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Wrongful Birth Lawsuit: What Is It, Exactly?

March 24, 2022  ·  By HM&M

Wrongful Birth Lawsuit: What Is It Exactly?

In a wrongful birth lawsuit, a parent alleges that medical providers who facilitated testing, exams, or assessments during pregnancy or during fertility treatments failed to provide proper information and/or counseling to the parents prior to the baby’s birth, resulting in the birth of a child with severe disabilities.  The parents of a child born with a genetic or congenital disorder have a Wrongful Birth Lawsuit if, but for the medical provider’s negligence in testing or counseling as to the risk of giving birth to a child with such a condition, they would have avoided conception or terminated the pregnancy. 

The purpose of filing a wrongful birth lawsuit is to obtain compensation to help the impacted parents care for the disabled child.  This compensation can include:

  • The extraordinary medical and other expenses involved in caring for the child
  • Emotional distress damages for the benefit of the parents of the disabled child—the parents are also an injured party in a Wrongful Birth case

There are 29 states in the United States that recognize wrongful birth cases. In some states, such as Illinois 

A wrongful birth lawsuit is not the same as a wrongful life suit, in which a malpractice suit is brought on by the child affected by the birth defect. 

How is Negligence Related to Wrongful Birth?

Despite prenatal genetic testing being a common practice, families can receive negligent genetic counseling from physicians, hospitals, and fertility clinics. 

Examples of scenarios in which negligence may occur include, but are not limited to, the below.

Pre-Conception Genetic Counseling

Pre-conception genetic counseling helps parents who help parents make conception decisions when they know there’s a risk of passing on a devastating genetic disorder to a child determine the risk of having another child with the same disorder. The Courts will determine if the information provided to the parents was accurate and whether different information would have influenced the parents’ choice about the birth of their child.

Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis

A pre-implantation genetic diagnosis helps prospective parents who know they are carriers of a particular disease. The parents go through IVF treatments to create embryos that are tested for genetic mutation. The parents are then advised as to which embryo(s) are affected by the disease. The Courts will determine

  1. What did or could the analysis show with respect to the embryo?
  2. How was this information communicated to the parents or the IVF providers?
  3. Was the correct embryo transferred?
  4. Was informed consent given?

Failing to meet these standards could indicate negligence on behalf of IVF providers, laboratories, or other actors. 

Post-Conception Genetic Counseling

Post-conception genetic counseling occurs when an obstetrician counsels an expectant mother about the availability of prenatal genetic counseling. If this counseling does not occur during pregnancy and a suit is filed, the Court will determine if there was something in the patient’s medical history or age that may have warranted further testing. 

This and other criteria could point to medical negligence.

Post-Conception Ultrasound and Counseling

Post-conception ultrasounds and counseling are typically the first steps in determining if there is a problem with the development of the child. If there is a failure to identify an anomaly, it may provide cause for a wrongful birth lawsuit against a laboratory, radiographer, radiologist, and/or obstetrician. 

Who Is Held Liable For a Wrongful Birth?

In a wrongful birth lawsuit, the parents of the child are considered to be the plaintiffs in the matter. Potential defendants in a wrongful birth lawsuit could include:

  • Clinical geneticists
  • Genetic counselors
  • Laboratories
  • Laboratory employees 
  • Obstetricians
  • Reproductive endocrinologists
  • Radiologists or sonographers
  • Hospitals and clinics

An expert attorney can help you determine whether negligence occurred and if so, who’s liable.

Wrongful Birth Lawsuit Consultation

Determining whether your family would be a candidate for a successful wrongful birth lawsuit can be difficult. As parents, you want to provide the best life possible for your child. Those who are born with severe birth defects will be impacted physically, emotionally, and financially for their entire lives, and one day a parent may not be able to care for or support their child as they once did. 

Receiving compensation for a wrongful birth can help provide security for your family for years to come. A wrongful birth consultation can help you begin your journey to find peace of mind.

Guiding the Way in Wrongful Birth Lawsuits

Hurley McKenna & Mertz is the leading Chicago law firm in the area of wrongful birth. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing families that have been impacted by a wrongful birth. 

Not only have we handled hundreds of wrongful birth lawsuits with success, but the attorneys at Hurley McKenna & Mertz have also helped change the law by winning a case in the Illinois Supreme Court. A consultation is the first step to achieving your legal goals. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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