A wrongful death case is obviously an unfortunate nightmare that parents never want to deal with and never planned to deal with. On the contrary, you probably planned on bringing another life into your world, yet instead you now have to plan for unforeseen expenses after your devastating loss.
The grief is so great that usually only those that have been in the position can understand, and there is no way to bring your loved one back.
To add insult to injury, you now have a stack of bills that need to be paid even though you may not be able to pay them. Yet, if the loss of your baby is due to the negligent and careless medical mistakes made by a healthcare provider or any other liable party, you have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation against those responsible.
What If I Don’t Feel Like Filing an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It is perfectly understandable to be caught up in the grief of a wrongful death case. You did not foresee this outcome and now that you’re in this situation, sometimes all you want to do is repress the pain of it.
You need to be able to work toward a wrongful death lawsuit when you’re ready –not before- but keep in mind that going through the motions of a wrongful death lawsuit will help you fight for justice, and in turn may help others who find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
How Does a Lawsuit for the Wrongful Death of My Baby Help?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit helps you to control the outcome of the tragedy that has happened to you and your family. Additionally, you can preserve a sense of justice as you hold the party responsible whose mistakes led to the wrongful death in the first place. Both of these measures –the therapy of controlling the action and the justice of holding the guilty party responsible- are both actions that will help you to move forward and, statistically, you will be healthier faster by taking these measures.
In addition, you’ll have the chance to win damages for the financial and emotional toil that you have to deal with because of the death of your baby. As previously mentioned, medical tests, funeral costs, and burial expenses can add up quickly and the average person and/or family typically isn’t financially prepared enough to be able to afford these overwhelming expenses.
Moreover, although you can’t put a price on peace of mind, it’s important to make the guilty party pay for that stress, anxiety, and emotional trauma you are going through. In many cases, parents are so emotionally upset that it affects their physical health, resulting in additional medical bills that would have never happened had the liable party acted responsibly in the first. All of these factors will be considered when you file a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, before your lawsuit, begins, the criteria for a valid infant wrongful death lawsuit must be met. In almost every state, your case must prove the following:
Duty of Care
Your case must clearly show that the defendant was responsible for the medical care of your baby when the injuries occurred that led to wrongful death. In other words, if the physician who delivered your baby and/or provided medical care for the infant, then that physician had a duty of care.
Duty of Care Infraction
Along with proof of duty of care, proof that the defendant breached the duty of care is necessary to prove your case. For instance, there must be proof that the physician made medical mistakes that resulted in wrongful death.
The Defendant Caused the Wrongful Death
In addition to proving that the defendant breached the duty of care, there must also be proof that that defendant’s action did indeed cause the injuries that led to wrongful death. If your baby was injured, there must be established proof that the physician, medical staff, or responsible party caused the injuries. For example, if your baby died for any other reason besides the actions of the defendant, then proof can’t be established and it’s not a valid lawsuit.
What is the Statute of Limitations on a Baby Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It may take you a long time to decide this is the course of action you want to take, and while you don’t want to rush into anything and move forward only when you feel you’re ready to, it’s important to note that every state in the nation has a statute of limitations for wrongful death cases, meaning that you must file your lawsuit within a certain amount, which on average, is two years from the time of the death.
However, in some states the statute of limitations may be as short as only a year, while another state may allow three years. For information on your state’s statute of limitations, check your with your local judicial court. You attorney will also be able to provide the information for you.
What Types of Compensation Should I Expect?
A wrongful death lawsuit can help pay for the unforeseen expenses of the event, such as medical tests that were done to observe the birth injury, the cost of emergent care in attempting to save your baby’s life, and the unexpected funeral and burial costs. Again, by paying off these unforeseen bills, you will hopefully get a sense of resolution and you will be able to move forward and focus on healing. Other economic damages include:
- Medication costs
- Costs associated with specialized equipment used to help prevent further injuries
- Loss of income, such as lost wages when parents need to take off work for the care of the infant and for the funeral
Non-economic damages, although not as tangible as economic damages, may provide more compensation. Common examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of potential love and companionship
- Emotional turmoil and trauma
- Damages for your infant’s physical pain and turmoil
Punitive damages are a way to punish the liable party for excessive careless and reckless behavior that led to the baby’s wrongful death. For example, punitive damages may apply to a physician who willfully acted in an extremely careless manner, such as taking too long to monitor and treat an infant in distress, even though they already knew there was indeed a medical problem. Keep in mind that many states don’t honor punitive damages for wrongful death lawsuits, but your attorney will be able to inform you if this includes your state or not.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect to Receive?
When calculating damages in an infant wrongful death lawsuit, the amount of medical expenses, amount of time spent undergoing medical treatments, the events surrounding the death, and several other factors, depending on each individual case, will be factored in. Therefore, it’s difficult to determine how much compensation you’ll receive beforehand as each case is different.
While one plaintiff may win several thousand, another plaintiff may win millions.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
Most wrongful death lawsuits settle out of court and are often discussed and negotiated during the pre-litigation and litigation phases. During the pre-litigation phase of your wrongful death lawsuit, the defense is given the opportunity to review the case. Both sides at this point, may negotiate a settlement. If a settlement isn’t reached, the defendant has the right to settle during the litigation phase, after reading the deposition. The litigation phase results in settlements in most cases after the has the opportunity to review the witness list and the evidence against them.
If a settlement is not reached, you may need to go to court for the trial phase. In some instances, plaintiffs aren’t required to go to trial, but the is an exception to the rule. In many instances, however, the defense decides to settle during the trial period.
How Long Does an Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?
It’s important to remember that not only is an infant wrongful death one of the most difficult types of lawsuits, but it will also require an extended amount to time to successfully prove your case and negotiate with the defendant. As a rule of thumb, most infant wrongful death cases take numerous months, and in some cases, years.
If your case goes to trial, the process may take even longer. When you win your case after a trial, the defendant has the legal right to appeal the decision, which may tie up the lawsuit for several more months.
Although this may seems discouraging, you should still move forward with your lawsuit if you have a valid case. Furthermore, each lawsuit is different, and in some instances, although rare, cases have been settled rather quickly, within a few months or so.