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Klumpke's palsy in newborns &
brachial plexus injury compensation

Klumpke's palsy in newborns & brachial plexus injury compensation

How much can you claim?

A newborn baby developed Klumpke's palsy as a result of a brachial plexus injury due to negligence at birth. He would suffer permanent impairment of the use of his left arm. He was awarded:


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Claiming for Klumpke's palsy

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

Klumpke’s palsy is a rare complication of a difficult childbirth that doesn’t usually cause any lasting damage. But in some cases, it can leave babies affected with lifelong paralysis in the affected limb and other symptoms, including numbness or tingling. Any complications during childbirth can be distressing for both parents and the baby, especially if you realise that medical negligence was to blame for the issues that arose.  

Medical negligence doesn’t only have a physical impact; it can harm your confidence in those responsible for the care of your child too. If you’re looking for answers and want to hold those to blame for the negligence to account, Your Legal Friend is here to help. We work on behalf of those that have been victims of medical negligence, building their case to ensure the best possible chance of success.

We understand that a Klumpke’s palsy claim won’t undue the harm or stress that has been caused. However, it can help you move forward and access additional treatment or support that you may now need. In the majority of cases, children that have Klumpke’s palsy go on to make a full recovery but where this isn’t possible financial compensation can help you to make the adjustments that may now be necessary.

Our professional and friendly team are on hand to offer you the advice and expertise that you need after your baby’s been affected by medical negligence. We’ll work with you from the beginning of the process to ensure it’s as smooth and hassle free as possible right through to representing you in court if necessary.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a Klumpke's palsy claim

Every medical compensation claim has a three-year time limit in which cases must be brought forward. Cases against medical professionals or organisations for Klumpke’s palsy must consider this timeframe too.

This time limit doesn’t start from when the negligence occurred but when you first became aware that it had happened. Legally referred to as the ‘date of knowledge’ this point is simple to identify in some cases. But in others, such as where Klumpke’s palsy isn’t recognised for months, it can be challenging. Understanding how long you have to act is important for your case and if you’re unsure, we have a team of Klumpke’s palsy medical negligence solicitors that can support you.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

Despite having up to three years to act, we advise those affected by medical negligence to seek professional advice as soon as they can. Taking a proactive approach can speed up the whole of the process. To support your case, we’ll gather evidence, including witness statements and medical records. In many instances, these can be easier to obtain the closer to the ‘date of knowledge’ they are requested.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E. Swaffield

Our Klumpke's palsy claims experience

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of birth injury cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a Klumpke's palsy case.

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our birth injury team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value Klumpke's palsy cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006. Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan
Director of Medical Negligence

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your birth injury claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard birth injury claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The Klumpke's palsy claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery.  You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury.  To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss. As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court. These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge. The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case. We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for Klumpke's palsy?

If medical negligence is to blame for your child’s Klumpke’s palsy you may be able to take forward a successful compensation claim. Every medical negligence claim must prove two things. Firstly, that medical negligence was to blame for the resulting condition or complications and that is caused undue suffering.

There are numerous ways that Klumpke’s palsy can be caused by negligence, such as if a doctor roughly pulls a child by the arm during birth. Following a diagnosis, many cases of Klumpke’s palsy don’t require medication or surgery but there are instances where this is necessary. If your baby now has a lifelong condition because effective treatment was not delivered, you may also have a case.

If you would like guidance in understanding whether your case could be successful, our team are waiting to help. Using our knowledge and experience, we’ll take the time to listen to you and offer advice on how to proceed.

Can I claim for Klumpke's palsy if I was affected as a child?

If you were affected by medical negligence Klumpke’s palsy as an infant and would now, as an adult, like to make a claim against those responsible, you are able to do so.

The same processes and procedures will be followed as when a parent makes a claim on behalf of their child. However, there is a difference when it comes to the time limit. Rather than starting from the ‘date of knowledge’, your timeframe will start from when you legally become and adult on your eighteenth birthday.

How much compensation will I get?

Every Klumpke’s palsy compensation case is unique and this is reflected in the amount that is awarded. Medical compensation cases consider how much the negligence has affected the victim when creating a value. In the cases of Klumpke’s palsy, those that are left with permanent paralysis in the affected arm despite surgery will receive more in terms of finance than someone who was able to regain all or part of the movement of their limb.

