Brachial Plexus Attorney in Portland
Families do not want to think about all of the things that could go wrong during pregnancy or the delivery of their child. They especially do not want to think about the doctor acting in a reckless or negligent way and causing their child to suffer an injury that could have been avoided, such as an injury to the brachial plexus. This type of injury can cause a lifelong physical disability that will require long-term medical treatment.
Our Portland brachial plexus lawyers understand the physical, financial and emotional toll of these birth injuries and are prepared to help you take legal action to recover compensation. We also want negligent medical professionals to be held accountable. Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today to learn more about your legal options. You do not owe us anything unless you receive compensation, so there is no risk in contacting us. We have thorough knowledge of brachial plexus injuries, including their causes, how they can be prevented during childbirth, the treatments victims may need and how difficult it can be to manage side effects of these injuries.
What to Know About Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerves in your neck that sends signals to your arms, hands and shoulders. These nerves allow you to control your hands, wrists and arms. Without these signals you would be unable to raise your arm or make a throwing motion with your arm, like you would do with a football or baseball.
If these nerves are damaged or severed, it can cause a variety of physical and sensory impairments that make everyday life much more difficult.
What are the Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries?
There are a few different types of brachial plexus injuries, based on the severity of the damage to the nerves:
- Avulsion – This is the worst that a brachial plexus injury can get. The root of the nerve is completely torn away from the spinal cord. Since the entire nerve has been ripped out, there is no chance it will regenerate.
- Rupture – This is less severe than an avulsion – the nerve is torn but not completely ripped away from the spinal cord. The only way to help this injury heal is to do surgery. Even with surgery, the infant may never make a full recovery.
- Neuroma – This is less severe than a rupture, but the nerve fibers are still damaged. The unique thing about this injury is that it involves scar tissue forming as the nerves are attempting to heal. This can press on the parts of the nerve that were not damaged. Most victims will see some level of healing, but they usually do not experience a complete recovery.
- Neurapraxia – With these injuries, the nerves get stretched and put under pressure, but they do not tear. The good news with this type of injury is that it usually heals in just three months. However, if the nerves in the upper portion of the brachial plexus are damaged, the child may develop Erb's palsy.
Symptoms of an Injury
There are many different symptoms of a brachial plexus injury to watch for after birth. For example, your newborn may hold his or her arm close to the body because he or she cannot move it.
If the child's fingers are bent in such a way that they look like claws, it may be because the child cannot move them because he or she cannot feel his or her fingers. If your baby cannot use an arm or raise it over his or her head, that is a telltale sign of an injury.
The child may also have pain in the hand, arm or neck. Of course, your child cannot tell you where it hurts but the area may be extremely sensitive. You should also watch for any abnormal muscle contractions.
If you notice these or other symptoms and you think they are caused by a brachial plexus injury, you should contact a Portland brachial plexus lawyer right away to determine your legal options.
Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today.
How Doctors Can Cause Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial plexus injuries occur when doctors are pulling the baby out of the birth canal and they use too much force on the shoulder. If the shoulder hits the mother's pubic bone, it can result in nerve damage in the brachial plexus.
This is much more likely to occur during a feet-first birth – this is abnormal, because usually babies are born head first, which is much safer than a feet first birth. These births are often long and difficult, increasing the risk of an injury.
Births are also much more likely to be long and difficult if the infant is abnormally large, has underdeveloped neck muscles, or if the mother is obese or has diabetes. The longer an infant is in the birth canal, the more pressure that will be applied to the head, shoulders and upper arms.
In these situations, doctors have to be very careful and provide care that fits within accepted medical standards. (Juries and insurance companies determine the medical standard of care for a situation by finding out what a similarly-trained medical professional would have done if he or she was in a similar situation). If they do not, and it results in an injury, they could be held liable for medical malpractice.
Examples of medical malpractice during a difficult birth could include:
- Not trying to turn the infant in the womb to prevent a feet-first birth
- Failing to do a C-section to safely get the infant out of the womb
- Applying too much force or pressure when using forceps or a vacuum to deliver the child
- Failing to prepare for a difficult birth, even though there was reason to expect a difficult birth because the mother was obese, had diabetes or had a narrow pelvis
- Not even checking to see if there were indications of a possibly difficult birthing process, including underdeveloped muscles in the neck of the infant
- Pulling on the infant too hard
Proving that malpractice occurred is difficult. It is difficult to establish the standard of care for the situation, much less to show the connection between the doctor's actions and your child's injuries. Having a trusted attorney at your side is a huge advantage in these cases.
The Portland brachial plexus lawyers at our firm have in-depth knowledge of these situations and how doctors can cause injuries during the birthing process. We are also prepared to consult experts on birth injuries to help us determine the standard of care and how it was not fulfilled. There is no risk in contacting us because you do not owe us for our services unless you receive compensation.
Compensation for a Brachial Plexus Injury
The treatment and management of your child's injury probably will not be cheap. Even if your child does not need surgery, he or she may need long-term physical therapy to increase or at least maintain range of motion in the affected areas, which could include the elbow, wrist, hand and shoulder. This type of therapy could begin as early as three weeks after delivery.
Surgery could be a viable or necessary option in more severe cases, such as when there is an avulsion or rupture of nerves. One type of surgery for this situation is a nerve graft, where a nerve from another part of the child's body is spliced onto the damaged nerve. In some cases, doctors may want to totally replace the nerve with a nerve from another muscle. Another option, depending on your situation, could be reconnecting the ends of the nerve that were disconnected.
Unfortunately, these treatment options can be painful and difficult and there is no guarantee that the injury will fully heal. This will mean you child must get used to doing things with a weakened arm, hand, elbow, wrist and possibly fingers. This will make many things more difficult.
Your child will also probably need to go to the doctor on numerous occasions to monitor the injury, particularly after surgery or while going through physical therapy.
This is why the law allows you to pursue compensation if the injury was caused by medical malpractice. Compensation could cover the cost of current and future medical treatment from your child's injury, including all medical procedures, doctor's appointments, medical testing like MRIs, physical therapy, durable medical equipment, and medications.
You could also pursue compensation for non-economic damages caused by the injury. This could cover the child's physical pain and suffering caused by the injury.
A brachial plexus lawyer in Portland can help you determine the full value of your claim, considering the physical, financial and emotional damages that have occurred. Non-economic damages are capped at $500,000 in Oregon and our attorneys are committed to recovering all the compensation you deserve, up to that limit.
Contact Rizk Law today for your free, no obligation legal consultation.
Contact a Portland Brachial Plexus Attorney Right Away
You have a limited amount of time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit over your child's injury. This is because Oregon has a statute of limitations of two years from the date the injury was discovered. If you do not file a lawsuit before this deadline passes, you lose your right to do so.
This is why you should contact a lawyer right away. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get to work on your claim, building a strong case and pursuing the compensation you need and deserve to help your child recover from his or her injury.
Our Portland brachial plexus lawyers can review your case in a free, no obligation legal consultation to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit and the value of your damages. Our compassionate attorneys are ready to assist you during this difficult time.
We take cases on a contingency fee basis, so there is no charge for our services unless you receive fair compensation for your damages.
Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today.