Losing a loved one is never easy, especially if their death could have been prevented. When a family loses a loved one due to the negligent acts of another person, they typically have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. But, the law is a bit more complicated when the deceased is an unborn child. Here’s what you need to know about recovering compensation for an unborn child:
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Before learning how to recover compensation for the death of an unborn child, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that is filed by the deceased’s family. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is not to ensure the defendant is charged with a crime or put in jail. Instead, the purpose of a wrongful death claim is to recover compensation from the negligent party responsible for the victim’s death.
Compensation may be awarded in a wrongful death case to cover any expenses the family has incurred or losses they have suffered as a result of the victim’s death. Compensation can also be awarded for the emotional pain and suffering that family members endure after losing a loved one. Any compensation that is awarded to the family in a wrongful death case is distributed as part of the victim’s estate. Therefore, the compensation is not awarded directly to the victim’s family, but rather to the victim’s estate.
Wrongful Death Laws For Unborn Children in Iowa
The wrongful death laws regarding unborn children vary from state to state. In Iowa, the law only applies to children that lived outside of the womb prior to their death. As a result, if an unborn child suffers fatal injuries, the unborn child’s estate cannot file a wrongful death claim in order to recover compensation. However, if the child is born prematurely due to the accident prior to passing away, the child’s estate may be able to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The laws are written in this way because an estate cannot be established for a child that has not been born yet. But, if the child is born, regardless of how long the child lives, an estate is created. Therefore, it would be impossible for the unborn child’s estate to file a wrongful death claim since no such estate legally exists.
How Parents Can Recover Compensation For the Death of Unborn Children
It’s true that parents cannot recover compensation by filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of the unborn child’s estate. However, this does not mean the family does not have other legal options. In some cases, the parents may be able to recover compensation by filing a claim themselves instead of filing a claim on behalf of the unborn child’s estate. If permitted, the parents may be able to recover compensation for any medical expenses they incurred as a result of the unborn child’s death. Parents can also be awarded compensation for the pain and suffering they experienced as a result of losing a child in such a tragic manner.
For example, let’s say a pregnant woman is involved in a car accident caused by another driver and her unborn child suffers fatal injuries. A wrongful death claim cannot be filed on behalf of the unborn child’s estate. But, the woman can file a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for her expenses and losses. This can include expenses and losses related to the injuries that she suffered in the accident in addition to expenses and losses related to the loss of her unborn child. Although it is not technically a wrongful death claim, this allows parents to recover compensation when their unborn child is killed due to the negligent acts of another person.
What Types of Compensation Can Parents Recover?
Parents may be able to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages from the party responsible for their baby’s death. Economic damages are awarded to compensate the parents for any expenses they have incurred as a result of the accident. For example, women who lose a child in the middle of their pregnancy typically need to be treated and monitored by a doctor. Any expenses incurred as a result of this treatment should be included in the claim filed against the negligent party.
Non-economic damages are awarded to parents who have experienced pain and suffering as a result of their unborn child’s death. For example, some parents may go through periods of depression or anxiety after tragically losing an unborn baby. All parents who lose an unborn child must be emotionally prepared to cope with the fact that they will never meet their baby. This can be incredibly challenging for parents, which is why they are often awarded compensation for their immense pain and suffering.
Finally, parents may be able to recover punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant acted with extreme malice or negligence. The court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages when they want to make an example out of the defendant and punish them for their extremely negligent behavior.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent acts of another person, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Parents who have lost an unborn child in a tragic accident may not be able to file a wrongful death claim, but they could have other legal options available. Our attorneys will determine the best way to move forward in your case, and then we will fight tirelessly to hold the at-fault parties accountable for their negligent behavior.