Wrongful birth lawsuits can be distressing for parents, especially considering that childbirth is meant to be a joyous celebration of life. Some parents, who deeply love their children despite their medical complications, could feel hesitant or embarrassed about pursuing wrongful birth claims. Even so, you are entitled to compensation from the doctors for their failure to inform you about important facts that you should have known beforehand. However, this does not diminish your ability to still cherish your child.

If your child has suffered wrongful birth due to medical negligence or malpractice, you could have the opportunity to seek compensation under personal injury statutes. This compensation can help cover the lifelong care, medical expenses, and other losses associated with your child's situation. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, our experts are here to assist you in filing a wrongful birth claim. With our expertise and experience in handling cases similar to yours, we are dedicated to helping you obtain the rightful compensation you deserve.

An Overview of Wrongful Birth

When a medical professional neglects to inform parents about potential congenital birth complications or defects that could result in disability for the unborn child, it is referred to as wrongful birth. This typically happens when a medical professional fails to identify a visible birth defect or pregnancy-related issue, or when they carelessly withhold crucial information about the baby's prenatal health from the parents.

If medical negligence by a professional leads to a wrongful birth, it deprives parents of the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to continue their pregnancy. Congenital or genetic factors that go undiagnosed or unreported during pregnancy frequently cause the disabilities or abnormalities that result from an unintended birth.

In the event of an unintended pregnancy, the parents could have grounds to sue the healthcare provider for medical malpractice based on their negligence. The parents would have had the opportunity to consider terminating the pregnancy if the medical team had been attentive enough to conduct testing, detect, and interpret prenatal anomalies, and if they had promptly communicated this information to the parents.

A birth that is mishandled can lead to a child requiring expensive and prolonged medical care, enduring lifelong suffering, causing the parents to make sacrifices in their careers and way of life to care for the child, and in rare cases, hindering the parents' ability to have a typical relationship with their child. In situations where a child is born with birth defects or issues, such as cerebral palsy, as a result of medical negligence, parents could opt to pursue legal action to seek compensation.

Nevada's Medical Malpractice Laws

Nevada law establishes the regulations that govern medical malpractice cases. If your child was born with an injury sustained in a Nevada healthcare center or hospital, you could be wondering how Nevada's malpractice laws could impact your family's legal rights.

While it is beneficial to know these regulations, you will not fully understand how they apply to your case until you consult with a skilled birth injury attorney who can assess the specific circumstances of your family.

Examples of Wrongful Birth Cases

In most cases, a wrongful birth occurs when medical personnel do the following:

  • Neglecting to request lab tests, imaging exams, or other necessary diagnostic examinations on time
  • Misinterpreting the test results, misdiagnosing the condition, or providing false information to the parents can have serious consequences
  • Failure to promptly advise parents about potential birth problems or genetic risks

For instance, during the first trimester of an expectant woman's pregnancy, she goes to see her doctor. The healthcare provider should request a virus culture or maternal serum test if the patient did not receive the rubella vaccination before getting pregnant if she has traveled internationally, or if she exhibits symptoms that raise the possibility of a clinical infection.

If a simple blood test is not utilized for diagnosing this illness, a newborn with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) could be mistakenly placed in the wrong family. This condition can lead to lifelong birth complications such as heart deformities, hearing loss, and eye issues. In such cases, the parents could have grounds to pursue a claim based on medical negligence resulting in wrongful birth.

The healthcare provider could sometimes overlook the screening of the mother's serum for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) during the second trimester. However, it is important to note that elevated levels of AFP in the baby's blood could indicate the presence of a neural tube defect called spina bifida. Furthermore, if a lesion is detected on the fetus's spine during the second trimester, an advanced ultrasound scan can accurately diagnose spina bifida.

Spina bifida is a congenital birth abnormality that can lead to paralysis and other permanent difficulties. Unfortunately, this diagnosis can sometimes be missed due to medical incompetence or inadequate communication with the parents. In such cases, the parents could have a strong argument for a wrongful life claim based on medical misconduct.

