Wrongful Death of a Fetus, Child or Mother in New York

A baby’s birth should be a joyous occasion. Tragically, some mothers and fetuses die during birth in New York City because of preventable medical errors. Sometimes a baby survives the birth, only to die a short while afterwards. Whenever medical malpractice is involved, there may be a potential lawsuit for injured parties and our lawyers at Rich & Rich can help.

Wrongful death of a fetus

New York law does not allow parents of a fetus that wrongfully dies during labor or delivery to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the fetus. The New York State Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court established case law based on the 14th Amendment, ruling that an unborn fetus is not a person and does not have legal rights. However, a mother can sue based on her emotional injury because of her baby’s death. The two cases in New York that established this precedent were Broadnax v. Gonzalez and Fahey v. Canino, et al.

Wrongful death of a child

Once the baby is born, the State of New York recognizes the baby’s legal status, which is why parents can bring a wrongful death lawsuit when a baby dies minutes after being born.

Wrongful death of a mother

By comparison, when a mother dies in childbirth because of medical malpractice, surviving family members have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, the same as in any other wrongful death and medical malpractice case.

How can wrongful death occur during pregnancy or childbirth?

Doctors and nurses must be aware of signs that indicate problems in a pregnancy, labor or delivery. Failure to notice, diagnose and take proper medical action can result in birth injury or worse, death of the mother or baby. Conditions that require treatment can esacalate into life threatening events, including:

  • Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia refers to extremely high blood pressure during pregnancy that can cause the placenta to separate or the mother to experience seizures. The main danger is loss of liver function, which can lead to death.
  • Placental abruption. The placenta separates from the uterine wall, which results in internal bleeding and can lead to the mother's heart failure or renal failure in addition to the baby's death.
  • Placenta previa. The placenta abnormally positions itself close to or covering the cervix. Vaginal bleeding is a sign of placenta previa and bleeding can become extreme with mothers going into shock.
  • Uterine rupture. The uterine wall can rupture when weak scarred areas cannot withstand the pressure of childbirth. Prior C-sections or surgeries are the causes of these weakened uterine wall areas. Excessive pushing on the mother's abdomen to assist in delivery or improper use of Pitocin or other drugs that induce labor can cause uterine rupture, which puts the mother's life at risk.
  • Post-partum hemorrhaging. Hemorrhaging or bleeding after childbirth can result in excessive blood loss. This can occur from surgical cutting during c-sections.

At Rich & Rich, P.C., our highly skilled and experienced New York lawyers can help you pursue compensation through a lawsuit when medical malpractice causes your fetus’ or infant’s death. We also work with families to take legal action when mothers needlessly die during childbirth.

Don’t wait. Contact a Birth Injury Attorney in New York City at Rich & Rich, P.C. today

We are conveniently located in Manhattan at

30 Vesey Street, New York, NY  10007

Call 646-736-3999