For most parents, the birth of a child is one of the greatest moments of their lives. However, when something goes wrong, and the fetus or newborn child dies, parents are left to ask the question "why?" If the answer to that question is that it was someone else's fault, the parents may be able to sue that person for wrongful death.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a death caused by the negligence or fault of another person. For example, if a mother and her newborn child are in a car accident where the other driver ran a red light, and the child dies as a result of the accident, the mother may be able to sue the other driver for wrongful death. Another way to think about wrongful death is to ask the following question: if the other person had acted reasonably, could this death have been prevented? If the answer is yes, then the other party may be liable for wrongful death.
Wrongful Death of a Newborn Child or Fetus
When a newborn child dies due to the fault of another person, states allow parents to recover under their wrongful death laws. However, when something happens and a fetus is killed, states vary on whether they allow these claims. Many states require that children be born alive before any wrongful death action can be instituted on their behalf. Among states that allow wrongful death suits on behalf of a fetus, some require the fetus to be viable (able to live outside of the womb) at the time of death, while other states have no such requirement.
If you have questions about whether your state allows wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of a fetus, please check your state's laws or consult with an attorney.
Liability for Wrongful Death of a Newborn Child or Fetus
Liability for the wrongful death of a newborn child or a fetus (if your state allows this cause of action) can arise out of many circumstances. One way that a party may face liability is in the context of a birth injury. A birth injury generally occurs during the labor and delivery process. Birth injuries often arise out of following types of situations:
If the fetus or newborn dies as the result of one of these actions, the doctor or medical professional who caused the harm may be liable for the child's death. Birth injuries may also result in claims of medical malpractice or pharmaceutical drug liability. Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney in your state for legal advice.
Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
While no amount of money can replace a loved one, suing the party that caused the death can provide you with some measure of financial relief while also punishing the wrongful party. Although state laws vary, courts typically award damages that are designed to compensate surviving family members for the loss of their loved one's financial and emotional support. While these awards can be difficult to quantify for the loss of a child, they typically include damages for loss of consortium and lost future earnings. In addition to these damages, courts may also seek to punish the liable party by awarding punitive damages.
Get Legal Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death actions based on the death of a newborn child or fetus are complicated matters. State laws vary in the requirements necessary to bring such lawsuits. States also have statutes of limitations governing when your time to bring a wrongful death lawsuit runs out. If you believe you have a claim, consider getting a legal evaluation by an injury attorney first.
Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to make sure your rights are protected.