There are few things more tragic than the death of an infant, particularly a death deemed wrongful, that could and should have been prevented from occurring. Babies die in childbirth for a variety of reasons, and sometimes they die shortly after being born. Neonatal deaths are tragic, but even with our modern advances in medicine they sometimes cannot be avoided.
Those that can be avoided are the types of infant deaths that are termed wrongful. When someone’s decision, action, or inaction directly leads to a baby’s death, that person caused the wrongful death in legal terms. An infant wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against that person, or sometimes against a hospital or other medical institution for the purposes of seeking justice and closure as well as seeking monetary damages.
Causes of Infant Death
There are so many potential causes of neonatal death, which refers to the death of an infant between the time it is born and 28 days of age. Birth defects, which are caused by various factors, can lead to a death, being born prematurely makes it very difficult for a baby to survive, and then there are all the potential complications of pregnancy and the potential for birth injuries, medication errors, and misdiagnoses that lead to the failure to treat a life-threatening condition.
Preventable Infant Deaths
Many of these causes of infant death are accidental or cannot be controlled or prevented. In some cases, though, the deaths could have been prevented. These deaths may be termed infant wrongful deaths. Birth injuries can cause the death of an infant and are often the result of negligence or medical malpractice.
The use of instruments during labor, including forceps and vacuum extractors, can lead to the death of an infant if inappropriate force is used. A baby may also become strangled by its own umbilical cord during a long and complicated labor. Brain damage caused by asphyxiation during labor may ultimately be severe enough to cause death.
A wrongful death may also be the result of a doctor’s failure to take all steps to care for a mother and child. If a doctor, for example, fails to properly monitor a pregnant woman in advance of labor, a potential complication that would necessitate a Cesarean section may be missed.
If a baby is born with a condition that could be life-threatening and is not diagnosed or misdiagnosed, this can also lead to death, as can errors made in prescribing and administering medications.
Reasons to File an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The number one reason to file an infant wrongful death lawsuit is because you believe your baby’s death could have been prevented. The person or persons responsible for your child’s death should be punished for malpractice.
Punitive measures help to make the entire medical industry safer. Your infant wrongful death lawsuit could prevent a future death. Getting compensation in memory of your lost child is another reason to file a lawsuit.
You may not feel like making this kind of decision while in the midst of grief, but acting quickly on a lawsuit like this is important. You and others who witnessed the error in judgement or malpractice may begin to forget the details of the situation with time. You can make a stronger case when the events are recent.
Proving Negligence in an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Your lawyer can help you decide if negligence or malpractice can actually be proven in your case. You will need an expert in this type of law and with experience in helping other people take medical malpractice cases to court or to a settlement agreement. There are several things that your lawyer will need to prove in order to make a strong case.
One of these is that the defendant, against whom you are bringing the case, had a duty of care. You must show that the medical caregiver that caused the infant death was clearly the person responsible for your care and your child’s care.
You must then show that this person made an error of some kind or breached that duty of care. Finally you have to demonstrate that the breach in care led to the death of the infant. The defendant may be one or more caregivers or may be an institution as a whole, such as a hospital.
Compensation from an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you have a good case and an experienced lawyer you stand a chance of gaining compensation. This can include economic and non-economic damages. For instance, you may be awarded compensation to cover actual costs like medical bills and lost wages if you cannot return to work. You may also be given compensation to cover less tangible factors such as emotional pain and suffering for you and physical suffering for your infant.
In many infant wrongful death lawsuits there are also punitive damages. These are costs the defendant is expected to pay as a penalty. This is a punishment and also serves as a deterrent. Bringing medical caregivers to justice and punishing them monetarily pushes the entire medical industry to be more careful and to make better decisions for the care of patients.
The amount of compensation and punitive damages awarded in an infant wrongful death lawsuit depend on the cause of death, the extent of the error made, the accrued medical expenses, and other individual factors. Amounts awarded, often by a jury can vary widely, with amounts ranging upward as much as millions of dollars.
In one case, a family was awarded $8.5 million after an infant died when a hospital pharmacy gave the baby a dose of medication at 60 times the concentration it was supposed to be. Such a major error, and the resulting suffering it caused, warranted a large settlement.
If you have suffered the terrible tragedy of losing an infant and you feel that someone was to blame, it is important to take quick steps to start an infant wrongful death lawsuit. There are statutes of limitation on these types of cases, and difficult though it may be, moving forward is the best way to ensure that you will get justice for your child and your family.