Losing a child to miscarriage during pregnancy is devastating, but what if you lose a baby due to somebody else’s negligence or even violent actions? What recourse do you have? You may wonder where to turn when your pregnancy ends due to the actions of another person, but during this trying time, it’s important to know the law, and find a competent legal professional to help you.
Minnesota Laws Protecting Unborn Children
Many states don’t have a law on the books protecting pregnant mothers and their unborn babies, but as a Minnesota resident, you have options to hold a person or entity responsible for an unborn child’s death. This means if somebody causes the death of a fetus, you can legally hold the person or entity responsible for the death of the child.
Criminal Laws for Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child
It’s important to realize that there are both civil and criminal penalties for causing the death of an unborn baby. Minnesota law defines an “unborn child” as “the unborn offspring of a human being conceived, but not yet born.” Even if you’re in early pregnancy, if you planned on keeping the baby, you can hold somebody who hurts him or her responsible.
Minnesota Statutes § 609.205 and § 609.266 explain the penalties for the assault to a pregnant woman and harm to an unborn child. There are also laws defined as murder of an unborn child. A prosecutor can charge a perpetrator with the murder of an unborn child as a criminal offense in the first, second and third degrees, with harsh criminal penalties.
There are also specific penalties for the death of an unborn child who dies due to a vehicular accident. For example, a drunk driver who hits a pregnant woman will end up charged with criminal penalties if she loses her baby.
Civil Laws for the Death of an Unborn Child
Minnesota was actually the first state to create laws protecting unborn children and pregnant women, leading the country to include a cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child. After Minnesota’s enactment of these laws, thirty-four states moved to make similar laws, making waves across the US.
Minnesota Statute 573.02, subdivision 1, explains the circumstances in which an independent party is held responsible for the death of an unborn child. Here’s a breakdown of what the laws say about wrongful death as it applies to an unborn child:
- You can sue to recover damages from negligent professionals. This civil penalty extends to doctors, surgeons, dentists, hospital and sanitariums. For these types of actions, you must initiate your lawsuit within three years of the child’s death.
- If an unborn child dies because of the actions of an individual or corporation, your attorney will need to prove that the unborn child’s death was their fault. This means the death was the result of a wrongful act, negligence, or omission. For example, if you lose your child due to a car accident previously involved in a recall, you will need to prove that the car was under recall and the manufacturer did not contact you to fix the problem. If your doctor failed to tell you about a possible complication, or put you on a medication that caused you to miscarry, you can hold them responsible for medical negligence.
- You must document any financial or emotional loss that you suffered because you lost your unborn child. Are there medical expenses, funeral expenses or grief counseling expenses? Document these costs carefully and keep these in a safe place. Your attorney will use these documents to help prove your case. In many cases, there will be more than one family member that suffered due to the sudden loss of the baby. Catalogue any costs for each family member.
Losing a child can throw a family’s life into turmoil, costing you a considerable quality of life. The financial and emotional costs can easily take a toll on you. You may feel scared, angry or overwhelmed by all of the issues you are now facing as a family. It’s important that you find a competent lawyer that can work hard on your behalf, holding the guilty parties responsible.
Getting Justice for the Death of an Unborn Child
In many cases involving the death of an unborn child, there are both criminal and civil penalties. Sometimes an employer will be held liable in a civil court while their employee faces criminal charges for the actions that caused the death of an unborn baby. In many cases, the mother of the child also must recover from injuries.
If you document your expenses clearly, you can help your attorney begin to build a case. Your claims will need to have solid evidence of your pain and suffering, especially if you suffered lost wages or job problems.
If the party who injured you is held criminally responsible, they will likely end up paying civil penalties as well. Sometimes a prosecutor is unable to criminally charge a person due to lack of evidence. This does not mean a civil trial will find them innocent or
Your attorney will work closely with you to try to make sure that you receive an amount of compensation that helps you recover from the physical and emotional trauma of the accident. Funeral fees, counseling, and medical expenses are a few items to consider when arriving at a dollar amount in court. Your attorney will seek this compensation either through a settlement or by taking your death of an unborn child case to trial.
If you’ve lost an unborn child through the actions of another person or company, you’ll want to talk to lawyer about how to begin the process of getting compensation for the wrongful death of an unborn child. If you’re not quite sure where to start, please contact us. We’ll be happy to set up a time to answer any questions you may have.