When you work with Your Legal Friend, we’ll fully assess how you’ve been affected by the medical negligence that you’ve experienced, taking into account your baby’s prognosis. Using our experience of medical negligence claims, we’ll give your case a value that accurately reflects what you’ve endured.

To learn how much compensation you could receive if you case were successful, you can contact the Your Legal Friend team to discuss your experiences.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If your baby has been affected by Klumpke’s palsy due to medical negligence and would like to make a compensation claim against those responsible, you have up to three years to make a claim.

Every case is subject to the medical claim time limit, giving you three years from the ‘date of knowledge’. In some cases, such as those where there was a delayed diagnosis, it can be difficult for victims to assess when they first became aware of when negligence had occurred. As the starting point for your time limit, it’s vital to understand when this happened, ensuring that you act within the timeframe set out.

If you’re unsure when your time limit started, our team can offer you guidance in this area. With experience of the legal system and in working with those affected by a range of medical negligence issues, we’ll help you pinpoint exactly when the ‘date of knowledge’ occurred.

While you do have up to three years to make your Klumpke’s palsy claim, we advise that where possible you take action sooner. This can help you make a more detailed witness statement and support our team in gathering the evidence necessary to back your claim.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What is Klumpke's palsy?

Klumpke’s palsy is a type of brachial palsy in new-born children. It occurs when damage is caused to the brachial plexus - a network of spinal nerves in the arm – affecting the forearm, hand, and fingers.

The condition may also be referred to as Klumpke’s paralysis or Dejerine-Klumpke palsy. The extent of the symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy depends on how severely the nerves within the arm have been damaged; this can range from simply stretching to tearing. Finding out your child has Klumpke’s palsy can be devastating and mean that further treatment is needed. However, in most cases infants that have been affected make a full recovery over a period of six months.

What causes Klumpke's palsy?

Klumpke’s palsy is often caused by difficulties during childbirth. It can occur when too much pressure is placed on the baby’s shoulder or the baby is born at an unnatural angle. In some cases, Klumpke’s palsy can be caused when a doctor pulls the baby from the birth canal by an arm that is extended above the baby’s head, especially if this is done too roughly. It can also be the result of the natural birth process, such as if the baby’s shoulder become caught on the public bone.

The force placed on the baby’s neck and shoulder can damage the nerves within the arm. While the cause of Klumpke’s palsy varies, there are some factors that can increase the risk of it occurring, including:

  • The mother being small
  • The baby having a larger birth weight
  • Being born in the breech position
  • The baby’s head being turned abnormally from his or her shoulder

While most cases of Klumpke’s palsy occur during childbirth, injuries can happen in older children and adults that result in the condition too.

Klumpke’s palsy can also be related to Horner’s syndrome. This is where the nerves in the sympathetic trunk – those that run from the base of the skull to the coccyx – are damaged. Horner’s syndrome is the result of disease and the symptoms may also include a constricted pupil if this is the cause.

Is Klumpke's palsy a birth injury?

Klumpke’s palsy is most commonly a birth injury, although it is occasionally related to other accidents, meaning that older children and adults can also be affected.

While the condition is often the result of a birth injury, that doesn’t mean all cases of Klumpke’s palsy are due to medical negligence. For instance, if the baby’s shoulder gets caught as they pass through the birth canal, it may be an unavoidable complication. But if doctors apply too much force as they pull the baby out or fail to respond appropriately to difficulties, it could be considered medical negligence.

What are the symptoms of Klumpke's palsy?

Klumpke’s palsy signs vary depending on the severity of the damage caused to the nerves through injury. Nerves that are stretched and only slightly damaged may result in a tingling sensation or numbness, while those that have actually torn from the spine can mean complete paralysis and severe pain.

The most common and recognisable Klumpke’s palsy symptom is a ‘claw hand’. This is where the wrist and fingers are tightened due to the nerve damage that has occurred.

