3-7-2018

Can I Recover Compensation For The Death Of My Unborn Child?

There is nothing more tragic and heartbreaking than the accidental death of an unborn child. But sadly, many women who are injured in car crashes, slip and falls, and other accidents experience this incredible pain.

Parents who lose an unborn child in a tragic accident may wonder whether or not they are entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. Usually, if someone is killed as a result of another person’s negligence, the victim’s family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. But, can families recover compensation for the death of an unborn child? If you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation, here’s what you should know:

An Introduction to Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim with a few exceptions. A personal injury claim involves nonfatal injuries, whereas there is always a death involved in a wrongful death claim. Personal injury claims are also filed by the person who has sustained the injuries, whereas the victim’s family members are the ones who would file a wrongful death claim.

The law only allows certain individuals to file a wrongful death claim. In the state of California, the victim’s spouse, children, and in some cases, stepchildren and parents, can file a wrongful death case for the loss of a loved one.

To recover compensation in a wrongful death case, the victim’s family must be able to show that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
  • The defendant breached this duty of care
  • The breach directly led to the victim’s death

What does this mean? Let’s say Driver A and Driver B are both on the road at the same time. Driver A is too busy texting to focus on the road, so they collide into Driver B’s car. Driver B suffers fatal injuries in the collision, so Driver B’s family files a wrongful death claim to recover compensation. In this example, both drivers owe a duty of care to each other. In other words, both have a legal obligation to drive safely in order to avoid getting into an accident. Driver A breached this duty of care by texting while behind the wheel, which is not safe. This breach caused Driver A to take their attention off the road, which led to the accident. Therefore, Driver A’s negligence led to Driver B’s death.

Types of Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims

Plaintiffs can be awarded a number of different types of damages in a wrongful death claim. Families can be awarded compensation to cover the costs of the funeral and burial of the victim. The plaintiff can also be awarded compensation to cover income that the victim would have made if they were still alive. This includes any income that the victim would have made in the future if they were not involved in the tragic accident. This type of compensation is especially important in cases where the victim has left financial dependents behind.

Finally, victims’ families can also recover compensation for their emotional suffering. The victim’s spouse may be compensated for their loss of companionship, whereas the children could be awarded compensation for their loss of guidance and love. It is hard to put a price on the emotional suffering caused by the death of a loved one, so it’s important for an attorney to help you calculate the value of your claim.

Wrongful Death Claims Involving Unborn Children

Each state has its own laws regarding the legality of filing wrongful death claims on behalf of unborn children. In California, the law states that a fetus is not considered a living person until there has been a live birth. This means that a wrongful death claim cannot be filed to recover compensation for the loss of an unborn child.

However, there are certain circumstances where parents may be able to hold negligent parties liable for harming their unborn baby. For example, let’s say a pregnant woman is hit by a drunk driver and her unborn baby is injured as a result of the crash. The crash forces the woman to go into labor early, and she delivers a severely injured baby who dies shortly after birth. Since the baby was born alive, the parents can file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for the loss of their child. It doesn’t matter how long the baby was alive—as long as the child was alive at the time of birth, the law gives family members the right to file a claim.

Another Legal Option For the Parents of Unborn Children

Parents may not be able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their unborn child, but they might be able to take other legal action. If an unborn child is killed due to the negligent acts of another person, the parents could file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for their emotional damages. This would require the parents to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions caused them severe emotional damage because it led to the death of their unborn child. Although this is not technically a wrongful death claim, it still helps parents recover some of the compensation they feel they are owed for their loss.

Nothing can take away the pain of losing a loved one. But, filing a wrongful death claim can help families recover the compensation they deserve. If your loved one was killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman as soon as possible to discuss your case. Let our experienced wrongful death attorneys handle the legal aspects of your case so you can focus solely on giving yourself time to grieve.

 

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