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Brachial Plexus Injury

Do not hesitate to call our Carmel injury lawyers at (317) 526-4467 to review your case. Our team works on a contingent fee basis, which means that you do not pay us unless and until you win. You focus on healing – we handle the rest.

Indianapolis Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer

Millions in Compensation Recovered for Families

If your child was born with a brachial plexus injury or palsy because of medical negligence, you may have the right to take legal action and recover compensation for your damages.

As The Cline Law Firm, LLC, our award-winning legal team has decades of experience fighting for victims of medical malpractice and has a amassed a record of success that includes over 40 successfully resolved birth injury lawsuits and millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements.

Led by Attorney Lance D. Cline, one of the nation’s most respected plaintiffs’ trial lawyers and one of only two Indiana attorney members in the prestigious invite-only Inner Circle of Advocates, we have the experience and resources to help families in the fight for justice. 

Call (317) 526-4467 or contact us online to discuss your legal rights and options during a FREE consultation. Our Indianapolis brachial plexus injury attorneys serve clients across Marion County, the state of Indiana, and beyond from our office in Carmel.

What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

Brachial plexus injuries are injuries that affect the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that branch out from the neck and transmit signals from the spinal cord to the shoulders, arms, and hands. These nerves are responsible for sensation and movement in the upper limbs, allowing you to perform essential functions like raising your arm and moving your hands and wrists. 

Brachial plexus injuries are usually caused by trauma, whether it be from pressure, stress, or stretching of the brachial plexus. They can also happen to people of all ages. In the context of childbirth, they typically result from trauma during labor and delivery, particularly when a baby’s shoulders become impacted, causing brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear.

Brachial plexus injuries can be classified into one of several types. These include:

  • Neurapraxia, which results from damage caused by stretching of the nerves, either because of compression, which occurs when the brachial plexus nerve root is compresses, or traction, which occurs when the nerve is pulled. This type of brachial plexus injury can cause some problems with nerve signaling. 
  • Neuroma, which occurs when scar tissue forms after nerves have been torn and healed, resulting in pressure on injured nerves that can prevent them from transmitting signals to muscles, resulting in impaired function. 
  • Rupture, which is characterized by nerves in the arm, shoulder, or neck being partially or completely torn by a forceful stretch. Ruptures can cause weakness, make certain muscles unusable, and are associated with severe pain. 
  • Avulsion, which occurs when nerves are torn and completely severed from the spinal cord. This is the most severe form of brachial plexus injury and can result in permanent weakness, paralysis, and loss of sensation. 

What Causes Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth?

The brachial plexus nerves of babies are vulnerable to being stretched, impacted, and torn when babies progress through the birth canal and the mother’s pelvic bones. This can result in trauma that damages the brachial plexus, usually because the baby’s head being stretched away from the shoulder. Brachial plexus injuries occur in roughly 2 out of every 1,000 births.

When damage to brachial plexus occurs during childbirth, referred to as an obstetric brachial plexus injury, it generally takes one of two forms:

  • Erb’s Palsy. This affects the upper nerves of the brachial plexus network and can lead to weakness and limited mobility of the shoulder, upper arm, and elbow, including an inability to flex the elbow and lift an arm or bring objects to the mouth.
  • Klumpke’s Palsy. This affects the lower brachial plexus and specific nerves (C8 and T1), and can result in limited mobility and sensation in the wrist, hand, and forearm, including an inability to move fingers. 

Sometimes, trauma to the brachial plexus results from complications or risk factors out of a medical professional’s control. Some of the most common risk factors include large babies and  difficult vaginal deliveries. Babies born to mothers with diabetes, in breech position (when the baby’s bottom, rather than the head, is down), or to mothers with long labors also face increased risks of suffering brachial plexus injuries. 

At other times, however, brachial plexus injuries are caused by the negligent acts or inaction of a treating medical professional. In these situations, families may have grounds to seek legal action. 

How Medical Negligence Can Cause Brachial Plexus Injuries

Some examples of how medical negligence can cause brachial plexus injuries include:

  1. Shoulder Dystocia Management Errors. Failures to recognize risk factors for shoulder dystocia (such as large baby, maternal diabetes, or history of shoulder dystocia), delays in implementing appropriate maneuvers, and excessive force applied to the baby’s shoulder. 
  2. Improper Use of Assisted Delivery Devices. Inappropriate or improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors, resulting in nerve damage.
  3. Failure to Recognize Fetal Distress. Neglecting signs of fetal distress during labor, which may indicate the need for prompt delivery to prevent complications like shoulder dystocia and delays in performing a C-section when fetal distress is present.
  4. Inadequate Training or Supervision. Lack of proper training or supervision of medical staff involved in childbirth, leading to errors in delivery techniques or failure to promptly recognize and address complications. 
  5. Mismanagement of Prolonged Labor. Inadequate monitoring of labor progression, leading to prolonged labor and increased risk of complications such as shoulder dystocia, failures to intervene in a timely manner with interventions (Pitocin, assisted delivery, etc.) when labor fails to progress.
  6. Neglecting Maternal Health Factors. Failure to address maternal health issues, such as obesity, gestational diabetes, or pelvic abnormalities, which can increase the risk of difficult deliveries and brachial plexus injury if not properly managed.

