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A mother has the right to choose if she wants to have a baby. But when a wrongful birth occurs, that right is taken away, and she may be able to sue her doctor if they were responsible for the birth that took place. In legal terms, this is called wrongful birth.
A wrongful birth may occur if a doctor did not diagnose a woman as pregnant, she became pregnant because the doctor did not properly perform a sterilization procedure, or the doctor did not tell the parents that the baby might be born deformed in enough time so that they could choose to end the pregnancy.
Additionally, if a doctor fails to notify the parents about any known complications or risks, and the mother ends up having the baby without that knowledge, then wrongful birth could potentially apply. In another scenario, wrongful birth may be at play if one or both of the parents have a genetic condition that carries a high risk of giving birth to children with birth defects, but the doctor did not diagnose the condition and tell them about the risk of these defects in genetic counseling.
Symptoms of Wrongful Birth Birth Injuries
Symptoms are going to vary for wrongful birth birth injuries depending on the condition the baby has. For example, a baby could be born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when a developing baby’s spinal cord does not develop or close properly while the baby is in the womb. Symptoms include urinary and bowel incontinence, total paralysis or weakness in the legs, a hunched back, an intellectual disability, and the appearance of a skin cyst.
Another genetic birth defect is Down syndrome, where abnormal cell division leads to an extra full or a partial copy of chromosome 21. A child with Down syndrome could have a distinct facial appearance, developmental delays, intellectual disability, a short stature, and a speech delay.
Heart defects, which are abnormalities in the heart, are also genetic birth defects. Symptoms include a murmur or abnormal heart rhythm, swelling, blue-tinted skin, shortness of breath, and the failure to develop or feed in a normal way.
Treatment for Wrongful Birth Birth Injuries
Treatment will depend on the diagnosis that a baby receives. A baby may need emergency care as soon as they are born and/or long-term care for the rest of their life. For instance, serious cases of heart defects may require a child to get a heart transplant, take medication to lower blood pressure, and use heart devices. A child with Down syndrome may need continuous care including support groups, occupational, physical, and speech therapy, and special education so they can learn. To treat spina bifida, a doctor may perform surgery before or after birth, and a child may need lifelong care like physical and occupational therapy, bowel and bladder management treatment, and walking and mobility aids such as crutches, braces, or a wheelchair.
How Do I Know if Medical Malpractice Caused Wrongful Birth?
When it comes to a wrongful birth lawsuit, a mother has to show that the doctor failed to diagnose a condition or give her enough medical information, and that if she had that information, she would have decided to end her pregnancy. However, only a birth injury lawyer will be able to know whether or not negligence actually occurred and you have a valid wrongful birth lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible so they can start working on your case.
How Much Will I Receive From a Wrongful Birth Settlement?
Your birth injury lawyer cannot predict how much your wrongful birth case could settle for in the end. But they will be able to calculate your economic and non-economic damages for things like:
- Medical bills
- Loss of companionship and enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical care
- Loss of earning capacity
The higher your out of pocket costs are, the higher your settlement could be. For example, if your child has a lifelong ailment now and will require surgery, medication, medical equipment, and other types of care, then your settlement could be higher. Your birth injury lawyer will go after the highest settlement possible so you don’t have to worry about your expenses during this difficult time.
Settlement Offers in a Wrongful Birth Case
When you get in touch with a birth injury lawyer, they will collect any evidence of wrongful birth you have including witness statements, photographs of your baby’s injuries, and your medical records. If you don’t have a certain type of evidence and need help gathering it, your lawyer will be happy to help you. Your lawyer will ensure that your case is as strong as possible before approaching the defendant, your doctor.
Then, once everything has been collected, your lawyer will present the proof to your doctor. Your doctor may choose to settle with you or try to negotiate a lower settlement. You can always reject their settlement until you agree on a number. Typically, if the evidence is there, a doctor would rather settle than risk having to pay you more in court. Also, their reputation would be on the line if the case went to court, and they don’t want to take that risk.
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s very tough to prove medical malpractice in a wrongful birth case. The legal system makes it difficult so that people don’t have the ability to sue their doctor over every little mistake they make. Then, nobody would enter the medical field out of fear of being sued left and right. Only a skilled birth injury lawyer will have a fighting chance of proving medical malpractice.
Why Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer?
You did not expect to give birth. Now that you did, and you’re in this whole new reality – perhaps you’re taking care of a very sick or injured child – you need some legal help. Your birth injury lawyer will stand up for you and your family in your time of need, so that you can focus on your child, yourself, and your family right now. With everything that’s happened, you need that peace of mind.
Wrongful Birth Birth Injury Attorneys
If you went through a wrongful birth and now you’re dealing with the repercussions, including an injured baby, it’s time to call the birth injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian for help. We are standing by and ready to assist you with your case.
Contact Gilman & Bedigian 24/7 for a free consultation at (800) 529-6162.