Understanding Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries in California

The arrival of a new baby should be filled with joy and excitement. However, for some families, the birth experience is profoundly impacted by a serious injury known as brachial plexus birth injury. If your child has suffered this injury, you likely have many questions and emotions. This guide aims to help parents in California understand what brachial plexus birth injuries are, why they happen, and what legal options exist. 

Stalwart Law Group has decades of experience guiding clients through birth injury cases. Our talented and dedicated attorneys can give you personalized and strategic attention. Call our offices today at 310-954-2000 for your free consultation. 

What is a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?

A brachial plexus birth injury occurs when nerves around the neck and shoulder area are damaged during childbirth. These nerves control movement and sensation in the arm, hand, and fingers. When the brachial plexus nerves are stretched or compressed too much, it can result in full or partial arm paralysis. This is also sometimes called Erb’s palsy.

Brachial plexus injuries range from mild nerve irritation to complete tear. In mild cases, full function returns in a few weeks or months. More severe injuries heal slowly over the years and may cause permanent limitations without proper treatment.

What Causes Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries?

Doctors are not always able to pinpoint an exact cause, but potential risk factors include:

  • Baby having a large size – Increased birth weight adds pressure during delivery
  • Baby in breech position – Feet or buttocks emerge first instead of head
  • Use of birth-assisting tools – Forceps or vacuums put extra traction on the baby
  • Difficult labor and delivery – Long or stalled labor adds physical stress
  • Improper medical care – Errors by doctors or medical staff

In many cases, brachial plexus injuries are accidental and do not imply negligence. But if mistakes or poor judgment did contribute, families may choose to pursue legal action.

Signs and Symptoms of Brachial Plexus

Common signs of a brachial plexus birth injury include:

  • No movement in the arm 
  • Arm bent at the elbow and held against the body
  • Hand turned inward toward the body
  • Inability to lift arm fully
  • Fingers curled inward
  • Lack of muscle control and sensation

These symptoms are usually noticed immediately after birth or within the first few days. Prompt medical evaluation is extremely important, as early therapy produces the best outcomes.

Birth Injury Caused by Medical Negligence - Stalwart

Long-Term Impacts

Without proper treatment, a severe brachial plexus injury can result in permanent loss of function. This prevents normal development and use of the affected arm and hand. Specific lifelong impacts may include:

  • Muscle weakness and paralysis
  • Bone and muscle deformities 
  • Growth differences between arms
  • Reduced dexterity, grip, and range of motion
  • Chronic pain or numbness
  • Self-care limitations include dressing, bathing, feeding, etc.

In addition to physical disability, there are substantial emotional challenges for the injured child and family members. Support services can make a meaningful difference through this difficult journey.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose a brachial plexus birth injury in California, doctors perform a detailed physical exam and imaging tests. They look closely for signs of nerve damage and determine whether surgery is appropriate. Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Medications – For pain relief 
  • Therapies – Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Splinting and bracing – For proper arm positioning
  • Electrical stimulation – For nerve and muscle stimulation

If conservative therapy fails to restore movement within about three months, surgeons may operate to repair damaged nerves. Techniques include nerve grafting, nerve or muscle transfers, and other reconstructive procedures. With early surgery, many infants regain substantial function by one year.


Later surgery may still provide some improvement but works best before two years of age while nerves remain responsive. Lifelong therapy is generally needed to maintain optimal abilities, manage pain, and prevent complications like muscle contractures or bone deformation.

Seeking Compensation Through Legal Action

The costs of diagnosis, treatment, supportive services, and lost wages can become an extreme burden for families impacted by preventable brachial plexus injuries. This is especially true when effects are disabling and permanent. In such birth injury cases, parents have the right to seek financial compensation by demonstrating:

  • Their child sustained injury due to substandard medical treatment 
  • This negligence caused specific damages and losses  

An experienced California birth injury lawyer can help evaluate what went wrong and who should be held accountable. If filing a lawsuit, this legal representative manages all aspects of building a convincing argument for appropriate compensation. 

Common recoverable damages may cover both economic and noneconomic losses like:  

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation and home healthcare  
  • Special education and vocational training
  • Loss of future earnings   
  • Pain and suffering  

Although monetary settlements cannot erase tragedy, they relieve financial stress substantially. This allows families to focus energy on healing. For children facing lifelong disability, available resources make an immense difference in quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries

  1. What Legal Options Exist In California For Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries?

California medical malpractice lawyers possess a strong skill set in birth injury cases. A California birth injury attorney can advise whether you have grounds to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. They handle all aspects of developing a strong legal claim regarding standard-of-care errors made by a doctor, nurse, or other provider. 

  1. How Might Medical Malpractice Play A Role In Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries?

If physicians or hospital staff breached safety protocols or provided care below reasonable standards, resulting in nerve damage may constitute grounds for a malpractice suit. An attorney thoroughly investigates events leading to injury to determine if negligence played a part.

  1. Are Support Groups Available In California For Families Dealing With Brachial Plexus Injuries?

Yes, nonprofit charities like United Brachial Plexus Network also assist families with severe birth injuries in accessing aid programs and community support. 

  1. What Is The Potential Role Of Neonatal Birth Trauma In Legal Cases Related To Brachial Plexus Injuries?  

Events involving difficult delivery, improper use of birthing instruments, or mishandling of infants may directly trauma-induced brachial plexus damage. Documenting pertinent details helps establish grounds for seeking compensation when substandard practices are at fault.

  1. How Does A Dedicated Birth Injury Law Firm Differ From General Personal Injury Firms?

Lawyers focusing exclusively on birth injury cases develop an understanding in medical standards and negotiate fair settlements. They also provide both legal and emotional support to clients through a process that extends far beyond a single lawsuit. Their sole priority is advocating for children who face profound lifetime challenges.

Choosing a Birth Injury Lawyer

Don’t hesitate to contact our talented and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Stalwart Law Group to protect your rights and your child’s future. Our attorneys have graduated from top law schools and are prepared to support you and your case. Justice may be a long process, but the outcome and results our attorneys achieve can make a tremendous difference for your family. Call us today for more information at 310-954-2000. 

* The articles provided on the Stalwart Law website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used as professional legal advice or as a substitute for legal consultation with a qualified attorney.  

Related Articles

Scroll to Top