Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for a Stillborn Child in Maryland?

If you experienced a stillbirth, it might be one of the most traumatic things to ever happen to you.  You and your family might be left feeling the loss of a loved one, even if you never met them.  Our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit in many situations for the loss of a stillborn child, but the specifics of the lawsuit might be a bit complicated.

Under Maryland law, the death of a baby that would have been viable outside the womb can qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit, but any loss before viability is considered an injury to the mother instead.  If the baby was stillborn because of some kind of accident the mother suffered, you can file a wrongful death claim against the parties who caused that accident.  More often, stillbirth lawsuits are going to be filed as wrongful death lawsuits for medical malpractice against a doctor for mistakes in prenatal care or delivery.

For help with a lawsuit for a stillbirth, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Maryland birth injury lawyers at (410) 694-7291 today.

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit or Another Lawsuit for a Still Birth in Maryland?

If someone caused the death of your child, you can sue them no matter the age of the child.  This can, of course, include a lawsuit for a child who has been living with you for years or even the death of an adult child.  However, when it comes to stillbirth, the line between when the lawsuit is filed as a wrongful death lawsuit or a personal injury lawsuit for the mother is a bit more challenging to find.

Generally, if the child was “viable” at the time of the injury, then a lawsuit for their death is filed as a wrongful death lawsuit.  Under Kandel v. White, a 1995 Maryland Court of Appeals case, “viability” – i.e., the point in development at which a baby could survive outside the womb – is the point at which the case becomes a wrongful death case.  At any point before that, you would sue as though the injury was to the pregnant mother rather than the death of a separate person.

Our Baltimore birth injury lawyers can have doctors and experts examine your case to opine on the baby’s viability at the time of death and help you determine whether you would file a personal injury case for yourself or a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of a viable baby.  All in all, the difference between these cases is one of legal technicalities, though it might have a slight effect on what damages are available.

Grounds for Suing for a Stillborn Child or Loss of Pregnancy in Maryland

If you delivered a stillborn baby, that is tragic enough in and of itself to qualify as an injury.  However, we must look at the cause of the stillbirth to determine whether there are grounds for a lawsuit.

Outside Accident

If you were involved in an accident that caused you to lose your pregnancy or deliver early, you can often file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident.  This is common in accidents like car crashes or accidents involving dangerous conditions on someone else’s property.

In this case, if the accident was what directly caused the death, then you can usually sue for the death itself, as well as the effects it has on yourself and your family.  If the baby was not yet at the point of viability, this will be filed as a personal injury lawsuit for you; if it was after viability, it is a wrongful death case.

If you were also injured in that accident, you can sue for your own injuries, too.  In any case, the trauma of having to deliver a stillborn child should also lead to damages for you.

Medical Negligence

If you were involved in an accident and you and your baby were both still alive, but then you received negligent treatment at a hospital, that might be the cause of death for your baby.  If this is the case, then you might be able to sue the doctors and medical staff that negligently treated you and caused your child’s death.

Though it might seem strange, these cases might also be filed as lawsuits against the party who initially caused your accident.  Like in the situation above, you might have additional damages you suffered in the accident, and you would want to sue the person who caused your car crash or whatever other accident injured you in a personal injury case for you or a wrongful death suit for your baby.  In that situation, the subsequent medical malpractice can actually be included as damages in that accident case because negligent medical treatment is a foreseeable effect of an accident.

No matter who the damages are paid by, our lawyers will be able to bring the case against the appropriate parties to seek justice for you and your family.

Birth Injuries and Negligent Prenatal Care

In many cases, a stillbirth is caused by congenital disorders or problems with your pregnancy that could have been avoided.  Many tragic complications can lead to stillbirth where there is no recourse for these “natural” issues.  However, when the doctor could have reasonably prevented the lost fetus or stillbirth, they might be responsible in a medical malpractice suit for a failure to save the child.

For example, if your baby is in breech, has their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck, or is having trouble fitting through the birth canal, your obstetrician might be required to perform an emergency C-section.  If they choose not to and your baby dies because of it, that is on your doctor, and you should be entitled to sue them for the stillbirth.

Some of these issues should be caught during your prenatal care during a sonogram, amniocentesis, or other testing.  Failing to act to prevent the death of a fetus often constitutes malpractice that allows you to sue your doctor for the eventual loss of pregnancy or stillbirth.

Call Our Maryland Birth Injury Attorneys for Help

If you lost a pregnancy for avoidable reasons, call our Laurel, MD birth injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras for help seeking justice.  Our number is (410) 694-7291.