As a doctor monitors an expectant mother’s health and that of her unborn child, they have an obligation to tell them of any potential complications with the pregnancy. These days, doctors are able to watch closely as a fetus develops. That means they can often diagnose a serious condition that could lead the child to die soon after they’re born or to have serious physical and mental birth defects.
Even before a couple decides to have a baby, they can undergo genetic testing and counseling if they’re concerned about a genetic condition that could lead to a serious birth defect or other medical condition if they have a child. Sometimes parents get the testing and counseling when they’re already expecting.
What happens if a doctor provides negligent genetic counseling or misdiagnoses the condition of an unborn child? They have failed in their duty to provide full and accurate information about the condition of a fetus or the risk that the baby could have significant congenital defects.
What damages can parents seek?
Parents may be able to file a wrongful birth lawsuit. Typically, parents who file these suits do so to seek compensation for what may be a lifetime of medical bills and other care costs for a child (and eventually an adult) who has serious medical issues. They may seek damages for:
- The cost of medical treatment and monitoring
- Tuition for special schools for a child with a serious learning disability
- Special care that a child may need throughout their life
- Emotional and mental distress
Parents need to show that had they known about their unborn child’s condition or the risk of serious genetic issues, they would not have carried the pregnancy to term or would have avoided conception altogether.
Note that parents cannot seek compensation for the traditional costs of raising a child – just those associated with the birth defect. Further, parents can’t file a wrongful birth suit if the child is healthy, even if the parents weren’t given all of the information they should have been.
The decision to file a wrongful birth suit is never an easy one. However, it can help you get the financial support you need to care for your child throughout their life.