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Erb’s Palsy

February 13, 2020  ·  By HM&M


Erb’s palsy is a birth injury to the upper brachial plexus that affects the shoulders and arms. The brachial plexus is a series of nerves running through the neck that controls the functions in the shoulders, arms and hands. Injuries to these nerves can inhibit the child’s ability to control movements in the affected areas, leading to full or partial paralysis. Erb’s palsy is typically caused by a rupture, stretch or tear of the shoulder during the delivery of the child. This condition can leave the parents with very high medical costs for physical therapy and other types of rehabilitation.

Erb’s palsy is most often preventable if the medical practitioner correctly identifies the risks and takes reasonable precautions to ensure that the newborn is healthy and free of such conditions. But when the medical staff fails to follow the proper procedures to minimize the risk of complications, they are negligent and should be held accountable. If your child has brachial plexus palsy resulting from medical malpractice, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Chicago Erb’s palsy lawyer with a proven track record of securing just compensation for families with children affected by this condition.

Causes of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is most commonly caused by a childbirth complication known as shoulder dystocia. This happens when the shoulders of the fetus are too large to pass through the birth canal and become stuck behind the pubic bone during delivery, causing injuries to the upper plexus nerves. Often, the doctor applies too much pressure to the newborn’s head or uses a forceps (a surgical instrument resembling a pair of tongs commonly used in childbirth) or vacuum extractor. If the medical practitioner is overly aggressive when using such equipment and tries to force the newborn through an opening it cannot safely pass through, it very often leads to nerve injuries. Some of the common nerve injuries that cause Erb’s palsy include:

  • Rupture: a tear inside the nerve.
  • Praxis: A stretching of the nerve.
  • Avulsion: When the nerve becomes totally separated from the spine.
  • Neuroma: A growth or tumor on the nerve tissue that inhibits the nerve from transmitting signals to the spine.

Medical practitioners are responsible for identifying risk factors in expectant mothers that can cause shoulder dystocia. These include:

  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Macrosomia (an unusually large fetus)
  • Maternal Obesity
  • Prolonged Pregnancy/Labor
  • Prior Pregnancy Difficulties (particularly prior instances of shoulder dystocia)
  • Obesity/Excessive Weight Gain
  • Abnormal Size/Shape of Pelvis

When risks are identified, solutions such as emergency Cesarean sections should be employed in a timely manner to ensure that the child is born healthy and free of any permanent injuries. When the medical staff fails to follow the best practices in preventing birth injuries, they can (and should) be found negligent and guilty of medical malpractice.

At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., we have represented families from all over the country with children that have suffered birth injuries. Our Chicago Erb’s palsy lawyers have over two decades of experience in this area of the law and we have secured millions of dollars in damages for our clients over the years. If you have a child with Erb’s palsy resulting from the negligence of the medical staff, contact one of our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation. Our legal team will work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure that your rights are protected and you receive full compensation for your child’s injuries.

For a free consultation, contact Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. today at 312-553-4900 or fill out our online form to have a lawyer contact you.


February 13, 2020

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury

Brachial Plexus injuries occur during childbirth and are the result of a condition known as shoulder dystocia. Damage to the upper plexus can cause brachial plexus palsy (also known as Erb’s palsy). Damage to the lower plexus can cause a condition known as Klumpke’s palsy. Brachial plexus birth injuries are often the result of negligence... Read More

February 13, 2020

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

Cerebral palsy is a mostly preventable condition that occurs in roughly one out of every 300 children. It can result from a brain injury or damage to the central nervous system either in utero, during labor/delivery or shortly after the birth of a child. Cerebral palsy is actually a series of disorders that affect the... Read More

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