Brachial Plexus Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice: Do I Have a Case?

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth, it’s important to evaluate whether you have grounds to bring a birth injury lawsuit that can hold the at-fault medical provider accountable and allow you to recover financial compensation for the resulting losses. This will require you to understand the concept of medical negligence and the standard of care, which, in Indiana, are generally defined as follows:

  • Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession, resulting in harm to the patient. 
  • The standard of care refers to the level of care, skill, and diligence that a reasonably competent healthcare provider in the same specialty would provide under similar circumstances.

In general, victims injured by medical negligence (or, in other words, care that deviates from accepted standards) have a right to recover their damages. However, they’ll need to prove, in much more specificity and with ample evidence, some key elements of a successful birth injury claim. These include:

  1. Duty of Care: The healthcare provider had a duty to provide care to the patient (the mother and/or baby) during childbirth.
  2. Breach of Duty: The healthcare provider breached the duty of care by failing to meet the standard of care expected in the situation. This could involve actions such as excessive force during delivery, improper use of instruments, or failure to recognize and address risk factors for shoulder dystocia.
  3. Causation: There must be a direct causal link between the healthcare provider's breach of duty and the brachial plexus injury suffered by the baby. In other words, the injury would not have occurred if not for the provider's negligence.
  4. Damages: The brachial plexus injury resulted in damages, such as physical pain, disability, medical expenses, and emotional suffering.

Assessing whether a potential case warrants legal action is difficult and highly dependent on the specific circumstances surrounding medical care before, during, and after birth. If you suspect that medical negligence occurred and that substandard care resulted in your child’s brachial plexus injury, the best way to determine if you have a case is to bring it to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

At The Cline Law Firm, LLC, we have over 40 years of experience handling complex birth injury and medical malpractice claims, as well as connections with consulting medical experts who help us evaluate whether providers failed to meet the standard of care and provide critical testimony to support our clients’ cases. We can discuss your child’s brachial plexus injury and potential for legal action during a free and confidential consultation. 

Symptoms & Long-Term Effects of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus birth injuries can result in a range of symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the nerve damage. Common symptoms include:

  • Weakness or Paralysis: The affected arm may exhibit weakness or complete paralysis. The degree of weakness can vary, ranging from mild impairment of movement to complete loss of function.
  • Lack of Muscle Control: Babies with brachial plexus injuries may have difficulty moving their affected arm or hand. They may also lack muscle control, making it challenging to perform fine motor tasks.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Restricted movement in the affected shoulder, arm, or hand is often observed. Babies may have difficulty extending or flexing the affected limb fully.
  • Abnormal Posture: Due to muscle imbalance or weakness, babies may adopt an abnormal posture, such as holding the affected arm in a fixed position or exhibiting asymmetrical movements.
  • Altered Reflexes: Changes in reflexes, such as diminished or absent Moro reflex (startle reflex), may be present in babies with brachial plexus injuries.

While some babies can fully recover from brachial plexus injuries without treatment, others may suffer severe damage that results in a need for surgery, long and painful recoveries, developmental delays, ongoing therapy, and lasting limitations or disabilities. 

These outcomes can have a profound impact on babies and families, not only in terms of physical pain and impairment, but also emotionally and financially. This is why it becomes so important for families to pursue lawsuits that provide them with an opportunity to recover their losses.

Compensation in Brachial Plexus Injury Cases

In Indiana, victims of brachial plexus birth injuries may be eligible to recover compensation through birth injury lawsuits. Compensation sought in these cases typically aims to address the financial, emotional, and physical burdens associated with the injury. While the specific amounts can vary based on the circumstances of each case, potential compensation may include:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation for past and future medical expenses related to the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of the brachial plexus injury. This may cover costs associated with doctor visits, surgeries, physical therapy, assistive devices, and prescription medications.
  • Lost Earnings: Compensation for lost income or earning capacity resulting from the injury, such as when a permanent disability may prevent or limit future employment. 
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical pain, discomfort, and emotional distress experienced because of the brachial plexus injury. 
  • Permanent Disability: Additional compensation for permanent disabilities resulting from the brachial plexus injury, such as loss of limb function or chronic pain. This accounts for the long-term impact on the victim's ability to perform daily activities.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases involving egregious negligence or intentional wrongdoing by the responsible party, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar misconduct in the future. However, punitive damages are relatively rare and typically reserved for extreme cases.

