Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer

Fact-Checked and Medically Reviewed by:
Katie Lavender, RN Registered Nurse
Quick Answer

Shoulder dystocia happens when a baby's shoulder gets stuck behind the mother's pelvic bone during delivery. It is considered a medical emergency and can lead to serious injuries if it is not promptly and properly managed. Complications include nerve damage, brain damage, fractures, and even newborn death. If your child was harmed, a shoulder dystocia lawyer may be able to help your family pursue the financial compensation you need for care.

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What Is a Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer?

Newborn baby in a NICU incubator being gently touched on the back by an adult's hand through the glass.A shoulder dystocia lawyer is a personal injury attorney who helps families impacted by complications from shoulder dystocia during childbirth.

Shoulder dystocia can lead to medical conditions involving nerve damage and arm paralysis, like in brachial plexus injuries, including Erb’s palsy. These conditions can result in long-term physical impairments for your child, potentially requiring ongoing medical treatment and physical therapy.

Additionally, shoulder dystocia can cause asphyxia (lack of oxygen), resulting in brain damage or other catastrophic complications that could affect your child’s entire life. Depending on which areas of the brain are affected, different types of cerebral palsy can result.

Lifelong care and treatment costs for birth injuries can be far more than most families could have planned for. Unfortunately, insurance may not fully cover treatment, leading to unforeseen financial and emotional strain.

Did you know

Shoulder dystocia lawyers specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits related to these birth injuries. They aim to help families secure financial compensation to cover the significant costs of caring for a child harmed due to medical errors.

The birth injury lawyers in our network have helped families nationwide recover over $905 million from birth injury lawsuits, including conditions caused by mismanaged shoulder dystocia.

Find out if they can help you seek the financial compensation and justice your family deserves.

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A free case review is the first step in pursuing compensation for you and your family.

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Shoulder Dystocia Injury Settlements and Verdicts

Shoulder dystocia settlements and verdicts provide the financial support needed to care for children harmed at birth.

The average payout for birth injury lawsuits is around $1 million. However, many birth injury settlements have resulted in multimillion-dollar awards to families.

Reported shoulder dystocia lawsuit payouts include:
  • $8.9 million in Minnesota after a larger-than-average baby (fetal macrosomia) suffered severe nerve damage and spinal injuries
  • $6.7 million to the family of an Illinois child for a hospital mishandling a breech delivery leading to severe brachial plexus injury
  • $4.2 million in Connecticut after a baby was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy due to a midwife’s failure to manage shoulder dystocia
  • $3.05 million in New York after a newborn suffered Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy from mishandled shoulder dystocia
  • $2.7 million in Massachusetts after an obstetrician failed to perform a necessary C-section, leading to stillbirth
  • $1.4 million in Ohio against a nurse midwife for excessive pulling during shoulder dystocia, resulting in brachial plexus ruptures

For many families, hiring an experienced shoulder dystocia attorney increased the compensation they received in their birth injury lawsuit.

Call (800) 914-1562 or Click to Live Chat right now to see if we can connect you to an experienced shoulder dystocia lawyer.

Types of Shoulder Dystocia Complications

Factors before or during childbirth can cause shoulder dystocia complications. While some are unavoidable, others may arise from medical negligence.

Potential shoulder dystocia complications for newborns include:
  • Brachial plexus injury: Excessive force used to manage shoulder dystocia can damage nerves. Conditions include Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.
  • Brain damage: Prolonged delivery can reduce or cut off the baby’s oxygen supply, damaging brain cells.
  • Cerebral palsy: This permanent condition can happen if shoulder dystocia significantly delays the delivery, causing a prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • Fetal hypoxia: A delay in delivery of the body after the head is delivered can cause chest, neck, and umbilical cord compression. This can lead to brain damage, along with damage to other organs.
  • Fractures: When too much force is applied to release a stuck shoulder or arm during delivery, breaks in the baby’s collarbone (clavicle) or upper arm (humerus) can occur.
  • Horner’s syndrome: When shoulder dystocia compresses the nerves near the neck, this condition, marked by drooping eyelids, smaller pupils, and reduced sweating on one side of the face, can happen.
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): This can occur if shoulder dystocia causes significant disruptions to blood or oxygen flow to the baby’s brain during delivery.

Cases of shoulder dystocia that are not resolved quickly may even lead to infant death.

Remember, shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency. Failure to respond quickly can lead to severe injuries for mothers and infants.

In these cases, medical malpractice may be involved, and a shoulder dystocia attorney may be able to help.