Wrongful Birth, Birth Injury, and Birth Defects

The following distinguishes the differences between wrongful birth, birth injury, and birth defects.

  • Birth Injury

Legally speaking, a birth injury refers to the occurrence of trauma or injury to an otherwise healthy baby before, during, or immediately after labor and delivery. If the baby's brain doesn’t receive sufficient oxygen during labor, known as extreme hypoxia, it can lead to a dangerous condition called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This can result in cerebral palsy.

  • Birth Defects

Birth defects are defined as abnormalities that occur during the early stages of pregnancy and are often the result of genetic problems. In addition to heredity, factors such as a mother's use of certain medications, advanced age, overall health, smoking, drinking, or drug use can also contribute to these abnormalities.

  • Wrongful Birth

Wrongful birth is the legal term used to describe a situation where a medical professional fails to diagnose a baby's birth defect or neglects to inform and explain to the parents about their options regarding the pregnancy. It can also occur when a doctor fails to screen a patient or inform parents about the high risk of birth abnormalities before conception.

Liability in a Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

The majority of birth injury cases result from mistakes made by doctors before, during, or after childbirth. However, it is important to note that birth abnormalities that could not have been prevented with competent medical treatment are usually the basis of wrongful birth cases. In a wrongful birth lawsuit, it is alleged that a medical professional fails to inform the parents about a birth defect in their unborn child or the potential for a birth defect in a future pregnancy.

Consequently, the parents are left to bear the immense financial burden of raising a child with lifelong impairments, for which they were unprepared. Had they been informed about the birth defect or the possibility of one, they could have been able to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the pregnancy or not.

Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to be open and honest with their patients. In addition to providing treatment and accurate diagnoses, they should also ensure that patients are well-informed to make wise decisions. This includes discussing the potential dangers and side effects of various medical situations, including pregnancy.

When a medical professional fails to disclose genetic disorders or other birth defects to parents that a knowledgeable physician would have warned them about, they could be held accountable for wrongful birth. Additionally, a doctor can be held liable for a miscarried pregnancy if they neglect to perform screening tests during pregnancy, misinterpret the results, or provide false information.

Parties Liable in a Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

In wrongful birth proceedings, the obstetrician of the mother and any other medical professionals involved are typically implicated. This includes individuals who fail to disclose to the mother the nature of the fetus's problems or harm the child during pregnancy or delivery. The parents of the baby could also choose to file a lawsuit against the hospital, clinic, or medical organization affiliated with the doctor, depending on where the healthcare professional practices.

Failures of Testing and Screening Before or During Pregnancy

Doctors who are monitoring an expectant mother should conduct screening tests well in advance of the baby's delivery, ideally during the later stages of pregnancy or even earlier. This is crucial to identify any potential birth abnormalities or major problems. If a woman is considering motherhood, she could also consult her physician about potential risk factors for her unborn child, including genetic disorders.

Before pregnancy, doctors can also conduct screenings for these variables. Examples of preliminary testing include blood tests and ultrasound imaging. For instance, to determine if a baby has Down syndrome or another birth problem associated with a chromosome abnormality, a doctor could examine the mother's serum.

Additionally, if there are any signs indicating a potential birth problem in a fetus, a doctor needs to conduct further investigation. This could involve performing procedures such as amniocentesis or utilizing more advanced ultrasound techniques. Examining the fluid from the amniotic sac surrounding the infant is a crucial component of this diagnostic method.

In addition to signaling the presence of infections, amniocentesis can also uncover chromosomal irregularities. Furthermore, samples of the placenta's chorionic villus, a specific type of tissue, could also reveal these anomalies.

Elements Needed to Prove a Wrongful Birth Claim

Nevada law recognizes wrongful birth claims as a type of medical malpractice claim. In such cases, the parent must provide evidence of the following:

  • The parent had a legal obligation to the doctor, indicating that there must have been a doctor-patient relationship between the individuals involved
  • The physician violated this by potentially misdiagnosing a major medical condition or failing to adequately warn or explain the risks associated with giving birth to a child with a serious medical condition
  • There was harm or injury to either the parent or the child, resulting in a major medical condition or birth defect for the child. In these cases, the parent only needs to argue that they suffered injury when they were denied the opportunity to make an informed decision about ending the pregnancy
  • The harm or injury was caused by the doctor's error. The parents would not have experienced the trauma if the doctor had acted under professional norms and standards

The primary evidence in these cases consists of the physician's notes, medical records, and any audio or videotaped interactions with the child's parents. In Nevada, it is entirely acceptable for parents to keep records of their doctor appointments without the physician's knowledge.

