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Overview of wrongful death actions over the loss of a fetus

Childbirth is one of the most beautiful events in a parent's life. Most parents anxiously await the birth of the newborn and they often experience mixed emotions. However, if something goes wrong during childbirth, it can be devastating for the parents. The death of a newborn can be one of the saddest losses that a parent can experience.

If the death of the child could somehow have been avoided, the doctor or another healthcare professional who acted negligently during the delivery may be held responsible. Also, state laws give parents the right to sue for compensation based on the wrongful death of their newborn. However, the rules dictating the legal permission to sue vary from state to state. Many states allow those claims only if the child is born alive. Some states require the fetus to be able to live outside the womb, whereas other states do not consider any of those conditions.

If the state law allows, parents can recover their claims under two main circumstances. First, if their child sustains a birth injury due to the negligent and reckless actions of doctors and medical staff or if the pharmacist gives the wrong medication to the pregnant woman. Second, if the child dies due to the negligence of doctors or medical staff during childbirth. Birth injuries can also be claimed under pharmaceutical drug liability and medical malpractice.

While filing a claim for wrongful death cannot make up for such a huge loss, it can definitely offer some financial relief to the parents. That can also serve as a lesson to the negligent party. It is difficult for state laws to quantify the financial loss in the event of a birth injury or wrongful death of the fetus but the laws typically include damages for loss of consortium and also punish the negligent party by asking them to pay punitive damages.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Wrongful Death of the Fetus or Child," Accessed on July 31, 2015

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