Medical Negligence

Brachial Plexus Injury Claims: A Comprehensive Guide

May 8, 2024
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Brachial plexus injuries can significantly affect individuals, often resulting from trauma during birth, accidents, or medical negligence. These injuries can lead to significant physical limitations and emotional distress, impacting daily life and future prospects. Understanding the legal process for seeking compensation is crucial for affected individuals and their families. Our aim is to equip you with a thorough understanding of the causes of brachial plexus injuries, the legal considerations involved, and the claims process. By delving into these aspects, we hope to empower you with the knowledge needed to navigate this complex terrain and pursue the compensation you deserve. 



Understanding Brachial Plexus Injuries 

According to John Hopkins Medicine, the brachial plexus is a network of nerves originating from the spinal cord in the neck, extending through the shoulder, arm, and hand. Various types of injuries can affect this complex network, including stretching, tearing, or compression of the nerves. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, individuals may experience symptoms ranging from mild weakness or numbness to complete loss of function in the affected limb. Moreover, brachial plexus injuries can have profound long-term effects on an individual’s quality of life, impacting their ability to perform daily tasks, engage in work or recreational activities, and maintain independence. Chronic pain, muscle atrophy, and limited range of motion are common challenges faced by those with brachial plexus injuries. 


Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries 

Brachial plexus injuries can stem from a variety of causes, each presenting unique risks and circumstances. Birth injuries represent a significant cause, often occurring during difficult deliveries where excessive force is exerted on the infant’s shoulders or neck, leading to nerve damage. Traumatic accidents, such as falls at work, or road traffic accidents, can also result in brachial plexus injuries when the shoulder is forcefully stretched or impacted. Additionally, medical negligence during surgical procedures could also result in brachial plexus injuries. Risk factors for brachial plexus injuries include large birth weight, breech presentation during childbirth, maternal diabetes, and prolonged labour. Understanding these various causes and associated risk factors is essential for prevention, early detection, and appropriate management of brachial plexus injuries. 


Sources: Nemours Kids Health & Cerebral Palsy Guidance 


Legal considerations 

Essential elements in these claims often include demonstrating negligence or fault on the part of a healthcare provider, caregiver, or responsible party. This can involve proving that proper medical standards were not met, resulting in the injury. Additionally, gathering compelling medical evidence, expert testimonies, and documentation of the injury’s impact on the individual’s life is crucial. Timeliness in filing claims within the three-year time limit (or until a child turns 21) and working with experienced legal professionals well-versed in personal injury law can significantly enhance the chances of a successful outcome. Overall, the strength of evidence, the severity of the injury, and the effectiveness of legal representation are pivotal in determining the success of brachial plexus injury claims. 


Medical malpractice 

Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, or midwives, fail to provide a standard level of care, resulting in patient harm. In the context of brachial plexus injuries, medical malpractice may occur during childbirth, surgical procedures, or medical interventions. Examples include excessive force during delivery (for example resulting in shoulder dystocia), improper handling of the newborn, or negligence during surgical procedures involving the shoulder or arm. Additionally, failures to diagnose or treat conditions that could lead to brachial plexus injuries may also constitute medical negligence. 


Standard of care 

The standard of care expected from medical professionals refers to the level of treatment and attention that a reasonably competent healthcare provider would provide under similar circumstances. When this standard is not met, and a breach occurs, it can form the grounds for a successful medical negligence claim. For example, in the context of brachial plexus injuries, the standard of care may require healthcare professionals to properly assess and manage complications during childbirth, ensuring the safe delivery of the baby. If a healthcare provider fails to meet this standard by, for instance, applying excessive force during delivery or failing to identify risk factors for injury, they may be held liable for medical malpractice. Demonstrating how the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the expected standard and directly contributed to the injury is crucial in establishing a successful claim. 


Statute of limitations 

When pursuing a medical negligence claim for brachial plexus injuries, it’s crucial to be mindful of time restrictions. Typically, there’s a three-year window to file a claim, starting from either the date of the negligent care or the date you became aware of it causing injury or illness. However, exceptions exist, particularly for minors or individuals lacking the mental capacity to initiate claims independently. In such cases, the three-year restriction might not apply. Regardless of your situation, prompt action is key. Contacting our team of solicitors as soon as possible is advised. Since medical negligence cases rely heavily on personal accounts, fresher memories enhance case strength. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can initiate the process of building your case, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. 


How to make a Brachial Plexus Injury claim 

In the process of filing a medical negligence claim, several steps are involved: 


  1. Initial Enquiry: Upon submitting your enquiry, our experts will enquire about your experience and its impact on you. This helps us gain a comprehensive understanding of your situation.


  1. Case Review: Our medical negligence specialists will assess your case to determine if you have grounds for a claim. Drawing on our expertise, we provide immediate advice based on our evaluation.


  1. Medical Records: If your case meets the criteria, our team will request your medical records from your GP. Additionally, we’ll commence gathering evidence to substantiate your claim.


  1. Medical and Expert Evidence: An independent report will be conducted to assess if there was a breach of duty leading to your injuries. Our experts will also evaluate the impact of your injuries on your life.


  1. Negotiation: We’ll enter negotiations with the negligent party to seek compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses, rehabilitation costs, and future damages. In cases where negotiations fail, the court may intervene to determine appropriate compensation.


  1. Compensation: Upon successful negotiations, your compensation is secured, enabling you to move forward from your injuries and towards recovery.


Challenges in Brachial Plexus Injury claims 

When pursuing a brachial plexus injury claim, claimants may encounter various obstacles along the way. One significant challenge is proving causation, which involves demonstrating a direct link between the negligent actions of a healthcare provider or another party and the resulting injury. Establishing liability can also be complex, particularly in cases involving multiple healthcare professionals or entities. Navigating these obstacles requires thorough documentation, expert testimonies, and legal expertise to build a compelling case and ensure fair compensation for the claimant’s losses and suffering. 


Winning case studies from Fletchers Solicitors 

Fletchers Solicitors, renowned for their expertise and dedication, has a track record of successfully handling injury claims, ensuring their clients receive just compensation for their losses and suffering, showcased by the following cases: 


A £320,000 settlement secured after a baby suffered a brachial plexus injury during childbirth, which then resulted in them developing Erb’s Palsy. 


A £1.4 million settlement was secured for a man who suffered a brachial plexus injury to his left arm after being knocked off his motorbike.  


Settlement allows our client to find a new hobby after a serious RTA. 


In conclusion, navigating the complexities of brachial plexus injury claims requires a thorough understanding of the legal process and expert guidance. From understanding the causes and types of injuries to addressing the legal aspects of medical negligence, seeking expert legal advice is essential. Fletchers Solicitors is here to support and guide you through every step of the claims process, leveraging their expertise and dedication to ensure you receive just compensation for your losses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Fletchers Solicitors for the support and guidance, you need to navigate this challenging journey and secure the compensation you deserve. 

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