Compensation for Wrongful Birth Claims

Birth abnormalities that cause permanent disabilities can lead to substantial recurring expenses, including surgeries, counseling, testing, medical visits, prescription drugs, and assistive technology. Additionally, families could need to make modifications to their homes to accommodate their child's impairment.

Parents have the right to sue a negligent doctor for all of their losses if they are not adequately informed about the possibility of a birth abnormality. To establish responsibility, they would need to demonstrate that the physician failed to fulfill their professional duty of care. This includes showing that the doctor did not follow the procedures that a qualified medical professional in the same discipline would have followed.

Wrongful birth cases, like other medical malpractice claims, are subject to a statute of limitations. This means there is a time limit within which a case can be filed. If parents submit a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, it is unlikely that they will be able to obtain damages, even if the doctor's breach of the standard of care is evident.

To determine the strength of your case and assess the potential compensation you could be entitled to, you should schedule no-obligation consultations with a birth injury attorney.

Nevada's Statute of Limitations Regarding Wrongful Birth Lawsuits

A Nevada wrongful birth claim should be filed within two years from the earlier of

  • Three years after the impairment was first induced by the physician
  • Two years after the child's parents should have learned about the disability

A disability is often apparent from birth, while in some cases, it could not exhibit symptoms for months or even years.

Can Children With Special Disabilities File Wrongful Life Lawsuits?

No, they are unable to. Nevada law does not recognize the legal doctrine of wrongful life, which would allow children with exceptional needs to sue the medical community for allowing them to be born.

The Nevada Supreme Court argued that to recognize this type of claim on behalf of the child, a delicate balance would need to be struck between the harm the child has suffered from being born with severe disabilities and the concept of "the utter void of nonexistence." However, the court stated that it was unable to make such a calculation, which is why it justified its refusal to consider wrongful life claims.

Therefore, although the parents of a special needs child could file a lawsuit for wrongful birth, the minor themselves do not have legal grounds to file a claim for wrongful birth.

Is Medical Malpractice the Cause of Your Child's Wrongful Birth?

Parents of children with birth abnormalities or complications have the right to obtain information about the cause of their child's harm and whether any errors made by nurses or doctors contributed to the unlawful birth. Some of these include:

  • Were there obvious signs during the pregnancy indicating that the child would have birth abnormalities, but the medical professional failed to take the necessary action?
  • The medical staff didn't order a battery of tests right away to diagnose the delivery issue.
  • Did the doctors misinterpret the test results, or did they choose to disregard them?

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

In cases of birth injury and medical misconduct, a skilled birth injury lawyer possesses extensive experience. Your attorney will help you assess whether the medical staff's negligence led to the harm or injury of your child.

A skilled birth injury lawyer will utilize their knowledge and abilities to secure a medical malpractice settlement for you and your child that will support the provision of specialist medical therapy to enhance your kid's quality of life and independence for the duration of their life.

At times, families would be hesitant to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Parents often have concerns about their ability to support their child in a lawsuit regarding birth problems and could feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for their injured child. However, a wrongful birth lawyer can address these doubts and worries, allowing you to focus on your child and providing the best possible care.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

Pursuing wrongful birth personal injury cases can be challenging. However, with the right legal assistance, navigating the legal system becomes simpler. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, our experienced attorneys can provide you with the support and guidance you need to fight for the damages you are entitled to.

We can help you determine the nature of the harm your child received, identify fault, and understand how it happened. In addition, we can assist you in drafting and submitting a solid civil court lawsuit. We can guide you through the complex legal system, advocate for your rights, and work toward a favorable resolution for your case. Call us today at 702-996-1224.