It may seem like the last thing a grieving parent would want to think about, but seeking an infant wrongful death settlement is an important part of getting justice and helping to prevent other infant deaths. The worst thing that any parent can imagine is losing a child, but when it happens as the result of someone’s negligence, especially someone the parents trusted to provide medical care, the loss is especially devastating. An infant wrongful death settlement can provide you with a sense of justice for your child and compensation to help cover the resulting costs.
How Infant Wrongful Deaths Happen
It seems unimaginable, that an innocent baby should die because of an accident or mistake, but that is exactly what happens in an infant wrongful death. Carelessness, errors in judgement, mistakes made because of fatigue, and other factors can all cause a vulnerable infant to die during childbirth or shortly after. It may be one medical caregiver such as a doctor or midwife, or it could be a result of the practices of an entire hospital that lead to an infant wrongful death.
One common and broad reason for infant deaths is the failure of a doctor to order a Cesarean section. It is the doctor’s responsibility to decide when this surgical procedure is warranted to avoid a complicated delivery that could result in birth injuries, harm to the mother, or the death of the infant. When the doctor fails to take this step, and the infant dies as a result, it could be termed infant wrongful death.
Another common cause of infant wrongful death occurs when a doctor or other caregiver uses instruments inappropriately during childbirth. Forceful use of forceps or a vacuum extractor can cause damage to the skull, head, and brain of a baby or may even affect the spine, and any such accident has the potential to lead to the baby’s death.
Other potential ways that this accidental but wrongful death may occur include misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a condition at birth. This means that the baby will not be treated and if the condition is life-threatening, the result may be wrongful death. A mistake could be made with medication also, including giving the wrong medication to an infant or giving the wrong dose of the correct medication.
Making the Case for an Infant Wrongful Death Settlement
For a parent going through the worst possible grief, trying for an infant wrongful death settlement may seem insignificant in comparison, or even greedy and selfish. These kinds of lawsuits and settlements are important, though. They give the parent a sense of justice and a source of money to cover expenses associated with the tragedy.
These settlements also apply punitive damages to the defendant, which is important. Someone who is responsible for a baby’s death should be punished. A settlement helps to push other caregivers and medical institutions to be more careful and even to put better policies in place for protecting mothers and babies. This means that winning an infant wrongful death settlement could even prevent the death of a baby in the future.
What a Settlement May Cover
What you can potentially win in a settlement depends on several factors: the severity of the mistake or inaction, the pain and suffering of the infant and mother, the extent of medical bills, funeral and burial costs, whether the parents were forced to miss work, and how much work, as well as other important and individualized factors that are unique to each case.
Generally there are two types of compensation awarded in an infant wrongful death settlement: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are designed specifically to cover the costs incurred by the family as a direct result of the infant’s death. This could include lost wages, medical bills, and funeral expenses. Non-economic damages are designed to compensate for things that don’t come with a price tag: pain, emotional trauma, suffering, loss of companionship.
An infant wrongful death settlement may also cover punitive damages. These are expenses that are designed to punish the guilty party and may be levied against an entire medical institution or against one or two individuals responsible for the death of the infant. These punitive damages are designed to punish, to bring justice to the terrible situation, and to deter similar mistakes in the future.
Examples of Infant Wrongful Death Settlements
There are plenty of examples of parents winning settlements for their lost babies. If you aren’t sure you want to press the issue, take inspiration from these brave parents who sought justice for their children and think of the tragedies that could be prevented in the future because of the steps you took to ensure that justice was served to the guilty parties.
In one example of an infant wrongful death settlement a family in Chicago won $8.5 million after a lawyer helped make their case. The premature baby born to these parents was being treated with a sodium chloride solution.
The pharmacy at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois dosed the infant with a solution 60 times more concentrated than it was supposed to be. The family won a settlement of $8.5 million, the largest such settlement in the state, because of the severity of the error made.
In another case in Illinois a family was awarded $1.7 million after a doctor failed to recognize that an infant was being asphyxiated during childbirth. The baby was born with cerebral palsy, but eventually also died from the brain damage the loss of oxygen caused. Initially the hospital denied wrongdoing, but ultimately agreed to the settlement after the family’s lawyer was able to prove negligence.
If your baby died during or shortly after childbirth and you feel that someone could be held responsible, you could be eligible to receive an infant wrongful death settlement. To get that settlement and the justice that comes with it, you will need to rely on the expertise of a lawyer who has a proven track record in medical malpractice cases. It is important that you select the right lawyer, but also that you act quickly. You need to be sure that you don’t miss the statute of limitation and that any witnesses remember details of the event clearly.
It isn’t always easy to start a lawsuit or seek a settlement in cases like these. It takes courage to stand up to medical institutions and the caregivers that you entrusted with your care and your baby’s life. These settlements are so important, though, in changing the way doctors and hospitals operate and in ensuring that future errors and tragedies are prevented.