What is a Wrongful Birth? Can I Sue for Wrongful Birth?

sue for wrongful birth

Most women go to regular medical checkups during pregnancy to check on their health and the health of their growing fetus. We depend on our doctors to let us know of any potential medical issues with ourselves or our fetus in a timely manner so we can make the best possible decisions regarding the birth of a child. When a baby is born with major congenital defects because of a misdiagnosed condition or negligent genetic counseling, a couple may wish to sue for wrongful birth in order to recover damages.

An infant born with serious birth defects such as heart or lung defects or genetic or brain conditions will likely have expensive medical treatments and may require ongoing care throughout their life. In some cases, the defect is so severe that the parents will be unable to ever form a normal relationship with their child. A wrongful birth lawsuit seeks a settlement that will cover these expenses. The plaintiffs (typically the parents) seek to hold the defendant (health care provider) responsible for negligent care that led to the birth of a child with serious defects.

If you are caring for a baby with special needs as a result of negligent prenatal care, you may be feeling completely overwhelmed, both emotionally and financially. A personal injury lawyer can review your wrongful birth claim and discuss appropriate next steps to help ease your burden.

What is a Wrongful Birth? Can I Sue for Wrongful Birth?

In Washington state, parents may sue healthcare providers for wrongful birth when their “negligent action while treating a mother caused the birth of a defective child.”

In a typical wrongful birth case, a plaintiff claims that they were not given adequate medical information to make an informed decision about whether to conceive or to carry a fetus to term and, as a result, their child was born with serious birth defects. For example:

  • A doctor failed to diagnose a genetic condition in one or both of the parents that would have caused them to choose not to have children.
  • A doctor failed to diagnose a mother’s health condition early on in the pregnancy that could lead to a birth defect.
  • A doctor failed to use appropriate prenatal testing that could have detected a serious birth defect.
  • A doctor failed to communicate the results of prenatal tests, leaving the parents in the dark about the serious birth defect in their growing fetus.

What are wrongful birth damages?

In a successful wrongful birth claim, parents are awarded financial compensation that will cover their additional costs for caring for a child with a serious birth defect, both economic and non-economic.

A settlement may include compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Long-term care
  • Lost wages (when a parent stops working or cuts back on working to care for the child)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Tuition for special schools
  • Emotional and mental distress

Elements of a wrongful birth claim

All successful negligence claims must have the following four elements:

  1. Duty of care. When a doctor takes on a pregnant patient, they owe their patient a duty of care that requires adherence to a standard of reasonable care.
  2. Breach of duty. As part of the accepted medical standard of care, a healthcare provider has a duty to use prenatal tests (medical tests during pregnancy) to check for possible birth defects as the fetus is developing and to provide the parents with adequate medical information to understand the risks of a possible birth defect.
  3. Negligent care caused injury. The breach of duty (or negligent care) was the cause of the injury.
  4. Damages/harm was suffered. The plaintiff suffered damages and/or harm.

An experienced Seattle wrongful birth lawyer will assess the circumstances of your case and inform you of your legal rights. Should a wrongful birth lawsuit be an appropriate path, your injury attorney will build your case and walk you through each stop of the process.

The Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.