Shoulder Dystocia and Medical Malpractice

When shoulder dystocia complications occur, swift medical attention from your health care provider is required.

Delivery teams are specially trained to make lightning-fast decisions. When this doesn’t happen, it may be considered birth injury medical malpractice.

Situations that could involve medical malpractice include:
  • Failure to recognize risk factors: Medical providers should assess maternal risk factors like obesity, shoulder dystocia in previous deliveries, and prolonged labor to anticipate and prevent complications.
  • Fetal macrosomia: When delivering a large baby, health care providers should closely monitor the pregnancy and consider alternative delivery methods, like a cesarean section (C-section), to prevent shoulder dystocia.
  • Improper use of delivery tools: Health care providers may misuse forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery, leading to excessive traction and shoulder dystocia.
  • Inadequate training or negligence: Medical professionals may fail to follow established protocols for managing shoulder dystocia, resulting in delayed or improper interventions that contribute to birth injuries.
  • Maternal diabetes: Uncontrolled gestational diabetes increases the risk of fetal macrosomia and subsequent shoulder dystocia.

A shoulder dystocia lawyer will be able to determine if medical malpractice was the cause of your baby’s injuries.

How Can a Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer Help?

An experienced shoulder dystocia lawyer will guide you through every step of your medical malpractice case. They can simplify the lawsuit process for you and handle all legal work on your behalf.

Learn more about how a shoulder dystocia attorney can help below.

Provide a Free Consultation

Lawyer sitting at a desk with an open notebook, a laptop, and scales of justice.Top shoulder dystocia lawyers offer free consultations, so there is no financial risk to find out if you may have a valid birth injury claim. This initial case review is an important first step in determining your eligibility for financial compensation.

Get a free case review right now to start the process.

Investigate Your Child’s Birth Injury

Your shoulder dystocia lawyer will carefully investigate all aspects of your child’s birth to pinpoint the cause of shoulder dystocia complications. This step is crucial for showing medical negligence happened and identifying the responsible parties.

Gather Evidence

Your shoulder dystocia attorney will collect solid evidence to build the strongest possible case for your family.

Evidence in a shoulder dystocia case may include:
  • Doctors’ notes, medical records, and imaging results
  • Medical bills related to the injury
  • Opinions from medical experts on how the standard of care was breached
  • Photos and videos showing how your child was affected
  • Testimonies from staff and others who witnessed the delivery

Building a compelling case for medical negligence and its impact on your child’s health requires gathering and organizing key evidence. Experienced shoulder dystocia lawyers know what to look for to prove your case.

File Your Lawsuit

Shoulder dystocia lawyers file your birth injury lawsuit promptly and correctly in the appropriate court, protecting your legal rights. They ensure all necessary paperwork is submitted on time, preventing procedural errors that could weaken your case.

Negotiate a Settlement

Your shoulder dystocia lawyer will skillfully communicate with the other side to secure the highest possible birth injury settlement without you having to step foot in court. These negotiation skills can speed up the timeline of your birth injury case and make sure your family receives financial compensation as quickly as possible.

Represent You in Court

If an out-of-court birth injury settlement isn’t reached, your shoulder dystocia attorney will take your case to trial to continue fighting for your family in front of a judge or jury.

By hiring an experienced shoulder dystocia lawyer, you get the peace of mind needed to focus on caring for your child. Meanwhile, your legal team tirelessly pursues the financial compensation and justice your family deserves.

When Should I Hire a Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer?

Consider hiring a shoulder dystocia lawyer as soon as you suspect health care professionals may have made medical errors that caused harm to your child.

It’s crucial to act quickly because there’s a strict deadline to file lawsuits, known as the statute of limitations. Once this window of time passes, you’ll be forever barred from taking legal action.

The statute of limitations for birth injury cases varies by state, so it’s necessary to consult a lawyer who knows the laws in your area. A shoulder dystocia attorney can advise you on how much time you have to file your lawsuit.

This is especially important in cases of harm to newborns, where injuries may not be noticeable right away. Families often don’t realize their child was hurt until they miss developmental milestones.

An experienced birth injury lawyer can file your case in time, even without an official diagnosis. Don’t wait to find out your family’s legal options.

Call our team at (800) 914-1562 or get a free case review right now.

How to Find the Best Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer

When choosing a shoulder dystocia lawyer, look for a birth injury lawyer with specific credentials and qualities.

