb’s palsy claim. Our experience gives us a full understanding of the nuances and complexities of different types of claims, so we can provide seasoned expertise you can trust.
We avoid legal jargon, communicating everything you need to know in plain English. Our focus is on offering clear support in a way that helps minimise any stress or uncertainty you might be feeling.
Ashtons Legal is an industry-leading law firm. We are recognised by leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. We also hold many specialist accreditations, including Lexcel, AvMa, Brain Injury Group, APIL, and many more.
Senior members of our team are recognised by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) as either Senior Fellows or Senior Litigators. They are on the Law Society Clinical Negligence panel and Sharon Allison, our Head of Medical Negligence, also belongs to the Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) Clinical Negligence Panel.
How to Make an Erb’s Palsy Claim
Our Erb’s palsy solicitors can take care of the whole claims process for you, providing seamless support through every stage.
Our Erb’s palsy compensation claims service includes:
- Assessing the extent of the injury and its impact on your/your child’s life
- No win, no fee funding for Erb’s palsy claims
- Building your case (including access to experienced medical experts to investigate and advise upon the strength of your claim)
- Drafting and submitting a Letter of Claim to the defendant
- Mediation processes to reach a settlement where appropriate
- Representing you in Court if necessary
- Access to our free rehabilitation service for ongoing health and welfare rights support.
To make an Erb’s palsy claim, get in touch with our solicitors at Ashtons Legal. Below, you can find more information about the specific processes involved.
Our Erb’s Palsy Compensation Claims Service
Assessing your Erb’s palsy claim
When you first contact a medical negligence solicitor at Ashton Legal, they will consider all of the circumstances leading up to the injury and the impact it has had on you and/or your child both physically, emotionally and financially. They will then advise you whether your claim may be successful and how to proceed.
No win, no fee funding for Erb’s palsy claims
Ashtons Legal offers ‘no win no fee’ funding for Erb’s palsy compensation claims. With this type of funding agreement, you will only be required to pay your legal fees in the event that you are successful and are awarded compensation for Erb’s Palsy caused by medical negligence.
If your claim is not successful, you will not be required to pay any legal fees.
Building your Erb’s palsy medical negligence case
Your solicitor will need to collect evidence regarding the circumstances of your injury and its impact. This will include witness statements, medical records and imaging and the expert opinions of independent medical professionals in relevant specialisms. In order to bring a successful claim, medical experts will need to agree that the treatment in question was so poor that no other reasonable or responsible healthcare practitioner can support it (breach of duty) and that the Erb’s palsy injury would not have occurred ‘but for’ the substandard medical treatment (causation).
Submitting the Erb’s palsy compensation claim
Once supportive expert evidence has been obtained a Letter of Claim will be sent to the defendant, setting out the allegations of how the medical treatment fell below the standard to be expected and how this caused or materially contributed to the Erb’s palsy injury. The defendant then has four months to respond with a detailed Letter of Response stating whether they accept or deny these allegations.
If they accept responsibility for causing the Erb’s palsy injury, your solicitor will begin investigating the full value of the claim with a view to then negotiating a settlement. However, if they deny the claim, this will be reviewed and further action may have to be taken, such as obtaining additional documents/evidence, instructing additional medical experts or exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the claim in a meeting with you, a barrister and some or all of the medical experts.
Where the defendant has admitted negligence, and once your solicitor has ascertained the full value of the claim, they will proceed to negotiate a settlement using formal written offers of settlement and/or joint settlement meetings and/or mediation or arbitration. With strong negotiation skills to draw on, our team are experts in using these methods to secure maximum compensation.
In those rare cases where a settlement cannot be agreed, we will support you through Court proceedings. Our team has excellent relationships with highly experienced barristers, so we can ensure you have the best possible representation.
Free rehabilitation service
At Ashtons Legal, we go beyond simply helping you to claim compensation. We have a specialist in-house rehabilitation team who can help you to get the right rehabilitation support even before interim damages have been secured. We can also advise you on your welfare rights to ensure you are receiving the state funding to which you are entitled, and we can assist you with the claims process. We provide this service to our clients free of charge, regardless of whether your claim is successful.
For more information about this service, please get in touch with our medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Erb’s Palsy Claims
What is Erb’s palsy?
Also known as Brachial Plexus paralysis, Erb’s palsy refers to a type of nerve damage to one or all five of the primary nerves (the brachial plexus) in the neck and shoulder that connect the spine to the arm and hand. These nerves send signals between the brain and the arm/hand, which are responsible for movement and feeling in the arm and hand. Damage to these nerves causes partial or full paralysis of the arm, with the damage to each nerve ranging from bruising to tearing. It is often due to birth trauma when the baby’s head or arm has been pulled or stretched during a difficult vaginal birth or even during a Caesarean section.