Other symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Pain in the affected limb
  • Numbness
  • Weakness or a lack of ability to use certain muscles
  • Paralysis
  • Stiff joints that may be painful
  • Wasting away of muscles
  • Loss of sensation in the hand or arm

As Klumpke’s palsy most commonly occurs in new-borns, it can be difficult to recognise the symptoms in your baby. You may notice that they don’t respond to touch on their arm as you would expect, that they hold it in an unnatural position, or that they cry when the area is touched or moved. In most cases of Klumpke’s palsy, the prognosis is good and some infant’s affected don’t require any treatment. However, it’s important to raise concerns with your GP or health visitor, allowing the full extent of nerve damage to be assessed and increasing the chances of your child regaining full movement and sensation in the affected limb.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

How is Klumpke's palsy diagnosed?

If you’re child has the common ‘claw hand’ sign of Klumpke’s palsy or you speak to health professional about concerns you may have, an examination will often be conducted. This will test areas such as reflexes and sensations.

Many of the symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy can mimic a fracture and your doctor may order an x-ray to rule this out. To assess the extent of the nerve damage caused, either a CT scan or MRI can be used to provide detailed images of the brachial plexus. Once a diagnosis has been achieved, you doctor should discuss potential treatment options with you if it’s necessary.

How is Klumpke's palsy treated?

There are several different options when it comes to Klumpke’s palsy treatment. However, not all infants that have Klumpke’s palsy will need treatment. The nerves within the arm are able to repair themselves over a period of months. In mild cases of the condition, it’s often recommended that the symptoms are monitored while the body naturally heals from the injury, although physical therapy is often offered to deliver the best results.

Where treatment for Klumpke’s palsy is needed, options may include:

  • Physical therapy

In many cases, physical therapy is all that is needed to treat Klumpke’s palsy. Physical therapy helps infants affected by Klumpke’s palsy to ensure their muscles and joints maintain a full range of motion and to build up strength. Doing exercises provided by a physical therapist, can also help to relieve pain and stiffness that the injury is causing.

  • Surgery

In severe cases of Klumpke’s palsy, where the nerve has been torn, or if improvements haven’t been made over a six-month period, medical professionals may recommend surgery. There are several different procedures that can be used to treat Klumpke’s palsy, including a nerve graft or a muscle transfer. Surgery aims to ensure that movement and sensations can be regained in the affected limb.

  • Medication

Medication may also be given to relive some of the symptoms that Klumpke’s palsy can cause. For instance, prescriptions may be provided by your doctor for pain relief or to ease tingling sensations to ensure that your baby is more comfortable while their nerves heal.

Where treatment is needed, how quickly it is delivered can affect how successful it is. Even after diagnosis, medical negligence can occur. If your child was diagnosed but treatment wasn’t offered despite it being necessary, you may be able to make a Klumpke’s palsy compensation claim.

Are there any complications associated with Klumpke's palsy?

Klumpke’s palsy isn’t often related to any other conditions and rarely causes complications. However, where the damage to the nerves is severe, meaning that they don’t grow back, or that the correct treatment hasn’t been delivered, the paralysis, numbness, or other symptoms can be permanent. 

For children and adults that have Klumpke’s palsy, permanent injury to the nerves can mean the need to significantly adapt their lives so they can carry out daily tasks and maintain their independence.

When is Klumpke's palsy considered medical negligence?

Sometimes Klumpke’s palsy is an unavoidable complication of childbirth. However, there are times when it is the result of medical negligence. Each case is different and there are many ways that negligence can occur during labour, causing conditions such as Klumpke’s palsy.

Some examples of where medical negligence can occur, include:

  • Applying to much force to the baby’s shoulder and neck during birth
  • Failing to appropriately respond to birth complications
  • A delay in diagnosis of Klumpke’s palsy because a proper examination is not carried out
  • A failure to order the necessary tests for Klumpke’s palsy diagnosis despite the symptoms being present
  • Treatment not being recommended when tests indicated it should be

What is the prognosis for Klumpke's palsy?

In general, the prognosis for Klumpke’s palsy is very good. On average, more than nine in ten infants affected by the birth injury make a full recovery over the course of a year. The extent of the initial nerve damage plays a significant role in how likely your child is to regain the use of their arm.

What are the statistics for Klumpke's palsy?

In the UK, brachial plexus injuries occur in around 2 births for every 1,000. However, in the majority of cases the damage is minor and causes Erb’s palsy, affecting the upper part of the nerve network. Klumpke’s paralysis is far less common, although there are no official figures on how many cases there are annually.