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Infant wrongful death occurs when a baby dies due to negligence, including negligent medical care. Some birth injuries are more likely than others to lead to fatalities, such as severe asphyxiation, hemorrhaging in the brain, hydrocephalus, or damage to the spinal cord. If you think your baby’s death was caused by medical negligence, an infant wrongful death lawyer can help.
Labor and delivery of a child are difficult, and even with modern advances in medicine, it is still risky.
After birth, an infant is still more vulnerable to death when compared to older babies and children. Neonatal death refers to the death of an infant at birth or up to 28 days after delivery.
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Forty-one percent of deaths of children under the age of five occur during the neonatal period, and too many of these deaths were preventable.
The most common causes of neonatal death, which occurs in four out of 1,000 births every year, are premature birth, birth defects, and low birth weight. Birth injuries are not a common cause of neonatal death, but they are the ones that are most likely to be defined as wrongful deaths.
Conditions contributing to neonatal death, like preeclampsia or maternal infections, should be monitored and treated.
Doctors must recognize difficult labor and carefully decide about initiating a c-section. When doctors neglect these, death is possible, and a medical caregiver may be to blame.
Birth Injuries That Lead to Wrongful Death
The most common causes that have the potential to lead to fatality are asphyxia and traumatic injury. Asphyxia is a lack of oxygen, which can occur for several reasons.
If there are problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, the baby may not get enough oxygen during delivery. Infections and other health conditions in the mother can also lead to asphyxiation.
Traumatic injury to the newborn may also lead to wrongful death. Misuse of instruments, not recognizing that birth is going to be difficult, not addressing a breech birth, and not responding appropriately to any other type of birth complication, are reasons that a medical caregiver could be found guilty of a wrongful death caused by a birth injury.
Any of these could cause a child to receive an injury to the spine or brain that is severe enough to lead to death.
The most significant risk factors that can lead to the types of birth injuries that have the potential to be fatal are:
- A breech birth position
- A large infant
- Ecessive traction
- The use of instruments like forceps
All of these are things that a doctor should be able to look for, recognize, and address to avoid birth injury. Only about two percent of neonatal deaths are from a birth injury, but for those parents, it is significant.
Making a Case for Wrongful Death
If you are a parent whose child died at birth and you suspect wrongful death, you can make a case for this by filing a lawsuit against the responsible party.
With the guidance of a lawyer experienced in infant wrongful death cases, you can take the steps needed to help prove your case.
Assessing a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death cases for infants are typically restricted to those that are viable at the time of birth. In other words, stillborn babies are not usually considered to have died from negligence.
Many factors can contribute to a stillborn baby, and most are not related to a doctor’s care or negligence. If a child is born alive and dies soon after birth, the doctor delivering the baby might have been negligent in some way.
The doctor may have used instruments too forcefully and not recognized that the umbilical cord was asphyxiating a baby.
Or a physician may have failed to order an emergency Cesarean section even when it was clear the delivery would be difficult. These and other reasons may prove that an infant’s death was wrongful.
Real Wrongful Death Cases
Infant wrongful death cases are tried or settled with various outcomes, but often the parents can make a case and receive justice and compensation.
In Bibb County, Georgia, in 2015, a couple was awarded $4.3 million in an infant wrongful death suit. The mother in the case said that the doctors failed to provide the right care in a timely manner.
The woman was found to have a cervical abnormality, signifying that she was at risk of having her baby prematurely.
She claimed that her doctors did not recognize that her baby was at risk, and he died just after delivery. The jury in the case deliberated for only a couple of hours before returning with the decision that the doctors were negligent.
In another case, a family was awarded over $8 million because of a more obvious mistake that led to an infant’s death. In this case, the premature baby died because a hospital pharmacy made an error and provided a dose of sodium chloride 60 times greater than the dose prescribed.
The settlement is the largest ever awarded in Illinois for infant wrongful death.
If you believe you have a valid wrongful death case, you have a right to make your case in front of a judge or jury. You can rely on a lawyer with experience in these kinds of cases to help you take the next steps.
- Mechanical birth-related trauma to the neonate: An imaging perspective. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5825313/
- THE RELATION OF BIRTH TRAUMA TO NEONATAL MORTALITY AND INFANT MORBIDITY. (n.d). JAMA Network of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association.
Retrieved from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/1175908
- Neonatal mortality. (2019, September 17). UNICEF DATA.
Retrieved from: https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-survival/neonatal-mortality/
- Brown, O. (2015, August 27). Bibb County jury awards $4.3 million to parents after baby’s death. The Telegraph.
Retrieved from: https://www.macon.com/news/local/article30229560.html?fb_comment_id=854736344614430_936091839812213
- Hospital Agrees To Pay $8.25M In Baby's Death From Overdose. (2012, April 5). CBS Chicago – CBS 2.
Retrieved from: https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/04/05/babys-death-yields-record-settlement-of-more-than-8m/