• Wrongful Death Claims for Stillborn Infants
  • March 22, 2018
  • A child’s birth should be a joyful event in every parent’s life. However, problems during or before birth can cause a family to suffer tragedy before ever meeting their little one. Incidents involving infant wrongful death are often caused by negligence of the birthing team and can be prevented. Here, the birth injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Peter Angelos discuss the claims of wrongful deaths regarding stillborn infants.

    The birth of a child is one of the most defining moments for a family. Parents want the best for their children, and most will go to great lengths to ensure this. They expect the same from the healthcare professionals who are entrusted with the life of their children. When these professionals are unable to meet the standards of care promised, birth injuries that lead to death may occur. Families that have been victimized have the right to seek justice and compensation by filing a medical malpractice claim.

    Defining Infant Wrongful Death

    Wrongful death is a legal term that is applied to the death of a person caused by the negligence of another. In birth injury cases, infant wrongful deaths are usually held against the medical provider. In most infant wrongful death cases, the parents or surviving family members file a claim against the attending physician or other medical personnel involved in the incident. If the physician, their team or other medical personnel took action, or failed to take action, that contributed to the wrongful death of the infant, they may be considered to have been negligent, should it be found that a reasonable medical professional would have acted differently in the situation.

    In cases of stillborn death, it’s important to note that physicians and their team are not always liable. In some states, such as Maryland, contributory negligence laws exist that bar a plaintiff from seeking damages if they took actions that contributed to the negligent act. This means that the physician or medical staff may not be held liable. Many other states function under comparative negligence laws, which determine damages based on the negligent actions taken by both the plaintiff and defendant, if applicable. It is important to speak to a qualified wrongful death and medical malpractice attorney to understand how these laws may affect your claim.

    Understanding Stillbirth Law

    The majority of states that recognize stillbirth as a wrongful death mandate that the infant must be viable at the time the stillbirth occurred to prove negligence. In this type of case, the term “viable” means that the infant should be able to survive on its own outside the womb when the negligent act happened. Since viability typically starts around 24 weeks, if a fetal death occurs before 24 weeks gestation, it may not be considered wrongful death.

    It is important to note that not all states consider stillbirth to be categorized as wrongful death. This is under the rationality that the infant is not a person yet. Many of these states, however, do allow other forms of cases based on stillbirth, such as negligence that causes emotional distress.