Making the Case for Wrongful Birth Due to Negligent Doctors 

Wrongful birth refers to a particular type of case in law where the doctor failed to warn the parents about the dangers of passing on a genetic problem to their offspring. The plaintiffs in the case have to prove that the doctor responsible has been negligent. Here’s some more information where you can read more about wrongful birth.

Necessary Components

There are a few components you need in order to show that a wrongful birth has occurred and the doctors and others involved are responsible. For one thing, you must show negligence. This means that the doctors could have done something more appropriate in the case but didn’t and they caused harm due to failing to act according to a reasonable standard. In general, negligence, if it’s proven in court, can lead to damages that the patient can extract from the doctor. There’s a five-part process leading to negligence which starts with an assessment of duty, then breach, actual cause, proximate cause, and damages. In other words, there’s a set standard for proving negligence in a court of law.

Proving Negligence

The first component for this type of case means that the plaintiffs have to show that their doctor had a duty to tell them about the potential for a genetic problem that the doctor knew about. There’s a lot of variances here. If a risk is enough of a major problem, then the doctor has to disclose it; they don’t have to tell the parents about every single risk that might exist. One major example that’s often cited is when a doctor failed to perform a particular test in order to screen for a particular disease. Since the disease was relatively rare and there were no signs that the child would be at risk for it, the court decided there was no negligence in a wrongful birth case.

Proving Harm

The next part of the case involves proving that the decision the doctor made to not inform the patients of a potential genetic issue brought them harm. This means that the doctor robbed the parents of the ability to decide whether to bring the fetus fully to term or not. So, as a result of losing this opportunity, they ended up with a negative impact on their lives by being forced to care for a child with a serious condition.

Showing Cause

Another aspect of all of this is that sometimes plaintiffs have to prove that there may have been some means of preventing a problem if it was diagnosed early enough within the pregnancy. These days the cause is often more wrapped up with the harm. In order words, the cause is that they lost the ability to stop the pregnancy.

Outlining Damages

If all of this is shown, then courts will then have to outline what the damages are, meaning what costs the plaintiffs can get from the defendants. In modern days, most courts only allow damages related to the extra level of care that would be unnecessary if the child was normal. This means they can’t ask for damages related to the entire cost of raising the infant.

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About the Author: Rodney A. Wilson