Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Palsy)

No amount of joy can match what you feel the day you give birth to a child. At such a time, you are simply overflowing with happiness and excitement. Unfortunately, however, these festive sentiments can change in an instant if you discover that your seemingly healthy child was actually born with a devastating birth injury. Even more shocking is the fact that a number of times, birth injuries can be easily prevented with the deliverance of adequate medical attention.

One of the more common birth injuries that newborns can suffer is a condition known as Erb’s Palsy. It is caused by injury to the brachial plexus nerves, which lie in the shoulder and transmit neurological signals down the arm and even into the hand and fingers. If your child has suffered Erb’s palsy as the result of a medical provider’s negligence, then you may have the right to recover damages for your family’s suffering. 

Causes

Typically, Erb’s palsy arises during difficult birth situations. In these cases, the acting physician will need to apply certain birthing techniques that can be quite damaging if not done correctly. Cases with an increased chance of Erb’s palsy development include:

Abnormally large fetal head

Abnormally large baby

Breeched birth

Shoulder dystocia

Though doctors today should have the knowledge, skills, and experience to handle these situations, sometimes, they fall short of expectations. When this happens, the child being delivered is at risk of suffering serious injuries – for example, Erb’s palsy.

Symptoms

You should be able to tell shortly (or immediately) after birth that your child has suffered damage to his or her brachial plexus. The symptoms of such an injury include the following:

Lack of gripping abilities on affected side

Inability to spontaneously move affected arm and hand

No Moro reflex in the affected arm

Arm abnormally flexed and held against the body involuntarily

If your child has been a victim of this terrible condition, you should know that there are treatment options available. In most situations, affected children experience full recoveries. Therapy, including muscle exercises and massages, is typically prescribed. In more serious cases, however, surgery may be necessary to restore the area.

Contact Us

If your child has suffered from Erb’s Palsy as the result of a medical provider’s negligence, then you may have the right to recover compensation from the responsible party. The New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers of Levinson Axelrod can help you make an effective claim for damages. To learn more, visit http://www.medicalmalpracticenj.com/ today.

Project Planning for Lawyers – Upping Your Game in a Chaotic World

In nearly two decades of practicing law, I have tried numerous systems to manage projects, stay on top of tasks, and delegate work to team members. The following is the simplest, most effective method I have discovered. For those of you who are Getting Things Done by David Allen enthusiasts, you will recognize his inspiration.

Master Task List

Writing all your tasks down to get them out of your head and stored in a reliable place is incredibly liberating. I have found that inputting all those tasks into a single list is a valuable habit to engage. Of course, half the battle is getting everything into a single list so you can decide what is the highest priority to tackle, which tasks you can delegate, and other ones that can be scheduled for a later date. I have also found that if you give in to the temptation to spread the list across multiple systems or people you are inviting anxiety about the list. So put them all in one place. Fight that temptation.

The list can be maintained in a simple spreadsheet or specialized software like Basecamp. We use proprietary project and task management software that integrates with our client and CRM systems. Because most of us work in a team environment, it is usually a best practice to designate an admin to maintain the list.

In addition to the name of the task, owner, and deadline, we have found tracking the following information to be helpful: task assignor, project manager, priority, client and matter, and practice area of the project. We also distinguish between deadlines (externally imposed obligations like a USPTO filing deadline or a court ordered date on a scheduling order) from a “next action,” which is what we call a task we wish to complete to move a project forward. Requiring the task assignor to include the deliverable requested (80% draft memo, key cases with passages highlighted, etc.) is also a valuable practice as it improves team communication.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep all tasks in a single list maintained by a reliable person or system.

Project List

Like a Master Task List, the Project List keeps track of all the various projects you either manage or have delegated. It also serves as a good reminder during the Weekly Review, and helps brainstorms next steps. For purposes of this system, I define a “project” to be anything requiring two or more next actions. A single task would be included in the Master Task List.

We track projects by client, matter, project manager, project team (people assigned to the project), and practice area. This allows for sorting and reporting in a variety of helpful manners. For example, I sort the overall Project List by practice area (litigation, trademarks, e-commerce) as well as by project manager. It is also important to distinguish between the projects you own as project manager, those you are assigned, and those you have delegated to others as that affects review and work flow.

