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Shoulder Dystocia

Upstate New York Lawyers Representing Birth Injury Victims

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulders become lodged within the mother’s pelvis during labor and delivery. In most cases, babies are born safely in spite of shoulder dystocia. However, shoulder dystocia may cause a prolonged or difficult labor and serious birth injuries. While it is difficult to predict shoulder dystocia, there are situations in which shoulder dystocia should have been foreseen or handled differently to avoid injuries. If you believe that your newborn was harmed by shoulder dystocia, you should consult the Upstate New York birth injury attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We represent children and parents in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Albany.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a complication that can occur for various reasons. It may be caused by cephalopelvic disproportion or an abnormal fetal presentation, such as face first or breech. There is a greater risk of shoulder dystocia in situations involving macrosomia, gestational diabetes, multiples, or a mother being overweight. Other risk factors for a baby include use or misuse of Pitocin, epidurals, the use of tools to deliver the baby, or a prolonged second stage of labor. When the risk of shoulder dystocia or the complication itself is not appropriately handled, a baby may sustain damage to the brachial plexus, paralysis, clavicle or arm fractures, or asphyxia.

A mother may also be seriously injured by shoulder dystocia; she may sustain postpartum hemorrhage, uterine rupture, or a perineal tear that requires surgery. She can recover compensation for the harm that she suffered as a result of medical negligence.


To hold your doctor liable for injuries arising out of shoulder dystocia, your attorney will need to establish liability. This means that we will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your doctor owed your baby and you a duty to abide by accepted medical standards in connection with shoulder dystocia, your doctor deviated from those standards, the deviation caused a birth injury, and the birth injury caused actual damages.

The professional standard of care for your obstetrician depends on what reasonably prudent obstetricians in the same geographic area would have done under the same or similar circumstances. The accepted medical practices of obstetricians in Upstate New York will determine the professional standard of care for addressing shoulder dystocia and whether it was breached in your case. In general, doctors use certain medical techniques to avoid injuries to a baby when there is shoulder dystocia; these techniques may include suprapubic pressure or internal rotation.

If a doctor estimates a high birth weight or diagnoses cephalopelvic disproportion, they may order a C-section to avoid shoulder dystocia. However, sometimes doctors only notice shoulder dystocia once babies are stuck in the pelvis during deliveries. Birth injuries can occur in the course of shoulder dystocia because a doctor pulls or twists with excessive force or misuses tools like forceps or a vacuum extractor. Shoulder dystocia may give rise to broken bones, facial injuries, or brachial plexus injuries, and symptoms can include nerve damage or paralysis.


If your doctor’s liability for birth injuries arising out of shoulder dystocia is established, you may be able to recover damages. Compensatory damages are meant to make up for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses may include medical bills, rehabilitation, and therapy, depending on the severity and type of the specific birth injury sustained by your baby. Brachial plexus injuries, for instance, may require massaging, physical therapy, and surgery; it may be possible to recover compensation to cover the costs of these treatments.

Non-economic losses that may be recovered include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. The amount of non-economic damages can vary dramatically depending on the presentation of your case and the harm that the jury believes would naturally flow from a certain birth injury.

Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Many babies are born healthy in spite of shoulder dystocia. However, a medical team’s errors in preparing for or responding to shoulder dystocia can cause harm. If your baby suffered injuries from shoulder dystocia, and you suspect that they were caused by medical negligence, you should contact the experienced Upstate New York attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. Contact us at 833-200-2000 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
Mr. Falgiatano was very professional and did an incredible job when he worked with my family on our case. He met with us numerous times and was available when we called with questions. He explained the whole legal process to us and made sure we made the correct decision for my family! I could not thank Mr. Falgiatano enough and he is the only lawyer for my family! Jeff M.
Jeff Defrancisco and his team represented me after a bad fall while working on a construction site. They were always available to answer any and all questions and they genuinely cared regarding my health and were very sincere in helping me attain a settlement that far exceeded my expectations. My family and I received an amazing outcome and they are by far the best in the business. I highly recommend hiring their firm. Justin M.
I cannot thank DeFrancisco and Falgiatano enough! Charlie Falgiatano took my case and i couldn't have done it without him. I highly recommend this team of lawyers especially, Charlie. I will forever be grateful for him and because of him, all the time and effort he put into my case, my son can have a much easier life. Charlies understand, patient, kind, and one of the best people I know. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Katie C.