If you are a parent you probably know all about “love at first sight”. It's the feeling you have the first time you set eyes upon your baby, the first time you hold it in your arms, the first time you hear its voice. But this “love at first sight” can quickly turn into a heartbreaking affair if it turns out that in spite of all the high-tech genetic testing; your new born has a disability. This could have been avoided if the fetus had been tested properly while in vitro. This is where the issue of Wrongful Birth comes in.
What is Wrongful Birth?
Wrongful birth is a legal term which is used in case a parent feels cheated into having a baby due to the negligence of the medical staff or doctor. The usual points of conflict are:
The doctor or attending staff failed to pinpoint a serious medical problem with the fetus
• The doctor or attending staff failed to adequately warn the parents about the risks of giving birth to a baby with such a serious medical problem
• Withheld information thus depriving the parent of crucial information that could have helped them make a better and informed decision.
However, remember that wrongful birth lawsuits are not entertained in every state across the country. But the basic principle of wrongful birth lawsuits stays the same everywhere and here are a few you need to know.
Wrongful birth lawsuits have a strong chance of success if the case is based upon malpractice. In fact most lawyers and attorneys will tell you that wrongful birth lawsuits are on principle medical malpractice lawsuits. For a successful lawsuit the parent needs to prove that:
• The doctor was legally bound to advise the parents about the gravity of the situation on the doctor-patient relationship basis. Medical records will easily establish if the doctor gave her expert prenatal medical advice or not.
• The doctor was negligent in performing their duty, by misdiagnosing a serious and severe medical problem or by not adequately warning the parents about the problems which will arise if they chose to have a child with such serious medical issues.
When to Get Legal Help?
Once the parent has established the case as Wrongful Birth, it is time to seek legal assistance. An expert lawyer will guide the parent towards establishing the fact that this birth has not only inflicted harm or injury on themselves, but will negatively affect the quality of life of the new born child as well. Most commonly parents seek damages by proving the serious birth defect or medical condition of their child. But in some cases the parent can claim damages for themselves also since they were robbed of the chance to make an informed decision about such an important issue. A good lawyer will easily establish that this was caused by the negligence of the doctor.
Although compensation in wrongful birth lawsuits is limited to the amount needed for the treatment and care of a child with a serious medical condition or birth defect. However, there are states like Illinois, where the court will take into account the mental trauma and emotional stress the parents may have suffered throughout the pregnancy and later as they live with the consequences of it and award extra damages.
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