Infant wrongful death is a legal term, under tort law, defined as the death of a baby due to the negligence of healthcare provider or any other party who willingly or unwillingly caused the death. Infant wrongful death can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always the fault of the healthcare provider. However, when there is a clear indication of medical carelessness and negligence, the responsible parties, such as a physician and/or hospital, may be accountable for damages.
What is an Infant Wrongful Death Compensation Claim?
An infant wrongful death compensation claim is a statute that allows the parents or legal guardian of a deceased to file a lawsuit against the party who acted medically-negligent, causing the baby’s death. In the majority of states that allow infant wrongful death cases, the plaintiff must show evidence as to how the negligent party caused injuries that led to baby’s death. For example, a physician who fails to monitor fetal distress, which leads to infant loss, and ultimately death, may be culpable for the outcome.
Before filing an infant death compensation claim, it’s important to make sure that your case is valid, and that your state honors infant wrongful death lawsuits. While the majority of states in the United States allow infant wrongful death compensation claims, some states place restrictions on these types of cases because stillborn infants aren’t considered “viable.” For instance, some states mandate that the infant must have been moving in the womb prior to death before an infant wrongful death can be filed. Other states only allow infant wrongful death cases if the infant was born alive, then later died due to medical negligence. An experienced infant wrongful death attorney will be able to assist in determining the laws in your state.
How Do I Know if I Have an Infant Wrongful Death Case?
In order to have a valid infant wrongful death case, there are three requirements that must be met:
A doctor/patient must have been established when the death took place. For example, if a physician was responsible for your pregnancy and the delivery of your baby, then a relationship with that particular physician has been established. On the other hand, if a doctor or any other healthcare provider offers you medical advice, yet you’ve never been a patient of the physician, there would not be an established doctor/patient relationship, and therefore you cannot seek compensation against them.
The Doctor Must Have Acted Negligently
In addition to an established doctor/patient relationship, it must be established that the healthcare provider acting in a negligent, careless, and/or reckless way while providing medical services to you.
The Negligent Behavior Must Have Caused the Infant’s Death
In addition to acting negligently, there must be evidence that shows that the direct result of the healthcare provider’s negligent behavior is what led to the baby’s death. This rule applies because in some instances, the death of an infant is not always the fault of the doctor. It is a way to protect physicians in the event that the death happened due to circumstances beyond their control.
Who Can File an Infant Wrongful Death Compensation Claim?
The majority of states in the United States allow parents or the legal guardians of the baby to file a compensation claim. However, each state has its own set of statute of limitations in place, and if you plan to file a lawsuit, you must do so within your state’s allowable time frame.
Statute of limitations will vary according to state, but are generally anywhere from one to six years from the date of the infant’s death.
What Types of Damages Are Recoverable Under Infant Wrongful Death Compensation Claims?
Allowable damages will greatly depend upon the state you live in. As mentioned earlier, some states have strict requirements when it comes to infant wrongful death cases. Some states may allow economic damages but disallow non-economic damages. In general, however, damages recoverable under infant wrong death compensation claims include:
- Any medical expenses needed to help the infant prior to death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
How Much Compensation Can I Receive from an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Although the unfortunate outcome in each infant wrongful death case is that a baby was lost in the most tragic way, there are a lot of differences and variables in each case, which makes it difficult to determine the exact amount of compensation you can expect. A series of circumstances are factored into compensation claims, including the details of how the infant died, the extent of the medical negligence, the state you live in, and more.
Example of a Successful Infant Wrongful Death Compensation Claim
In November 2012, a Chicago couple received an $8.25 million settlement in their infant wrongful death compensation claim against a local hospital pharmacy.
According to court documents, Fritzie and Cameron Burkett’s son Genesis was only 40 days old when he died at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Born 15 weeks early, the baby was kept in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. After undergoing heart surgery, the was given an IV with sodium chloride to help with recovery. However, a medical mistake caused the baby to receive the wrong dosage, up to 60 times higher than the prescribed amount.
“It was determined that a data entry error was made in the formulation of the IV solution. The dosage of sodium for an IV bag from an order had been incorrectly entered into the machine that mixes IV solutions,” said a hospital spokesperson, Greg Alford. Consequently, Genesis went into cardiac arrest and died shortly after, only six weeks after his birth.
According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, the settlement is the largest amount of its type so far in Illinois. The attorney also stated that the hospital’s medical staff covered up the dosage amount listed on the bag.
How Can I Get Help With an Infant Wrongful Death Compensation Claim?
Since infant wrongful death compensation claims are extremely intricate with numerous strict regulations, it’s recommended to find an experienced birth injury lawyer who has experience with wrongful death cases. It’s important to look for an attorney who specifically specializes in infant wrongful cases, as these cases are different than other types of wrongful death lawsuits.