Pregnancy should be the most exciting time in your life. Waiting for the baby. Preparations for the nursery. Showers thrown by family and friends. And yet, sometimes the worst happens and your baby is born stillborn or dies moments after it is born. In many of these cases, there is no fault to be had. But, in other cases, the cause of your baby’s death is medical malpractice. Under such circumstances a Philadelphia stillborn lawyer may be successful in bringing a wrongful death claim on your behalf. During your time of grief, please feel free to call on our Philadelphia lawyers for help after a newborn death. We will handle the legal issues while you work through your horrific loss.
Wrongful Death and Newborns
In Philadelphia, the law involving wrongful death and newborn babies is based on a Supreme Court opinion Amadio v. Levin. Prior to that case there were many questions surrounding whether parents had a “right of recovery” due to the loss of a baby as a result of harm the fetus experienced before or during birth. The problem in the past was that the Pennsylvania Court did not recognize that a fetus was a separate life from the mother, and as a result, no recovery was possible. But, in 1985, the Court changed its mind. Now, a stillborn baby’s wrongful death can be the basis of lawsuit on behalf of the parents.The baby’s estate may also bring a suit for what is called a survival action.
When is a Baby Considered Stillborn?
Generally, a baby is considered to be a stillbirth if it is born dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the fetus is not yet 24 weeks, it is considered to be a miscarriage.
Negligence and Fetal Death
There are a number of reasons a baby might be stillborn that can be the basis of a medical malpractice suit in Philadelphia. In the Amadio case the alleged cause of the fetus’ death was uncontrolled diabetes. In a similar case, Dennis Abrams, the senior litigator here at Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys handled a newborn injury case relating to maternal diabetes (fortunately not a death) resulting in an 11 million dollar settlement* for our clients.
Doctors are required to properly monitor both mother and fetus. The reason for this monitoring is to identify any problems that might arise and to deal with them quickly. Failure to properly monitor, if the monitoring would have revealed a manageable issue that results in the fetus’ death, might be the basis of a medical malpractice claim for wrongful death of a stillborn. In addition, once an issue is identified, the doctor is expected to follow the medical standard of care to provide proper treatment to mother and baby.
Many stillborn related issues come from placental complications. The placenta is necessary because it provides all oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Without the placenta, the fetus cannot survive. Some of the issues that can occur with the placenta include what is called an abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. This causes a lack of oxygen. It can also cause bleeding which places both mother and fetus at risk. In many cases, this is a medical emergency which requires a visit to the hospital.
Infections in the mother can increase risk of the loss of the fetus. One type of infection is called preeclampsia, which decreases oxygen flow to the baby and increases the likelihood of a stillborn birth. Preeclampsia must be treated quickly to protect both mother and fetus.
Improper Use of Medication
Mothers must be advised on proper use of medication and risks to the fetus when taking medication during pregnancy. In addition, if too much pictocin is provided to encourage labor, the fetus can suffocate due to lack of oxygen. Sometimes this leads to brain damage. Sometimes it leads to death.
Was Your Newborn’s Loss Due to Malpractice?
Medical malpractice cases are difficult. They require review of all medical records and discussion with practicing doctors to determine whether the stillbirth of your child was due to medical neglect. At Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys, we have a lawyer who is a doctor and one who is a nurse on staff. They are able to quickly review records to help determine whether your baby’s loss is the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Pursuing a Stillborn Lawsuit in Philadelphia
When you retain our Philadelphia attorneys, we will review your medical records and find out whether the medical team is responsible your newborn’s death. We will investigate what happened on your behalf and seek justice for you, your baby and your entire family. Contact us today for help.