Here are 5 qualities to look for in a shoulder dystocia lawyer:
  1. No upfront costs: Choose a shoulder dystocia attorney who works on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay if you win.
  2. Proven track record: Look for a lawyer with a history of successful birth injury claims and large payouts. This can increase your chances of getting significant compensation.
  3. Expert staff: Top birth injury law firms have experienced labor and delivery nurses on staff. They can provide insights and support throughout your case.
  4. Specialized expertise: The right lawyer should have experience handling shoulder dystocia and other complex birth injury cases. This can help ensure they can effectively gather and present necessary evidence.
  5. Reputable law firm: Ensure your shoulder dystocia attorney is part of a well-established law firm. Generally, they have access to a broad network of legal resources and medical experts.

Hiring a shoulder dystocia lawyer with these qualities can help ensure you are in the best possible position to get justice and the compensation your family deserves.

Find a Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer Near You

The Birth Injury Justice Center understands that your child’s care is your family’s top concern.

Our team believes that having the right shoulder dystocia attorney can significantly improve the outcome of your case and your child’s future.

Birth injury cases can be challenging. Finding a lawyer with legal expertise and a commitment to advocating for each family’s unique needs is important.

An experienced shoulder dystocia lawyer can provide clear guidance throughout the legal process, tirelessly fighting for your rights and pursuing the compensation your family deserves.

Call us at (800) 914-1562 right now or get a free case review to find out how we can help you provide a brighter future for your child.

Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer FAQs

Can you sue for shoulder dystocia?

Yes, you can sue for shoulder dystocia if the delivery team didn’t handle the situation properly and it caused harm. If the medical team’s mistake led to injury, you might have a case for medical negligence.

Call us at (800) 914-1562 right now to find out if we can connect you with a skilled shoulder dystocia lawyer near you.

What legal questions will be asked if shoulder dystocia results in a poor outcome?

If shoulder dystocia leads to a poor outcome, legal questions will focus on whether the medical team followed proper procedures, if they were adequately prepared, and if their actions or lack thereof directly caused the injury.

Here are 3 questions a shoulder dystocia lawyer will seek to answer:

  1. Did the doctor use the correct techniques to handle shoulder dystocia?
  2. Was the medical team prepared for a shoulder dystocia emergency?
  3. Could the injury have been prevented with better care or quicker action?

Is shoulder dystocia medical negligence?

While shoulder dystocia itself is not medical negligence, it is a known complication during delivery. However, if the medical team fails to manage it properly according to standard medical practices, their response could be considered negligent.

Is shoulder dystocia considered a traumatic birth?

Yes, shoulder dystocia is considered a traumatic birth. It occurs when a baby’s shoulders get stuck during delivery, which can lead the medical team to initiate urgent and complex maneuvers to free the baby, potentially causing stress and injury to both the mother and child.

How much can you get from a shoulder dystocia settlement?

The average birth injury settlement is estimated at about $1 million. However, many families have received multimillion-dollar settlements in shoulder dystocia cases.

That said, the value of any birth injury payout is affected by factors like the severity of the harm, the child’s future medical needs, and the expected long-term outlook.

An experienced shoulder dystocia lawyer can assess the specifics of your case to provide an estimate.

Get a free legal case review right now to see if we can connect you.

Do you have to hire a shoulder dystocia lawyer to start a birth injury claim?

Hiring a shoulder dystocia attorney is highly recommended to help you navigate complex medical malpractice laws and improve your chances of securing maximum compensation for your family.

How much will a shoulder dystocia attorney cost?

The best shoulder dystocia lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront or out-of-pocket costs. They only get paid if they secure financial compensation for you.

There is no risk or obligation to find out your legal options. Get a free case review right now to get started.

Birth Injury Support Team
Reviewed by:Katie Lavender, RN

Registered Nurse

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Katie Lavender has over 8 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in postpartum mother/baby care. With hands-on experience in Labor and Delivery and a role as a Community Educator for newborn care, Katie is a staunch advocate for patient rights and education. As a Medical Reviewer, she is committed to ensuring accurate and trustworthy patient information.

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

View Sources
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  2. Davis, D.D., et al. (2023, December 20) Shoulder dystocia. StatsPearl. Retrieved April 30, 2024, from
  3. Hill, D.A., et al. (2020, July 15). Shoulder dystocia: Managing an obstetric emergency. American Family Physician. Retrieved April 30, 2024, from
  4. Menticoglou, S. (2018, November 9). Shoulder dystocia: Incidence, mechanisms, and management strategies. International Journal of Women’s Health, 10, 723–732. Retrieved April 30, 2024, from