Coping With Infant Wrongful Death
No parent should ever have to outlive their child, especially if their child was never given the chance to grow up and experience the world. Every day, hopeful expectant parents go into the delivery room expecting to come out with a baby in their arms, but unfortunately, in cases of infant wrongful death, they’re never given that opportunity.
Infant wrongful death can happen for a number of reasons, all of which are basically preventable with proper medical care. Most of these cases occur due to a medical mistake or a birth injury, and parents are owed compensation for their pain and suffering, as well as other damages, including any costs to treat their baby and/or to attempt to save its life.
What Is Infant Wrongful Death?
Infant wrongful death is the legal term used to describe the situation when an infant dies due to a medical mistake, negligence, improper actions, and/or birth injury. In infant wrongful death cases, the medical provider or institution may be held responsible for the death of the infant, the mother, or both. The degree to which the provider is held responsible will largely depend on the severity of the mistake or negligence on their part.
In most cases of infant wrongful death, the parent or parents will pursue charges against the obstetrician, pediatrician, nurses, or other medical practitioners involved in the birth injury or medical malpractice action that caused the infant’s death. In some states, this may result in manslaughter charges, but these types of charges will vary from state to state.
Birth Injuries That Can Cause Infant Wrongful Death
While there are numerous birth injuries and other circumstances that can lead to infant wrongful death, there are a few that are more common and more likely in the case of medical malpractice or negligence than others.
- Physical trauma during delivery – Long and difficult labors open up a lot of opportunities for medical mistakes and negligence. Misuse of birth-assisting tools like vacuum extractors or forceps can cause severe trauma, which can lead to death. An infant’s distress while still in the birth canal can cause an emergency situation, which can test a doctor’s ability to stay calm and avoid negligent behavior, as well.
- Oxygen deprivation – The brain is not meant to function without oxygen, and while your baby will still be getting oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord until after delivery, there is still a chance that the umbilical cord could be prolapsed or kinked, or that the baby’s lungs may be underdeveloped, making it impossible to get enough oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. Oxygen deprivation is most commonly associated with brain damage and conditions like cerebral palsy, but it may also easily lead to infant wrongful death, as well.
- Reduced blood flow – If blood flow is restricted during labor, which can happen in the case of shoulder dystocia and other birth injuries, brain damage or wrongful death can occur. The doctor should be monitoring the baby’s heart rate throughout labor and delivery to ensure that this does not happen.
Prosecuting an Infant Wrongful Death Case
In some situations, wrongful death is apparent immediately, but this is not always the case. A baby may have sustained a birth injury that went undetected until it was too late, resulting in the baby’s death. If a physician or other medical practitioner should have been able to identify the birth injury and treat it, then this is a case of infant wrongful death and should be heard as such.
In some cases, an infant may be stillborn, and this may or may not be the fault of the doctor, another medical professional, or the institution. If the infant’s death could have been prevented through proper medical treatment, then it should be considered infant wrongful death. However, if there was an unforeseen accident before labor or delivery, such as a car wreck, the doctors treating the mother will not be held responsible.
For more information about different types of birth injury, infant wrongful death, and who is at fault, contact us at Birth Injury Center today. If you believe that you have a medical malpractice case, we want to help you understand your rights and who is at fault.