It's important to note that the specific amount of compensation awarded in a birth injury lawsuit will depend on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the extent of the damages incurred, and the strength of the evidence supporting the claim. 

How The Cline Law Firm, LLC Can Help

The Cline Law Firm, LLC has championed the rights of medical malpractice victims for decades. Led by one of the nation’s most respected plaintiffs’ trial lawyers, Attorney Lance D. Cline, we’ve honed our ability to advocate for victims and  take on powerful insurers and medical institutions, by litigating and successfully resolving numerous cases, and recovering millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. 

Our Indianapolis brachial plexus injury lawyers guide families through their legal journeys by providing support with all aspects of their claims, including:

  • Initial case evaluations that assess your right to take legal action
  • Independent investigations that analyze medical records, statements, and other relevant documents and information.
  • Collaboration with consulting medical experts who assist in evaluating standard of care issues and provide critical testimony to prove negligence, liability, and damages.
  • Support with constructing and submitting complaints to the Indiana Department of Insurance, which must review all medical malpractice claims seeking more than $15,000 before they can be filed in court.
  • Filing your brachial plexus birth injury lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction, handling all communications with insurers and defendants, and coordinating key processes such as discovery, depositions, and motions. 
  • Negotiations for out-of-court settlements that adequately compensate you for your past and future losses. 
  • Litigating your claim at trial when defendants refuse to make a fair settlement offer.

Call Today For a FREE Consultation: (317) 526-4467

The Cline Law Firm, LLC has earned a legacy for litigating medical malpractice and birth injury cases across Marion County and beyond. Based in Carmel, we proudly serve clients throughout Indiana and offer FREE and confidential consultations to help families evaluate whether they have grounds to take legal action. 

If you have questions about a case or how our Indianapolis brachial plexus injury lawyers can help, call (317) 526-4467 or contact us online.

Millions of Dollars Recovered For Our Clients

Real Results

The Cline Law Firm, LLC exists for the sole purpose of listening to and advocating for individuals and families who have sustained great harm and losses as a result of the negligent, intentional, or other wrongful conduct of others. It is the sole type of legal work that attorney Lance D. Cline has done during his 40-year legal career. Every lawyer and employee of our team is solely and fully dedicated to helping victims of such conduct in our society.

  • $5,634,669 Verdict for a Wrongful Death Caused by Pneumonia

    Lance D. Cline obtained a jury verdict of $5,634,669.84 for the wrongful death of a fifty-two-year-old Indian female married to a sixty-four-year-old Indian male at the time of her death. The couple had no children. The decedent developed MRSA pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia.

  • $4,100,000 Verdict for Birth-Related Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries

    Lance D. Cline tried this case to a jury in 2012. The plaintiff was a minor male who sustained injuries to brachial plexus nerves in his right arm at the time of his birth. A shoulder dystocia occurred during the vaginal delivery.

  • $3,500,000 Verdict for a Brachial Plexus Nerve Injury During Shoulder Replacement Surgery

    Lance D. Cline tried this lawsuit to a jury in a conservative, northern Indiana county in 2018. The sixty-five-year-old plaintiff had a history of multiple dislocations in his left shoulder between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five that led to the performance of a Magnuson-Stack procedure upon his left shoulder at the age of twenty-five that prevented further dislocations.

  • $1,285,000 Verdict For a Minor Who Sustained Permanent Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries at Birth

    Lance Cline presented expert witness testimony from two board-certified obstetricians and a biomechanical engineer with expertise and knowledge regarding physician-applied forces during child delivery. The Defendant made no offer of settlement before the trial. The jury deliberated for ninety minutes before ignoring the medical review panel opinion and returning a verdict in favor of the client in the amount of $1,285,000. That was a record verdict in the county where the case was tried.

Award-Winning Representation of Injured People

Nationally Recognized, Locally Focused

  • The Inner Circle of Advocates
    The Inner Circle of Advocates
    Founding member, Lance D. Cline, is one of only two Indiana lawyers ever invited into this most prestigious and selective organization of plaintiff trial attorneys.
  • Best Lawyers
    Best Lawyers
    Lance D. Cline has been voted by his peers as a Best Lawyer in America in the fields of medical malpractice and personal injury every year since 1997, as the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer of the Year three times and as the Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year in 2019.
  • Super Lawyers®
    Super Lawyers®
    Lance D. Cline has been selected by his peers as an Indiana Super Lawyer and as one of Indiana's Top 50 Lawyers since the inception of the award in 2004. He has also been selected as one of Indiana's Top 10 Lawyers in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Indiana Trial Lawyers Association
    Lance D. Cline has been a member of ITLA's Board of Directors since 1984 and was selected by his ITLA peers as the Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2018.
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Our Golden Rule

  • Triumphant in Complex Injury Cases
  • A Record of Client Satisfaction
  • A Legacy of Success in the Court Room
  • Membership in the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates
  • 40+ Years of Collective Experience