When it comes to pregnancy and the joy that expecting parents feel, few ever dream that their child could suffer an injury at the hands of a medically irresponsible doctor. With technology and medical knowledge expanding every day, doctors are now able to predict or diagnose a variety of conditions or issues while the baby is still in the womb. Missteps can be made at this time by doctors if they fail to notify or diagnose a child’s condition early in their fetal development.
This is a big reason why ultrasounds and other exams are ordered throughout a mother’s pregnancy. It’s to avoid or to plan for any issues that the child may encounter during or after birth. A wrongful birth suit would allege that a doctor failed to diagnose a condition of either mother or baby that then impacted the baby in a way that was unnecessarily harmful. Parents who successfully sue for wrongful birth may be awarded financial compensation to offset the costs of caring for a child with birth defects. These expenses can include tuition for special schools to help a child with a severe learning disability or the costs of regular medical monitoring and treatment.
There is one thing that is the same with wrongful birth and wrongful life suits. They both must prove that the parents wouldn’t have conceived the child or carried the fetus to term had they known of the hereditary ailment or disability. Since many of these type of issues can be diagnosed while the baby is still in the womb, parents could have made a tough decision that would have eliminated having a child with a disability or impairment. These suits are much different from the average medical malpractice suit because the sheer potential to avoid the situation was entirely possible, had it been properly addressed.
While this decision can be extremely tough for parents, it is their right to know this information to make the best decision possible for their family. If the ability to make this decision was taken away from them, they could sue in a wrongful life or wrongful birth suit. While damages for rearing costs and medical expenses is usually honored, damages for pain and suffering have not historically been recognized. This is a small issue in an otherwise favorable option for those who were not made aware of the disability or condition that afflicts their child due to a failure to diagnose.
Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life Lawsuits,” Accessed October 9, 2017