Wrongful Death and Wrongful Life Lawsuits: What Are They?
It sounds offensive to use the term “wrongful birth.” The mother or father of any child that is born, would never call the birth of their child wrong, and the idea of suing anyone for the birth of a child, seems both odd, and offensive.
But it does happen, and there is a term in the law called wrongful birth, as well as causes of action for wrongful life, or wrongful conception.
The term wrongful conception is often used when a device, or a medicine designed to stop or avoid a pregnancy, does not work, leading to an unwanted pregnancy. It can also happen when a male gets a vasectomy, or other procedure, designed to sterilize the male, and the procedure fails—the male does in fact fertilize a female, and the female gets pregnant.
Contraceptive drug manufacturers can be sued, if the labeling on their product is faulty—for example, if doing something or a drug interaction would weaken the effect of the contraceptive drug, but that fact isn’t disclosed, and the female taking the medicine in fact gets pregnant.
In these kinds of cases, the child is actually born healthy—the cause of action is for a child being born when the mother or father did not want to have a child.
What are the Damages?
These are difficult cases, because the child is born healthy. On the one hand, it is hard to imagine parents being “damaged” or injured by giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby. On the other hand, as adults, the parents were deprived of their right as consenting adults to either have or not have a baby, and the loss of that life choice without their control, should have a value to it.
Wrongful birth is more often used when a child is born with a medical or genetic problem. In some cases, parents may allege that the child was born with a defect or illness that, had medical professionals correctly caught and diagnosed, the parents would have opted to terminate the pregnancy. Because the medical professionals were negligent, the parents lost out on that option.
Wrongful birth can also come from a misdiagnosis of the mother. If the mother has an illness, disease, or genetic problem that would prevent her from ever giving birth to a healthy child, and the mother is never told this by her doctor, the mother may have a wrongful birth lawsuit against the doctor for failure to inform the mother, thus resulting in the birth of an ill or disabled child.
In these cases, parents must prove that had the illness or disability been correctly diagnosed, that the parents would have, in fact, actually opted to terminate the pregnancy.
Medical malpractice in any form, particularly related to childbirth, can be devastating. We can help you understand your legal options. Call Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200 for help.