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Brachial Plexus Injuries


Birth injuries can occur as a result of mechanical forces during birth. These injuries can be severe and lead to life-long disabilities. While not all birth injuries are the result of medical negligence, doctors have a duty to safeguard their patients during the birthing process.

The most common injury is Erbs Palsy which involves the inability for a newborn to move his or her shoulder. Various other traumatic injuries are associated with brachial plexus injuries. These include fractured clavicles, fractured humerus, subluxation of the cervical spine, cervical cord injuries and facial palsy.

The treatment for brachial plexus injuries is dependent upon the severity of injury. In most cases, conservative treatment is recommended. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed. Studies have shown that the best results from surgical repair were obtained during the infant’s first year of life. An estimated 20-30% of children with brachial plexus injuries have residual nerve damage.

How do Brachial Plexus injuries occur?

The brachial plexus is a group of nerve fibers that run from the spine through the neck and into the arms.

A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves are stretched or torn during delivery. One of the most common causes is excessive stretching and force during labor and delivery. This type of injury is more common when the delivery is stressful and difficult, and is often marked by the use of birth-assistance tools such as forceps or a vacuum extraction tool.

When is the doctor negligent?

A doctor is not negligent just because a baby sustains a Brachial Plexus injury during the labor and delivery process. However, there are a variety of mistakes that can be classified as negligence.  These include the following.

  • Failure to Prevent Shoulder Lodging: If the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone, special care is required in the delivery of the child. The OBGYN should be familiar with the special techniques that are used to keep shoulder lodging from causing permanent injury.
  • Excessive Pressure on the Infant’s Head: If shoulder dystocia occurs, an OBGYN may negligently apply excessive pressure to the child’s head and shoulders. The failure to use proper techniques to dislodge the shoulder can cause ripping, tearing, and nerve damage.
  • Improper Use of Vacuums: An extended labor may require OBGYNs to use a vacuum to ensure a safe delivery. The OBGYN should be trained in the proper use of vacuums as well as when its use is necessary. The improper use of a vacuum can cause damage to the baby’s skull and can cause nerve damage in the neck and shoulders.
  • Improper Use of Forceps: In some births the use of forceps may be necessary. Forceps clamp down on the child’s skull and help the OBGYN guide a baby through the birth canal. If used improperly, forceps can cause damage to the baby’s skull and cause nerve damage in the neck and shoulders.

In order to determine whether your OBGYN was negligent, our lawyers will meet with the mother and any witnesses to find out as much first hand information as possible about the actual labor and delivery. We will also obtain and review a copy of all relevant medical records. Then if warranted, we will next consult with a medical expert to make a final determination as to whether the OBGYN was negligent.

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If your baby has suffered injuries during birth please, will fight for you to obtain a fair settlement or jury verdict.

To talk to one of our experienced attorneys, contact us online or call our office at 601-957-3101.