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Do I Have a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Fetal Death

Do I have a wrongful death lawsuit for fetal death? This is a question that you may have if a fetal death occurred that you believe should not have happened.

Unfortunately, there is no standard definition for fetal death in America, although it can refer to the loss of an unborn baby at any time during pregnancy. A spontaneous abortion is what fetal death is called when it takes place earlier than 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth or fetal death is usually regarded as a death that occurs at any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

No standard definition

While there is no standard definition of fetal death, and the definition may vary from one state to another, Black’s Law Dictionary does have a legal definition for fetal death. It defines fetal death as, “Death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy and which is not an induced termination of pregnancy.”

There are some signs that are an indication of fetal death. These include:

The fetus does not breathe
No definite movement of voluntary muscles
No pulsation of the umbilical cord
No other evidence of life.

The question is, “Do I have a wrongful death lawsuit for fetal death?” To answer this question, you need to understand what wrongful death is.

A wrongful death is defined as being a death that is brought about by the wrongful act of another, regardless of whether that act is accidental or intentional. In other words, a wrongful death is a death that happens in a way that is not natural.

Many states have determined that a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought in instances where an unborn child is killed due to malpractice, a third party’s criminal action, distribution of an unsafe product or negligence. In fact, as of 2013, 40 states allow a claim to be made for the wrongful death of an unborn child.


In these 40 states, 27 states and the District of Columbia permit a wrongful death lawsuit only if the child was viable at the time of their death. What viable means is that the child was considered to have the ability to survive and live outside of the uterus. The other 13 states allow a wrongful death lawsuit for fetal death even though the child was not viable.

There are some things that may give cause for a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed for fetal death. These include:

Womb disorders and abnormalities
Infections and diseases
Inadequate monitoring during birth, such as failing to closely monitor things like the child and mother’s heart rate and breathing
Failing to notice or treat risk factors, such as high blood pressure (preeclampsia) or gestational diabetes
Unexpected shifts of the fetus inside of the womb
Poor response to an emergency situation, such as dealing with sudden problems like hypoxia (lack of oxygen for the child) or abruption.

If you believe your unborn baby’s death was a wrongful death, the best thing to do is to get in touch with a personal injury attorney and have your case evaluated at no cost or obligation to you.

Article written by James Shugart

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