Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus refers to the nerves running between the spine and shoulders, which control the movement of muscles in the shoulders, hands, and arms. Damage to the brachial plexus can occur when a physician fails to provide adequate obstetrical care. When a brachial plexus injury occurs, the consequences are often devastating. Like all medical negligence cases, those involving brachial plexus injuries are generally complex in nature and replete with opportunities for negligent parties to avoid taking responsibility. We diligently discover the important facts, retain world-class expert witnesses, and methodically prepare brachial plexus injury cases for trial in a way that maximizes the opportunity for a verdict that provides justice for our client.
More about brachial plexus injuries…
Brachial plexus injuries during childbirth can come in several forms, including:
- injuries that affect only the upper arm;
- injuries that affect the upper and lower arm (Erb’s palsy); and
- injuries that affect the hand (Klumpke’s palsy).
Brachial plexus nerves are most commonly injured during childbirth because:
- the infant’s head and neck are pulled toward the side as the shoulder’s drop through the mother’s pelvis;
- a doctor or midwife has pulled on the infant’s head during a head-first delivery; and
- pressure on the infant’s arms during a breech (feet-first) delivery.
The following factors increase the risk for brachial plexus injury during childbirth:
- difficulty delivering the infant’s head after the shoulder has come out (shoulder dystocia);
- larger than average infants;
- breech delivery;
- maternal diabetes;
- short maternal stature; and
- a contracted or flat pelvis.
One or more of the following symptoms of brachial plexus injury may be noticeable immediately, or soon, after birth:
- the infant does not move the upper or lower arm or hand;
- the infant’s grip is decreased; and
- the infant’s arm is bent at the elbow and held close to the body.
What is the difference between Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy?
Erb’s palsy occurs when the upper brachial plexus is paralyzed and usually affects the arm and shoulder. Klumpke’s palsy occurs when the lower brachial plexus is paralyzed and usually affects the hand. However, both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are types of brachial plexus injuries.
Erb’s palsy, which affects the infant’s upper and lower arm, can be categorized in four ways:
- avulsion, which means the brachial plexus nerves are torn from the spine;
- rupture, which means the brachial plexus nerves are torn, but not where they attach to the spine;
- neuroma, which means the brachial plexus nerves have attempted to heal, but scar tissue has grown around the injury placing pressure on the injured nerve;
- neuropraxia, which means nerve conduction has been blocked without any anatomical interruption; and
- Treatment for Erb’s palsy ranges from exercise and physical therapy to surgery
Klumpke’s palsy, also known as Dejerine-Klumpke palsy, is an injury of the lower brachial plexus that involves the muscles of the forearm and hand, often causing paralysis of the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers. In some cases, other symptoms may accompany the impaired arm/hand functions, including eyelid drooping and pupil dilation in one eye. Unlike Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy is somewhat rare, although the two conditions do share a common cause: delivery complications arising from shoulder dystocia. However, with Klumpke’s palsy, the damage is typically permanent. Injuries associated with Klumpke’s palsy may not respond as favorably to physical therapy and motion exercises as other brachial plexus injuries, and surgery may only be an option in certain cases. Trained medical professionals understand the risk factors for shoulder dystocia, and an experienced obstetrician can prevent most circumstances in which brachial plexus injuries occur. However, while birth injuries may happen despite the best medical care, most instances of brachial plexus injuries can and should be prevented. If you, your child, or a loved one have experienced any of these conditions during or following child birth, we can obtain the necessary medical records and have an expert physician review the file free of charge to determine whether a doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent.
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Jess Davis and Chad Adams cut their teeth handling the most complex, high-stakes medical malpractice cases, typically regarded as among the most complicated of all personal injury matters. Racking up successful results for their clients in cases other medical malpractice lawyers were turning down, they quickly became “go-to” attorneys to whom other Georgia lawyers refer tough cases. How does this tangibly help our clients? We have the unique ability to quickly read and digest volumes of medical records, to pick up the telephone and speak confidently to our clients’ treating physicians about their diagnoses and prognoses, and to instantly reach the top medical experts in almost any field at the best hospitals and universities in the world to consult on our clients’ cases. This rare expertise is a game changer for our clients, and sets us apart from other personal injury firms who merely dabble in medical negligence cases.
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Davis Adams is headquartered in metro Atlanta, but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent medical malpractice victims in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton, and anywhere between. Indeed, our geographic reach is evidenced by the fact that our firm’s largest settlement came in Fulton County, while our largest verdict ($10,000,000) came in rural Jefferson County. So, wherever you reside in Georgia, selecting the best lawyer is more important than hiring the closest lawyer. As a client, you have just one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us, wherever you happen to be located.
What is my medical malpractice case worth?
Most people who contact our firm do so reluctantly. They aren’t excited about the possibility of having to sue someone, and they understand that money won’t solve all of their problems—and certainly can’t heal their injury. But financial compensation is the only remedy available through the civil justice system; it’s the only form of justice the law allows under these circumstances. But we can only provide our clients with guidance as to the fair value of their cases after the case has been fully investigated. The factors we will consider include:
Economic damages, including:
- past medical bills;
- future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans;
- past lost income; and
- future lost income.
Non-economic damages, including:
- physical pain and suffering
- mental or emotional pain and suffering
- loss of consortium (companionship)
- the full value of a life (in wrongful death cases)
Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our clients to avoid the risk and emotional toll associated with trial, and to end their case with certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. A significant percentage of our $75 million in recovered funds for our clients is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend negligent parties know we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.
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Davis Adams declines to accept the vast majority of cases presented to our firm. The fit has to be just right: the right client with the right type of case, where we feel like our firm can have the maximum positive impact. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down revenue-generating business, we are committed to doing outstanding, hands-on work for a limited number of catastrophically injured clients instead of employing a team of less experienced associate attorneys to churn through a high-volume workload. We simply refuse to become one of those law firms at which the experienced trial lawyers only get involved in the later stages of the case, if at all. From day one, our clients have the collective time, attention, energy, and experience of the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who will be handling their case at trial, which translates to better representation, and better financial recoveries.
Other lawyers often ask, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire some young associate attorneys to handle the unimportant parts of your cases?” That question represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how medical malpractice cases are won or lost, and emphasizes the importance of hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney. There are no unimportant tasks in the cases we handle; victory is always in the details and is never achieved at the maximum level without bringing to bear the full weight of our firm’s substantial experience, dogged determination and blatant refusal to settle for less than our clients deserve.
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