Under What Circumstances Can You Sue for a Stillbirth?
When a stillbirth occurs, the trauma and grief that strike the family will be dramatic and life-changing. In your pain following a stillbirth, you might be looking for a sense of justice and closure wherever you can find it, which could mean using legal action against the medical team that assisted with the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Can you always sue for a stillbirth, though?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health and safety organizations believe that most stillbirths can be prevented with adequate medical care. Yet not all are easily preventable, nor can they all be linked to some sort of serious medical mistake. You can only file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit if a stillbirth occurred due to some form of medical negligence that another medical provider in the same situation would have avoided.
Risks That Increase the Chances of a Stillbirth
There are risk factors that can make a stillbirth more likely. Trained medical professionals can look for these risk factors and take appropriate actions to reduce their chances of causing severe complications to the mother and child, including a stillbirth.
Stillbirths are often associated with:
- Umbilical cord complications, like strangulation during labor
- Placental abruption during labor and delivery
- Signs of fetal distress during pregnancy and delivery
- Blood pressure and obesity issues in a pregnant mother
- Existence of previous stillbirths, especially in recent years
Medical malpractice can occur if these risk factors should have reasonably been noticed and acted upon by the medical providers who are tending to a pregnant mother and her unborn child. For example, an obstetrician could be found negligent if pregnancy complications were detected before labor, but nothing was done. Or a doctor could be negligent if the child’s vital signs dropped during delivery due to possible umbilical cord strangulation, but no immediate actions were taken to protect the child.
Again, medical malpractice only occurs under specific circumstances. The mistake must have been one that another medical provider likely would have been able to reasonably avoid. Also, the mistake must have been significant enough to have been a direct cause of the stillbirth.
How to Sue for a Stillbirth
The first step in a stillbirth lawsuit is generally to speak with an attorney who handles birth injury cases. All of the factors that need to be present in a case to legitimize a medical malpractice claim can make it extremely difficult to figure out what to do next on your own. With a lawyer leading the way, though, they can help determine the next steps while you focus on grieving and healing.
Faraci Lange, LLP would like to help you if your family has been harmed by a stillbirth that you believe could have been prevented had medical professionals acted more carefully. We have offices in Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Call (888) 997-4110 to schedule a complimentary consultation.