Having a child with birth defects can change the expectations you had for your growing family. Your child may need special support in school to address developmental delays, or they may need specialized medical care and mobility devices. Some birth defects are temporary or treatable, but others may be permanent.
Many children are able to live long, happy, healthy lives despite birth defects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you do not face additional challenges. There are various causes of birth defects, some that are completely unavoidable and are truly no one’s fault. But if someone else’s negligence harmed your baby, they may owe you monetary damages to help you care for your child’s condition.
It’s important to note that many negligence and personal injury laws will vary from state to state, so be sure you follow the rules specific to your jurisdiction.
Personal injury is a broad term that covers many different types of harm. At its core, personal injury is nearly any kind of physical or mental injury that someone else causes, which harms you and causes you loss.
Intentional personal injury occurs when someone purposefully makes contact with you and that contact injures you. Battery is an example of an intentional personal injury.
If someone intentionally hits you, the impact hurts your baby, and the injury causes birth defects, the person who injured you could be liable for the damages. A civil court could require them to pay you for the cost of their actions, including the price of your child’s medical care and money for pain and suffering. Additionally, they may be tried separately in a criminal court.
In a civil case, you would need to prove to the court that this person made an intentional movement to make contact with you, that they did make contact with you, and that the contact harmed you. Typically, you don’t have to prove intent to injure, just intent to touch. If someone goes to push by you because they’re in a rush and you fall, they could be just as responsible as if they shoved you to the ground on purpose.
Negligent and reckless injury occurs when someone accidentally makes contact with you and that contact injures you, but the accident could have been avoided if they had exercised a standard level of care. Medical malpractice is one type of negligence.
Modern medicine has come a long way, but mistakes still occur. Sometimes medical personnel can do everything they’re supposed to, and something still just doesn’t go quite right. In other cases, unfortunately, a healthcare professional may have behaved so carelessly or recklessly that they injured your baby before it was even born; injuries that could have been prevented if not for that person’s negligent acts.
To prove a case for medical malpractice, you’ll need to demonstrate that the medical professional in question caused the injury, that it was a substantial injury, and that they didn’t perform to the same standard of care that any other reasonable medical professional would have performed to in a similar situation.
If, for example, you went to your doctor because you were displaying symptoms of toxoplasmosis during your pregnancy and they didn’t treat you, or even test you, for an infection, but normally most doctors would, they could be liable for medical malpractice if the infection caused your baby organ damage. Other illnesses, incorrectly administered tests, and improperly prescribed medications, could all potentially contribute to birth defects. However, you’d need to show that negligent actions caused the birth defects.
Strict liability injury occurs when someone accidentally makes contact with you and that contact injures you, but they did use an appropriate level of care. In some very specific circumstances, a person can be legally responsible for the harm they caused irrespective of most safety measures. Product liability is an example of a strict liability.
Product liability covers injuries that a consumer sustains from using a particular product. In many cases, the level of safety and care the manufacturer used in making the product doesn’t relieve them of all liability for the harm caused.
Medications are one of the more common product-liability issues related to birth defects. Drug manufacturers are required to carefully design, test, manufacture, and market their products to ensure they’re safe for pregnant people to use and that pregnant people are fully aware of any potential risks. Even if the manufacturers take the necessary steps, they could still be liable for financial damages if the medication has a little-known side effect that causes birth defects.
If your baby was born with birth defects caused by someone else’s actions, it’s possible that they owe you financial compensation to help remedy that harm. In order to recover, you’ll likely need to take them to court in a civil lawsuit. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a settlement before having to go to trial.
Proving fault in cases like these can be tricky; it would be helpful to work with an experienced attorney. They have more knowledge and understanding of the laws that apply to your case, which could help them gather evidence, present your case, negotiate for settlements, and prove cause of harm. Hiring an attorney could help take some of the work off of your plate so you can dedicate more of your time to caring for your child and less on filing paperwork for the court. In the end, you may end up with a better outcome than if you had tried to go it alone.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local birth defect attorney to discuss the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.