Erb’s palsy is the most common type of brachial plexus palsy. When it occurs during childbirth, you may also hear it referred to as brachial plexus birth palsy, obstetric brachial plexus palsy or brachial plexus birth injury.
A common sign of Erb’s palsy is if a baby’s shoulder, arm and elbow are paralysed or limp; they can’t lift their arm away from their body or bend their elbow and they are unable to grip things with their hand. The hand may be in the “waiter’s tip” position where the palm of the hand points toward the back and the fingers curl inwards.
What causes Erb’s palsy?
The most common cause of Erb’s palsy is when a baby’s shoulder gets stuck (shoulder dystocia) during birth and is stretched, resulting in nerve damage. However, there are a number of other factors that may increase the risk of Erb’s palsy, including:
- The use of forceps or ventouse in an assisted birth
- The baby being in a breech position
- A prolonged labour and delivery
- The mother having a small pelvis
- A large baby
- If labour is induced
- If the mother has diabetes
- Delivery complicated by shoulder dystocia.
Unfortunately, Erb’s palsy is more common than you may think, with estimates suggesting between one and two babies out of 1,000 will be born with the condition. The good news is that, within the first year of the baby’s life, 80-96% recover from Erb’s palsy.
Sometimes, Erb’s palsy is the unfortunate result of a difficult birth and may have been unavoidable. But in other cases a medical professional may have breached their duty of care towards you and your child e.g. they missed warning signs or made mistakes that caused the child harm. In these instances, the family has the right to request more information regarding the birth and to claim compensation if medical negligence is found to have occurred.
Who is to blame for Erb’s palsy?
A healthcare professional is trained to handle difficulties during a birth. As such, they should have the knowledge to spot warning signs for a risk of Erb’s palsy. In the event that a doctor, midwife or other healthcare professional failed to spot these signs or made a mistake that caused Erb’s palsy, they can likely be held responsible for the physical injury, and the associated emotional distress and financial consequences which flow from it.
For example, if a healthcare professional forcefully extracted a baby whilst missing signs of complications and this resulted in Erb’s palsy, this may result in a claim for medical negligence.
If Erb’s palsy occurred through no fault of the medical professionals but the condition was missed and left untreated, the child may suffer permanent damage to the arm. This may result in a claim for medical negligence. When diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible after the birth, most babies will recover full movement and feeling in their arm.
What happens if Erb’s palsy is left untreated?
Early diagnosis and intervention is key in order to ascertain the severity of the Erb’s palsy injury. Tests can be carried out that show which nerve(s) are damaged and to what extent ie. whether bruised or torn. Treatment in the first year of life can have a significant impact on recovery, so the Erb’s palsy must be treated promptly. With the right treatment, this can be avoided and most children will make a full recovery. Treatment will include therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and possibly surgery.
If treatment is not provided, there is the potential for permanent loss of function in the affected limb, including loss of motor control and loss of sensation. This can cause significant difficulties for the child and their family in carrying out tasks such as; dressing/undressing, bathing, cooking, lifting, driving and many other daily functions which the rest of us take for granted.
If this injury is the result of a healthcare professional breaching their duty of care, then we can help you to investigate a medical negligence claim and obtain the compensation required to enable your child to maximise their independence, fulfil their potential and relieve the burden on the rest of the family.
Is Erb’s palsy grounds for medical negligence?
There are a number of reasons why Erb’s palsy may be considered grounds for a medical negligence claim:
- If your baby was at high risk of Erb’s palsy and you were not informed about this, this may constitute a breach of duty. The medical professional should have discussed the risks with you, so you were prepared and could make informed choices about the labour and delivery;
- In the event that actions were not taken sufficiently quickly in response to your child’s Erb’s palsy, in terms of diagnosis and treatment, leading to a worse outcome for your child;
- If a mistake was made by a medical professional that led to your child having Erb’s palsy, such as failing to respond sufficiently quickly or in the appropriate manner to a medical emergency during delivery, like shoulder dystocia.
In these instances, you will need to prove that the failure of a medical professional was a breach of duty of care and that it resulted in Erb’s palsy, which could otherwise have been avoided.
How long do you have to claim Erb’s palsy compensation?
In most cases, it will be a parent pursuing an Erb’s palsy negligence claim on behalf of their child. In such cases, the parent must bring the claim (i.e. issue proceedings in Court, if appropriate) before the third anniversary of their child’s 18th birthday. After that time, any potential claim is barred by law. If a child is 18 or more, they can bring the claim in their own right, but must do so before their 21st birthday.
It is recommended that you make a medical negligence claim as soon as possible as memories fade, healthcare professionals move on to different hospitals or retire and documents/medical records can be destroyed or lost. The sooner you bring the claim, the more likely witness and documentary evidence will be more readily available.
Get in Touch With our Erb’s Palsy Solicitors
To make an Erb’s palsy claim, please contact us. You will be offered a free initial consultation to sensitively discuss the particulars of your case and plan the potential next steps.