Weekly Review

The Master Task List and Project List both should be updated dynamically throughout the week. I have found a few practices that dramatically increase efficiency. The first step is to periodically clear your head of all the tasks and things floating around. This includes emails, client requests, correspondence, etc. Basically, anything that needs attention and resides in your head needs to get out of your head and into the Master Task List. A daily clearing is helpful but not always practical. So I set aside time mid-week and as part of the Weekly Review. Second, I dedicate an hour or two per week to go over the Master Task List and Project List to ensure everything is updated. I have found doing this outside the office or on weekends is most effective because it requires uninterrupted focus. Finally, a weekly or bi-weekly project review session with the team is highly efficient in keeping everyone on the same page. For this session, we sort the Master Task List by project and we also separately review a list of tasks with upcoming due dates in chronological order.

Daily Focus

This last step is bonus points for any adoptee, and will really accelerate your performance. Like Texas Hold ‘Em, this step is simple to explain, but takes seemingly a lifetime to master. Based on the three above tools, you spend five minutes each morning planning the three most important, high-leverage actions to get done that day. Write them down to up your commitment, then create space in your day to give those three actions your highest priority. If you commit to that focus, you will achieve amazing results and start each day with a series of wins. The problem you will face is that the world (clients, opposing counsel, staff, even your own internal thoughts) does not share those priorities. This struggle largely controls your personal effectiveness, and is truly where rubber meets the road.

For more information and articles regarding law firm culture, please see our Culture Counts blog.

Dog Owners Beware

Recently, a New Jersey Superior Court in Mercer County awarded $100,000 in damages to a UPS driver for injuries he suffered while trying to deliver a package. The homeowners’ dog was roaming alone loose on the property, had a history of viciousness, went at the driver, and the driver severely and permanently injured his knee trying to escape.

Also, recently, an unrestrained dog jumped out of its owner’s car window and viciously attacked a woman and her dog. The attacking dog was reported to be a repeat offender.

New Jersey law holds dog owners liable, or financially responsible, for injuries caused by their dog’s behavior in three possible – and very common – scenarios.

First, New Jersey law says dog owners, and only the owners, are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog’s bite, so long as the victim was lawfully on the property and regardless of the dog’s history.

However, if the dog has a vicious propensity that the owner knew or should have known, then the dog’s owner or even the dog’s keeper are responsible for any injuries caused by the dog – even if not caused by biting and biting was not involved in the incident. Vicious propensity can be proven simply by the dog’s history of biting, jumping, chasing, scratching, or even being overly affectionate or playful. “Down boy!”

And, third, even if the dog did not bite and did not have a vicious propensity, then the owner or keeper may be liable for injuries because they failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care for the safety of others.

Owners have a duty to provide safe premises for those invited onto its property and a duty to control their dogs. It is considered dangerous to allow a dog on your property unleashed, unrestrained or unfenced, or to roam free, unsupervised or in an area where it is likely to encounter strangers. At least a clear warning of the dog’s presence should be posted.

People visit for a variety of legitimate reasons every day: Mail carriers, newspaper carriers, package deliverers, utility & maintenance workers, fundraisers, friends and family. Knowing this, owners must anticipate their dog’s behavior. Dogs protect their turf. They investigate strangers. They approach and greet anyone who enters their turf. Unless the dog is responsibly controlled, preventable injuries are likely to happen.

Even friendly dogs can cause serious injury – unintentionally. A big, friendly dog that gets excited when visitors arrive can knock the visitor down, wrench their back, twist their ankle, or otherwise “kill” them with kindness and curiosity. Just the sight of a large dog on the loose and coming toward a visitor can frighten them into hasty escape and injury. Not everyone shares enthusiasm for dogs, especially a 100-pound German Shepard rushing to say “Hello” … or “Get lost”. And that’s their right.

When dog owners fail to exercise care and visitors are injured, people’s lives can be ruined and courts will impose substantial money damages to compensate victims. Compensation has been recovered for injuries when someone was running from a dog, when someone fell after being chased by a dog, or when someone was knocked to the ground by a dog.

Owning a dog carries special responsibility to ensure others’ safety. If you are a delivery person, newspaper carrier, utility worker, or any visitor to another’s property where a dog is present, and are injured by the dog, you have a right to recover money damages under the law.