About Wrongful Life Lawsuits

A wrongful life lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice case brought by an injured child who was born with a disability.  The disability is not one that occurred during labor and delivery, and is not one that was caused by a health care practitioner.  Instead, the claim is that the health care provider did something wrong that divested the right to terminate the pregnancy from the parents.

Typical Wrongful Life Claim

In the typical wrongful life claim, the obstetrician, radiologist or genetic counselor made a mistake and either (1) failed to diagnose a child’s injury, (2) failed to properly report the child’s injury to other health care providers; or (3) failed to properly inform the parents of the child’s injury.

These lawsuits are usually brought in the context of a genetic or congenital disability like cystic fibrosis, spina bifida or holoprosencephaly.  When these injuries are detectable by ultrasound/sonogram, the technician or radiologist will typically inform the obstetrician, who notifies the parents.  If the injury is detectable through other tests, like an amniocentesis or blood test, the lab will typically report to the obstetrician, who notifies the parents.  Armed with that information, the parents can decide whether they want to continue on with the pregnancy or terminate through a lawful abortion.

Pursuing a Wrongful Life Lawsuit

A wrongful life lawsuit is always brought by the child (through his guardian or representative), claiming that he should not have been born.  Most courts that have evaluated these claims have rejected them on public policy grounds, believing essentially that a disabled life is better than no life at all, or the “utter void of non-existence,” and that it is impossible to calculate damages.

Though most states do not recognize wrongful life claims, many do permit wrongful birth claims.  These are claims brought by the parents, usually for the extraordinary medical expenses required in caring for the child with disabilities.

Contact Us

If your child was born with a congenital disability or genetic disease, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or send us an online message.  We can help you determine if your state recognizes wrongful birth or wrongful life claims, and whether you have any legal recourse.

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Photo by http://rnstudentpeermentor.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/maternalchild-health-ob-fetal-and-maternal-assessment-techniques/; attribution: RN Student Peer Mentor