Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for my Unborn Child?

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for my Unborn Child?

Your right to pursue a wrongful death claim for your unborn child depends on the laws of your state. While some states recognize the right to pursue a legal claim on behalf of an unborn child, California law does not. California only recognizes a child as a living person if they are born alive. In civil cases, they do not allow wrongful death claims for unborn children for that reason.  

If the negligence of another person resulted in the death of your unborn child, you might retain some legal rights other than a wrongful death claim. If the negligence also resulted in your injury or medical bills, you have the right to hold the negligent party accountable. Likewise, a wrongful death claim is available in cases where a child passed shortly after birth. Talk to a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer to learn more.  

Wrongful death claims in California 

In general, a wrongful death claim has many similarities with a personal injury claim. Essentially, these lawsuits allow the pursuit of legal claims that the victim would have the right to pursue had they survived. Wrongful death claims can result from any act of negligence that would also lead to a personal injury case.  

In California, only a few surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. This right rests with the decedent’s spouse and children. Under certain circumstances, the deceased person’s parents or stepchildren could also pursue a claim.  

Why wrongful death claims cannot apply to unborn children in California 

There is no right to pursue a wrongful death claim for an unborn child in California. What’s more, you may not file a lawsuit based on the parent’s emotional pain or the child’s pre-birth injuries. This is due to California law’s failure to consider an unborn child as a person under the law.  

You may not pursue preconception injury claims on behalf of an unborn child for one important reason. For a claim to be successful, you must establish that the injury to the unborn child was foreseeable. State law holds that because an unborn child is not recognized as a person, these injuries are not foreseeable. This forecloses the possibility of a wrongful death claim no matter how extreme the negligence that resulted in the death might be.  

It is important to remember that a wrongful death claim is allowed under state law if a child is born alive. This is the case even if the child was only alive for a short period of time. Experienced wrongful death lawyers can advise you on whether you have the right to pursue compensation for your claim.  

Important exceptions to the general rule 

There is one important exception to the rule that prevents wrongful death claims for unborn children. This exception involves the loss of a child related to a defective product. Product liability claims related to dangerous drugs taken during pregnancy can result in a successful wrongful death claim. If an unsafe drug leads to a stillbirth, a wrongful death attorney could assist in holding the manufacturer accountable.  

Speak to Ellis Injury Law about your wrongful death claim 

The ability to pursue a wrongful death claim by the parents of an unborn child is limited in the State of California. That said, you should never assume that you do not have the right to pursue a claim. Let an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer review the facts of your case and advise you of your legal rights. In some cases, you might have a viable legal claim against the responsible party. To learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation with Ellis Injury Law as soon as possible.