Every parent prays for a physically and mentally healthy baby, but for a variety of reasons, infants are often born with disabilities. While it is undeniable that these children are just as precious as their healthy counterparts, managing a child with severe disabilities can prove emotionally, physically and financially challenging for a family. For this reason, many expectant parents want to know about any obvious abnormalities as early as possible in the pregnancy. Regardless of any decisions made by parents upon finding out, knowledge of the situation allows for proper planning and informed choices.
What is a Wrongful Life
When physicians fail to identify a condition and inform the parent, a cause of action for “wrongful life” may arise. Every pregnancy involves a battery tests to gauge the health of the mother and baby during the gestational period. For relatively healthy mothers, this may only entail various blood tests and ultrasounds, as explained by Stanford Children’s Health. For at-risk mothers, such as older women or those with pre-existing medical conditions, additional procedures may include an amniocentesis or placental tissue sampling for genetic testing.
Your doctor is responsible for recognizing when these tests are necessary, even if only as a precautionary measure. Once the tests are completed, it is your physician’s responsibility to read the results correctly and inform you about any apparent problems. The television show 60 Minutes reported about the legalities of these cases and the effect on families. According to the article, this litigation often settles out of court for a variety of reasons:
Insurance companies do not want a disabled child to appear in front of a jury and gain sympathy Sonograms are difficult for lay people to read and understand Different doctors may interpret test results in various ways The physicians may have discarded test results or sonogram images, which are crucial in making a wrongful life case.
What the Law Says
Though many states reject wrongful life cases as a matter of public policy, the Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that certain damages are appropriate in cases where the family proves that wrongful life elements occurred. These damages may include:
***Expenses necessary for adequate care of the disabled child
***The lost income of a parent who may stop working to care for the child
***Lost income that the child will never receive due to the disability
***The child’s pain and suffering
***The parent’s pain and suffering
Proving a wrongful life claim is a challenging process that involves the presentation of highly technical information to a judge or jury. A successful lawsuit requires substantial preparation and the legal gathering of documentation, witnesses and professional opinions. Don’t try to navigate this road alone. Secure the services of an experienced attorney who will diligently work for you and your child.
If you or your newborn was injured, due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital staff, or you feel that you experienced a wrongful life incident, contact the birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.
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