Over the last century, the development of modern medicine has resulted in not just a decrease in the mortality rate of infants but also in the ability to determine whether an unborn child will suffer from a serious, life-altering abnormality. Through diligent testing and a thorough analysis of a couple’s medical history, doctors are now able to advise parents about which, if any, conditions their offspring may be at risk of developing.
Given the advances made in the medical field and the current ability to intervene to avoid the birth of a child who will suffer from a debilitating, life-long incurable disease, the duty physicians owe to their patients has grown to include advising patients about their specific risks. If a physician fails to advise a patient of these risks, and the patient gives birth to a child with a serious disease that would have been detectable through proper testing, a wrongful birth lawsuit may be appropriate. A recent case illustrates what a wrongful birth case is and how a plaintiff can go about proving one.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were a couple who gave birth to a child with severe disabilities. During the pregnancy, an ultrasound was conducted that displayed congenital abnormalities; however, the plaintiffs’ doctor failed to inform the plaintiffs about these defects. The plaintiffs claimed that they would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy had they been made aware of the risks involved with carrying the pregnancy full-term.
At the time when the case arose, Iowa did not recognize wrongful birth cases, so the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ case. However, the plaintiffs appealed, asking a higher court to re-think the prior decisions in light of recent medical advancements and the evolution of the medical field.
The court agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that prenatal doctors “have an obligation to adhere to reasonable standards of professional performance.” In making this decision, the court consulted the laws in other states, finding that there has been a recent trend to allow wrongful birth lawsuits and that these lawsuits are in line with the common-law doctrine of medical malpractice. As a result, the lower court’s decision was reversed, and the plaintiffs will be permitted to pursue their claim against the defendant doctor.
Wrongful Birth Lawsuits in Maryland
Maryland, like Iowa, recognizes the tort of wrongful birth. In order to prove a wrongful birth claim, the plaintiffs must be able to show that the defendant doctor failed to warn them about a known risk that, had they known, would have likely resulted in the termination of the pregnancy. These cases require a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney who is familiar with a network of expert witnesses necessary to establish the elements of the claim.
Are You in Need of an Attorney?
If you believe that your child was born with severe defects due to a physician’s failure to warn you or a loved one, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a wrongful birth lawsuit. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling all types of medical malpractice cases, including wrongful birth cases. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Determines Zip-Line Is Not a “Dangerous Condition,” Upholding Government Immunity in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 22, 2017.
Maryland Appellate Court Holds That a Statute of Limitations May Be Tolled When a Defendant Fraudulently Conceals Important Evidence, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 1, 2017.