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Erbs Palsy Solicitors - UK Medical Negligence Compensation Claim


Erbs palsy is a relatively rare condition that affects much less than 1% of the new born infants in the UK each year and is often the result of medical negligence. It is caused by an injury to the brachial plexus system of nerves which emanate from the spinal cord and travel through the neck vertebrae, across the shoulder and chest, down the arm to the tips of the fingers. The injury usually occurs during traumatic birth when the child�s head is under significant and excessive strain and pressure during delivery. A claim for compensation for Erbs palsy by a medical negligence solicitor can be of substantial value dependant on the injury which ranges from mild to severe, from temporary to permanent and may involve complete long term, full or partial paralysis of the arm.

Brachial Plexus Injury

The extent of the injury depends on many factors which revolve around which part of the brachial plexus nerves were damaged and the extent of that damage. The nerves can be pulled from the spine or torn at some other point which is usually a permanent injury or they can be stretched or pulled apart with such damage having the possibility of recovery.

Risk Factors

Erbs palsy has well known risk factors that the healthcare professional in charge of a birth should be well aware of including an unusually large baby, maternal diabetes, failure to estimate the baby�s weight before delivery starts, failure to properly manage shoulder dystocia and unnecessary and excessive force used during delivery. Failure to recognise these risk factors may enable a Leeds Erbs palsy solicitor to establish a case of medical negligence against those healthcare professionals involved in delivery.


Traction is a major issue when it comes to Erbs Palsy and any unnecessary traction or traction in the wrong place or at the wrong time can cause the damage that leads to this injury. There are just two major causes of this injury which are failure to arrange a caesarean section for delivery in cases where the risk factors indicate a difficult vaginal birth and failure to deal with shoulder dystocia when it arises in accordance with the established protocols.

Shoulder Dystocia

This condition occurs when the baby�s shoulder gets stuck behind the pelvic bone of the mother during labour and delivery. Traction applied unwisely at this point can cause strain and damage the brachial plexus nerves. The infant can die of asphyxiation if the problem, which is considered to be a medical emergency, is not quickly reversed. Fortunately there are safe and secure methods to employ to solve the problem and a trained professional should know what to do.


A medical negligence solicitor must have a firm grounding in case law or common law as there are few statutes that assist in progression of a claim. Claims relating to an error by a Leeds health care professional are governed by the general law of negligence which has developed slowly for centuries however the milestone event was the 1932 case of Donoghue (or McAlister) v. Stevenson finally heard on appeal in the House of Lords which established the beginnings of modern tort law. In order for a medical negligence solicitor to prove a civil claim in this arena it is necessary show that a duty of care exists, that the duty has been breached and that reasonably foreseeable harm has arisen as a result of the breach.

Claims instituted by a medical negligence solicitor rely on a sub set of rules based on the above with specific requirements that apply to most of the professions. The Bolam test deriving from the 1957 case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee is one of the rules used to determine liability. This rule requires a professional person to achieve a degree of skill that matches other similar professionals. It is not an absolute test and perfection is not required. In addition the 1997 case of Bolitho v City and Hackney Health Authority determined that if a significant body of professionals would have acted differently from the mainstream then following that alternative course of action would not result in liability even if it failed, provided that the minority view was considered to be logical.

Time Limitation

The Limitation Act 1980 determines when a claim becomes statute barred preventing it from being pursued in a court of law. A basic time limit of three years from the date that the personal injury was discovered applies. There are quite a number of exceptions to the general rules and professional advice from a specialist medical negligence solicitor should always be sought in regards to limitation issues which can be complex. Some of the exceptions to the general three year rule are as follows :-

  • The three year time limit cannot start running until the potential claimant achieves the age of eighteen years.
  • Time does not run against the mentally incapacitated until lucidity has returned, if ever.
  • Judges can, in their wisdom, extend the time limits in cases where it would be inequitable not to do so. This discretion is rarely exercised.

Erbs Palsy Medical Negligence Solicitors Legal Advice

If you or your child have suffered personal injury and you fear you may have been the victim of incompetence or negligence there is no time for delay. In order to know what options you have you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. Our medical negligence solicitors operate a service with no charge whereby you can meet us in person or chat over the telephone with one of our experts and obtain initial advice. If you subsequently decide to proceed no further then that is your right and you will not be charged for our solicitors initial advice.


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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here