Wrongful birth is something no parent should have to go through, with far reaching issues that can impact the rest of their lives. But what are these impacts?
If you’ve been involved in a wrongful birth case, you know how difficult it can be and how out of control it can make a person feel about their life. Not only can it have a massive impact on the mental health of the family involved, but it can also have a number of physical impacts too.
In this article, we’re going to discuss these impacts, and give you some advice on claiming compensation for a wrongful birth to make the rest of your life a little easier. But, before we do that, we’re going to briefly go over what wrongful birth is. Take a look…
What is Wrongful Birth?
Wrongful birth is the legal term that refers to the birth of a child as a result of negligent treatment from healthcare professionals.
The duty of care taken on board by your GP, obstetrician, midwife, and other healthcare professionals legally compels them to keep you informed of any new developments throughout your pregnancy.
If these professionals don’t meet this duty of care, and you give birth to an unwanted child as a result, it’s within your rights to file a legal claim against them for wrongful birth.
There are three ways that a healthcare professional’s negligence can lead to a wrongful birth case, and these are:
- A doctor failing to identify a congenital condition or disability in your baby that, if you would have known, would have led you to terminate the pregnancy.
- A doctor failing to perform a vasectomy, or other sterilization, correctly leading to unintended pregnancy and birth.
- A pregnancy termination not being carried out effectively, meaning the baby is still born.
Meeting either one of these conditions means you’re a victim of wrongful birth and you are able to file a claim against the responsible medical body.
What Are the Impacts of Wrongful Birth?
Now that we know what wrongful birth is, it’s time to discuss the impacts. Every case is different so there might be some impacts you feel personally that are missing from this list, but these are the most common ones.
1. Physical pain
Undergoing a pregnancy you weren’t expecting can have a physical toll on your body. Giving birth isn’t an easy ride and for some women, it can actually cause them serious harm.
It’s one thing going into a pregnancy willingly and accepting the potential damage it can cause. However, with a wrongful birth, the whole situation has been out of your control from the beginning and any physical harm inflicted is the result of someone else’s poor judgment.
2. Emotional pain
Feeling out of control of your life is a terrible place to be. Most people are able to plan their lives out to a certain degree, especially when it comes to serious life-changing decisions like having a child.
Wrongful birth takes that important decision out of your hands and thrusts you into a life that you hadn’t planned for yourself, and you might be unprepared for. On top of that, if you give birth to a child with disabilities that you can’t cope with, you’ll have to deal with the emotional impact of that for the rest of your life.
3. Loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity
Wrongful birth can also cause issues with earning capacity. This could be due to having to take time off work for the pregnancy or birth. It could extend further, for example having to be a full-time carer to a child with a disability.
It may even be impossible for the parent to afford this child, no matter their physical abilities. Either way, it puts a huge economic strain on those involved.
This can further the emotional pain as, for lots of people, having a career is how they find meaning in their lives. Without this, they may feel at a loss.
4. Unable to control the size of your family
Maybe you’ve always had a dream about the size you want your family to be, or you’ve just been realistic about how many children you can afford to raise. Either way, having another child will be expensive, and you might have to work harder than you ever planned to in order to afford raising a larger family.
5. The costs of caring for a disabled child
Wrongful birth leading to you raising a child with disabilities not only takes you out of the workforce for the rest of your life; it comes at a serious financial cost. Therapies, specialist equipment, home adjustments, or moving to an adapted property all cost money which could significantly impact the rest of your life. Also, without the money to afford this, your child might struggle even more than they need to.
Can You Claim Compensation for a Wrongful Birth?
As discussed earlier in this post, if a medical professional has failed their duty of care by not informing you of a birth defect or by failing to perform a vasectomy, you can claim wrongful birth compensation.
The impacts we listed above might seem quite dire, and they are. So, one of the only ways to make the rest of your life easier is to receive compensation that will help you pay for all the expenses that come with raising a child, especially if they’re disabled.
Speaking to a solicitor who specializes in medical negligence and wrongful birth cases is the best way to know whether your case is likely to win in court. To prove that the wrongful birth was caused by negligent care, the solicitor will need to demonstrate that:
- The standard of care was below what’s expected of a medical professional.
- This substandard care led to the pregnancy, or you having the child.
- If you hadn’t received this substandard care, you never would’ve had the child or got pregnant in the first place.
In order to make the case that you received substandard care, your solicitor will usually confer with independent medical experts. They will also speak to them when determining what the needs of your child are if they were born with a medical condition.
Once the case is tried in court, the compensation will be determined based on all the factors brought before the court. Most of the time, these cases are settled outside of court and the compensation is negotiated between your solicitor and the medical body responsible for the wrongful birth.
Will You be Able to Deal with the Impacts of Wrongful Birth?
In this post, we’ve discussed what wrongful births are, what the impact of them is on parents’ lives, and whether you can claim compensation from the medical bodies responsible.
The devastating impacts mentioned in this post are obviously cause for concern, but they are something you can make it through. Compensation does help, but it’s also up to you to make the decisions required for you and your family to move through this hurdle.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, and making the best of a situation you didn’t anticipate is something all of us are capable of. Look forward to the future, try your best to make the most of your situation, and enjoy as many moments you can.
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