Brachial Plexus Injuries

Compassionate Mississippi Birth Injury Lawyers Helping Families Affected by Brachial Plexus Injuries

We fight for children suffering from birth injuries due to medical negligence

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves extending from the spinal cord to the neck and into the armpit. These nerves are essential for the shoulder, arm, hand, wrist, and fingers to function properly. Injuries to the brachial plexus, however, can seriously threaten a baby’s health during childbirth. These injuries often occur when issues like shoulder dystocia (when the child’s shoulders become trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone) occur during labor and delivery.

If a medical professional uses improper maneuvers to correct shoulder dystocia, or applies excessive force to free the baby, it can lead to permanent damage of the brachial plexus nerves. This can result in conditions like Erb’s palsy, or other neurological and functional disabilities. When an infant suffers a birth injury like brachial plexus palsy and you believe negligence or malpractice caused your baby’s injury, you may be entitled to compensation for expenses needed to care for your child, as well as other damages.

At Merkel & Cocke, P.A., our attorneys have decades of experience handling birth injury claims just like yours. We will thoroughly investigate what happened before, during, and after your child’s birth and identify the negligent parties to ensure you and your family achieve justice and closure.

What causes brachial plexus injuries?

There are many causes of brachial plexus palsy, but the failure of a doctor or medical staff to adhere to the standard of care in the medical community can put the child at an increased risk for injury. Some of the direct causes of brachial plexus injuries include the following:

  • Failure to prevent shoulder lodging. Brachial plexus palsy can occur in both vaginal and C-section births, and requires special care in delivering the child. Childbirth can be an unpredictable process, demanding split-second decisions. Sometimes, unfortunately, a doctor may make the wrong decision, or one that another physician would not. Obstetricians should know what techniques can avoid complications like shoulder dystocia.
  • Improper use of forceps. In some cases, a mother may have difficulty during the delivery process and the doctor may choose to use forceps. Due to the delicate nature of a baby’s skull, special care must be taken to avoid injuring the child. When used correctly, forceps can help safely deliver a baby and avoid injuries like oxygen loss. However, if too much pressure is applied, forceps can cause injuries to the neck and shoulder, resulting in nerve damage and brachial plexus injuries. Improper use of forceps can also lead to cerebral palsy.
  • Complications with breech births. In the majority of pregnancies, babies position themselves to be birthed head-first. Obstetricians should be able to determine around the eighth month if a baby is going to be a breech birth (feet-first). In these cases, the doctor should take preventative measures and precautions by preparing a birth plan that ensures the utmost safest delivery for the child. Breech births can cause extreme pressure on a baby’s shoulders, neck, and head, and failure to account for this can cause birth injury and nerve damage.
  • Improper use of vacuums. In some birth situations, a baby may be misaligned, breech, or there are complications like extended labor or issues with the baby’s vital signs. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use a vacuum to ensure a safe delivery. However, if a vacuum is used improperly, it can cause damage to the baby’s skull, as well as cause nerve damage to the neck and shoulders.

Brachial plexus injuries can be prevented if a doctor is prepared for them, and applies techniques to prevent them. When the doctor fails to monitor the mother or child in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to labor and delivery and the child suffers an injury as a result of that negligence, they may be liable for damages.

What are the risks of brachial plexus injuries?

Brachial plexus injuries can result in a wide range of outcomes for a child, depending on the extent to which the nerves are damaged. Common repercussions of these types of injuries can include weakness, numbness, loss of control or feeling in the muscles of the shoulder, arm, hand, wrist or fingers. A brachial plexus injury can also result in conditions like Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy. Many of these injuries also result in permanent neurological issues.

Doctors should be alert for certain risk factors for brachial plexus injuries:

  • Mothers with gestational diabetes
  • Mothers with obesity
  • Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
  • Babies with a higher-than-average birth weight
  • Previous pregnancies with higher-than-average weight babies
  • Pregnancies that have gone beyond term
  • Mothers with a small or uniquely shaped pelvis
  • Deliveries requiring the use of forceps or vacuums

Our attorneys are well-versed in birth injury and medical malpractice law, and we can help you determine whether your baby was injured due to someone else’s negligence. We will start from the beginning of your pregnancy and examine all medical records up through childbirth and post-natal care. Notes, reports, and diagnostics can all help establish the level of care you and your child received.

Our Mississippi birth injury law firm is here to help your family

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, the birth injury attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. are here to provide compassionate and experienced counsel. We are dedicated to securing compensation for your family and holding responsible parties accountable. We provide services from our home offices in Jackson, Oxford, and Clarksdale, and work with clients throughout Mississippi, including Tupelo and across the Gulf Coast region. We also handle cases in Tennessee and Arkansas. You are welcome to call us today at 662-627-9641 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.