What Is a Wrongful Pregnancy? 

 June 1, 2015

By  LMW Attorneys

Not all pregnancies are anticipated, but becoming pregnant after medical sterilization is an even bigger surprise. In many cases, it is one worth suing over.

A wrongful pregnancy occurs when a woman becomes pregnant after she or her partner has undergone a voluntary sterilization procedure intended to prevent pregnancy. A wrongful pregnancy lawsuit allows parents to file against the health care provider responsible for the ineffective sterilization procedure. These lawsuits claim the health care provider acted negligently in performing a tubal ligation or vasectomy and is therefore responsible for the unplanned pregnancy. Learn more about wrongful pregnancy cases, here:

Wrongful Pregnancy Vs. Wrongful Birth

A wrongful pregnancy is not the same thing as a wrongful birth. While a wrongful pregnancy results in the unplanned conception yet subsequent birth of a healthy baby, a wrongful birth occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose a severe birth defect that would have prompted the mother to abort the fetus in order to prevent pain and suffering. In a wrongful pregnancy case, parents file a negligence action against a health care provider for performing an ineffective procedure and failing to prevent the conception of an unwanted child. In a wrongful birth case, the parents file a negligence action against a health care provider who failed to diagnose the birth defect, resulting in the birth of an unhealthy baby.

Factors of Wrongful Pregnancy

While a wrongful pregnancy case is not necessarily a medical malpractice case, it does rely on the elements of duty of care and breach of duty. In such a case, it must be proved that a health care provider had a duty of care to perform an effective sterilization procedure, and that they breached their duty of care by performing the procedure with negligence.

While simply not wanting to have a child will suffice as a reason for filing a wrongful pregnancy lawsuit, other reasons include:

– Known risk of serious congenital health issues that may be passed on to the baby

– Health risks to mother due to an existing condition

– Risks posed to due age of the mother (pregnancies become more complicated after 35)

– Not having the financial resources to care for a child

– Conceiving a child outside of a favorable child-rearing environment

Damages in a Wrongful Pregnancy Case

Parents suing for wrongful pregnancy often seek damages for the costs of the ineffective sterilization procedure and any pain or suffering that resulted from undergoing the procedure. Additionally, parents may also seek damages for costs associated with the pregnancy itself, such and pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

In some cases, the health care provider may also be held responsible for the costs of rearing a child to maturity. However, these damages are the most difficult to obtain for a number of reasons. Some judges feel that allowing parents to seek damages for the costs of raising a child diminishes the child’s worth to the family. Currently, 42 states allow parents to sue for wrongful pregnancy, but only 19 allow to parents to seek damages for the costs of child rearing in wrongful pregnancy case.

How an Attorney Can Help

Wrongful pregnancy lawsuits are complex cases requiring both legal and medical knowledge. An attorney will need to begin building your case immediately to help you obtain the damages you deserve. If you have questions about wrongful pregnancy, call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. today or request a free consultation online.