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Erb's Palsy

Sometimes when your baby is born the shoulders can get stuck in the birth canal leading to a condition known as Erb’s palsy. This is also known as a brachial plexus injury. When the shoulders get stuck (known as shoulder dystocia), as the clinicians try to deliver the baby the neck can be stretched. This can cause injury to the group of nerves that run from the spinal column in the neck down to the finger tips and which supply the arms and hands. The nerves in the neck can be damaged mildly or severely.

The extent of your child’s disability can vary depending on how badly the nerves have been damaged. Damage to the nerves can range from bruising to tearing, which can result in a partial or complete injury. If the injury caused bruising and swelling around the nerves, the nerves can heal over time, allowing movement to return. Tearing of the nerve may result in permanent nerve damage.

To assess whether your baby’s injury has been caused by any negligence we will need to access your medical records and look at the care the clinicians provided during the delivery. There are standard ways to treat this problem and by assessing your medical records we can advise whether you have a potential claim.

Time Limits

The time limit for children who suffer from Erb's palsy runs from the child’s 18th birthday. This means the statutory 3-year time limit expires on the child’s 21st birthday. There is one exception. If someone does not have the mental capacity to manage their own affairs then the time limits do not apply and some cases can be pursued past a person’s 21st birthday. You should seek urgent legal advice if you wish to pursue a claim as, or on behalf of, an adult.


With clinical negligence cases involving Erb's palsy, Public Funding is available. This was previously known as Legal Aid. Only firms with a Public Funding franchise are able to obtain funding for you or your child. As an experienced medico-legal department, Alsters Kelley have been awarded a clinical negligence franchise from the Legal Services Commission.

If your baby suffers from Erb's palsy we can help advise you on whether or not you have a potential claim. We have a specialist team with vast experience in this area of law who can help answer your questions.

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Kiran Jalota
Head of Medical Negligence and Personal Injury

Kiran's role is to recover necessary compensation for victims of negligence who have suffered physical and/or psychological injury & other consequential loss. Read more

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Kiran is supported by our Medical Negligence team
Harvin Dhillon, John LLewelyn, Haidee Vedy and Nisha Vegad

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